Israeli occupation forces have continued the attack on Palestinian fishermen, arresting seven Palestinian fishermen and confiscating their boats on Wednesday 27 July.
Over 88 fishermen in Gaza have now been detained and arrested after coming under attack by Israeli gunboats off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies that 81 fishermen had been arrested by 22 July, before this week’s new flurry of fishing-boat confiscations and arrests.
On late Wednesday, Israeli naval forces targeted a Palestinian fishing boat with five fishermen on board: Muhammad Rafat Bakr, Khamis Awad Bakr, Muhammad Maher Bakr, Salim Abu Sadeq, and Muhammad Mahmoud Al-Louh. The five fishers were arrested and Israeli forces confiscated their boats. This followed the arrest of Muhammad Yasin Zayed and Tareq Abdel Bari al-Sultan on Wednesday morning, and the confiscation of their fishing boats.
As part of the Israeli naval blockade and siege of Gaza, Palestinian fishermen are restricted to a six nautical mile fishing area. Despite the fact that this restricted fishing area prevents them from reaching the most valuable and abundant fish and forces them into overfishing, undermining the ancient fishery of Gaza, fishermen and their boats routinely come under fire even inside the fishing zone.
Fishermen and their boats are frequently injured and damaged in these arrests, which often include firing on fishing boats by Israeli naval weaponry. Confiscated boats are difficult if not impossible to retrieve; while fishermen themselves are seldom detained for lengthy periods, they are interrogated, pressured to provide information on fellow Palestinians in Gaza, and then released from the Erez/Beit Hanoun crossing, far from home and often deprived of their fishing boats and equipment.
The fishing economy in Gaza – which supports 70,000 Palestinians – has been nearly destroyed by the naval siege on Gaza and the attacks on Palestinian boats, causing expensive boat damage to small fishing families who cannot afford repairs and preventing Palestinian fishers from entering deep waters where mature fish are available. Fishers in Gaza have lost 85% of their income since 2006 and the tightening of the siege.
Samidoun protested in New York City against the ongoing attacks and arrests on Palestinian fishermen, and urges protests and actions to support the besieged fishers in Gaza, and raising the voice of Palestinian fishers to end the attacks and break the siege on Gaza.