text: Inge Neefs
Around 12:30 pm Ahmed Mahmoud Jarboh, aged 26, was shot in the back of the left knee by the Israeli Offensive Forces while fishing at the shore of Beit Lahya, in the north of the Gaza Strip. He is currently hospitalized in Kamal Udwan, in the neighboring town Jabalya, where his condition is being monitored.
Beit Lahya borders on the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the 1949 Armistice Line with Israel in the north. The villager’s economical resources are crippled by Israeli policies that restrict the fishing zone to three nautical miles and impose a 300 meter buffer zone on Palestinian land.
For over a year Ahmed daily frequents the same area to fish with a small cast net. Today he, and two of his colleagues, were fishing from the shore at approximately 350 meters from the border fence. This incident again exemplifies a recent UN report conclusion that the danger zone does not halt at 300 meter; it can reach up to 1.5 kilometer.
“For over a year I come here daily to fish. The soldiers in the watchtower see me every day: they know I am but a fisher! There was no reason for them to be suspicious as this is a normal, daily scene. Nothing special was going on.”
Even though the IOF soldiers should be familiar with Ahmed’s face, he was shot without warning:
“The only shot that was fired, is the one that hit my leg”, he states.
When they heard the bullet being fired, the two other fishermen ran away to find shelter. As soon as they felt the situation to be “safe” again, they realized what had happened. They went to pick up Ahmed from the water and brought him to hospital. The wound is stitched now and probably surgery will not be necessary. However, it is uncertain how long Ahmed has to remain in hospital and how long it will take for him to be fully recovered from this injury.
“I’m a father of two and I am the sole provider for my family. We have nothing else than what I gain from fishing.”
The 3 nautical mile restriction has resulted in a depletion of revenues which pushes people to the dangerous buffer zone. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, there have been nine people injured this month while working in the buffer zone. Ahmed Mahmoud Jarboh marks the tenth victim of IOF buffer zone aggression in four weeks.
Khalid Ashraf Abosita, 22 years, is in a critical condition after being shot by the Israeli Offensive Forces in Beit Hanoun, a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza Strip. He is currently hospitalized in Shifa hospital in Gaza City. At 6 pm, more than three hours after the assault, Khalid was trembling all over his body and was still losing a lot of blood. The bullet hit his left spawn, fractured the bone and exited his leg again. According to the hospital doctor he was in an unstable state.
Equipped with a horse carriage, Khalid tries to make a living as a scrap collector. He married eight months ago and is trying to establish a family. However, living conditions in the border areas are though: a recent Save the Children UK questionnaire reported that 73% of households near the buffer zone live below the poverty line, compared with 42% of the general population in Gaza. Like hundreds of men and youth, collecting stones, metal, pieces of concrete and brick in the border areas under the eye of Israeli snipers in the control towers, is the only way of making an income.
This afternoon Khalid was roughly 500 meters away from the fence when suddenly two shots were fired. The first one hit Khalid in the lower leg while the second bullet hit his horse in the neck. His friends that were collecting rubble in the neighborhood came to the rescue and carried him close to Eretz border, where an ambulance picked him up.
“Khalid has been working in this area for the past seven months. I’m sure the soldiers know him, but they shot him without warning”, says his elder brother.
When Khalid recovers from the assault, it is likely that he has lost his scarce source of income as the horse was left in an uncertain condition at the place of the attack.
Ma’an also reports that a 12 year old boy was mildly injured by a gun wound in the foot earlier today while working as a scrap collector in the northern border area. His identity remains unknown and the boy had already left the hospital when ISM volunteers visited. This would bring the total number of IOF buffer zone aggression to 12 this month only.