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Israeli gunshots order Gaza traffic

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  • Ami Isseroff
    Israeli gunshots order Gaza traffic (Published in Palestine Report on January 10, 2001) by Saud Abu Ramadan ISRAELI SOLDIERS fire their guns in the air to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2001
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      Israeli gunshots order Gaza traffic
      (Published in Palestine Report on January 10,
      2001)

      by Saud Abu Ramadan

      ISRAELI SOLDIERS fire their guns in the air to
      signal Palestinian vehicles gathered from the Gaza
      Strip's southern areas to turn their engines on and
      move across the Israeli checkpoint near the
      Jewish settlement of Netzarim to head to Gaza City.

      The traffic starts crossing through the Israeli
      military barrier while Palestinians nervously eye
      two tanks parked near the checkpoint. Several
      Israeli soldiers watch the vehicles and passengers.

      Taxi driver Nidal Abu Skander sat frustrated and
      angry while waiting in the queue of cars.

      "We need a catalogue to show us the types of
      gunshots the soldiers are firing and which sound
      means to move and which one means to stop,"
      said Abu Skander.

      The Israeli soldiers open the main road
      connecting the Gaza Strip's southern areas with
      ts north for two hours each morning, close it, then
      reopen it for another two hours at the end of the
      day. At night the passage is sealed.

      Israeli occupation forces have divided the 36
      square kilometer Gaza Strip and its 1.3 million
      people into four separate areas with tanks, sand
      hills and checkpoints between each zone.

      Israel says that the measure was taken after daily
      and nightly Palestinian gunfire at Israeli soldiers
      and Jewish settlers in many Gaza Strip areas,
      especially around Jewish settlements.

      It justifies the collective punishment as a means
      of pressuring Palestinians to put an end to
      "violence" and military operations carried out
      against Israeli soldiers and settlers.

      Chief of preventive security in the Gaza Strip
      Colonel Mohamed Dahlan said in an interview
      that Israel must return the situation to what it was
      before the eruption of the confrontations on
      September 28 by ending all its security blockades.

      At Netzarim, an Israeli soldier is propped on a
      huge Merkavah tank, his finger on the trigger of
      an automatic machinegun ready to open fire at
      any Palestinian vehicle or individual that moves in
      the wrong direction.

      This is how hundreds of Palestinian residents
      move daily throughout the Gaza Strip enclave
      under the new Israeli siege, imposed several days
      ago. This is how they go to work, to school and
      university classes, to the hospital or to export
      their vegetables and fruits.

      The Israeli soldiers do not wave with their hands
      to order cars to move or to stop. Instead, the
      sound of gunshots has become the traffic signal
      ordering hundreds of Palestinian cars to stop or
      move forward.

      And not every driver can cross the checkpoint
      within the two allotted hours. Only those who
      leave their homes early in the morning and live
      close to the barrier manage to make it across.
      Those who do not, must simply wait for the
      evening crossing.

      One passenger, Najeya Abu Draz, 58, from the
      southern town of Deir El Balah, was going to visit
      her sick daughter in one of Gaza City's main
      hospitals.

      "It is a humiliating trip," she said, whispering
      verses from the Quran for her safety. She said that
      the only way to get to her daughter is to pass the
      Israeli military barrier.

      Most residents of the south with urgent business
      and relatives or friends in Gaza City stay
      overnight in town to have enough time to finish
      what they came for.

      For the first two days of the siege, when Israeli
      soldiers were not allowing residents to move at
      all, those who had to go to Gaza City used boats
      and sailed from the beach of Deir El Balah to the
      Gaza City beach.

      "It is really ridiculous that our roads and streets
      are closed, and we have to use the ocean to
      move," said Nader Mesleh, an employee at a Gaza
      café. He added that it is always risky to use the
      ocean or bypass roads, because soldiers
      sometimes shoot at vehicles circumventing the
      siege.

      While people wait in line to cross, they tell stories
      to ease the fear and anxiety.

      One of those stories is that of a father and his one
      week-old baby who died in the hospital. The
      father went to beg the soldiers to let him pass to
      bury his son.

      The soldiers refused to listen to the man, and
      when he kept begging them to let him cross to
      bury his baby in one of the refugee camps, the
      soldiers turned their guns on him.

      The distance between Rafah town in the south
      and Bet Hanoun village in the northern Gaza Strip
      only takes 35 minutes by a taxi on a normal day.

      But under the Israeli siege, imposed until further notice,
      the trip from south to north can take days. -
      Published 10/1/01
      (c)Palestine Report
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