Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Scottish activist films Israeli navy shooting at Gaza fishermen

To view original article of the Sunday Herald click here

Claims of 14 deaths in previous incidentsBy Billy Briggs

A SCOTTISH human rights activist has filmed the Israeli navy firing machine guns at unarmed Palestinian fishing boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The footage, taken on September 6 by Andrew Muncie, who is from the Highlands, shows an Israeli gunboat engaging fishing boats while international observers hold their arms in the air and scream for them to stop firing.

No-one was injured in the incident, but Palestinian fishermen claim 14 colleagues have been murdered at sea by the Israeli navy since the onset of an economic blockade imposed after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Israel says patrolling these waters is a vital security measure to stop weapons being smuggled into Gaza.

Muncie, 34, of Dalbreagha, Spean Bridge, is working with the Free Gaza movement and arrived in Gaza last month as part of a group of 40 activists who sailed on two boats from Cyprus in an attempt to breach Israel's blockade. He was accompanied by an 81-year-old nun, an 84-year-old holocaust survivor and Cherie Blair's sister, Lauren Booth.

Most of the activists have since returned to Cyprus, but Muncie and eight others opted to stay on and assist local people, including fishermen.

He said the incident with the Israeli navy took place four miles out to sea at 9.30am. "We had barely left Gaza's coastline behind when the gunboat's heavy machine gun opened up, spraying the wake around our hull with bullets. I've been out with the fishermen on several occasions and seen them the Israeli navy also use explosive shells fired from a cannon, and explosive charges flung into the water near a boat," he said.

Muncie claimed that in a separate incident on September 3, two fishermen were hospitalised and another fishing boat had been rammed and badly damaged in a separate incident last week.

Muncie's mother, Margaret, said: "You feel horror first of all seeing the video because you are seeing images of unarmed people being viciously attacked by military might; anger because there is no justification ever for this kind of action, and because it is illegal as well as immoral. Then terror for your own son's safety, and his friends, and for the brave fishermen who have to face this situation every day.

"And in that mixture of emotions, there is great pride that our Andrew is risking his own safety to defend the rights of others. And I know that John, my husband, feels the same as me, as do our other sons, David and Christopher."

Last month, the Sunday Herald reported claims by Gaza fishermen that they had been attacked at sea.

The Gaza Strip's waters have been patrolled by the Israeli navy since a blockade was imposed after Hamas took control of the Strip. Israel allows in limited supplies of food, fuel and aid but last year tightened economic sanctions in response to rocket attacks by militants on Israeli towns near Gaza.

According to the United Nations, the crisis has left the number of households in Gaza below the poverty line at an unprecedented 52%.

Gaza's fishing industry has been hit particularly hard. Under the 1993 Oslo accords, Gazan fishermen were to be allowed 20 nautical miles out to sea. According to Oxfam, fishermen are now only allowed six miles out to sea - not far enough out to reach the schools of large fish - and risk being shot or arrested if they breach this limit.

The Israeli Embassy in London declined to comment on Muncie's film.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ISM Rafah: Fishing under occupation

