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Home > Documents & Reports > Human Rights
Shifting paradigms: Israel's enforcement of the buffer zone in the Gaza Strip

See Al-Haq's Virtual Field Visit on Israel's enforcement of the 'Buffer Zone' in the Gaza Strip.

Introduction:

The so-called buffer zone is a military no-go area that extend within the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) along the entire Gaza Strip's border with Israel as well as at sea. The buffer zone allegedly responds to the Occupying Power's legitimate security concerns; yet, Israel's unilateral expansion of this restricted area and its enforcement mechanisms seriously infringe upon the rights of protected persons and cause many civilian casualties.

Most of the buffer zone on land is located on agricultural land while the buffer zone at sea limits fishing activities to an area where fish has already been severely depleted. Furthermore, constrained by the harsh restrictions imposed by the four-year long Israeli illegal closure of the Gaza Strip and the lack of employment opportunities, many Palestinians have no other option of survival but to work collecting rubble in sites located within or in the vicinity of the buffer zone. This paper examines the enforcement methods of the buffer zone employed by the Israeli occupying forces under international humanitarian law and human rights law - focusing on the use of lethal force against civilians who are not taking part in hostilities - on the basis of the documentation collected by Al-Haq's field researchers in the Gaza Strip.

The "Undefined" Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip

The precise depth and overall size of the buffer zone on land in the proximity of the fence along the border with Israel and along the Gaza Strip's shore are uncertain. Likewise, the parameters in terms of people access to the restricted area are similarly uncertain. Although the Occupying Power carries out land incursions into the buffer zone an average of 3-4 times every week and naval forces continuously patrol the coast, the buffer zone is not physically demarcated. Additionally, the Occupying Power has failed to effectively inform the civilian population in the Gaza Strip of the extent of the buffer zone and the applicable regime.

To read the full report visit Al-Haq.


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