Thursday, March 24, 2011

PCHR weekly report 17/3 - 23/3/2011: 2 fishermen abducted, including 1 child, 1 boat stolen. Attack off shore Beit Lahia

extracts from PCHR weekly report 17/3 - 23/3/2011:

Sunday, 20 March 2011

At approximately 13:00, Israeli naval troops arrested two Palestinian fishermen who were sailing on board of a fishing boat nearly two nautical miles away from the seashore of Gaza City. The two fishermen were taken to the Israeli Ashdod Harbor. IOF released the two fishermen on the following day morning at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, but kept their boat in custody. The two fishermen are: Nasser Fadel Baker, 45, and his 15-year-old child 'Allam.

 Tuesday, 22 March 2011

At approximately 23:20, Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to Beit Lahia seashore in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. Palestinian fishermen were forced to sail to the seashore and no casualties were reported.

Child and Father Abducted From Sea


23 March 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza

Four days. That is the time lapse between the attack on Yasser Nasser Bakr, who was shot in the abdomen by the Israeli Navy, and yesterday’s abduction at sea of his father and brother. At 6 am on March 20th, Nasser Bakr and his 15 year old son Alaam set out to fish in a small boat of 6.5 meters length, joined by three other hasaka’s. At 9 am a gunboat rapidly approached them and the four boats consequently started making way for Gaza’s harbor.
“Our boat is ridiculously slow though, it has a motor of only 8 horsepower. So, while the others managed to escape, we ended up on our own. They got to us and ordered us to stop. I answered that I was going home and continued heading back. Once again they ordered us to stop, but I continued to set sail towards the beach. It was only four days after they shot my son Yasser and I just didn’t want to obey them. That’s when they opened fire on us, leaving me with no choice but to stop.”
The story continues and is almost an exact copy of the stories of the Al-Laham, Al-Hissi and other members of the Bakr family. All of them are fishermen who have been abducted in the past months and whose boats remain confiscated.
Nasser and his son were forced to undress and jump into the water to swim towards the gunboat. Once in Ashdod, policemen asked them why they crossed the border.
“We have a GPS on board and we were only 2.7 nautical mile out!”
By 6 pm, Alaam and his father were brought to Erez, where the Israeli intelligence questioned them again. An aerial photo showed the details of Gaza’s port in which they showed a keen interest. “They wanted to know where the entrance is and where the authorities are located. After our evasive answers, they told us they would return our boat in the coming days.”
The last statement sounds like an evil joke: of all the hasaka’s that the Israeli Navy has confiscated, not a single one has returned to Gaza. The loss does not only affect the Bakr family, but also Mahmoud Abu Awedi, the owner of the boat. He lends his boat to the Bakr family when he is playing the drum at parties.
“When the blockade was at 12 nautical miles, our monthly income was at average 30,000 shekels a month. Now, we earn 300 shekels a month. It doesn’t bring in any money, but without fishing, I’d go crazy, the sea and the boats are my life.”
Alaam has been silently listening to his father’s account of yesterday’s events, and like any boy in puberty he claims not to have been afraid of the Israeli Navy. He has good reason to fear them though; on July 5th 2010, when he was just 14 years old, Alaam was shot twice in the abdomen by the Israeli Navy. He shows us the bullet wounds, with a shy boyish smile. “It’s healed reasonably well, but I’m less fit. I’m easily exhausted when walking for example and feel pain when I’ve been too active.”

