On 01 February 2014, the report “Under Fire” issued by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) was launched in London. The report addresses the Israeli violations in Access Restricted Areas (ARA) in the Gaza Strip. It highlights the suffering experienced by civilians, farmers and fishermen due to restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement in those areas, the frequent targeting of civilians with live ammunition, house demolitions and restrictions imposed on fishing areas. The report was launched in London and lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, participated in the event via Skype.
The report reveals the negative impacts of the imposition of the ARA in land and sea along the border area. The report highlights the farmers inability to access their lands, totalling 62.6km2, i.e. 35% of the agricultural lands in the Gaza Strip or 17% of the whole area of the Gaza Strip. The report also addresses the Israeli denial of the right to fish in 85% of the fishing area according to Oslo Accords.
Statistics and data are provided on the losses in lives and property due to the Israeli practices in that area. The report also tackles the financial and economic loss that afflicts civilians, farmers and fishermen and which is further exacerbated by the closure. The report indicates that the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in 2012 did not help in altering the situation in ARA.
The report draws attention to the fact that Israeli forces use live ammunition when targeting civilians in the ARA without taking into consideration the principles of distinction and proportionality, which is considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The report emphasizes that Israel does not respect the international standards related to the use of force and in many instances, directly resort to the use of lethal force.
Finally, the report brings to light that many relief foundations fail to understand the nature of the suffering of the ARA residents. The relief foundations’ main focus is on finding shelter for residents whose houses have been demolished without paying attention to their real loss (homes and livelihood) or addressing the underlying cause of this; the ARA policy imposed by the Israeli authorities.
The report concludes with a number of recommendations addressed to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community, as follows:
1- Lift the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip as it is considered a collective punishment against Palestinian civilians;
2- Respect international humanitarian law and do not use lethal force against Palestinian civilians;
3- Immediately stop targeting farmers and fishermen in the ARA;
4- Allow the ARA residents to go back to their property immediately and remove all obstacles to achieve that;
5- Cease the ARA imposed on the sea and allow fishing according to the Oslo Accords;
6- Allow exportation and importation from and to the Palestinian territories;
7-Hold Israeli officials to account for violations of international law;
8-Direct international support for the ARA; and
9-Oblige Israel to comply with international law.
The report is available online at: