Israeli gunshots order Gaza traffic
- Israeli gunshots order Gaza traffic
(Published in Palestine Report on January 10,
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
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
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
"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
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. -