Friday, January 29, 2010

Medics: Gaza fisherman seriously hurt by naval fire

Gaza – Ma'an – A Palestinian fisherman was injured overnight by Israeli warships, when they opened fire on a cluster of small fishing boats of the Rafah coast before sunrise on Friday, medics said.

Medical sources at Abu Yousef Najar Hospital identified the injured man as 39-year-old Wael Al-Bardawil, who arrived in critical condition after sustaining gunshot wounds to the back.

Al-Bardawil was transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis once he was stabilized, medics said. He is being kept in the intensive care unit.

An Israeli military spokesman said the navy was not familiar with any such incident.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report on the Protection of Civilians for 2009 said Israeli policing of the Gaza fishing waters and the resulting reduction of areas accessible by Palestinian fishermen "has been the main factor behind the sharp decline in the fishing catch from 3,117 tonnes in 2008 to 1,850 tonnes in 2009, according to the Fishing Syndicate in Gaza."

PCHR weekly report 21-27/1/2010: More israeli attacks against fishermen

Sunday, 24 January 2010

At approximately 00:15, Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to Beit Lahiya beach in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  Palestinian fishermen were forced to sail back to the beach; no casualties were reported. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2010 

At approximately 05:00, Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to Beit Lahiya beach in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  Palestinian fishermen were forced to sail back to the beach.  No casualties were reported.   

Gaza fishermen risk lives for survival

Erin Cunningham, Foreign Correspondent
  • Last Updated: January 27. 2010 11:03PM UAE / January 27. 2010 7:03PM GMT
The other side of Gaza’s maritime boundary is home to a large variety of fish.  
Heidi Levine for The National
Gaza City //
While the rest of the Gaza Strip is deep in slumber, Fathi Sayadi, 30, and his brother, Hatem, 26, steal away under the cover of darkness and into neighbouring Egyptian waters.

Using small, dinghy-style boats purchased especially for their covert missions, the Sayadis slip across the border with Egypt, returning to the Gaza Strip with their contraband just before dawn.

But, as Israel often claims, they are not using their boats to smuggle weapons into the Hamas-run territory. They are instead among a growing number of impoverished fishermen crossing the Gaza-Egypt maritime border to buy fresh fish from the country’s nearby port cities and Egyptian fishermen out at sea.

The Sayadi brothers say the Israeli navy caught them as they crossed back into Gaza from Egypt for the fourth time on January 15 and questioned them about their trip, something the Israeli military confirmed. But they are unfazed.

“We will go again whenever the weather gets better,” Fathi Sayadi said, as dark thunderclouds rolled in off of Gaza’s coast. “It is better to go at night, but it depends on when we can afford the fuel. We buy whatever we can from the Egyptians, even if it’s just the leftover fish.”

Israel and Egypt sealed their borders with the Palestinian coastal enclave after Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. The ensuing economic blockade, which bans all commercial imports and exports to and from the territory, also prohibits Gaza’s 3,500 fishermen from trawling beyond 5.5km, down from the 37km limit stipulated by the Oslo Accords.

Seventy per cent of Gaza’s annual sardine catch, which is about 1,800 metric tonnes, is found outside the Israeli-imposed fishing zone, says the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The other side of the barrier, patrolled heavily by Israeli warships, is also home to at least a dozen other varieties of fish and seafood, including octopus, shrimp, tuna and crab.

The industry makes up between two per cent and four per cent of the Palestinian gross domestic product, according to the United Nations. Palestinian GDP was approximately US$4.5 billion (Dh16.5bn) in 2009, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Central Statistics.

“The fishermen do not feel at all safe at sea,” said Stephane Beytrison, the head of the Red Cross field office here. “Not all of them have GPS [global positioning systems], and in some cases even that doesn’t make a difference. They can be shot when they are three miles out or just two, they never know.”

The Sayadi brothers and several other fishermen who have also crossed the border but wished to remain anonymous say they stay close to shore when they make the 90km journey to the Egyptian seaside town of Al Arish. The Sayadis got the idea from their father, they say, who was a fisherman for 40 years and would dip his boat into Egyptian waters to visit friends. Now, the fishermen say, they do it out of necessity.

