In Gaza Strip, about 148 000 individuals are experiencing violations of their basic rights on a daily basis, because of restrictions imposed by Israel.
The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has sealed off more than 2 million people over the past 16 years. Among the multiple measures imposed, Israel has unilaterally defined an Access Restricted Area (ARA) on land along the fence of the Gaza Strip with Israel as well as on the sea fishing area, prohibiting farmers, herders, and fishers to carry out their economic activities. ARA represents 35% of Gaza Strip’s agricultural lands and up to 85% of the fishing zone. The enforcement of such a policy have devastating consequences on farmers, herders, fishers and their families’ life who are directly exposed to physical threats and loss of their productive assets – but have also an impact for the entire population of Gaza.
Premiere Urgence Internationale has released a report that aims to describe the situation in Access Restricted Areas (ARAs) of the Gaza Strip over the past decade.
The report highlights recurring incidents of international humanitarian law and human rights violations in the Access Restricted Areas. It also provides analysis on the impact of ARA enforcement on the affected populations and describes coping strategies and humanitarian gaps to cover.
Israeli forces often use lethal and excessive force against civilians, resulting in the death and injury of Palestinian farmers, fishers, and herders working in the ARAs. People are experiencing arrest and detention, confiscation or destruction of assets, destruction of land through levelling, aerial spraying of herbicides, and the opening of water dams.
More than one third of people targeted by IHL/IHRL violations are women and children, with children being particularly affected.
ARA enforcement has negative implications for farming and fishing communities, as the ARA covers 17% of all land in the Gaza strip and up to 35% of the agricultural land available. The unauthorized fishing area represents around 85% of Gaza’s maritime area, directly affecting 4,200 fishers and 23,520 household members. The enforcement of ARA has led to a drop of 65% in the number of registered fishers in the last two decades.
As already highlighted by Première Urgence Internationale in 2020 in “Gaza: Living near the fence“, the enforcement of Access Restricted Areas (ARA) has also affected the quality of essential services such as education, water and electricity. Moreover, the protection risks limit the investment in public infrastructure, leaving ARA affected communities even less equipped in social and public services than other areas of the Strip, thus enhancing the overall vulnerability of the populations and leading to increased risks of forcible transfer.
The report emphasizes that emergency humanitarian interventions remain necessary but of temporary effect. To achieve sustainable change, both emergency and development programming are needed.
The European Union, its member states and other Third-Party actors have an important role to play in enforcing international law and need to take action to prevent IHL and IHRL violation and to protect populations under occupation.
This report is part of humanitarian actors’ advocacy efforts highlighting the specific vulnerability and needs of ARA communities, to raise awareness on IHL/IHRL violations and to advocate for the end of ARA enforcement.
 International Humanitarian Law/ International Human Rights Law