September 24th, 2008
Report written by Donna Wallach, ISM volunteer in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine
Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine, 21st September, 2008. On Sunday 21st September, about 5 fishing boats trawled the coast from the Gaza City port. I was on a boat that had been water cannoned the previous day and many of their nets had been damaged as a result. The crew spent most of the morning repairing the nets and at 11:40am we finally left the port for a full day of trawling.
At 12:30pm in the distance we saw two Israeli Naval gunboats, one was very large and was equipped with the water cannon. The regular sized gunboat started patrolling between three fishing boats that were in the same area. At 12:55pm that gunboat started harassing and shooting at one of the fishing boats headed south. I don’t know how far it was offshore, but it definitely wasn’t beyond six miles. At 1:10pm that same gunboat shot at the boat I was on and a soldier yelled “Go south”.
After some time passed and the gunboat was not in the area, the captain of our boat steered towards the north, there are larger fish in the northern Gazan waters, and apparently very tasty – and the fishermen REALLY wanted to catch as many of those fish as they could this day.
As we continued in our north east direction we saw the gunboat with the water cannon pass in the distance. At 1:40pm we saw another regular sized Israeli Naval gunboat approaching. It moved alongside in a threatening move as if to say, don’t go out any further into the sea! Ten minutes later the water cannon gunboat arrived and dowsed our boat and most of the crew with high powered blasts of water. One crew member, Ahmed, fell on the slippery deck and hurt his knee. For some unknown reason the gunboat only water cannoned us once for a brief time, causing no damage to the boat or the nets. I do not know what impact the water cannon has on the fish, much of the high powered blasts of water hit the sea and often times the net too. In any case, as in previous occasions, the smaller gunboat positioned itself on the opposite side of our boat from the water cannon gunboat, ready to shoot and posing a threat, besides blocking us in from escape from the deluge of high powered water. In addition, there were strong waves from the movement of the larger gunboat making our boat rock from side to side and increasing the danger from the blasting water and wet, slippery deck.
Later on in the afternoon, around 3:10, another Israeli Naval gunboat approached very quickly and forced us away from our position in the north of the Gazan territorial fishing waters. Soldiers were shouting to go south, among other things. The gunboat continued to circle our boat in very close proximity and was threatening to shoot. As we changed course and headed south, the gunboat proceeded to circle the boat for a while, and then left.
After the gunboat had been gone for a while, the captain of our boat changed course again and returned to the north, heading closer to shore, the goal of catching that specific fish had not been abandoned. At 4:00pm an Israeli Naval gunboat quickly approached, as it drew nearer I spoke on the VHF informing the Navy that “we are Palestinian fishermen, we are pulling in our net of fish. We have the right to be here. These are internationally recognized Gazan fishing waters. Over.” I repeated this a number of times. Finally a soldier on the gunboat arrogantly replied: “You don’t have the right to be here. Take your fish and go south.” We continued to pull in the net and headed south and out to sea. Only two netfulls of fish and neither of them were big catches, however, they did succeed to catch a number of boxes of the fish they were fishing for and for that they were happy.
The fishing boat headed into port after the sun set, and after eating the evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast for the day. They dropped me off, thanked me for my support, and headed back out to sea for an entire night of fishing. They had been fishing for two days and nights already.
The Israeli Navy controls the Gazan territorial waters under its illegal Occupation of the entire region and its siege of the Gaza Strip. Every day Palestinian fishermen face very real threats to their livelihood, their well being and their lives – a direct result of this decades long Israeli Occupation and this 2 year long siege. The Palestinian fishermen have the human right to a livelihood - to go out and fish, earn a living, feed their families and live their lives. The siege must end, the Occupation must end.

Monday, September 22, 2008

ISM Rafah: Israeli navy use live ammunition and water cannon against Gazan fishermen

September 22nd, 2008
Gaza, 20th September 2008 - Members of ISM in the Gaza Strip accompanied Palestinian fishermen from the port of Gaza.
When they were approximately four nautical miles offshore the fishing vessel was approached by an Israeli gunboat which proceeded to circle it continuously for a while. Shortly after the gunboat withdrew, a larger naval vessel approached from the north-east and began to spray the fishing boat with high-pressure water from a cannon mounted on its bow.
Fortunately no-one was injured during the attack and no damage was done to the boat, largely because the fishermen had taken measures to protect it such as boarding-up the windows. The same boat suffered a similar assault again later in the day.
A second fishing vessel in the vicinity was observed also being attacked by water cannon. In the afternoon an Israeli gunboat closed in on the fishing boat carrying ISM members and fired live ammunition in very close proximity to the boat.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

