Israeli forces carry out cross-border raids in southern Gaza
Published Sunday 01/06/2014 (updated) 02/06/2014 10:53
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles carried out two separate cross-border military incursions into the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, witnesses told Ma'an.
The first incursion occurred east of Rafah as five bulldozers escorted by military vehicles leveled fields belonging to local Palestinians about 200 meters from the border fence inside the Gaza Strip.
Witnesses said that no gunfire was heard during the raid, but that military helicopters were seen in the sky.
Shortly after the first incursion, several Israeli military tanks crossed the border into the Gaza Strip firing gunshots into the air.
No casualties were reported during either of the raids.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.
Despite withdrawing settlers and military forces from Gaza in 2005, Israel maintains complete control over the Gaza Strip's airspace, territorial waters, and most land crossings.
It occasionally launches limited cross-border raids into the Gaza Strip on security pretexts, often razing lands near the border in the so-called "buffer zone" it maintains on the Gaza side of the border.
According to UNOCHA, 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.