Gaza Farmlands to Reopen as Israel Issues New Open-Fire Rules

Rules May End Peacetime Killing of Farmers

by Jason Ditz, November 27, 2012

Today is a good day to be a farmer in the Gaza Strip. That’s an unusual thing to be able to say, but many farmers are likely to breath a huge sigh of relief at the announcement of Israel’s new “open-fire rules” for the border with the strip.

For years Israel has imposed a 300 meter “no-go” area along the border, killing any Palestinian who gets that close to the border. Since the border region is almost exclusively farmland, this has rendered many farms unusable, and farmers were regularly killed for trying to get a little too close in planting their crops.

The new open-fire rules are much more stringent on Israeli border troops, reducing the “no-go” area from 300 meters to 100 meters, and admonishing troops not to simply execute anyone who gets closer.

Instead, IDF soldiers are supposed to attempt an arrest on anyone getting within 100 meters of the fence, but they aren’t even supposed to fire on them then, unless it looks like they’re trying to damage the fence. Under those circumstances, the goal is to shoot at their legs and feet, maiming them instead of killing them.

The move is likely just one of many changes to be expected with last week’s ceasefire, as Israel and Hamas continue to negotiate other terms, including the possibility of allowing Gaza’s fishermen to go out farther. Between the fishermen and the farmers being allowed to reopen long-banned fields, food shortages may be less of an issue going forward.

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