Monday, March 30, 2009

ISM Gaza Strip: 4 Rafah fishermen abducted, fishing boat stolen by Israeli Navy

On Wednesday 25 March 2009 at 8 a.m., about 2 km from Egypt and 1,5 km from the Rafah shore, a Palestinian "shanshula" fishing boat, No 67, was intercepted by an Israeli gunboat that opened fire. The Israeli Navy forced 3 of the Palestinian fishermen to take off their clothes, jump in the sea and swim to the Israeli gunboat, where they were handcuffed, blindfolded and beaten. The fourth fisherman was forced to take the fishing boat to Ashdod port. The 4 Palestinian fishermen from Rafah are the brothers:

- Mohammed Abdullah Halil Al Najar

- Youssef Abdullah Halil Al Najar

- Halil Abdullah Halil Al Najar

And their cousin Ali Hassan Halil Al Najar. The fishermen were held for 12 hours. They were given only trousers, and they remained without other clothes till their return to the Gaza Strip. Before entering, the soldiers destroyed the trousers of one of the fishermen. One of the brothers, Youssef, was also beaten during the interrogation. The Israelis didn't give any explanation for the abduction. At the question "Why you took us?" they replied "We arrest whoever we want, we injure whoever we want, we kill whoever we want." They also said that "this fishing boat will not be returned". Their 7,5 m long "shanshula" fishing boat is worth 5,000$ (US dollars) and is equipped with the following:

- fish finder 1,600 $

- 40 HP motor 4,500 $

- Nets 3,500 $

- Batteries 200 $

- Motor for the nets 1,800 $

That means a total of 16,600 $ is being stolen by the Israeli Navy.

About 6 or 7 years ago the same boat, along with a smaller one, had suffered a similar act of piracy by the Israeli Navy. The boats were returned but not the equipment - among other things the motors (25 and 15 thousands shekels each), and the nets of both boats (a total of 15 thousands shekels). On that occasion there were 5 fishermen abducted and among them was Mohammed. One of the abducted fishermen was Mohamed's uncle Hassan Halil Abdullah Al Najar (44). He was released a week later, but then arrested again on March 19th 2007. He has been sentenced to 8 years and he is imprisoned in Nafha prison. He was never allowed to receive visits from his relatives, as have been all the prisoners from Gaza Strip, for the past 2 years.

Another 2 members of the same family are prisoners. Mohammed's brother Said Abdullah Halil Al Najar (33) was arrested on November 30th 2005. He has been sentenced to 13 years and he is imprisoned in Ramon. Initially he was allowed to be visited by his mother and wife, but he too has been deprived of this right for 2 years now. During the recent abduction, his brothers were told by the Israelis in a sarcastic tone: "Your brother is our guest".

The cousin of the brothers, Ahmed Abdel Hadi Hamad Algoun has been sentenced to 11 years and he is in Nafha prison.

Their relatives say that all of them have been tortured while in custody.