Tuesday, April 12, 2016

IDF fires on Gaza fishermen despite expanded fishing zone

 972mag.com

One Palestinian fisherman is reportedly wounded by Israeli navy fire, four are arrested and their boats seized. The size of the zone where Israel allows Gazans to fish changes at the whims of Israeli military commanders and politicians, who have in the past openly discussed how they use it as collective punishment.

By Haggai Matar and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

Fisherman reel in their nets off the shore of the Gaza Strip. File photo. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
Fisherman reel in their nets off the shore of the Gaza Strip. File photo. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
The Israeli navy opened fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip Saturday morning. No injuries were reported.

On Friday Israeli naval forces arrested four Palestinian fishermen off the southern Gaza coast. Israel released three of the four men Saturday morning. The fourth, who was reportedly wounded by naval gunfire, was expected to be released later in the day.

According to witnesses cited by both the Ma’an and Wafa news agencies, both incidents took place within the designated fishing zone.

Earlier this week the Israeli army expanded the area in which it permits Palestinians to fish from six to nine nautical miles off the coast. Palestinians are still not allowed to venture more than six nautical miles off the coast in the northern half of the Strip.

The limitations affect the amount and types of fish that can be caught, and results in overfishing within the permitted areas.

A Palestinian fisherman and his son sell their catch in the Gaza City fish market. File photo. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
A Palestinian fisherman and his son sell their catch in the Gaza City fish market. File photo. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
According to the Oslo Accords which created the systems that defined the mechanisms according to which the Israeli military rules Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel agreed to allow fishermen in Gaza to operate freely in a zone extending 20 nautical miles off the coast.

The Israeli army has not abided by that commitment for the past decade. Israeli authorities first shrunk the zone to 10 nautical miles, then three nautical miles. As part of a cease-fire agreement with Hamas after the 2014 Gaza war, however, Israel agreed to expand the zone to six nautical miles.
The size of the permitted fishing zone changes at the whim of Israeli military commanders and politicians, who have in the past openly discussed how they use it as collective punishment against civilians in response to rocket fire from armed groups. Sometimes Israeli naval forces simply announce via loudspeakers that they are reducing the size of the zone on a given day.

Palestinian fishermen regularly report that Israeli naval forces harass them, shoot at them, and seize their boats well within the authorized zone. Even when the army admits shooting Palestinian fishermen inside the zone, nobody is held accountable.

Illustrative photo of s sailor in the Israeli navy manning a machine gun. (IDF Spokesperson)
Illustrative photo of s sailor in the Israeli navy manning a machine gun. (IDF Spokesperson)
There were at least 139 incidents in which Israeli military forces fired on Palestinian fishermen in 2015, wounding at least 24 fishermen and damaging at least 16 fishing boats, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). An additional six incidents involved artillery shells. The IDF arrested at least 71 fishermen and seized 22 boats in the same period.

Israel’s decade-old siege on the Gaza Strip, reinforced by Egypt, is enforced through a military blockade on Gaza’s land and sea borders, full control of the Strip’s airspace and the destruction of its only airport. Despite the fact that Israel pulled its troops out of Gaza in 2005 the army still controls the Strip’s currency (the new Israeli shekel), the population registry, large parts of the electricity and water grids, all imports and exports, and decides who may enter and exit through the only regularly open passenger border crossing.

Furthermore, the Israeli army still controls movement inside the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops maintain a no-go zone several hundred meters from the border fence. Palestinian farmers and protesters who enter the no-go zone, which comprises a significant portion of Gaza’s arable land, are regularly fired upon and sometimes killed.

Earlier this year +972 revealed that the army had begun spraying herbicides and germination inhibitors inside the Gaza Strip, damaging some 420 acres of Palestinian-owned crops. The army also regularly enters the Gaza Strip in order to clear brush and other obstacles to its line of sight which it claims Palestinian militants can use to launch attacks against Israeli troops.

The Israeli army also restricts the cellular internet speeds residents of the Gaza Strip may enjoy. The army decides with whom Gaza businesses may conduct trade, including whether they can trade with other Palestinians in the West Bank, what goods they may trade, and every other aspect of imports and exports.

A shorter version of this article first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

April 8, 2016 12:43 A.M. (Updated: April 8, 2016 12:43 A.M.)


