Thursday, March 28, 2013

Urgent appeal: Illegal restrictions on fishing access to the Palestinian territorial waters

Illegal restrictions on fishing access to the Palestinian territorial waters 


Posted on: Saturday, March 23, 2013
[Please click on TAKE ACTION BOX below to actually send the letter from the source website]

Alert



URGENT APPEALRef: UA 05 / 13.

VIOLATIONS: illegal restrictions on fishing access to the Palestinian territorial waters

Under the government of Israel’s illegal occupation, Palestinian families are severely deprived of a vital food source because of Israel’s illegal restrictions placed on access by fishermen to the Palestinian territorial waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

In the years since 1994, the area in which Israel allows Palestinian fishermen to fish has been gradually reduced from the 20 nautical miles provided for under the Oslo Accords to 3 nautical miles in 2009 as part of a naval blockade imposed through the use of live fire, harassment, and unlawful arrests and arbitrary detention. The severely limited fishing area, combined with a near total ban on exports, has brought Gaza’s fishing industry to the brink of collapse, bringing the number of working fishermen from approximately 10,000 in 1999 to less than 3,200 today.

Please press the TAKE ACTION BOX to send letter of protest to H.E. OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, H.E. RIYAD H MANSOUR, Ambassador,  Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine and H.E. RON PROSOR, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations and PCHR.

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Appeal

 H.E. OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER, 
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food

Your Excellency

Under the government of Israel’s illegal occupation, Palestinian families are severely deprived of a vital food source because of Israel’s illegal restrictions placed on access by fishermen to the Palestinian territorial waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The responsibilities of your office are to  ensure that member states  fulfil their legal obligations as  set out in article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). 

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in General Comment No. 12 also defined the obligations that States parties have to fulfil in order to implement the right to adequate food at the national level. These are as follows:

  • The obligation to respect existing access to adequate food requires States parties not to take any measures that result in preventing such access;
  • The obligation to protect requires measures by the State to ensure that enterprises or individuals do not deprive individuals of their access to adequate food;
  • The obligation to fulfill (facilitate) means the State must pro-actively engage in activities intended to strengthen people's access to and utilization of resources and means to ensure their livelihood, including food security;
  • Whenever an individual or group is unable, for reasons beyond their control, to enjoy the right to adequate food by the means at their disposal, States have the obligation to fulfill (provide) that right directly. This obligation also applies for persons who are victims of natural or other disasters. 

The United Nations has been aware that since Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza that the people of Gaza’s right to food i.e. the right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access has been violated by Israel and in the 7 years the United Nations has failed the  people of Gaza particularly in the near collapse of the essential fishing industry.

In the years since 1994, the area in which Israel allows Palestinian fishermen to fish has been gradually reduced from the 20 nautical miles provided for under the Oslo Accords to 3 nautical miles in 2009 as part of a naval blockade imposed through the use of live fire, harassment, and unlawful arrests and arbitrary detention. The severely limited fishing area, combined with a near total ban on exports, has brought Gaza’s fishing industry to the brink of collapse, bringing the number of working fishermen from approximately 10,000 in 1999 to less than 3,200 today.

Under the November 2012 ceasefire between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, the fishing limit was supposedly extended to six nautical miles. Fishermen began to sail further out to sea, resulting in somewhat greater yields of fish. However, attacks against fishermen continued, even within the previous three mile limit. 

Since 2003, the following  Palestinian  fishermen have been killed by Israel:
- Sa’id Nader al-‘Attar, (29), 24/5/2007 ( according to PCHR killed on shore, PSP killed off shore
- Hamdan Mohammed (or Mahmoud) Barhoum, (24) 21/12/2006 
- Hani al-Najar, (27), 2/10/2006 
- Natheer Farhat, (37), 10/12/2005 
- Ziyad Al-Bardawil, (22) 3/12/2005 

Between 22 November 2012 and 28 February 2013, Israel has violated the terms of the Egyptian-brokered truce, post Operation Pillar of Cloud, over 108 times, including, 41 shooting incidents, resulting in 4 injuries. In addition, 42 fishermen have been detained in 11 arrest incidents. Furthermore, 8 boats have been damaged, and 8 boats have been confiscated.

Israel’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, who do not pose any threat to the security of the Israeli naval forces, constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. The fishing exclusion zone, maintained through arbitrary arrests and attacks, constitutes a measure of collective punishment, which is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.The right to work, including in just and favourable conditions, is provided for under Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as under Article 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Moreover, Article 11 of the ICESCR recognises "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions."

I urge the United Nations to demand of Israel that the blockade of Gaza is immediately lifted and that Palestinian fishermen  enjoy access to Palestinian territorial waters in line with international law.

Sincerely

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Sources: Gaza's Ark, Justice for Palestine Matters

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