Israeli forces violate Gaza border, level agricultural lands
Published Tuesday 28/01/2014 (updated) 29/01/2014 11:07
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers escorted by military vehicles entered the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, violating the coastal enclave's borders and destroying agricultural land nearby.
Eyewitnesses told a Ma'an reporter that bulldozers violated the border near Abasan east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip in order to level agricultural land.
Eyewitnesses added that Israeli troops escorted the bulldozers and fired smoke bombs in order to obscure locals' vision of the operation.
An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
The day comes a day after an explosion was reported in the same area while an Israeli military jeep was driving along the border.
Large swathes of land in the Gaza Strip are considered by Israel to be part of a "security buffer zone" extending between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip from the border.
Israeli forces frequently raid this zone, leveling agricultural lands, and regularly open fire on Palestinian civilians in the area. In the last week alone, one Palestinian has been killed and another injured by Israeli fire in the border region.
According to OCHA, 17 percent of Gaza's total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.