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces on Thursday detained two Palestinian fishermen off the Gazan coast for allegedly heading beyond the designated nine-nautical-mile fishing zone.
Amjad al-Sharafi, an official with the fishermen's union, told Ma'an that Israeli boats detained the fishermen, identified as Iyad Allun and Raed Abu Odeh, off the coast of Khan Younis and left their boat drifting at sea before it was towed back to shore by other fishermen. 
Israeli forces regularly detain Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza claiming they went beyond the designated fishing zone, which was recently extended from six to nine nautical miles.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats throughout 2015.
The center said that Israeli naval forces also opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year, wounding 24 and damaging 16 fishing boats.
"These attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living," the center said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Israeli naval forces detain 14 Palestinian fishermen, seize boats


Dec. 22, 2015 10:57 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2015 7:36 P.M.) 
 
Palestinian fishermen collect their catch off the coast of Gaza City on July 6, 2014 (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)
 
GAZA (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces early Tuesday detained 14 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip near Beit Lahiya and seized their boats, local officials said.
 
Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that Amjad Zayed, Sami al-Sultan, and two other fishermen who were not identified were detained by naval forces after their fishing boat was confiscated.
 
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the syndicate of Gaza fishermen, Nizar Ayyash, told Ma'an that Israeli naval boats had escorted other fishermen in their boats to the Israeli port of Ashdod, north of Gaza.Ayyash said 10 had been detained, identifying them as Atif Ahid Bakir and his son Muhib Atif Bakir, Muhammad Ahid Bakir, Mahmoud Zuheir al-Ashwah, Yusri Miqdad, Khalil Bahjat Bakir, Bahjat Khalil Bakir, Shadi Jihad Bakir, Hasan Zaki Bakir and Muhammad Jamal Bakir.
 
It was not clear if the 14 fishermen were detained in separate incidents.
 
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that naval forces on Tuesday opened fire into the air after calling on “two vessels that deviated from the designated fishing zone” to halt.
 
After the vessels "refused to halt," they were "escorted" to a nearby port, where the spokesperson said the forces would decide whether or not to confiscate the vessels.
 
Israeli-imposed blockade on the territory forces fishermen to work within a limited "designated fishing zone" off the coast of the besieged enclave, but Israeli naval forces frequently shoot at fishermen working within these limits, according to documentation by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
 
Due to high frequency of attacks, live fire at fishing boats often goes unreported.
 
The group recorded at least 117 incidents of forces opening fire on fishermen in the first nine months of 2015, injuring 22 Palestinians.
 
"These attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living," the center said.
 
In the same period, at least 15 Palestinian fishermen were detained.
 
Despite Israel's pledge to expand the fishing zone following the war in the summer of 2014, the limits have remained while the over nine-year blockade imposed by Israel has devastated the livelihood of the around 4,000 fishermen living in the coastal enclave. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

Nov. 16, 2015 10:16 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 16, 2015 11:22 A.M.)

 
 
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses said.
 
Locals said the fishermen sustained moderate injuries after being targeted off the coast near Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza by Israeli naval forces.
 
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that three fishing boats deviated from the designated fishing area and Israeli forces fired warning shots in the air, with no reports of injuries.
 
Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian fishermen and farmers since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip.
At least three Palestinian fishermen have been shot dead by Israeli forces since last September.
 
On Nov. 5, Egyptian military forces shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip.Egypt upholds the Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents.
 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Egyptian army shoots, kills Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast

Nov. 5, 2015 6:08 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 5, 2015 6:08 P.M.)

Palestinian fishermen stand on a boat in the harbor of Gaza City. (AFP/Roberto Schmidt, File)

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian military forces shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Health in the besieged enclave said.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson of the ministry, said Firas Mohammad Miqdad, 18, from Rafah was shot in the abdomen by Egyptian forces while at sea and died from his injuries.It is unclear why Egyptian forces opened fire.In May, Egyptian naval forces opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a fisherman from Rafah.Egypt upholds an Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents.The threat from Egyptian forces comes as Palestinian fishermen already face daily risks in order to make a living, including routine harassment from Israeli naval forces, confiscation of boats and materials, detention, and potentially death.