“If our sea were open, our fish would be better,” Fathi Sayadi said. “But in Egypt, they have access to all the things we don’t. I have four children and my brother has two. What can we do?”

The fishermen buy the Egyptian fish for what they say are good prices in Egyptian pounds, then sellit at a higher price on the Gaza market. They claim to make about 500 shekels (Dh492) in profit with each trip, which goes towards fuel and paying the salaries of workers they hire to transport the fish to market.

In comparison, the average monthly salary of a Gaza fisherman is just 250 shekels, down from 1,300 shekels before the blockade, according to the Red Cross.

“Isn’t it ridiculous that fishermen are required to buy fish from other fishermen, in another country?” said Abu Nidal, an elderly fisherman whom many of the Gaza City seamen consider to be their de-facto leader. “We used to export our fish. But now we import – and we barely do even that.”

The head of the fishing department at Gaza’s ministry of agriculture, who asked to be referred to as Abu Yusuf because of his affiliation with the Fatah-led government in Ramallah, estimates between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the fish in Gaza’s market comes from Egypt, whether through the tunnels or from fishermen making the risky trip across the border.

A further five per cent is imported from Israel, and the market works against other local fishermen as a result, officials here say. According to Ahmed Araf, a merchant at Gaza City’s fish market, 300 grams of denise, a local variety of whitefish, used to sell for 100 shekels. Now, with more fish coming from Egypt, the price has dropped to 40 shekels.

Abu Yusuf said the government in Ramallah sends cash provisions to Gaza fishermen to help them deal with the losses. But it is not enough to keep them from their daring night-time jaunts into Egypt, the fishermen say.

“If they don’t want us to go to Egypt, then open the sea,” Abu Nidal said. “End the siege and just let us fish, so that we can live.”

Israeli vessels open heavy fire at Palestinian fishermen

Military and Security    1/28/2010 11:46:00 AM

GAZA, Jan 28 (KUNA) - Israeli military boats opened heavy machinegun fire against Palestinian fishermen sailing off the coasts of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said.
No casualties were reported, while the fishermen were forced to sail back to the shores to aviod injury, they added.
The Israeli vessels are in constant attack of Palestinian fishing boats under the pretext that the boats cross the three-mile mark.
Israel claims that the Palestinian factions use the fishing boats to smuggle weapons and bombs and take them to Gaza.(end) 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Israeli Navy Fire Upon Gazan Fishermen

Thursday January 28, 2010 13:11 by Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMC News & Agencies

Israeli military boats have fired upon Gazan fishermen in Palestinian water this Thursday. The attack allegedly occurred in waters near the Rafah border crossing, off the southern coast of Gaza.

Gaza fishermen boat attacked by the Israeli naval forces – file photo 2009
According to a fisherman's testimony, Israeli gun-ships fired upon the Palestinian vessels, sending them back to shore with damaged boats.

Since the Israeli blockade upon Gaza, attacks on fishermen have steadily increased.

A number of them have been killed and many more have been detained by the Israeli military.

The Palestinian Fishermen Trade Union in Gaza warns that the fishing industry is at the verge of collapse due to Israeli prohibitions that severely limit where Gazans are permitted to fish.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

IOF Arrests Seven Palestinian Fishermen, Seizes their Boats on Rafah Coast, Al Mezan Condemns IOF Violations and Calls for International Protection


The Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) escalation in Gaza has continued. Violations against Palestinian fishermen have increased recently. At approximately 9:30pm on Saturday 16 January 2010, the IOF opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats, arrested seven fishermen and seized their boats off the Rafah coastline.