ISM Rafah: Report from fishing action in Gaza

September 20th, 2008
Report by Donna Wallach - ISM and Free Gaza Movement volunteer reporting on fishing boat actions from Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine.
Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine,19th September, 2008. On the morning of Friday 19th September and the 19th day of Ramadan, about 5 Palestinian fishing boats left Gaza City port for another day of trawling off the coast of Gaza Strip. It was a very clear day and I could easily see the coast the entire day.
When the boat I was on reached 7 miles out, an Israeli Naval gunboat speedily approached and fired at the fishing boat. One of the soldiers called for the captain of the boat and yelled at him to stop the boat. Continuing in a derogatory tone of voice, the Israeli soldier told the captain to only sail up and down the coast and not to go further out into the sea. The captain told the soldier that he needed to go out 10 miles to trawl for fish. I also spoke to the gunboat and reiterated that the fishermen needed to go out ten miles. This time the gunboat did not continue to fire upon this boat. I think in the end we only went out to eight miles. For the remainder of the day we were able to trawl for fish in relative peace.
However, just after the sun went going down, after the meal for breaking the fast for the day, an Israeli Naval gunboat fired upon another Palestinian fishing boat and we heard over the VHF radio an international tell the Israeli Navy “We are Palestinian fishermen, fishing in Palestinian waters. Stop shooting!”
In the evening, the captain of the boat told me that it costs him $1,000 a day of diesel fuel to power his fishing boat. Considering that the catch for the day was small, as it often is for the Palestinian fishermen up and down the coast, it is hard to understand how they succeed to make a living. In addition to the exceptionally high cost of fuel, there are either no spare parts for broken, damaged, or lost equipment, or the cost of the spare parts are ten times the normal cost - the Israeli siege continues to impact every aspect of Palestinian life. The siege must end, now!

Friday, September 19, 2008

ISM Rafah: Israeli navy continues to harass Gazan fishermen

September 19th, 2008
Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine, 18th September 2008 - On Thursday 18th September, at least 7 Palestinian fishing boats left Gaza City port to trawl in Gazan Territorial waters. The Israeli Navy continued it’s daily attacks and harassments on Palestinian fishermen and their boats.
Today the Navy boat with the water cannon was not seen, so no damage to any fishing boats and nobody was injured from high powered water spray. However, the Israeli soldiers on two Israeli Navy gunboats that were patrolling today were exceptionally aggressive and arrogant. One of the gunboats drove by all of the fishing boats and fired at them,going from boat to boat.
On a second gunboat, the Israeli soldiers were harrassing the fishermen, yelling out to them in Hebrew and in Arabic that it was prohibited for them to fish past six miles. The soldiers on the gunboat were informed that according to internationally recognised agreements, the Palestinian fishermen have the right to fish at least 12 miles out. Their response was laughter.
Later on in the afternoon, this same gunboat was sitting in a very threatening way in the water close to one of the Palestinian fishing boats. One of the soldiers was yelling at the captain of the boat in a derogatory tone of voice and using condescending language telling him to stop fishing and to go back to Gaza.
Almost the entire day the Israeli Navy gunboats harrassed the fishermen, either shooting at them or threatening to.
Every day and night Palestinian fishermen try to fish and every day the Israeli Navy does what it can to prevent them. The eyes of the world needs to watch what is happening. The people of the world need to put an end to this constant harassment and attack on Palestinians trying to earn a living and to feed their families. Palestinian fishermen have the right to fish, at least out to 12 miles, in their own waters.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ISM Rafah: ‘Ban the Israeli navy from Gazan territorial waters’

