Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and
illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as a “buffer zone” is not clear and this Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire. The establishment of the ‘buffer zone’ is illegal under both Israeli and international law.

 

Preventing Palestinians from accessing their lands and fishing areas violates numerous provisions of international human rights law, including the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Enforcing the “buffer zone” through the use of live fire often results in, inter alia, the direct targeting of civilians and/or indiscriminate attacks, both of which
constitute war crimes.

 

Following the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in November 2012, a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian armed groups was brokered by the Egyptian government, which included terms related to access to land and sea. In an online statement on 25 February 2013, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) declared that fishermen could now access the sea up to six nautical miles offshore, and that farmers could now access lands in the border area up to 100m from the border fence. However, both references have since been removed from the statement.

 

Then, on 21 March 2013, the Israeli forces’ spokesperson announced re-reducing the fishing area allowed for Palestinian fishermen from 6 nautical miles to 3 nautical miles.  However, on 21 May 2013, Israeli authorities decided to allow fishermen to sail up to 6 nautical miles.

 

Following the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip (08 July – 26August 2014), a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian armed groups was brokered by the Egyptian government, which allowed fishermen to sail up to 6 nautical miles.  However, the Israeli naval forces have not allowed fishermen to sail up to this limit as all Israeli attacks have taken place within the 6-nautical- mile fishing area.

 

Dimensions

 

On land, inside Palestinian
territory

 

Distance
from the border fence, up to which access is permitted:

 

 Second
Intifada (2000): 150 metres

 According
to Israel (2010) :300 metres

 22
November 2012: unclear parameters

 21
March 2013: 300 metres

 

 

In
reality, attacks against civilians take place anywhere up to approximately 1.5 kilometres inside the border
fence. This constitutes
approximately 17% of the total
territory of the Gaza Strip.

 

 

At sea, off the coast of the
Gaza Strip

 

Distance
from the shore, up to which access is permitted:

 

 Oslo
Accords (1994): 20 nautical miles
(nm)

 Bertini
Commitment (2002): 12 nm

 October
2006: 6 nm

 End
of 2007 : 3 nm

 22
November 2012: 6 nm

 25
February 2013: unknown

 12
March 2013: 3 nm

 21
May 2013: 6 nm

 

In
addition, access is consistently denied in the following areas:

 

 1.5 nm in the
north along the maritime boundary with Israel

 1 nm in the
south along the maritime boundary with Egypt

Impact

 

On land

 

 Approximately
27,000 dunums, 35% of the Gaza Strip’s
agricultural land,
can only be accessed under high personal risk, as
Israeli attacks may result in injury or death of civilians.

 95% of the
restricted area is arable land.

 After
the evacuation of settlements (2005) and ‘Operation Cast Lead’ (2008-2009),
the majority of Palestinian families living in the border areas abandoned
their land and homes.

At sea

 

 Palestinians
are completely prevented from accessing 85%
of the Palestinian maritime areas
recognised in the 1994 Gaza Jericho
Agreement.

 Approximately
3,700 fishermen work under high
personal risk every day at sea.

 Approximately
8,200 persons work in the fishing
industry.

 Approximately
65,000 persons, including
individuals who work in the fishing industry and their dependents, are
affected by thebuffer zone” restrictions at sea.

 The
area near the coast is markedly
over-fished
.

Attacks

July 2015

Attacks

Total

“Buffer zone” on land

“Buffer zone” at sea

Shelling

1

1

 

Shooting

18

8

10

Incursions

3

3

0

Land levelling

0

0

0

Detention incidents

5

2

3

Total incidents

27

14

13

Consequences of attacks

 Deaths and injuries

July
2015

Consequences

Total

“Buffer zone” on land

“Buffer zone” at sea

Death of persons

0

0

0

Minors

0

0

0

Women

0

0

0

Injury of persons

9

5

4

Minors

2

2

0

Women

0

0

0

 Property
related violations

July
2015

Consequences

Total

“Buffer zone” on land

“Buffer zone” at sea

Property damaged

3

0

3

Property
confiscated

5

0

5

Dunums razed

0

0

0

 

 Detention

July
2015

Consequences

Total

“Buffer zone” on land

“Buffer zone” at sea

Detention incidents

5

2

3

Total persons detained

16

2

14

Minors detained

2

0

2

Women detained

0

0

0

Note:

A civilian was detained, at the Beit
Hanoun “Erez” Crossing.