The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continue to attack Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip where fishing is restricted to three nautical miles. At approximately 10:00 on Tuesday, 29 November 2011, IOF vessels patrolling the Gaza Sea opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast opposite the district of Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli vessels then moved towards three of the fishing boats, surrounded them and arrested eleven fishermen who were on board the boats. The IOF took the fishermen and two boats northwards to Ashdod harbour. The IOF later released one of the fishermen and one boat.
According to the information available to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the IOF arrested four fishermen who were on a boat belonging to Yousif Mohammed Abu Odeh. They released one immediately but the other three were detained in Israel. Al Mezan identified the names of the detained fishermen who were on this boat as follows:
· Khalid Khader Abu Shar, 19;
· Raed Yousif Abu Odeh, 28; and
· Osama Mohammed Al Hissi, 30.
Al Mezan identified the name of the released fisherman as Faraj Abu Odeh. The IOF also arrested four fishermen who were on the boat of Khalid Al Habeel. Al Mezan identified their names as follows:
· Adham Khalid Al Habeel, 25;
· Saleem Ameen Abu As-Sadeq, 48;
· Rami Bahjat Abu Odeh, 30; and
· Mu’men Saleem Abu As-Sadeq, 17.
The IOF released all the fishermen at dawn on 30 November 2011, however, the two boats remain in IOF custody.
Al Mezan points out that the IOF assaults on Palestinian fishermen have been on the increase in recent months. The IOF has launched attacks on fishing boats, including artillery attacks. Many fishermen have been detained along with their boats by the IOF. While the IOF enforces a three-nautical-mile zone in which fishing activities are permitted, attacks on fishermen continue to take place within this zone, including in situations where fishermen do not pose any threat to the occupation forces in the sea.
On 28 November 2011, the IOF arrested two fishermen, Mahmoud Yasser An-Nahal, 20, and Mohammed Khamis Killab, 19. An-Nahal was released in a few hours, while Killab has remained in Israeli detention. Al Mezan’s lawyer, who represents Killab, has not been able to visit him yet.
Al Mezan’s monitoring indicates that since the beginning of 2011, the IOF has arrested 40 fishermen, confiscated 9 fishing boats and injured 5 fishermen. The IOF has launched 49 attacks at fishing boats and caused damage to fishing nets and equipment in 5 incidents during the same period.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the IOF’s escalation of assaults on Palestinian fishermen, which put their lives and safety at risk. The IOF’s detention of fishermen is always carried out in a way that injures their dignity and is in violation of the prohibitions on torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Al Mezan calls on the international community to make effective interventions to bring these violations of Palestinian fishermen’s rights to an end, especially IOF violence and ill treatment. Al Mezan calls for a full lifting on the restrictions imposed on fishing activities in Gaza. Israel must act in compliance with its obligations as an occupying power and refrain from attacking civilians and/or restricting their access to livelihoods.
Attacks on civilians must be investigated without delay in order to hold those responsible for violations accountable and to secure victims’ right to redress.