Saturday, April 24, 2010
Six wounded at demonstration against no go zone in Gaza
Six people were injured, one seriously, by live fire from Israeli forces as Gaza residents and international solidarity activists gathered in the central Strip on Saturday to protest the enforcement of the no go zone, Ma'an reports.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that first three, then six were injured, one seriously, as protesters marched with Palestinian flags towards the buffer zone area enforced by Israel around the Gaza border. Coordinator of medical services in the Gaza Strip Adham Abu Silmiyya said three of the six injured were evacuated to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, with one man in serious condition.
Coordinator of Beit Hanoun popular committee Saber Az-Za'aneen identified the injured foreign activist as 28-year-old Bianca Zammit from Malta. He said she was hit by live fire in the foot, and confirmed that she was one of the three evacuated to hospital. A statement from the International Solidarity Movement said Zimmit was shot while filming the demonstration, at a distance of approximately 80-100 meters.
The statement identified the other two hospitalized victims as Nidal Al Naji, 18, who the group said was shot in the right thigh, and Hind Al-Akra, 22, who was shot in the stomach and has undergone emergency surgery.
An Israeli military spokesman confirmed shots were fired in the area, but said they were "warning shots meant to drive away" the group of protesters. He noted they were "very close" the the border fence, and area he described as a "combat zone." The no-go area means 20 percent of the arable lands in Gaza are inaccessible to local farmers, who are fired on by Israeli forces patrolling the area if they approach the buffer. The zone extends 150-300 meters into the Strip from the Green Line, or the 1967 border, from which Israel claimed to have pulled out in 2005.
Update 25 April: Malta filed an official protest with Israel on Sunday after a Maltese woman was shot and injured by Israel Defense Forces soldiers during a protest in Gaza on Saturday. In a statement, the Maltese Foreign Ministry said it "deplored and condemned in the strongest possible terms" the shooting of Bianca Zammit in Gaza on Saturday. The protest note was sent to the Israeli government via the Maltese Embassy in Israel. Malta said the Israeli soldiers' attack was "totally unwarranted" and called for a thorough investigation into the incident which took place near a refugee camp. Foreign Minister Tonio Borg is expected to raise the issue on Monday during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.