61 Palestinian fishers from the Gaza Strip were arrested over the past year while pursuing their trade, often with their boats fired on and damaged and most frequently within the 3- and 6- nautical mile limits on Palestinian fishery, reported the Palestine Prisoners Center for Studies. Click here to take action and demand an end to the targeting of Palestinian fishers and the siege on Gaza.

Occupation warships have damaged and destroyed boats. The fishery trade is a traditional occupation in Gaza that has come under severe attack due to the siege; 70,000 people are dependent on fishery for livelihood and are increasingly facing impoverishment due to arbitrary restrictions on Palestinian fishery and Israeli attacks. Fishers in Gaza have lost 85% of their income since 2006 and the tightening of the siege.

On 31 December, three fishers – Mohammed Nahid Bassaleh, 20; Mohammed Hisham al-Nahal, 23; and Iyad Osman al-Nahal, 25, were detained while working on their boat in southern Gaza. All are from Rafah.

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a Palestinian grassroots organization, works with fishers and farmers in Palestine to defend their land and seas and their right to farm and fish in the face of occupation attacks. Saad al-Deen Ziadah of UAWC said that “Most of these attacks and violations occurred within the allowed fishing area by Israeli navy forces. These arrests are generally carried out under very intense situations – the Israeli navy shooting bullets and shells at the fishermen and their boats. It has been recorded that the Israeli navy targets the outboard engine of the boats, which is the ‘soul of the boat’, as the fishers say.”

Video of Israeli navy and fishers (2012):

“After the Israeli navy forced the boat to stop, they ask the fishermen to take off all their clothes even in the winter, then force them to jump to the water and swim till they reach the Israeli warship, then they tie their hands, blindfold them, and take them to the prison in Ashdod port,” said Ziadeh.

“The Israeli occupation forces aim to terrify the fishers, force them to leave the sea and to look for other work besides fishing. In every arrest, the fishers lose boats and fishing nets that are confiscated to Ashdod port. More than 90 Palestinian fishing boats are still held in Ashdod. This means that the fishers lose their main source of income,” Ziadeh said.

UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza:

“The Union of Agricultural Work Committees is working to support fishers and expose the Israeli crimes against them. We need the international community to act to force the Israeli occupation to stop their massacres and human rights violations. We also work to provide the fishers with different nets and fishing tools, to rehabilitate boats and provide new boats and finances for programs; in 2014, 1770 fishers benefited from UAWC services,” said Ziadeh.

“The main and major challenge that fishers face is the Israeli occupation forces depriving them and preventing them from entering the sea and practicing their fishing work,” said Ziadeh. “We know that the case of Palestinian fishery is a political problem that needs a political solution. It is not a humanitarian problem and will never be solved with some aid and food baskets.”

Take Action: Demand an end to the attacks on Palestinian fishers!

1. Click here to send a letter to Israeli officials demanding an end to the attacks on Palestinian fishers and the siege on Gaza. Please share with friends and colleagues! The world is demanding an end to siege – and the attacks on fishers are part and parcel of the siege. It must end now!

2. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy in your area and demand an end to the attacks on Palestinian fishery and farming, and an end to the siege on Gaza.

3. Support the work of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. Organize a fundraiser or send a donation – click here to download the details!