Israeli forces reportedly fired towards Palestinian fishing boats on a daily basis last week, according to documentation by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Israeli Attacks on Fishermen in the Gaza Sea

PCHR

Thursday, 08 October 2015 00:00

Israeli Naval forces continued to carry out attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period (01-30 September 2015), including 7 shooting incidents that resulted in wounding a child accompanying his father on Beit Lahia shore. Moreover, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented 3 shelling incidents by Israeli gunboats and a crash incident due to which fishing boat was drowned.

The Israeli naval forces did not comply with the ceasefire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian auspices on 26 August 2014.  This agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea.  According to PCHR's investigations, all attacks took place within the distance of 6 nautical miles, which proves that Israeli forces' policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip's fishermen and their livelihoods.

Violations of the International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

Israel’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen, who do not pose any threat to Israeli soldiers, in the Gaza Strip constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, relevant to the protection of the civilian population and respect for its rights, including every person's right to work, and the right to life, liberty and security of person, as codified in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), despite the fact that Israel is a State Party to the Covenant.  Furthermore, these attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living.  Israeli violations in the reporting period were as follows:
  
First: Shooting Incidents

During the reporting period, PCHR documented 7 shooting incidents and 3 shelling ones.  The shooting incidents took place within the allowed fishing area as follows: the northern Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis. One of the shooting incidents led to injuring a child while he was accompanying his father on Beit Lahia shore.

Second: A child wounded adjacent to northern Gaza Strip shore.

- At approximately 18:00, 03 September 2015, Israeli forces stationed inside the watchtowers adjacent to al-Seyafa area, northwest of Beit Lahia village, north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of fishermen who were angling in the vicinity of the border fence. As a result, Belal Omer Yousef Abu Amr, 10, from al-Manshiya area in Beit Lahia village, sustained a bullet wound to the right thigh while he was accompanying his father, who was angling 50 meters away from the border fence.  Abu Amr was taken to Kmal 'Edwan Hospital to receive medical treatment, where a medical source stated that his wound was moderate.    

Third: Damaging Fishing Equipment

- At approximately 19:30 on 26 September 2015, an Israeli gunboat collided with a fishing boat that was sailing within 3 nautical miles off Khan Yunis shore. 
Foaad al-'Amoudy, head of the Fishermen Syndicate, said to PCHR's fieldworker that an Israeli gunboat approached a fishing boat owned by him along with three other persons. The aforementioned fishing boat was sailing within 3 nautical miles off Khan Yunis shore. The Israeli gunboat pointed torches at the fishing boat and then collided with, due to which the fishing boat was drowned. The fishing boat owners headed to the place later, where the boat sank, but they did not find it.

Table of Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in the Gaza Strip in September 2015

Month
Shooting
Shelling
Injuries
Damaging Fishing Nets
September 2015
7
3
1
1

Table of Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2015
Month
Firing
Injuries
Arrest Incidents
Number of Detainees
Confiscation of Fishing Boats
Confiscation of Fishing nets
Damaging Fishing Equipment
January
12
4
2
8
1
2
4
February
15
-
-
-
-
-
-
March
12
2
2
6
3
-
1
April
15
1
-
-
-
-
2 (fishing boat – net)
May
27
7
1
2
1
1
3
June
10
4
-
14
3
2
3
July
7
3
-
8
4
-
-
August
6
-
-
2
1
-
1
September
7
1
-
-
-
-
1 fishing boat
Total
111
22
-
40
13
5
15

Monday, October 12, 2015

IOF opens heavy machinegun fire at Gazan fishermen



GAZA, (PIC)--  Israeli naval gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire Monday morning at the Palestinian fishing boats off the coasts of the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported during the attack.

Israeli gunboats targeted the Palestinian fishermen off the coasts of Central Gaza Strip, local sources said.

Israeli navy also targeted Palestinian fishing boats off the coasts of Rafah city in southern Gaza, sources added.

The fishermen were forced to leave the sea due to heavy firing, while no injuries were reported in both attacks.

Israeli gunboats open gunfire at Palestinian fishermen and their boats on daily basis in violation of the ceasefire agreement reached on Aug. 26, 2014 between Israeli forces and Palestinian resistance with Egyptian mediation.