Friday, April 10, 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast

Published Wednesday 08/04/2015 (updated) 10/04/2015 17:54
 
Two Palestinian fishermen paddle their small boat off the beach of Gaza
City while casting their nets on Aug. 10, 2014. (AFP/File)
 
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday shot and injured a Palestinian man with a rubber-coated steel bullet as he was fishing off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip.

Local sources said that fisherman Khalid Zayid was shot while he was at sea off the coast of the town of Beit Lahiya.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

Israeli authorities maintained a limit of three miles on all activities of fishermen in the Gaza Strip until August, when Hamas negotiated a six-mile limit as part of the ceasefire that concluded Israel's two-month summer assault that left 2,200 dead.

But Israeli authorities have frequently shot at Palestinian fishermen inside the limit, and three have been killed since then.

Twenty-nine attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian fisherman have have been reported since Sept. 1 by Gaza-based watchdog al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, however due to the normalcy of such incidents, attacks often go unreported.

The center also said that 42 fisherman had been detained and 12 fishing boats confiscated in the same period.

There are approximately 4,000 fishermen in Gaza.

According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross 90 percent are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 and a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The Gaza Strip has been under a blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006 which has devastated the economy through near-complete limits on imports and exports.

The blockade has massively increased Palestinian dependance on international food aid, and the fishing industry is one of the few ways Gazans can produce their own food sources.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In photos: Gaza fishermen “in God’s hands”

31 March 2015
 
Tawfiq Abu Reyala’s wife and four children have no income after the fisherman was shot dead by Israeli naval forces.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Hundreds of mourners gathered outside of al-Shifa hospital to protest the killing of Tawfiq Abu Reyaleh, a 34-year-old fisherman shot by the Israeli navy just hours before.
Along with his shipmates on the overnight shift, the late father of five was struck by a bullet when Israeli forces opened fire on their boat on 7 March, as they sailed within the six-nautical mile limit that Israel has imposed on Gaza’s sea vessels, according to the fishermen.
Abu Reyaleh was survived by his wife and four children, who live in northern Gaza.


Emad Abu Reyala worked with his cousin Tawfiq every day on their family’s boat before the fisherman was fatally shot earlier this month.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
“We just want to be like fishermen everywhere,” his mourning cousin, Emad al-Sayeed Abu Reyala, told The Electronic Intifada. “We are not asking for so much; just a basic right. Our rights are not protected — not by the world, not by the Arab countries. Our lives are in God’s hands.”
“My cousin wasn’t the first fisherman to be shot by the Israelis and he won’t be the last. There isn’t a fisherman in Gaza who hasn’t been shot at,” Emad said, adding that his son was injured when Israeli naval forces shot him in December.
“If there the world has a conscience, it will stop these crimes,” he said.


Like farmers in the Gaza Strip, many fishermen have become dependent on international aid in order to survive because of the blockade on Gaza.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Since a ceasefire ended Israel’s 51 days of intensive bombing in late August, Palestinian fishermen in Gaza say they have only been allowed to access an area within six nautical miles off the coast. Yet, according to the 1993 Oslo accords, fishermen should be allowed to sail up to twenty nautical miles offshore.
Those who go near that boundary line are likely to be arrested or shot at by Israeli naval forces.
Israel has long tightened restrictions on Palestinian fishermen.
“Over the years, the Israeli military gradually reduced this range, severely damaging the livelihood of thousands of families and the availability of this basic and inexpensive food in the markets, which had served as a significant nutritional source,” according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.


Abdelmuti al-Habil he says that after his ship was hit by Israeli gunfire, he spent more than $10,000 on towing it back to shore and repairing it.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Abdelmuti Ibrahim al-Habil has fished up and down the Gaza Strip’s coast for more than a quarter century. “I started working as a fisherman with my father when I was just fifteen years old,” he told The Electronic Intifada.
His five sons, all in their twenties, work as fishermen with him. As he stands on the shore near Gaza City’s port, they work on the boat’s stalled motor behind him. After several minutes, the motor finally fires up and they clap and laugh.
“They’ve been working on fixing the boat for six weeks,” al-Habil said, adding that the boat was nearly destroyed when Israeli naval forces sunk it with gunfire on 26 January.


Tight Israeli restrictions prevent Palestinians from utilizing the full economic potential of Gaza’s port.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Like all Palestinian fishermen in Gaza, al-Habil has long suffered Israeli restrictions and attacks. But he never imagined that Israeli forces would go as far as to sink the boat.
“They arrested my [five] kids,” he said, recalling that they were taken to Ashdod, a port city in the south of present-day Israel. “For two days, we had no idea where they were. We didn’t know if they died when the boat went under.”
After Israeli intelligence and military officers interrogated them for forty-eight hours, al-Habil’s sons were dropped off at the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel.


