by Huda Julie Webb-Pullman
While the rest of the world sends expressions of love on Valentine’s Day, Israel sends the kiss of death to Gaza. A man now lies clinging to life in Kamal Adwan hospital after being shot in the stomach by Israeli soldiers east of Jabaliya on Friday, while another five also receive treatment for bullet wounds.
A seventh is nursing injuries from tear-gas canisters.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed to Ma’an News that Israeli soldiers fired live bullets towards the legs of the young men. Tear-gas and ‘anti-riot’ methods were also used, she said.
Palestinian youth have been gathering on Palestinian land east of Jabaliya in northern Gaza every Friday for the last two months, to assert their rightful possession of it. Resentful of the crippling Israeli blockade that restricts their movement outside of the Gaza Strip, the young men manifest their legal right to assemble on their own land in their own territory, and to move freely within it.
Israeli soldiers on the border refuse to recognise this right, and frequently open fire on them, causing injury and death. On Thursday Ibrahim Suleiman Mansour, 26, was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces while he was collecting gravel to sell, his only means of livelihood.
In July 2013 the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that prior to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement, 35% of Gaza’s agricultural land was within the Israeli-declared “security buffer zone,” resulting in losses of USD 50.2 million, per year.
The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Gaza Strip, effectively turning local farms into rifle-ranges for Israeli target practice.
For some unfathomable reason, there has been no international condemnation of the Israeli practice of enforcement a buffer zone on the OTHER side of its border.
The question that must be asked is, if Israel feels the need of a “security buffer zone of 500 – 1500 meters, why don’t they withdraw that distance within their OWN side of the border? Or better still, to that distance behind the internationally-recognised borders of 1967?
Until and unless they do, it will not be the red of the roses of love that brightens the Gazan landscape every February 14, but the red of Palestinian blood as the life of its young is lost to Israeli land-grabs and guns.
Huda Julie Webb-Pullman is a New Zealand activist and writer who lived in Gaza for over three years. She has written on social and political justice issues for New Zealand Independent News website SCOOP since 2003, as well as for websites in Australia, Canada, the US, and Latin America, and participated in several human rights observation missions. She contributed this article to ALRAY.