Israel takes Gaza land for “security zone”

Israel, which claims it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip and wants the world to see it that way, has not taken long to take back some Gazan land, according to AFP:

Israel is to set up a “security zone” extending into Palestinian territory in northern Gaza to avoid militants infiltrating the Jewish state, the defence ministry said Friday.

“Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered a security zone to be laid down on the Palestinian side of the northern Gaza Strip in order to minimise the danger to Israeli communities by the chaos reigning in Gaza,” a spokeswoman said.

“This security zone will be either an electronic fence or a wall. What is vital is to create a no-man’s land to which access is forbidden for Palestinians,” she added.

In total, the “zone” would run 150 metres (yards) deep into Palestinian territory, she said, giving no further details.

In the four days since Israel withdrew its last ground troops from the Gaza Strip at dawn on Monday, effectively ending a 38-year military presence in the territory, parts of the narrow strip of land have been flung into chaos.

Egyptian and Palestinian security forces have proved largely unable to prevent thousands of people from crossing the border between southern Gaza and Egypt, adding to Israeli fears about weapons smuggling.

“In order to deal with this situation, Mr Mofaz has also ordered tougher security controls at Erez and Karni,” the ministry’s spokeswoman said, referring to the two main crossing points between Gaza and Israel.

“That may cause difficulties for the Palestinians, but the priority is to ensure Israeli security,” senior defence ministry official Amos Gilad told army radio.

Mofaz has also instructed the security forces to step up surveillance along Israel’s own border with Egypt in the southern Negev desert, fearing Palestinians may also try to smuggle weapons across that frontier. (AFP, Sept. 16)

See our last post on Gaza.

  1. Update
    The Lebanon Daily Star has a slightly different take on this:

    “We want to build an electric fence or wall on Israeli territory, north of the Gaza Strip, to create a no-man’s land prohibiting access to the Palestinians and alleviating the danger to Israeli towns in the sector from the chaos in Gaza,” said a spokeswoman from the Defense Ministry.

    “We also want to ask the Palestinians to establish their own no-man’s land of a few dozen meters, in consultation with Israel,” she added.

    Palestinian Planning Minister Ghassan Khatib said the “unilateral” decision was proof that Israel remained an occupation force regardless of its withdrawal of all troops from Gaza following 38 years of military rule.

    “Israel is working on a unilateral basis. They didn’t ask us to do this. Israel is still an occupying force,” Khatib charged.

  2. Hamas military wing threatens response
    Text of “military communique” by Martyr Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades: “Establishing a buffer zone in northern Gaza Strip is a violation of our liberated land; we will turn this buffer zone into another Shab’a [Farm, on the Lebanese-Israeli borders]”, published by Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website on 16 September

    “To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged, and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid” [Koranic verse]

    Martyr Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades views with great concern the Zionist government’s announcement today, Friday, 12 Sha’ban 1426 hegira, corresponding to 16 September 2005, that it intends to establish a buffer zone inside our land in northern Gaza Strip. Based on this, we assert the following:

    1. If this step is taken by the enemy, Martyr Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will continue resisting and attacking the enemy’s soldiers with all available means day and night.

    2. We will not let the enemy enjoy security in the so-called buffer zone, and we will turn it into a place of horror and destruction for its soldiers and military vehicles.

    3. We will turn this area into another Shab’a [Farms on the Israeli-Lebanese borders] in case of any violation of the Gaza Strip’s borders, airspace and land and sea passages. The enemy shall be held responsible for the consequences of any violation.

    It is a jihad until victory or martyrdom.

    [Signed] Martyr Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

    [Dated] Friday, 12 Sha’ban 1426 hegira, corresponding to 16 September 2005

    (BBC Monitoring: Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades website, Sept. 17)