September 18th, 2008
Gazan Territorial Fishing Waters, Gaza Strip. 17th September 2008. On Wednesday 17th September I, along with two other volunteers from ISM Rafah, went out with three different fishing boats from the Gaza City port to trawl for fish. We left the port at about 8:30am.
I was on a boat with fishermen I already knew. We went out about seven and a half miles, put out the net and began to trawl. It wasn’t long before an Israeli Naval gunboat approached, and circled around. The fishermen requested from me to speak with the Israeli Navy. I did make contact with them, telling them that “we were Palestinian fishermen fishing in Gazan waters. Palestinians have the right to fish in Gazan waters, they have the right to a livelihood and to feed their families.”
Someone on the Israeli Naval gunboat said in Hebrew that it was forbidden for the Palestinian fishermen to be out past six miles. I replied that according to International Law, the Palestinian fishermen had the right to fish beyond twelve miles in their territorial waters. His response was to call me “bitch”. Soon after the gunboat opened fire on the fishing boat, aiming, what appeared to me to be toward the center of the boat. The fishermen quickly pulled in their net, not wanting their boat or any of the equipment to be damaged by the gunfire.
We drove back towards the Gaza coast until we reached about six miles out and began trawling again. The gunboat came by again and circled around menacingly. Off in the distance we saw the large Israelli Naval gunboat that has the water cannon stationed at the fore of the boat. We were expecting to get drenched, but were pleasantly surprised when it continued past us without stopping or even aiming the water cannon at us.
The Israeli Navy contacted the boat via VHF again reiterating that it was forbidden for them to fish out beyond six miles. This is an abomination! The large quantities of fish are out beyond the six mile limit, as are the larger fish. The fishermen need to be able to fish in their territorial waters, when and where they want.
It is an outrage that Israeli Naval gunboats patrol the Territorial Gazan Waters at will. They harass, threaten, shoot, damage and terrorize the Palestinian fishermen, their boats and fishing equipment. The Israeli Navy often limits the Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond three or four miles, and sometimes they aren’t permitted to fish at all - this would not be tolerated any place else in the world. Fishing is one of the few sources of Palestinian food left in Gaza Strip. The Israeli Occupation Forces have destroyed much of the farm land and have established an illegal buffer zone on much of the agricultural farm land within the Strip, denying Palestinian farmers their livelihood and the right to feed their families. Making 80% of the Palestinians living in Gaza Strip totally dependent on food aid from UNWRA.
It is time that these collective punishments upon the entire population of Gaza Strip end. The Palestinian people have the human right to live in freedom. Parents have the human right to provide for their children. Children have the human right to go to school and students have the human right to attend University. Farmers have the right to farm their land and fishermen have the right to fish in Gazan territorial waters. This siege must end. Be creative, put pressure on the Apartheid State of Israel to end the siege now – tell your families, your friends, your co-workers that this situation can no longer be tolerated. Ban the Israeli Navy from Gazan Territorial Waters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ISM Rafah: Italian activist injured by Israeli navy off Gaza coast

September 16th, 2008
Two Gazan fishing boats with international human rights workers on board were repeatedly attacked by 2 Israeli gunboats while they were trying to exercise Palestinian people’s right to fish in the Palestinian waters.

One of the Israeli gunboats was using a water cannon to throw water with high pressure while the other one was randomly firing shots of live ammunition close to the fishing boats. The attack with the water cannon was extremely dangerous. The Israeli navy was trying to throw the Palestinian fishermen and the international human rights workers in the sea. The high pressure water was damaging the old boats and people on board had to avoid not only the water but also wooden pieces, shattered glass and others objects that were flying off the deck. The Israeli navy was deliberately targeting the wheelhouses of the fishing boats, smashing the windows, making holes and nearly demolishing the walls and destroying equipment. In the same time it was preventing the captains from steering the vessels and the fishing to take place.
An Italian activist was injured. Vittorio Arrigoni was hit by flying glass when the water canon smashed the glass surrounding the wheelhouse of the boat, with shards lacerating Vittorio’s back. He was been taken to hospital immediately upon reaching shore, requiring ten stitches.
During the water cannon attacks, Palestinian fishermen were trapped behind the machines or even inside the engine room without being able to move for a long time.
During the most severe water cannon attack, a Palestinian fishing boat was trapped between the 2 Israeli gunboats without any possibility to change course. Fact that indicates that the intention of the Israeli navy wasn’t just to push the fishing boats back to the coast but to damage them and harm the people on board.
The Israeli navy persecuted the Gazan fishing boats even inside the 6 miles zone that Israel illegally and seemingly arbitrarily has imposed as the area where Palestinian fishermen are supposed to be free to fish. This zone is far to small to supply the Gaza-strip and give work to the 40.000 Gazan people once involved in the fishing industry.
The two fishing boats suffered damages, part of their equipment was thrown in the sea along with part of their fishing catch.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Israeli terrorism in palestinian sea


