They are held in protest against the arbitrary decision by Israel to instate a 300 metre buffer zone as no-go area for Palestinians where shoot to kill policy is implemented. In fact, people have been shot with worrying regularity as far as 2 kilometres away from the border.
The organisers of the demonstrations are an association of residents activists of Beit Hanoun called the ‘Local Initiative’ and an umbrella called ‘Popular Campaign Against the Buffer Zone’, encompassing farmers and residents living near the border and a number of leftwing political parties.
About 200 participants gathered at noon at Al Atatra, near Beit Lahiya and marched towards the border. While the bulk of the participants headed by a group of local women stopped about 150 metres away, a group of about 50 marched to less than 10 metres form the border fence, where they placed Palestinian flags.
After 10 minutes three army jeeps arrived and about 10 heavily armed soldiers took firing positions at the raised area overseeing the demonstrators. A heavy firing of live ammunition ensued for about 20 minutes scattering demonstrators who run for cover showered by the bullets fired perilously close.
A small group of activists, which included the ISMers, held ground waving flags and showing V signs. The demonstrators did enter deeply into the buffer zone which is on the Palestinian land ,but it was obvious that demonstrators were no threat to the soldiers armed to their teeth.
The disproportionate use of force is therefore very worrying but not unexpected. Only less than a week ago a teenager collecting concrete for recycling from many demolished houses in this area, was shot in a leg for no apparent reason.