GAZA, May 23, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli navy Monday targeted Palestinian fishermen’s boats off shore the northwest of Gaza city with live ammunition, despite sailing within the unilaterally designated 6-nutical miles allowed fishing zone.
WAFA correspondent said Israeli naval boats attacked a number of Palestinian fishing boats with live gunfire, causing financial damages to at least one boat. The fishermen were forced to return back to shore for fear of being detained, injured, or killed.
In the meantime, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemned ‘the Israeli escalation of attacks against fishermen in the Gaza Sea; the last of which was against a group of fishing boats in the northern Gaza Sea’. During this attack, Israeli naval forces arrested 10 fishermen and confiscated 5 fishing boats.
“PCHR considers these attacks as part of the collective punishment forms Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and target fishermen’s livelihoods,” stressed a press release issued Sunday by PCHR.
“PCHR also considers that attack as a grave violation of the fishermen’s right to sail and fish freely and to protect their property in the Gaza waters. Moreover, PCHR believes that such attacks against Palestinian fishermen constitute a form of collective punishment against them which aims to target fishermen and their livelihood.”
PCHR calls upon the international community to provide protection for Palestinian fishermen and their right to sail and fish freely, and to stop all forms of collective punishment against fishermen and their property which violate the international humanitarian law and the international human rights law.
According to a PCHR report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian Territory between the 12th and 18th of May 2016, “Israeli forces arrested 12 fishermen, including 3 children, and confiscated 2 fishing boats and drowned a third.”
Israeli navy and army routinely open fire on Palestinian fishermen sailing within the six-nautical-mile zone, as well as farmers in farmlands along the border.
Israel and the Palestinian factions inked a ceasefire deal on August 26, ending the latest deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza that claimed the lives of over 2,200 people, overwhelmingly civilians.
The ceasefire deal stipulated that Israel would immediately ease the blockade imposed on the strip and expand the fishing zone off Gaza‘s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.
Israel has however failed to do so, repeatedly violating the ceasefire deal through opening fire on Palestinian fishermen within the fishing zone and reducing their intake.
On 3 April 2016, the Israeli authorities expanded the fishing area, along the southern Gaza coast, from 6 to 9 nautical miles, while retaining the current 6 nautical mile fishing along the northern coast, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) protection of civilians weekly report covering the period between March 29th and April 4th of 2016.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a tightened blockade after Hamas won the democratic legislative elections and took over power in the Strip.
“While restrictions have been ongoing since 1999, since 2013, Israeli has enforced, including through arrests, opening fire, and confiscating/destroying property, a 6-nautical mile fishing along the entire Gaza coast, with a 1.5 nautical mile “no-go-zone” along the northern maritime boundaries between Gazan waters and Israel.”
The Oslo agreements provided for a 20 nautical mile fishing . Over 35,000 Palestinians depend on this industry for their livelihoods.