The pirates of the Mediterranean

Posted on: March 24, 2011

5 March 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza
Government measures on the sea, even if they are illegal, are not an act of piracy, according to international law. The actions of the Israeli military are not likely to have been considered in the implementation of this law. The cousins Mustafa, 42, Mahmoud, 30, and Hjazi ElLaham, 27, were on the morning of the 19th February 2011, like every morning, fishing with their boat off the coast of Gaza. They were in the same area in which they are always located, 2.5 nautical miles from the coast, well inside the allowed zone. The Oslo agreement had assured the fishermen of Gaza bilaterally 20 nautical miles of fishing. Israel later unilaterally reduced this distance to 6 miles, and since the blockade was declared the fishermen are only allowed to fish within 3 nautical miles.
It was a stormy day, the cousins were almost alone on the sea. While the other fishermen had stayed at home because of the weather, the three couldn’t afford to lose a day of work. They were just pulling in their net, when an Israeli warship approached. The soldiers on the ship began to shoot at their net. The three fishermen began to work faster, they couldn’t risk to lose their net, and started the engine.
Until then, it was an ordinary day. “We are shot at by Israeli warships almost daily,” says Mustafa, the eldest, “we are used to that.”
Then they were ordered over loudspeakers to stop the engine, or the soldiers would shoot the captain’s hand. The three stopped the boat and pulled the motor out of the water. The Israeli warship began to circle around the small boat, so fast that they generated waves that made the fishing boat almost capsize. Next they were ordered to strip to their underwear and jump into the water. “We can’t swim,” they shouted to the soldiers. “You really can’t swim?” Hjazi grins. “Of course we can swim, we are fishermen. But what could we have done?” The answer they got was that they could either jump into the water and swim to the Israeli ship, or they would be shot at. So they jumped, one by one. Arriving at the soldiers, they were handcuffed and blindfolded, and ordered to kneel on the metal floor of the warship. They said they were freezing, that the plastic cords at their hands cut off the blood, but they were only told to be quiet. Their own boat was towed away by the Israeli one.
When they reached the port of Ashdod, and were taken from the ship, they finally got new clothes, and the blindfolds were taken away. A doctor came to have a look at them. Then a soldier came, who asked them if they had planned a suicide mission. A suicide mission? The three looked at each other dumbfounded. They had been arrested in the south of the Gaza Strip, near the border to Egypt, just opposite from the miles away border to Israel. “We were brought here almost naked, and you have our boat,” Mahmoud said finally. “Just search it, you will find nothing but fish and a net.”
They were then separately interrogated by the Shin Bet, the secret service. They weren’t asked about the attempted attack again, which apparently appeared ridiculous even to their interrogators. Instead, they were shown photos of their houses, their family and friends, recorded in detail by a drone. We know everything about you, this said. Then they had to describe the port, and the place where the naval police normally are. Mustafa, the eldest, was shown money. A lot of money. If he could imagine working with them, he was asked. Mustafa just shook his head.
After being locked in a cell for the rest of the day, they were brought to the Erez crossing around nine clock in the evening. They finally arrived at home, shoeless. Their family was beside themselves with worry. Because of the stormy sea, they had feared the three had an accident. One of the fathers of them had borrowed a boat to search for them, when he came close to the Egyptian border, an Egyptian warship sent him home. The soldiers asked him for his mobile phone number, they said they would call him if they found the boat.
The Israeli soldiers were less helpful. Before being sent back, the three cousins had asked them what would happen to their boat, and if they would get it back. “You will find it in Egypt,” answered one of the soldiers. “What does this mean?” Asked Mustafa. “It was just a joke,” he got as an answer. One of the other soldiers was in a good mood too. “We have the season in which we get the stuff, and you never get it back,” was his strange statement.
For Mustafa, Mahmoud and Hjazi this issue is less funny. The restriction to 3 nautical miles renders it impossible for them to earn enough to live from the boat, but the boat and the 3 miles are all that they have. “Every meter further outsides helps us to find more fish”, they say. And with that problem they are by far not alone. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, nearly 90% of Gaza’s 4000 fishermen are now considered either poor (with a monthly income of between 100 and 190 US dollars) or very poor (earning less than 100 dollars a month), up from 50% in 2008. In addition, they live in constant danger, even if they are within the 3 mile limit. Al Mazen Center for Human Rights states that between 1 May 2009 and 30 November 2010 the IOF carried out 53 attacks against fishermen: two men were killed, seven injured and 42 arrested, while 17 fishing boats were confiscated and one destroyed. Just last month there were three other cases in which fishermen were in exactly the same pattern kidnapped and then released again, without their boat.
A total of six families, for whose livelihood Mustafa, Mahmoud and Hjazi are responsible, depend on this boat. Six families now don’t know what to live from. What will they do now? How will they go on?
“We still hope that we may get the boat back at some point. We can’t afford to buy a new one. “Hjazi says. Then he laughs softly. “I also still have my breakfast eggs on the boat.”

Updated on March 24, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

PCHR weekly report 10/3 - 16/3/2011: 1 fisherman wounded

extracts from weekly report 10/3 - 16/3/2011:

IOF continued to target Palestinian workers, farmers and fishermen in border areas in the Gaza Strip. 
- A Palestinian fisherman was wounded.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

At approximately 11:15, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats opposite to Beit Lahia beach in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result, Yasser Nasser Baker, 19, was wounded by a bullet to the right side.

Young Gazan fisherman shot in abdomen

17 March 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza

Yasser's bullet wound

A young curly-haired boy snores solemnly in a hot room in Al-Shifa hospital in central Gaza City. He lays wrapped in a blanket and is connected to a drip. His brothers and cousins sit around his bed on yet another hospital visit. “This is the life we face as fishermen: the Israeli’s shoot at us daily and injuries are frequent,” says one of the visitors. Yasser Nasser Bakr, 19 years old, received a bullet in his abdomen on the morning of March 16th, while he was out fishing.
“We went out with a series of small hasakas (traditional fishing boats) at about 5.30 am this morning. At 6:30 AM the Israeli Navy started shooting at us. They shot around us and at the boats for about five minutes. They would stop and open fire again after a while. This was ongoing until Yasser was injured at approximately 10:30 AM,” says his brother who sailed with him. “I was petrified and just wanted one thing: to leave. However, this happens on a daily basis, so we cannot withdraw, we need to continue in these circumstances, otherwise we wouldn’t catch a single fish.”
At 1.5 nautical miles the fishermen met with the Israeli gunboat, which got as close as 30 meters to the fishing boats. “And they speak Arabic very well, insulting us and telling us to ‘get the hell out of of here,’ while we are righteously there according to their laws,” says Yasser’s brother.

