Photo by Haley Black

The Ruling Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) says it will hold Israel responsible for any consequences of its decision to establish a buffer zone in northern Gaza.

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, has ordered the army to establish a security zone in northern Gaza to prevent continued Palestinian rocket attacks, public radio reported on Sunday.

Any Palestinian straying into the zone, the extent of which will be determined by Israel, could be shot by troops from across the border.

The security zone would mainly envelop former Jewish settlements that were destroyed in August and September by the Israeli army.

Israel has threatened harsh retaliation after a new spate of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Fatah issued a statement on Monday in which it branded Israel’s imposition of a buffer zone as a reoccupation attempt of the territories that it had evacuated.

National sovereignty
The statement cited the Israeli action as a serious threat to the Palestine’s national sovereignty, and called on the international community, the US administration, and the EU to intervene to stop the “Israeli expansion policy”.

The statement appealed to the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop the “harsh blockade” imposed on Palestinian territories.

The statement warned the international community against keeping silent in this regard, saying that tolerating Israel’s action would encourage it to create more buffer zones along the eastern borders of Gaza stripe.

Samir al-Mashahrawi, a Fatah official, told that there is no mention in the past agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians that Israel would give itself a free hand in the Palestinian territories.

He said the zone will have grave implications on the Palestinian internal scene.

“It will negatively affect the life of thousands of Palestinians and will jeopardise the PA’s efforts to achieve order and stability,” he said.

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Israeli intention
Talal Awkal, a Palestinian political analyst, believes that Israel wants to retain its grip on the Palestinians and their territories, including Gaza.

“Israeli tactics also aim at giving Israel a pretext to prove that the Palestinian Authority is not up to the standards to be a partner,” he said.

“They know their move would trigger reactions and disagreement among Palestinians and that would have negative impact on the atmosphere of calming with Israel which the PA is trying to maintain.”

Palestinians say the zone will not prevent the attacks on Israel.

Al-Mashahrawi said the decision is part of an Israeli policy based on using increasing violence.

“They never learned from their previous lessons, violence solves no problem with the Palestinians,” he told “Whenever they fail to achieve something by violence; instead of sit and talk they use even more violence.”

Awkal said Israel knows that its procedure will not prevent rocket attacks on its territories.

“The Israelis know the Palestinian rockets are being updated and developed, the last rocket attack reached the vicinity of Asqalan. They know the intended buffer zone will stop no rocket attacks,” he said.

Circle of violence
Some Israelis believe that the imposition of a buffer zone will add fuel to the continuing circle of violence, but disagree with the Palestinians on who set it in motion.

Zeev Schiff, an Israeli expert in security issues, told “The circle of violence did not start when Israel decided to establish the buffer zone in northern Gaza, it started when the Palestinians hit Israel with Qassam rockets.

“The Israeli action will not prevent the Qassam firing 100%, but I can assure you violators of the buffer zone will not be tolerated. There will be even tougher measures.”

Schiff added: “The Palestinians have to decide.”