Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gaza Strip: Attacks in the border areas and their consequences


Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00
Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as a “buffer zone” is not clear and this Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire. The establishment of the ‘buffer zone’ is illegal under both Israeli and international law.

To download the full Fact Sheet Click here..

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza Sea (PCHR fact sheet, June 2013)


Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
 Fact Sheet

Israeli Attacks on Fishermen in the Gaza Sea

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented 29 attacks launched by the Israeli forces against Palestinian fishermen during the reporting period (01 March – 31 May 2013),[1] including 29 shooting incidents in which a fisherman was wounded; and 2 chase operations in which 2 fishermen were arrested and their boats and other fishing tools were confiscated.

Israeli forces continued to target Gazan fishermen and banning them from fishing past 3 nautical miles.  Israeli forces violated the cease-fire agreement reached between Palestinian armed groups and the Israeli forces, under Egyptian and international auspices on 22 November 2012, in which the allowed fishing area was set to 6 nautical miles; however, they limited it to 3 nautical miles in the period 21 March – 20 May 2013.  The 6-nautical-mile limit has reinforced since 21 May 2013.

According to PCHR's follow-ups, 85% of the Israeli attacks took place within the allowed fishing area, which proves that Israeli forces' policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip's fishermen and their means of making livelihood.

Violations of the International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

Israel’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen, who do not pose any threat to Israeli soldiers, in the Gaza Strip constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, relevant to the protection of the civilian population and respect for their rights, including every person's right to work, and the right to life, liberty and security of person, as codified in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), despite the fact that Israel is a State Party to the Covenant.  Furthermore, these attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living.  Israeli violations in the reporting period were as follows:

First: Firing at Fishing Boats in the Gaza Strip Waters

During the reporting period, PCHR documented 29 cases in which Israeli forces fired at Palestinian fishermen in the sea off the Gaza shore.  As a result, a fisherman was wounded in one of the shootings while fishing off the Rafah shore.  These attacks took place within the 6 nautical miles allowed for fishermen to sail and fish in, according to the cease fire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian and international auspices.

1 Fisherman Wounded with Israeli Naval Troops' Fires

· On 01 May 2013, at approximately 05:00, Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat off the Rafah shore in the south of the Gaza Strip.  As a result, the boat's mast fell on Adel Abdelkarim Baker's (51) head, a fisherman from Gaza City.  Baker suffered from a hemorrhage in the head and was taken to Abu-Youssef al-Najar hospital in Rafah for treatment, but as he was in a serious condition, he was later transferred to the European Gaza Hospital.

Second: Arresting Fishermen

During the reporting period, PCHR documented incidents in which the Israeli forces chased and arrested 2 Palestinian fishermen while fishing at an estimated 70 meters off the shore of al-Waha resort, in the north of Gaza city.

· At approximately 21:30 on 19 May 2013, an Israeli gunboat cordoned a Palestinian fishing boat boarding two fishermen while sailing at approximately 70 meters off the shore of al-Waha resort.  The Israeli troops fired in the vicinity of the boat, forced them to take their clothes off, jump into the water and swim towards the gunboats.  They were arrested and their fishing boat was confiscated. They were released at 11:30 on Monday, 20 May 2013.  The fishermen were identified as: Mahmoud Mohammed Mohammed Zayed (25) and his brother, Khaled (20).

Third: Confiscation of Fishing Boats and Fishing Nets

PCHR has followed up and documented Israel’s violations against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip sea, particularly the confiscation of fishing boats and fishing equipment for lengthy periods of time.  During the reporting period, the Israeli forces confiscated 1 fishing boat and other fishing tools (18 pieces of fishing nets).

· At approximately 21:30 on 19 May 2013, an Israeli gunboat cordoned a Palestinian fishing boat while sailing at approximately 70 meters off the shore of al-Waha resort, north of Gaza City.  The Israeli troops fired in the vicinity of the boat, arrested the two fishermen who were on board, and confiscated their boat.

· At approximately 19:00 on 19 May 2013, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a group of fishing boat while sailing at approximately 3 nautical miles off the Deir al-Balah shore in the central Gaza Strip in order to terrify the fishermen and force them to stop working. The Israeli naval soldiers then started confiscating fishing equipment, which belong to 4 fishermen.  They confiscated items were 18 pieces of fishing nets.

Table of Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza City within the Past 3 Months
(March, April and May 2013)

Killed Persons
Arrest Incidents
Number of Detainees
Confiscation of Fishing Boats
Confiscation of Fishing Equipment
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013

Diagram of Israeli Violations against Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza City within the Past 3 Months (March – April – May 2013)

[1] This fact sheet issued by PCHR is the fifteenth of its kind.  It addresses violations carried out by the Israeli forces against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip while practicing their work.  For more details, see Fact Sheets at:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Palestinian fisherman injured in an accident while escaping Israeli gunship attack

6th July 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Rosa Schiano | Gaza, Occupied Palestine

In the early hours of the morning of Sunday June 30th 2013, Sharif Arafat, a 30-year-old Palestinian fisherman, was injured on a fishing boat off the coast of Soudania, North of the Gaza Strip.