Severe Israeli restrictions on exports from Gaza confine Palestinian fishermen to a caged market.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
According to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA, Israeli forces fired live ammunition at Palestinian fishermen at least seventeen times between 27 January and 9 February.
In the first half of 2014, before the summer war in Gaza, Israeli naval forces fired at Palestinian fishermen in the six mile nautical zone at least 177 times, “nearly as much as in all of 2013,” according to the humanitarian charity Oxfam.


Hajj Rajab, who has fished up and down Gaza’s coast for more than six decades, says conditions have never been as difficult as the present.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Hajj Rajab, 81, has fished since he was a teenager.
“My father taught me to fish. I taught my children and grandchildren how to finish. I’ve worked here many years,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “It used to be good work. Not anymore.”
Rajab explained that Israeli shelling targeted dozens of fishermen’s storage areas, including his own, last summer.
“They destroyed everything,” he said. “They destroyed us … the fishermen.” Nonetheless, he continues to go out to sea each day. “There aren’t any other choices for fishermen. Most of us have done this our whole lives.”

Hajj Rajab’s storage area was destroyed by Israeli strikes during the assault on Gaza last summer.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
The economic impact of Israel’s restrictions has been disastrous for the fishermen.
“Unfortunately, as you see now, they only allow us to reach up to six miles, and sometimes it’s only three,” Mahmoud al-Hissi, a twenty-year-old father, told The Electronic Intifada.


Mahmoud al-Hissi says that Israel’s restrictions on fishermen have made it impossible for them to provide for their families.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
“After six miles, there are rocks and reef on the ocean floor – that’s where the real fish are,” al-Hissi said. “We could go out and fish for the morning and make money, instead of heading out for 24-hour shifts and barely breaking even.”
The fishermen work for a portion of the catch, which they sell in the market after returning to shore, al-Hissi explained. “I sometimes work for 24 hours and then only profit 75 shekels [approximately $19],” he said. “But recently it’s been less because there just aren’t any fish.”


Palestinian fishermen like Ahmad al-Hissi risk their lives to make a meager income.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Ahmad al-Hissi, Mahmoud’s cousin, explained that fishing has become a dangerous profession in recent years.
“If we stay about a kilometer from the six mile marker, we’re fine,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “But if we get any closer, they’ll [the Israeli navy] make problems for us.”


Like many fishermen, Shukri has been arrested by Israeli naval forces before. He says that he and his shipmates were forced to strip and jump in the water before being detained last fall.
(Ezz Zanoun)
 
Shukri, Ahmad and Mahmoud’s shipmate, said that they would be able to make a decent living if they weren’t restricted to such a small and overfished space.
“If we could just get out to about nine nautical miles, we’d be rich men,” he said.

Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist and regular contributor to The Electronic Intifada. Website: www.postrickland.com. Twitter: @P_Strickland_.
Ezz Zanoun is a freelance photographer based in the Gaza Strip. His work has appeared at The Guardian, APA, Time, BuzzFeed, El Mundo, Reuters and many more. Follow his work on Facebook.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Palestinian fisherman killed by Israeli navy off the coast of Gaza

 
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian fisherman, Tawfiq Abu Riyalah, has died Saturday noon due to injuries he sustained since the early morning hours at the hands of Israeli navy forces that opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza sea.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qudrah told the PIC reporter that the Palestinian fisherman Abu Riyalah, 32, died in Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza affected by wounds in the abdomen suffered in the Israeli navy attack on Gazan fishermen at dawn Saturday.

Qudrah said a number of the wounded arrived at the hospital with cases ranging between minor and moderate.

At dawn Saturday, the Israeli navy boats fired machineguns at Palestinian fishing boats. The Israeli attack resulted in the death of Abu Riyalah and the injury and arrest of others whereas one boat was confiscated.  

The Gazan fishing boats are almost daily subjected to harassment by the Israeli navy boats deployed off the Gaza coast. As a result, many casualties are suffered in addition to the confiscation of boats and fishing tools. 

----------------

Fisherman Killed By Israeli Fire In Gaza Waters

Saturday March 07, 2015 23:25 by IMEMC & Agencies
Palestinian medical sources have reported that a fisher who was shot and injured by Israeli navy fire, earlier Saturday, died of his wounds in the Shifa Medical Center, in Gaza, a few hours after his injury.
Tawfiq Abu Ryala - Watania News Agency
Tawfiq Abu Ryala - Watania News Agency

The fisher, Tawfiq Abu Ryala, 34, was shot in the abdomen when Israeli naval ships opened fire on fishing boats in Palestinian territorial waters, less than six nautical miles off the coast.

The soldiers also forced two fishers, Jihad, 22, and his brother Wahid Sayyed Kaskin, 23 years of age, to swim towards their ship, and kidnapped them.

The attack is part of frequent Israeli violations against the fishers, and their boats, in direct violation of all ceasefire agreements, and the Oslo accords.

Hundreds of residents marched in the funeral procession and ceremony of the slain Palestinian while chanting slogans against the Israeli occupation, its escalating violations and assaults.

On Thursday morning, the navy, shot and wounded two fishermen in Palestinian waters near the Sudaniyya area, northwest of Gaza City, and kidnapped four others.