Scan of Yasser's upper body
A boy jumps up and demonstrates how only three days ago he laid down on the deck of the boat protecting his head with his arms after threats of the captain of the gunboat. “He said to us: ‘I’ll kill the child!’, while he was pointing his M16 machine gun to my face!” cries 17 year old Khalil. Gazan fishermen collectively suffer from Israel’s unilaterally imposed sea blockade of but 3 nautical miles, which cuts them off from the big schools of fish. The Bakr family has more misery accounted to Israel though. On July 5th 2010, Yasser’s brother, Ala’am Bakr was shot while fishing. On September 24th, the Bakr family suffered a tragic loss: Mansour Bakr was killed at sea. Just two months ago, the Navy arrested four members of the Bakr family. While they were released the same day, their boat remains confiscated, leaving these men and their families without income.
More visitors wander into the hospital room to visit Yasser, who wakes up with groans of pain. The fishermen show us videos of how they were attacked previously. When asked if they have a message to share with the outside world, they yelled: “We want the sea back, help us open the sea for us again.”

Updated on March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fisherman Wounded By Israeli Navy Fire

Wednesday March 16, 2011 21:09 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Palestinian medical sources reported that a local fisherman was shot and wounded on Wednesday at noon by Israeli navy fire near the Gaza shore.
File - Palestinian fishing boats - Maan Images
File - Palestinian fishing boats - Maan Images

The sources added that the navy opened fire at a number of Palestinian fishing boats close to the shore wounding one, and causing damage to a number of boats.

The wounded fisherman was moved to a local hospital; his injuries were described as moderate.

In recent years, dozens of fishermen were killed and injured by Israeli navy fire, while several fishermen were kidnapped.



Israeli Gunboats Fire at Palestinian Fishing Boats in Beit Lahyia, One Person Injured

At approximately 11am on Wednesday, 16 March 2011, Israeli naval vessels patrolling the sea opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats north of Al-Waha resort off the coast of Beit Lahyia town in the North-Gaza district.   
 As a result, Yaser Naser Fadel Baker, 18, was injured by a bullet to  the right side of his torso. According to Al Mezan's field investigations, Yaser, his father, and his brother were on board a hasaka (small boat) which was about 2 kilometers south to the separation fence when the Israeli gunboats opened fire. The firing scared the fishermen on the boats and they sailed to land immediately.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

PCHR weekly report 3/3 - 9/3/2011: attack opposite Beit Lahia

extracts from PCHR weekly report 3/3 - 9/3/2011:

IOF continued to target Palestinian workers, farmers and fishermen in border areas in the Gaza Strip. 
- Israeli gunboats fired at Palestinian fishing boats in the northern Gaza Strip.

 Monday, 07 March 2011

At approximately 22:45, Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to Beit Lahia beach in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats forcing them to flee. No casualties were reported.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

PCHR weekly report 24/2 - 2/3/2011: attack opposite to Rafah beach

extracts from PCHR weekly report 24/2 - 2/3/2011:

Tuesday, 01 March 2011

At approximately 21:00, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats opposite to Rafah beach in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Israeli navy fire on Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval boats opened fire on Gaza fishermen in the early morning on Wednesday, near the Rafah coast, witnesses said.

Reports said the fishing vessels sustained significant damage.

Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya confirmed the Israeli navy opened fire against boats off southern Gaza, with no injuries reported.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the incident, saying a "Palestinian boat deviated from the fishing limits" and was called on to turn around. When the boat did not turn around the spokesman said naval forces fired warning shots, then fired on the vessel, but did not report injuries.

Israeli gunboats shell Palestinian fishing boats
[ 02/03/2011 - 10:52 AM ]

RAFAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian fishing boat was destroyed on Tuesday when Israeli navy gunboats shelled a group of boats anchored at the Rafah coast, to the south of the Gaza Strip.
PIC reporter said that the navy vessels fired a number of shells at the fishing boats directly hitting one of them. He added that fire started in the small boat but no casualties were reported.
Israeli gunboats systematically chase Palestinian fishermen and their crude boats on and off the shores of Gaza.

Israeli Navy Fires At Palestinian Fishing Boats

Wednesday March 02, 2011 09:09 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Israeli Navy boats opened fire, on Wednesday at dawn, at Palestinian fishing boats near the shore in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Damage was reported, but no injuries.
Palestinian Fishing Boats - file
Palestinian Fishing Boats - file

Adham Abu Salmiyya, spokesperson of Emergency and Medical Services in Gaza, said that the fishing boats were within Palestinian territorial waters during the attack.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed and wounded after being subject to similar attacks by the Israeli army and Navy as Israel tries to keep the fishermen from practicing their right to fish in Palestinian waters.

In related news, several armored Israeli vehicles, tanks and bulldozers, advanced at least 200 meters into an area close to the border in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Military bulldozers uprooted Palestinian farmlands while soldiers opened fire at random, local sources reported.