The Continued Attacks against Palestinian Fishermen Prove False Israeli Claims of Permitting Fishermen to Fish up to 6 Nautical Miles
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns Israel’s violations against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, which continue in spite of the Israeli authorities’ announcement of allowing the fishermen to fish up to 6 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. PCHR calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the protection of civilians in times of war, to intervene to immediately stop the Israeli violations against the Palestinian fishermen, and to allow them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza sea.
PCHR has been following up the progress at the Gaza sea, since the Israeli forces stopped its offensive on the Gaza Strip, from 14 to 21 November 2012, under terms of the truce deal between the Palestinian armed groups and Israel under Egyptian and international auspices. Since Thursday, 22 November 2012, the Palestinian fishermen have been able to fish within 6 nautical miles, under intense surveillance by the Israeli gunboats which were deployed near the Palestinian fishing boats. A number of fishermen have sailed up to 6 nautical miles during the past few days. They were very cautious because of the presence of the Israeli gunboats nearby, bearing in mind that the Israeli authorities did not officially announce the new fishing distance allowed for the Palestinian fishermen to access.
PCHR documented Israeli violations committed against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza sea between Thursday, 22 November 2012, (the first day of the enforcement of the truce deal) and Thursday, 29 November 2012. These violations were as follows:
- On Monday, 26 November 2012, Israeli gunboats intercepted a fishing boat while it sailed at 8 nautical miles out of the Gaza city shore. According to fisherman Amjad Ismail Ahmed al-Sherafi (38)from Gaza, at approximately 09:30, he and his brother Mohammad (34) sailed their in the Gaza waters when an Israeli gunboat intercepted him and forced him to stop at gunpoint and sail back without pulling his fishing nets out of the sea.
- At approximately 10:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli forces chased a fishing boat belonging to Murad Rajab al-Hessi, from Gaza, at nearly 6 nautical miles off the shore from Deir al-Balah. Mohammad Murad al-Hessi (39), Ahmed Murad al-Hessi (32), Murad Mohammad al-Hessi (18) and Rajab Rashad al-Hessi (36) were on board of the boat. 4 Israeli gunboats opened intensive fire at the boat, which caused damage to the boat. The Israeli soldiers then ordered the fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the
- gunboat. They were all arrested and interrogated at gunpoint. 3 hours later, 4 of them were released. However, Mohammad Murad al-Hessi remains in detention. In addition, the boat still remains confiscated.
- At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened intense and direct fire at a Palestinian fishing boat, belonging to Khader Jamal Baker (20), from Gaza, while he sailed at 3.5 nautical miles. As a result, the fishing boat was destroyed. Baker was arrested by Israeli soldiers who interrogated with him at gunpoint for 3 hours before releasing him.
- At approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened intense fire at a Palestinian fishing boat with 3 fishermen on board, belonging to Wafdi Suheil Baker (24), from Gaza, while sailing at 5 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. As a result of the shooting, the engine of the boat was damaged. The soldiers subsequently arrested the three fishermen, who were identified as: Wafdi Suheil Baker (24), Khaled Suheil Baker (20) and Mohammad Suheil Baker (18), all from Gaza.
- At approximately 12:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened fire directly and intensively at two Palestinian fishing boats belonging to Mohammad Najib Baker (60) and Tal’at Kamel Baker (22), both from Gaza, while they sailed at 3 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. As a result of the shooting, both boats were damaged.
- At approximately 10:15 on Thursday, 29 November 2012, Israeli naval forces stationed off the Beit Lahia shore intercepted a fishing boat with 6 fishermen on board, belonging to Fahed Ziad Baker (38), from Gaza, while sailing at approximately 5 nautical miles off the Beit Lahia shore, in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldiers arrested the fishermen and investigated with them aboard the Israeli gunboat at gunpoint. Until now the fishermen remain in detention. The arrested fishermen were identified as: Fahed Ziad Baker (38), Ihab Jawad Baker (36), Mohammad Ziad Baker (32), Nai’m Fahed Baker (16), Ziad Faged Baker (18) and Ali Alaa Baker (18).
In light of the above, PCHR:
1. Condemns the continued Israeli violations against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza sea, and calls upon Israel to immediately stop its policy of chasing and arresting Palestinian fishermen, and to allow them to sail and fish freely;
2. Believes that the violations committed against the Palestinian fishermen within the 6 nautical miles limit proves false the Israeli claims of permitting the fishermen to fish at 6 nautical miles freely;
3. Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the protection of civilians in times of war, to intervene to immediately stop the Israeli violations against the Palestinian fishermen, and to allow them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza sea.