The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has clarified that the “forbidden” buffer zone in Gaza strip stretches 300 meters from the fence (the Israeli border), and not 100 meters as it previously announced.
Civilians who enter the area risk being shot by the army. In the past, the killing of Palestinians who wandered into the forbidden zone has led to retaliatory rocket launching from the Strip into Israeli territory.
The clarification was made following a request by the human rights organization Gisha. Gisha had noticed that the IDF Spokesperson’s messages stated a different distance than did the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, which claimed that Gazans are not allowed into an area stretching only 100 meters from the fence. Recently, the army notified Gisha that the forbidden zone is indeed three times larger than previously reported.
The army has refused to fully detail the methods it uses to warn farmers and other civilians from wandering into the forbidden zone it declared. A spokesperson for the army has told Gisha that such methods are part of “the opening fire procedures, and cannot be disclosed.”
There are over 1.5 million Palestinians living in 141 square miles in Gaza, including the buffer zone, which represents a population density of 11,267 people per square mile. Below you can see a map of the Gaza Strip (click on map for larger scale). The dark green strip represents 500 meters from the Gaza-Israel fence. For the full scale map in PDF format, click here.
Israel recently reduced the area off the Gaza coastline which it allows for fishing to 3 miles (it increased it to 6 miles as part of the cease fire agreement ending Operation Pillar of Defense late last year). Under the Oslo Accords, Israel committed to allowing Gazans to fish up to 20 miles from the coastline.