On Monday 10th of September, at about 5 pm, at a distance of 6 miles from the gazan coasts, in palestinian waters, an Israeli warship deliberately rushed at high speed against one of our fishing boats, that day without internationals on board.
The impact was devastating for the fragile palestinian fishing boat (as it's shown in the video), the israeli warship ran into one side of the fishing boat, literally passing over it and then going on over and sailing on the opposite side.

On the prow marks left on the wood from the Israeli engine turbines are perfectly visible.

Luckily the boat was fishing at that time and it was, therefore, steady and well-judged in water, otherwise it would have tipped over with all the crew which would have certainly died.

Even more luckily all members of the crew were astern cooking the meal that would have interrupted the Ramandan fast, at about 6 pm.

Unluckily damages for the owner of the boat amount to 50.000 dollars, maybe more.

Fixing them in short time will be impossible since in Gaza under siege is not possible to find all necessary materials.

The only wounded person for this crazy terrorist attack, according to some military sources in Tel Aviv, is an Israeli soldier, since that suicide action seriously compromised also the Israeli crew life.

Palestinian fishermen try every day to go offshore and do their job to survive, but they are always victims of israeli attacks which, against every international agreement and all human rights, as a general punishment, force them in a fishing area limited at 6 miles from the coast. Even though attacks often happen at just 3 miles offshore.

Our presence as internationals, equipped with video cameras, work as a deterrent toward these daily crimes and Israeli terrorism.

A boat captain told me that he was contacted by radio from an israeli warship and threatened in hebrew: "when the internationals will leave Gaza, our revenge will be dreadful".

It's therefore a vital need for these innocent people that a group of internationals could always be present here in Gaza.

I invite all european and american citizens to come here and actively participate to the defense of human rights, joining all of us ISM activists, against every crime and israeli terrorism, to be human.
Stay human.

Vittorio Arrigoni

free gaza movement at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Israeli navy to Gazan fishermen: “When the internationals leave Gaza, you will all be made to pay”

September 11th, 2008
Gazan coastal waters, Gaza, 17:00 Wednesday 10th September 2008 – At high speed an Israeli gunboat rammed a Palestinian fishing vessel. The gunboat smashed through the upper hull, careened over the top of the fishing boat, and landed on the other side.

Extensive damage was caused to the fishing boat. The hull was badly damaged, virtually the entire deck area, all the equipment on it, and the canopy above the deck were severely damaged. Unusually all of the crew happened to be in the cabin and at the fore at the time. Had they been on deck they would have had little chance of survival.

Via a megaphone, the gunboat crew then made the threat that ‘When the internationals leave Gaza, you will all be made to pay.’
Human rights observers from the International Solidarity Movement and from the Free Gaza Movement, have recently been accompanying Gazan Fishermen during their work. The fishermen are constantly harassed, threatened and attacked by the Israelis who in flagrant violation of international law and maritime law, have been attempting to impose a no – go area 6 miles off Gaza’s coast through employment of lethal force. Incidentally and not unusually, this attack happened within the so-called ‘permitted’ area.

The ISM regards the project of accompanying the fishermen as a long term commitment. Some of the human rights observers currently undertaking this work are long term volunteers who will be in Gaza for some time. More long term volunteers are expected to bolster their number within the next few weeks.

