Monday, 05 November 2012 00:00
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns IOF’s assault on a fishing boat boarded by Palestinian fishermen and international solidarity activists who were aiming to lift the siege by crossing the IOF imposed 3 nautical-mile limit on Palestinian fishermen since the past six years.
PCHR calls upon the international community to pressurize Israel to stop its continuous violations against Palestinian fishermen and the international activists in Gaza Sea and put an end to the illegal siege which has disastrous impacts on the fishermen such as their income decreasing by 85% because of the restricted fishing area. PCHR highly appreciates the brave decision of the solidarity activists to lift the illegal siege imposed on Gaza Sea which deprives Palestinian fishermen of their sole source of income.
At approximately 08:00 hrs on Sunday, 04 November 2012, a Palestinian fishing boat boarding five local fishermen and three international activists, identified as: Mano Pinida (Spanish), Rosa Schiano (Italian) and Sarah Kats (French), sailed off from the Gaza seaport. At approximately 09:30 hrs an IOF gunboat attacked the fishing boat with water cannons for approximately 45 minutes. As a result, the fishermen and activists were forced to move southward towards the al-Nussairat shore, in the center of Gaza Strip. At approximately 12:30 hrs, the Israeli gunboat attacked the Palestinian fishing boat again with water cannons for approximately 15 minutes. As a result the activists' cameras got damaged.
It should be noted that Israeli forces illegally reduced the area of fishing gradually from 20 nautical miles, which was established under the Oslo Accords, to 10 nautical miles in 2005. In June 2006, IOF imposed a total siege for months, and opened it later permitting fishermen to fish within a 6-nautical-mile limit, which was then reduced to 3 nautical miles in 2007. However, Israeli forces continue to attack Palestinian fishermen even within the 3 nautical miles since 2009. Fishermen are subjected to shootings, resulting in deaths and injuries, they are often chased, arrested, unnecessarily inspected, humiliated, and even their boats and fishing equipment are confiscated, which are sometimes drowned or destroyed by IOF.
PCHR condemns the continuous violations committed by the Israeli Naval Forces against Palestinian fishermen, and:
1- Calls upon the international community to pressurize Israel to stop its policy of closure, including the siege, imposed on the Gaza Strip for the past 6 years, 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- Calls for compensating the victims for the physical and material damage caused to their person and property;
3- Expresses the Palestinian people’s high appreciation for the international solidarity activists and their determination to break the Israeli collective punishment measures imposed on Palestinian civilians, including the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, which violate the international humanitarian law and international human rights law.