2. Additional risks to civilian life and property have stemmed from activities of Palestinian armed groups operating in the access restricted areas on land. Though this activity has decreased in recent months, Palestinian armed groups have regularly fired projectiles towards towns in southern Israel from areas along the fence, increasing the risk posed to civilians.
3. In recent months there has been improved access for farmers and fishermen to previously inaccessible areas, following the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in November 2012. However, improvement has not been consistent or sustained and the potential impact on land has also been limited by restrictions on the entry of vehicles and equipment, which make some land unusable.
4. Uncertainty regarding access restrictions impacts physical security and livelihoods. The fishing zone has been altered three times since November 2012, including reduction in response to rocket fire from Gaza. Various Israeli authorities have made contradictory statements regarding the extent and nature of land restrictions. Enforcement incidents continue to be reported even in areas where access restrictions should not apply. This uncertainty contributes to a situation in which farmers and fishermen are concerned about their physical safety and fearful, or unwilling, to invest financially in developing their livelihoods.
5. Access to schools for children living in the ARA on land can be dangerous and classes are often disrupted. Israeli incursions have occurred regularly and many schools have been repeatedly damaged in hostilities. The anxieties associated with attending school there has taken a toll on students, with teachers reporting signs of psychosocial distress.
6. Recurrent hostilities and difficulties of access have resulted in unexploded ordnance contamination of certain areas of the ARA on land, which is a further impediment to productive use of land and livelihoods, and raises concerns regarding the safety of farmers and humanitarian stakeholders aiming at rehabilitating the ARA.
7. Restrictions imposed on access to land and sea and the methods used to enforce them raise serious concerns under international law. These restrictions should be removed to the fullest extent possible; measures imposed to address Israel’s security concerns must not result in disproportionate harm to the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian civilians. The use of force must be in conformity with Israel’s obligations under international law.