According to information collected by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, at approximately 9:30pm on Saturday 16 January 2010, the IOF opened fire on three Palestinian fishing boats as the boats were heading out to fish in the sea. Seven fishermen were on board the boats. The boats were outside the zone Israel deems restricted. Palestinian fishermen are not allowed to approach the border fence with Egypt. When the boats were attacked, they were less than 500 meters west of  the fishermen haven in Rafah; i.e. far away from the restricted zone. According to eyewitnesses, five IOF rubber boats advanced towards the Palestinian boats, opened fire on  them and detained seven of them. The IOF also confiscated their boats. Al Mezan identified the arrested fishermen as follows:
·            Salim Jamal Hasan Nu'man, 32;
·            Mohammed Ahmed Al-Qirim, 38;
·            'Awwad 'Awad Sayid As-Sa'idi, 43;
·            Awad Munir Awad As-Sa'idi, 28;
·            Ra'ed Sa'id Jamil Al-'Ashi, 25;
·            Safwat As-Sultan, 26; and
·            Zaki Taroush, 45.

 Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the escalation of the IOF violations against Palestinian fishermen. This new escalation comes as the IOF is tightening the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. This new Israeli violation supports the fact that the IOF prevents fishermen from working, even when they are within the Israeli-determined fishing zone, which the IOF announced in March 2009. The attack on the fishermen violates their rights, inter alia, to security, adequate standard of living, and to work. Al Mezan is concerned about the treatment of the fishermen and the possibility of subjecting them to torture and/or inhumane and degrading treatment.

Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to intervene and provide effective protection for Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, including fishermen in the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses: Israeli navy detains four off Gaza coast, open fire

Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli navy detained four Palestinian fishermen and held two boats off the Rafah coast of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, according to witnesses.

Witnesses say Israeli naval boats approached the fishermen, opened fire, and detained four members of the As-Sa'idi family.
Israeli navy detained four Palestinian fishermen and held two ships off Rafah coast in the south of the Gaza Strip.

Additionally, the Israeli navy dispersed fishermen in Rafah, Khan Younis and the An-Nusseirat Refugee Camp, as Deir Al-Balah saw intensive shooting, witnesses say.

An Israeli military spokesman was unable to verify the incidents presently.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fishermen: Israeli warships fire on boats in three locations

Gaza – Ma'an – Israeli war boats opened fire on Gaza's fishermen and their boats on the shores of the central Gaza Strip, further south near Khan Younis and again in the Rafah coastal area on Friday morning, dozens of witnesses reported.

Locals said boats quickly returned to shore, and there were no immediate reports of injuries or damages, while one of the targeted fishermen condemned the act, saying the warships fire on fishermen only to prevent them from making a living and supporting their families.

Israeli military spokespeople could not be reached for comment.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

IOF Gunboats Open Fire at Palestinian Fishermen in North Gaza


At app. 3pm on Thursday 7 January 2010, Israeli military boats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats on the coast of Beit Lahyia, in the North Gaza District. No injuries or causalities were reported but fishermen left the area.

Friday, January 8, 2010

IOF Open Fire at Palestinian Fishermen on An-Nuseirat and Deir Al-Balah Coast


 Al Mezan

At app. 11pm on Tuesday 5 January 2010, the Israeli military boats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats on the coast of An-Nuseirat and Deir Al Balah, in the middle of the Gaza Strip. No injuries or causalities were reported.

PCHR weekly report 30/12/2009-5/1/2010: first attack against fishermen of the year

extract from PCHR weekly report No. 01/2010 30 Dec 2009- 05 Jan. 2010

Saturday, 02 January 2010 

At approximately 23:00, Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to Beit Lahiya beach in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  Palestinian fishermen were forced to return to the shore.  No casualties were reported. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fishing Under Fire REPORT 2009

Since the declaration of the "ceasefire"(18/1/2009), till the end of the year:
  • 68 abductions of fishermen have been reported (at least 2 fishermen abducted twice) and 29 "confiscations" of fishing boats. Several fishing boats have been returned but with damages and equipment missing, and at least one hassaka (small fishing boat) was stolen again.
  • 1 Greek boat of the Free Gaza Movement ("Spirit of Humanity", official name "Arion") was seized and confiscated and all the 21 passengers and crew abducted and later deported.
  • Israel claims to have further reduced the fishing zone to 3 nautical miles, but in fact is attacking Palestinian fishermen and other civilians even on shore
This report is based on reports by ISM Gaza Strip activists, reports by human rights organizations (such as PCHR and Al Mezan) and reports by media.