Israeli and Palestinian sources have confirmed the killing of two children near the former Israeli settlement of Dugit, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The two were identified as Ahmad Abu Zubeida and Zaher Al-Majdalawi, both aged 12.The children were scavenging building materials and scrap metal from the site when they were fired upon by Israeli forces stationed at the nearby border with Israel, eyewitnesses reported.

Palestinians often scavenge materials from the former sites of Israeli settlements, evacuated two years ago as part of the ‘disengagement plan’ from Gaza, and completely demolished by Israeli forces at that time. The ruins are generally near Israeli military bases, and are thus dangerous for Palestinians to enter.

Due to the desperate economic situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under full closure since the democratic election of the Hamas party in January 2006, Palestinians living in Gaza are willing to take risks in order to survive.

The children killed today were likely gathering scrap metal to sell for food for their families.

Israeli commanders have previously made public their ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy for areas near the border fences and abandoned Israeli settlements. In one such pronouncement, an Israeli general stated, “Anything that moves in these areas, even if it’s a three-year old, must be killed.”