ISM Rafah: Israeli navy vessels again open fire on Gazan fishermen

September 11th, 2008

On Monday 8th September at least ten fishing vessels left Gaza City port and traveled out into the Mediterranean Sea up to 10 miles offshore.
ISM volunteers were onboard three of the boats. They were equipped with video cameras to record and document the aggressive actions of the Israeli naval gunboats towards the fishing vessels. As per the volunteers’ experiences on all previous outings, many of the boats were harassed and shot at by the Israeli gunboats. The soldiers on these gunboats are committing war crimes by shooting at unarmed fishermen who are just trying to earn a living and feed their families.
In the afternoon, between 2:30pm and 3:00pm, one gunboat approached three fishing vessels, which were about ten miles offshore, and began to circle one of them multiple times. Using VHF radio, the Israeli gunboat ordered the Gazan fishermen to alter course, saying that their boats were heading into a dangerous area. An ISM volunteer contacted the gunboat asking about the nature of the danger, but did not receive any answer. The gunboat then fired at the fishing vessels in the area with a machine gun and some kind of shells shot from the cannon. The volunteers immediately contacted the gunboat and requested that it stop shooting, stating that unarmed civilian fishermen and international volunteers were aboard the boats. The heavy shooting and shelling continued and one of the fishing boats was obliged to make an emergency call on VHF channel 16. The gunboat continued firing upon the fishing vessels for some time, despite the emergency call.
Most of the vessels were still at sea come sundown. This means that the fishermen were still at sea during Iftar - the time when observant Muslims break the Ramadan fast for the day. Israeli gunboats again attacked some of the vessels at this time.
Despite all the harassment and attacks by the Israeli navy, most of the fishing boats had a remarkably successful day, landing a large quantity of fish.

Video report from Press TV

Israeli gunboats opening fire into the sea very close to Palestinian fishing boats to force them back to the seashores. This came as the Palestinian fishermen were fishing within the allowed Palestinian
territorial waters.

Testimony: Israeli naval vessel rams into boat of Palestinian fisherman and sails over it, opposite Gaza shoreline, Sept. '08

Report B'Tselem

Murad al-Hasi, fisherman

Murad al-Hasi

I live with my wife and our seven children in the a-R imal neighborhood of Gaza City. Since 1988, I ’ve worked as a fisherman. In 1996, my grandfather, my father, and my uncle bought a fishing boat that is 20 meters long, 5 meters wide, and 2.5 meters high. We ’ve been using it to catch fish ever since.

Two days ago [Wednesday, 19 September], at around 10:00 A.M., I went out in the boat. With me were my brother Fares, 30, some of our cousins from the al-Hasi family – Sameh, 30, Shadi, 25, Khaled, 38, and Muhammad, 17 – and ‘Adnan a-Siban, 40. We sailed south from Gaza to a place about six nautical miles [1 nautical mile = 1,852 meters] off the coast of Deir el-Balah. We have a GPS device on the boat to measure our distance from the coast. We spread out the nets in the sea and began to sail slowly, dragging them . That is how we fish . We sailed until we reached Gaza Wharf. We stopped, pulled up the nets, and removed the fish. Then we put the nets back into the sea and drifted north, dragging the nets, until we were opposite the Jabalya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Then we turned around and headed south, back to where we were opposite Gaza Wharf. We stopped and pulled up the nets.

Al-Hasi's boat after the Israeli navy boat damaged it. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 11.9.08
Al-Hasi's boat after the Israeli navy boat damaged it. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 11.9.08

Around 5:30 P.M. [6:30 Israeli time], I saw an Israeli navy boat more than eight nautical miles from the coast . It began to move in our direction. There were three other fishing boats in the water, about 500 meters from us. The Israeli boat moved toward them and circled them in a way that made waves and shook the boats.

After the Israeli boat went around them a few times, it suddenly picked up speed and came toward us with its front part raised out of the water. It hit our boat with great force. The collision damaged the middle section of our boat, which is made of wood and fiberglass. It also damaged the motor that pulls the nets out of the sea.

The navy boat landed on the other side of our boat and continued to move very fast. It was about 20 meters long, six meters wide, and three meters high . Then two other fishermen, Omar and Fuad al-Habil, came with their boats and towed us to shore.

I thank Allah that we were far from the part of the boat that was hit. I was in the command room and the others were sitting behind the room. Nobody was physically injured, but the intensity of the collision knocked Shadi into the water. The others suffered from shock.
I think that the navy soldier who did that was crazy. A sane person wouldn’t do that. I don’t know how he could do that.

