The humanitarian impact of restrictions on access to land near the perimeter fence in the Gaza Strip
Since September 2000, citing security concerns, Israel has tightened restrictions on Palestinian access to land located along the northern and eastern side of the perimeter fence in Gaza, which have fluctuated over time.
At its widest extent, the access restricted area (ARA) included a ‘no go area’ reaching up to 500 metres on the Gaza side of the fence, and a ‘high risk area’, based on Palestinian risk perceptions, extending from the ‘no go area’ up to 1,500 metres from the fence.
Since mid-2015, a road constructed and patrolled by Hamas forces at approximately 200-300 metres from the fence, appears to demarcate the current ‘no go area’.
Palestinian agricultural activity in the former ‘high risk’ areas has increased in recent years, although farmers’ concerns about their personal safety and livelihood investment remain.
Since 2014, the Israeli military has conducted periodic aerial spraying of herbicides, impacting farmland on the Gaza side of the fence. A spraying operation in January 2018 affected some 550 acres of agricultural lands belonging to 212 farmers, with an estimated loss of US$1.3 million (Ministry of Agriculture).
Since the end of the 2014 hostilities, two farmers have been killed in proximity to the fence and at least 26 have been injured, excluding in demonstrations and clashes.
Between 30 March and 31 July 2018, 164 Palestinians were killed and over 17,000 injured by Israeli forces near the fence, in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’ protests, hostilities and other incidents; one Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinians and 9 other Israelis were injured.
During this period, over 300 acres of land have been damaged by Palestinians during mass gatherings near the fence, affecting some 295 farmers; incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza towards Israel caused extensive damage to agricultural land and forests in southern Israel.