Two more attacks were reported on Tuesday and Monday of this week. All took place while the boats were in Palestinian territorial waters, within the six allotted nautical miles. 

----------------

Gaza fisherman dies after Israeli forces fire on boats
 
Published yesterday (updated) 08/03/2015 16:09
Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza in 2005 (MaanImages)
 
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – Israeli naval forces shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman, and arrested two others while they were sailing in small fishing boats off the coast south of Gaza City early Saturday morning.

Speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen Nizar Ayyash told Ma'an that Israeli gunboats opened machine gun fire at a group of Palestinian fishermen. Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed to Ma'an that Tawfiq Abu Riyala died from injuries sustained by the fire.

Ayyash added that Israeli navy then seized two fishing boats and took them to unknown destination.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that after four vessels deviated from the fishing zone this morning, Israeli forces ordered the vessels to halt. Warning shots were fired towards the engines of the vessels, and two hits were confirmed. Two of the vessels were detained by Israeli forces, the other two turning back.

The spokeswoman added that every deviation by fishing boats from the fishing zone is perceived by Israeli forces as a security threat, citing an incident last month in which a vessel was caught outside of the fishing zone with arms intended for Hamas.

The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militant groups stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have routinely opened fire at fishermen within those new limits, and the zone has not been expanded.

The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that since the ceasefire agreement Israeli forces have detained 49 Palestinian fishermen, injured 17, confiscated 12 fishing boats and damaged fishing tools in nine other incidents.

Recent targeting of Gazan fishermen comes at a time when economic growth in the coastal enclave is near frozen and 80 percent of the population is food insecure, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 fishermen off Gaza coast

Published yesterday (updated) 05/03/2015 13:39
 
(MaanImages/File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and injured as Israeli naval gunboats opened fire at a group of fishing boats off the Mediterranean coast west of the al-Sudaniyya neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip.

Speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen, Nizar Ayyash, identified the victims as Eid Muhsin Bakr and Ziad Fahd Bakr, confirming that one of them is in a serious condition. The two have been evacuated to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Ayyash added that Israel's navy arrested three other fishermen.

The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militant groups stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have opened fire at fishermen within those new limits, and the zone has not yet been expanded. This morning's incident was the fourth of its kind this week alone.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a fishing boat deviated from the designated area and Israeli forces fired warning shots in the air.

"When the boat failed to comply, forces use riot dispersal means, with reports of one Palestinian injured in the foot," she added.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Israeli boats open fire at Gaza fishermen

 
 
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval boats opened fire at fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza on Friday, witnesses said.

Locals said gunfire was heard from the shore of Gaza City as fishermen were at sea.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said "a few vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone" and naval forces fired warning shots in the air.

The boats then turned back, she added.

The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militant groups stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have at times opened fire at fishermen within those new limits, and the zone has not been expanded.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Israeli occupation navy flouts truce, destroys Gaza fishing boat



GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian fishing boat was seriously damaged on Monday afternoon as an Israeli occupation navy boat showered it with machinegun fire off Gaza shores.

Head of Gaza’s fishermen syndicate, Nizar Ayash, said: “An Israeli navy boat opened fire heavily at a small Palestinian fishing boat docked at Gaza’s southern coast, leading to inoperable damage.”

Palestinian medics said no injuries have yet been detected among the fishermen.

Observers said the attack represents a flagrant violation of the Cairo-brokered truce accord stipulating an unconditional cease-fire.

According to Gaza fishermen syndicate, fishing is the chief source of income for over 4,000 hands seeking to nurture some 50,000 Gazans.

Huge damages, estimated at some 6 million dollars, have been wrought on the sector due to the latest Israeli 51-day offensive on the blockaded Strip.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Israeli navy sinks Palestinian fishing boat off Gaza coast

Published yesterday (updated) 13/11/2014 10:38
Palestinian fishermen sit in their boat off the shores of the southern
Gaza Strip town of Rafah, as an Israeli police boat is seen in the
distance, March 26, 2014. (AFP/Said Khatib)
 
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval boats on Wednesday evening fired at and sank a Palestinian fishing boat in the sea off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that army boats fired shells at a boat belonging to the al-Bardaweel family, completely destroying it in the process.

People aboard the boat had jumped in the water by the time the shells hit, and as a result no injuries were reported.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment. An Israeli army radio report, however, appeared to confirm the incident, adding that the fishermen had strayed more than six nautical miles from the shore.

Since the signing of a ceasefire agreement that ended 50 days of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza on Aug. 26, the Israeli navy has fired at Gaza fishermen more than a dozen times under the pretext that they had surpassed fishing zone limits.

The Aug. 26 agreement stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

The fisherman who have been shot at, and even at times detained by Israeli forces, have insisted that they were well within the six-mile limit.

Prior to the recent agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further, despite earlier agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit.

There are 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 and a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The Israeli blockade in place since 2006 has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip -- include materials necessary for building fishing boats -- and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.