Now that our boat is damaged, we’re unemployed and can’t support our families. It will cost about 20,000 dollars to repair the boat. Also, because of the siege, the parts needed for the repair are not available in Gaza.

I don’t understand why this happened to us. We’re simply fishermen who want to support our families in dignity.

Muhammad Murad Rajab al-Hasi, 36, married with seven children, is a fisherman and a resident of Gaza City. His testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah on 11 September 2008 at the fishermen's wharf in Gaza.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ISM Rafah: Fishing in Gaza

September 10th, 2008
Saturday 6th September, it was just 09:30 and we were only 4 miles out to sea, having barely left Gaza’s coastline behind, when the gunboat’s heavy machine gun opened up, spraying the wake around our hull with bullets.
There was no surprise. We’d just spent the previous 10 minutes watching as this Israeli gunboat harried another vessel from our fishing fleet. It would accelerate into an attack run, only to veer off at the last moment before collision, battering the fishing boat with its wake. It would pull alongside screeching threats and commands to stop over the megaphone. Throughout, its machine barked menacingly, peppering the air and water around the boat with bullets.
When our turn came, our skipper just stuck steadfast to his course, neither slowing down nor speeding up. The crew continues preparing the nets, only pausing briefly to consider the crack of the machine gun and the trajectory of the bullets that were coming their way. This morning they were going to fish.
They had to fish. How could they stop and turn back now? Why would they stop when they hadn’t even reached the so-called ‘6 mile limit’ (not some agreed perimeter, not some internationally recognized boundary, indeed not even a border which had ever been officially declared or communicated to them, but just an arbitrary and elastic space delineated with the threat of gunfire). And of course this gunboat was probably just toying with them as others like it had done so often before. These shots were most likely simply warning shots. Not like those which hospitalized 2 fishermen 3 days ago. Not like those that killed 14 of their colleagues in the last few years. Probably.
As expected, the gunboat got bored, perhaps even embarrassed with its failure to force some sort of response. It withdrew and began slowly patrolling slowly back and forth, as if nothing had happened. This respite was welcome but brief. In the early afternoon another gunboat appeared on the horizon, heading in our direction at full speed. It tore in and out of our fleet again and again, weaving between our boats as if flags in a slalom ski course. A few bursts from its machine gun and it left just as promptly as it appeared.
Before long and the light began to fade. All in our fleet were heading back to Gaza City, dragging their nets for the last time that day. We waited eagerly in anticipation of Iftar and the time when we could break our fast. Two of the men had already begun preparing the Ramadan supper, frying fish and prawns from that day’s catch. We gazed out across the sea, calculating how long it would be before the low sun finally met the horizon.
Suddenly another gunboat appeared with a definite menace apparent in its speed and course. Its cannon roared twice, the shells narrowly missing one of the leading boats, exploding in the water. Tracer bullets then pierced the dim light streaking across the sky just as the gunboat swerved again and went for another target. Its cannon roared a third time, and we tried to film, but the light was now so dim and the boat far away. But it mattered not. The fishermen insisted we stop, for the Ramadan supper was ready and their course was already set.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Israeli army open fire of Gazan fishermen and international activists

September 4th, 2008
On the 1st September 2008, the first day of Ramadan, several volunteers with the Free Gaza Movement and the International Solidarity Movement accompanied a small fleet of seven fishing vessels from Gaza City port.

The fishermen exercised their right to fish in Gazan territorial waters, providing them with a livelihood and providing food for the besieged people of Gaza. The fishing fleet reached approximately nine miles offshore and began trawling along the Gazan coast, well within international limits. Usually the Israeli Navy prevents Gazan fishing vessels from accessing beyond six miles and in many cases only three miles, by attacking the boats, sometimes lethally, or by arresting the fishermen. However, this day’s fishing resulted in a highly successful catch due to the ability to access richer fishing grounds further offshore.
Two Israeli Naval gunboats approached the fleet soon after leaving port and began firing “warning shots” shortly afterwards. They were aware that internationals were on some of the boats. The Israeli Navy continued shooting multiple times at the fishing vessels, one of which was fired upon at least seven times. They also deployed explosive charges in the water and attempted to de-stabilise some of the boats by creating a strong wake. Communication was established with the Israeli Navy via VHF radio, informing them that everyone onboard were unarmed civilians and requesting that the Israeli Navy stop shooting.

