Ref: 41/2013


On Thursday, 13 June 2013, PCHR organized, in
coordination with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a field tour for Mr.
Alistair Burt, British Minister for the Middle East,
in the “buffer zone” in northwest of Beit Lahiah.  The Minister and the accompanying delegation,
including Sir Vincent Fean, the British Consul General, met with a group of fishermen
and farmers and heard their sufferings resulted from the ongoing Israeli
violations against them.  The British
Minister and the accompanying delegation were accompanied by Khalil Shahin,
Director of PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, Mohammed Ghannam, a PCHR
fieldworker, and Sarah Adamczyk, Director of the NRC office in the Gaza Strip.


Shahin briefed the British Minster and the
accompanying delegation about the nature of the “buffer zone” along the eastern
and northern borders of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing Israeli violations that
undermine farmers’ access to their farmlands and properties and prevent
fishermen from fishing freely and safely in the Gaza waters. 
Shahin also provided comprehensive statistics about the Israeli
violations committed against fishermen and farmers in the Gaza Strip since the
truce was declared in November 2012. 
These statistics included the numbers of killings, injuries, arrests,
and damages suffered by the fishing and agriculture sectors in the onshore and
offshore buffer zone.  He also talked
about the deterioration in the economic and social conditions of farmers and
fishermen as they are being fought in their livelihood.


The British Minister heard testimonies by
farmers and fishermen about the recent attacks against them and about the
farmers’ sufferings as a result of imposing a ban on exporting the agricultural
products, including strawberries, flowers, vegetables, to markets abroad.  Farmers and Fishermen called upon the United Kingdom to use its power and influence to
lift the land and sea closure in order to stop the Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including the ongoing violations against the fishermen and farmers in the Gaza