Tuesday, August 28, 2012

IOF Arrests Fisherman and his Son and Escalates its Attacks against Fishermen, Al Mezan Reiterates its Condemnation and Calls on International Community to Intervene

Al Mezan


The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continue to escalate its violation against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters. The IOF regularly opens fire against fishermen, detains them, and confiscates their fishing boats, preventing them from working. 

At approximately 7:10 am on Tuesday 28 August 2012, Israeli naval vessels patrolling the Gaza sea opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast north of the Al Waha resort- near the maritime border- northwest of Beit Lahiya, North Gaza district.  According to Al Mezan’s field investigation, the IOF ships surrounded one Palestinian fishing boat, opened fire, and then forced two fishermen to take off their clothes and swim towards them.  The IOF arrested Kamel Deeb Al Ankah, 60, and his son Mahmoud, 16, and took them to an unknown destination.  

In a separate incident, at approximately 10:50 am on the same day, Israeli naval vessels patrolling the Gazan sea opened fire on about 20 Palestinian fishing boats off the coast northwest of Al Waha resort—near the maritime border—northwest of Beit Lahiya, North Gaza district.  The IOF ships then chased the Palestinian boats and forced them to sail to land immediately. As a result of this attack, one boat belongs to Kamal Taqwfeq Baker, 50, was partially damaged. No casualties or injuries were reported.   
The IOF practices tactics that cause more physical damages to the fishermen and their boats. In addition, Palestinian fishermen are subject to inhumane treatment when they are arrested.  The IOF forces fishermen to take off their clothes and swim to Israeli vessels in cold water, then handcuffs and blindfolds them before subjecting them to interrogation. When the fishermen are released their suffering continues as they struggle to recover their boats and belongings from impoundment in Israel.

These escalating attacks come in the context of Israel’s maritime siege on the Gaza Strip, which prevents Palestinian fishermen from working, even within the Israeli-imposed “fishing zone” of three nautical miles.  

The Israeli authorities are thus seeking to entrench the maritime siege.  The IOF deliberately opens fire on and around Palestinian fishermen and damages their boats and engines, preventing them from working, even when the fishermen are within the Israeli-imposed “fishing zone.” According to Al Mezan’s documentation, in August the IOF carried out 11 attacks on fishermen in Gaza waters.

Therefore, Al Mezan reiterates its previous call on the international community to promptly intervene to uphold its moral obligations and its commitments under international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, and to ensure respect for the principles of IHL at all times.  It also calls on the international community to take all necessary measures to end Israel’s gross violations of human rights, to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to take immediate steps to lift the illegal siege imposed on Gaza, including by ensuring freedom to work for Palestinian fishermen.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Staying: Palestinian Fishers and Farmers in Gaza

This film, produced by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine, looks at the impact of Israeli siege on Palestinian fishers and farmers in Gaza, and the fishers' and farmers' steadfastness and resistance on their land and the Gaza sea.



Vancouver Rally
Sunday, September 30
1 PM
Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson side) 
Robson St. and Hornby St., Vancouver

Download Posters (Colour: PDF + BW: PDF)
Download Flyer

Join us on September 30 to stand in solidarity with both the farmers and fishers of Palestine as they work to defend their land and sea from occupation and continue their harvest and their livelihoods. Many people in Gaza have always relied on the land and the sea for their livelihood. Generations of Palestinian fishers have worked the sea, and farmers harvested the land, to support their communities and their lives. Today, the fishers and farmers of Gaza are under attack. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine has called for international action and solidarity to support fishers and farmers under siege.
Gaza, Palestine lies along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Gaza has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, and under a tight and brutal siege since 2006, denying people and goods access and movement from the small coastal strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Over 70% of the people of Gaza are refugees who have lived in Gaza since the 1948 Nakba – the occupation and ethnic cleansing of most of Palestine.

Gaza’s Fishers: Today, over 70,000 Palestinians in Gaza rely on the sea and the fishing industry for their income and their lives.  However, the sea in Gaza and the fishers of Gaza are bearing the brunt of one of the most severe aspects of Israel’s siege on Gaza. Israeli warships constantly patrol Gaza’s shores and have unilaterally declared fishing prohibited outside 3 nautical miles. Tens of millions of dollars of income have been lost and fishers families forced into unemployment and poverty. Fishers who venture to the 3 nautical mile “border” are regularly shot at, their boats seized or damaged, and subject to arrest, detention and imprisonment. In 2012, there have already been hundreds of attacks on fishing boats by Israeli warships.  (See video of Gaza fishers under attack: http://www.vancouver2gaza.org/2012/07/29/video-gazas-fishers-under-israeli-assault/)

Gaza’s Farmers: Gaza’s farmers are also subject to an ongoing war against their lives, livelihood and land. Israel has unilaterally declared the northern and eastern edges of the Gaza Strip to be “buffer zones” or “no go zones”, often in some of the most agriculturally proficient areas of the often-dry region, on land farmed by Palestinian families for generations. Anyone who ventures into these areas regularly faces threats to their lives from soldiers, snipers, tanks, helicopters and drones that routinely patrol the area.  The “buffer zone” includes 17% of Gaza’s total land mass – but 35% of its agricultural land and 113,000 people. 305 water wells, 197 chicken farms, 377 sheep farms, and over 1000 homes have been destroyed by Israeli occupation military inside the “buffer zone.” (See video of Gaza farmers and fishers resisting occupation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RMAJi9OPiU)

While Palestinian fishers and farmers are braving gunfire to work their land and sea, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper has nothing but praise for the Israeli state that enforces this siege on Gaza. On March 29, 2006, Canada became the first country in the world to impose a siege on the Palestinian people living in Gaza and the West Bank, declaring cancellation of aid to Palestine. Foreign Minister John Baird recently described Canada as “Israel’s best friend.”
Of course, Israel is not alone in denying indigenous people the right to fish and farm their land – like Israel, Canada was founded upon the theft of indigenous people’s land, a settler colonial reality of genocide and oppression that continues to the present day. Indigenous nations are engaged in constant struggles to defend their fishing rights against attempts to deny their right to fish their own waters commercially, as well as to defend their traditional territories from pipelines and resource extraction.
Join us on September 30 to demand an end to the siege on Gaza’s fishers and farmers, and to demand that the Canadian government end its extensive political, diplomatic and legal support for Israeli apartheid and occupation – and to show the farmers and fishers of Gaza that their struggle echoes around the world.
Initial endorsers include: Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign, Independent Jewish Voices, Gaza’s Ark, Union of Agricultural Work Committees (Palestine)

To endorse the protest, or get involved in organizing, please email vancouver2gaza@gmail.com