A United nations report released today found that Israeli forces in Gaza have severely restricted access to farmland and fishing zones along the Gaza Coast. The report found that these restrictions have steadily increased over the last ten years, beginning long before the siege imposed in 2007.Over 150,000 Palestinians have been directly affected by these restrictions, which prevent them from maintaining their basic livelihood.

In addition, the report found that Israeli troops routinely fire live rounds at anyone who enters the restricted zones. Israeli soldiers have killed 22 Palestinians, and wounded another 146, in the 1.5 years since the massive Israeli invasion of January 2009.

According to the UN-OCHA Report, these shootings violate international law, especially considering that no notice was given to the local Palestinian population prior to the implementation and enforcement of the new restrictions. In many cases, the only notice the Palestinians had was being shot at or shot while going to farm on their land.

In total, the ‘restricted areas’ now constitute 17% of the land area of the Gaza Strip, and 85% of the internationally-allowed fishing zones off the coast. This land and water takeover has taken place during a time when Israel has claimed to have lessened its control over the Gaza Strip, because they moved 5,000 Israeli settlers out of Gaza in 2005.

In reality, however, according to the UN-OCHA, the data shows that Israel now controls a large area of the Gaza Strip with so-called ‘security zones’, which have further devastated an economy already reeling from the effects of Israel’s closure of all borders to imports, exports, entry and exit.