Following “disengagement” in 2005, Israel continued to control the area adjacent to its border with the Gaza Strip on the Palestinian side. In 2008, Israel expanded this area, referred to as the “no-go” zone, and today it covers a distance ranging from 300 to 1,500 meters from the border ((For details see, OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), Between the Fence and a Hard Place – The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli-imposed Restrictions on Access to Land and Sea in the Gaza Strip (Aug. 2009).)). The area which is restricted in practice includes both areas which have officially been declared off-limits and areas where one risks being shot at. It amounts to some 17% of the entire territory of the Gaza Strip and a third of its agricultural lands ((Id. pp. 8-10.)).
The restrictions are enforced by live fire in the no-go zone from the Israeli side, including from remotely-controlled unmanned weapon stations. According to UN figures, from the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 until August 2010, 22 Palestinian civilians who entered the zone were killed and 146 were injured. Forty-one armed Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers were killed in the zone in the same period of time ((Id. p. 5.)). Israel has informed Gaza residents about this zone by dropping flyers from airplanes, but there is a discrepancy between the area noted on the flyers and the area actually restricted in practice. Since 2009, the military has conducted routine incursions into the “no-go” zone in order to level land and destroy crops or trees with bulldozers (these actions are referred to as “razing”). According to UN figures, in early 2010, the military entered the “no-go” zone three times per week on average ((Id. p. 16.)). The military also periodically conducts incursions into areas of the Gaza Strip which are not included in the “no-go” zone in the framework of large scale military operations such as Operation Summer Rains in the summer of 2006, following the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2009, following the collapse of a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas regime ((See for example, MAG Position Paper, supra note 4, pp. 8-10.)). Israel has announced that it reserves the right to re-enter the Gaza Strip at will ((For example, Resolution No. 1996 of the 30th Government “Amended Disengagement Plan”, Annex A, Section 3(A)(3), June 6, 2004) stipulates: “The State of Israel reserves the basic right to self-defense, including taking preventative measure as well as responding by force to threats emanating from the Gaza Strip”. Israel has also declared that the IDF would take “whatever action required of it” (IDF Spokesperson, Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip Starting at 02:00 (Jan. 17, 2009) [in Hebrew]).)).