Sharif Arafat (Photo: Rosa Schiano)
Sharif Arafat (Photo by Rosa Schiano)

The captain of the boat, Nafiz At Habeel, reported that during the night the strong wind had pushed the vessel about 6 miles from the coast of Soudania. Around midnight an Israeli military navy ship approached and then retreated. In the early hours of the morning, at around 3:30am to 4:00am, the fishermen threw their nets into the sea. Once again, an Israeli navy ship approached the fishing boat and this time started shooting. Nafiz told us that the fishermen tried to hide in order to avoid the bullets, while Sharif Arafat ran to the side where the fishing nets were. Sharif, an inexperienced fisherman, did not know how to escape in the event of gunshots by the army. One of the nets became caught up around his leg.
“Sharif was terrified, his ankle was trapped”, Nafiz said. As he couldn’t swim, Sharif clung to the boat as not to fall into the water, while the nets pulled him down. His ankle was severely fractured and broken and he fell into the water. Nafiz told us that he had tried to pull in the nets with the engine. “These nets float – I cried at Sharif to cling to a ball of the fishing net”, said Nafiz. Sharif was then pulled on board and taken to the port of Gaza City on a ‘hasaka’, a small boat that usually accompanies the vessels.
During the incident the fishermen had relit the lights of the boats, which usually go off when they cast their nets. The Israeli navy has since moved away, probably because the soldiers had realized that something serious had happened.
We met Sharif Arafat at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where he was hospitalized following the accident. The hospital report states that Sharif had a partially amputated right ankle due to trauma.

(Photo: Rosa Schiano)
(Photo by Rosa Schiano)

Sharif Arafat is not a professional fisherman. “I went fishing only because of the economic situation, I cannot even swim”, said Sharif, who had begun to fish only 5 months earlier. Sharif is married, has one child and his wife is pregnant with a second child.
Sharif was frightened by the idea that his foot could be amputated. His brother Alaa, next to him in the hospital, was in tears. The same evening Sharif was transferred urgently to a hospital in Israel to be operated on, thanks to the intervention of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights who called for an acceleration of the procedures such was the emergency. In the Gaza Strip such surgery was not available.
We are still waiting for news on the conditions of Sharif Arafat.
Israel has progressively imposed restrictions on Palestinian fishermen’s access to the sea. The 20 nautical miles established under the agreements of Jericho in 1994 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), have been reduced to 12 miles under the Bertini Agreement in 2002. In 2006, the area allowed for fishing was reduced to 6 nautical miles from the coast. Following the Israeli military offensive “Cast Lead” (2008-2009) Israel has imposed a limit of 3 nautical miles from the coast, preventing Palestinians from access to 85% of the water to which they are entitled according to the Jericho agreements of 1994.
(Photo: Rosa Schiano)
(Photo by Rosa Schiano)

Under the agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian resistance after the Israeli military offensive in November 2012, “Pillar of Defense,” they consented that Gazan fishermen can again fish up to 6 nautical miles from the coast. Despite these agreements, the Israeli navy has not stopped attacks on Gaza fishermen, even within this limit. In March 2013, Israel imposed once again a limit of 3 nautical miles from the coast, saying that the decision had been taken following the sending of some Palestinian rockets towards Israel. On Wednesday 22nd May, the Israeli military authorities announced through some media outlets the decision to extend the limit again to 6 nautical miles from the coast.
We join the call of the fishermen and ask our governments to press Israel to stop attacking and arresting Palestinian fishermen and to allow them to fish freely.

Updated on July 7, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gaza fishermen protest Israel blockade

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of fishermen gathered in Gaza City on Monday to protest Israel's blockade on the coastal territory.

Abu Zakariya Baker, an official in the Agricultural Work Committee, told Ma'an that Israel has tortured, shot and killed Palestinian fishermen since the blockade was tightened seven years ago.

"Israel is practicing all kinds of psychological humiliation against fishermen, often stripping them of their clothes while arresting them, even in times of extreme cold," Baker said, urging the international community to prosecute Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.

Gaza fisherman Rami Abu Amira told Ma'an that he joined the protest to demand that Israel ends the sea blockade on Gaza and increase the fishing zone.

"Israeli forces open fire at us on a daily basis, detain fishermen and confiscate their boats. We want to live in dignity and freedom and we ask the whole international community to stand by our side."

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of arrests and attacks against fishermen since Israel's assault on Gaza last November, Baker said.

Over 50 fishermen have been arrested and eleven fishing boats destroyed last year, he added.

In May, the Israeli government re-extended Gaza's fishing zone to six miles, after reducing it in March following a rocket attack from the coastal territory.

The zone had been extended to six miles as part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that ended an eight-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in November.

In the Oslo Accords, Israel agreed to a 20-nautical-mile fishing zone off Gaza's coast but it imposed a 3-mile limit for several years, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further.

Israel has controlled Gaza waters since its occupation of the area in 1967, and has kept several warships stationed off the coast since 2008.

Israel imposed restrictions on trade to Gaza in 2001 following the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising and tightened them further in 2007 after Hamas took over in the coastal enclave adjacent to Egypt, which also enforces a blockade.