The volunteers will continue to join Gazan fishing expeditions on a regular basis and will monitor Israeli aggressions towards the fishermen. Video and written documentation will be posted publicly and made available to journalists. The Israeli Navy will not be informed as to when the volunteers will join the fishermen, nor the ports they will sail from, since this is not within their jurisdiction. Also no indication will be made as to which vessels have internationals onboard.

PCHR report 28/8-3/9/2008: 2 fishermen injured

PCHR weekly report No. 36/2008 28 Aug. - 03 Sep. 2008

Monday, 1 September

At approximately 06:00, an IOF gunboats fired a shell at a Palestinian fishing boat that was sailing 50 meters opposite to Beit Lahia seashore in the northern Gaza Strip. Two fishermen who were on the boat were wounded:

1. Mohammed Nouri al-Sultan, 18, from al-Salatin area in Beit Lahia, wounded by shrapnel throughout the body;

2. Hussam Fat’hi al-Sultan, 32, from al-Salatin area in Beit Lahia, wounded by shrapnel to the head and the hands.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Free Gaza Movement: Israeli naval vessels firing on unarmed fishing boats and Human Rights Workers

September 1st, 2008
For Immediate Release
(OFF THE COAST OF GAZA) 1 September 2008 - Israeli Naval vessels are currently firing on unamrmed Palestinian fishing boats and international
human rights workers off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The fishing boats are several miles off the coast of Gaza City, in Palestinian territorial
waters. As of 11am (4am EST) no one had been injured, but live ammunition is still being fired in the direction of the civilian boats.
The unarmed boats went to sea at dawn this morning, in an attempt to fish in their own water. Six international human rights workers from five different countries accompanied the fishermen in the hopes that their presence would deter the Israeli military from firing on the fishermen. In the past the Israeli military has shot and killed unarmed Palestinian fishermen for trying to fish in their own waters.
Accompanying the fishermen are:
Vittorio Arrigoni, Italy
Georgios Karatzas, Greece
Adam Qvist, Denmark
Andrew Muncie, Scotland
Donna Wallach, USA
Darlene Wallach, USA

Free Gaza Movement: Human Rights Workers to accompany Gaza fishermen on Monday September 1st, 2008

GAZA CITY (1 September 2008) - Human Rights Observers from the Free Gaza Movement and the International Solidarity Movement launch campaign to monitor Israeli naval aggression against Gazan fishermen.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, “Under the Oslo accords, which in 1993 were supposed to herald the coming of an independent Palestinian state, Gazan fishermen were to be allowed 20 nautical miles out to sea, where they could catch sardine as they migrated from the Nile delta up towards Turkey during the spring. But Israeli naval ships in recent years have imposed their own, much-reduced limits, sometimes fewer than 6 miles out.” Israel enforces these arbitrary limits with lethal violence. Many fishermen have either been killed or injured as a result. Just 3 days ago 4 such fishermen were attacked and “arrested” by Israeli gunboats.
This Monday morning, human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement will accompany fishermen from Gaza City as they venture out to assert their right to fish their own coastal waters. The aim of these internationals will be to record and document the continued harassment of the Palestinian fishermen, and the arbitrary attacks and threats to which they are subjected. It is hoped that their presence will also act as some form of deterrent to these abuses.
The scope of the campaign extends beyond Gaza City all the way along Gaza’s coast. Human Rights Workers may be present on any Gazan fishing boat, at any time from this point onward. The boats on which they are present will not be specially marked.

Videos about the situation of Gazan fishermen in 2008

Two videos about the situation of the Palestinian fishermen in 2008.