Two more Palestinian fishers were attacked and detained off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, 17 May, Ma’an News reported. Samih and Ibrahim Zayid were attacked by an Israeli gunboat while fishing, ordered off the boat, and detained; their boat was towed to the Ashdod port.
This comes after the detention and boat confiscation of 10 Palestinian fishers on Sunday, 15 May. Two of the fishers, Khamis Baker and Hasan Madi, remained imprisoned while the other eight were released. Two more fishing boats were confiscated on Sunday. Another fishing boat was damaged and submerged by the gunboat’s attack; the damaged boat was later recovered by Palestinian fishers. Dozens of shells were fired at the fishers and their boats; the fishers were ordered to take off their clothes, jump into the water, and swim toward the gunboats.
While Israeli authorities in April expanded the fishing zone designated for Palestinian fishermen to nine nautical miles in the southern Gaza Strip, and retained the six-mile zone in the north, fishermen regularly report detentions, live fire, and boat confiscation within these limits,” reported Ma’an.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats throughout 2015, and opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year.
PCHR noted that it “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. Furthermore, 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.”
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.”
UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza: