Six Palestinian fishers in Gaza were fired upon and seized by the Israeli occupation navy this morning, Tuesday 1 November. Despite an announcement last week that the Palestinian fishing zone was being “expanded” by the occupation’s naval forces to nine nautical miles, the two fishing boats were attacked by Israeli gunboats in four nautical miles of the coast of Beit Lahiya, in the north of Gaza, the same day the “expanded” fishing zone was to go into effect. It should be noted that this “expanded” fishing zone is less than half of even the provisions of the 1993 Oslo agreement.
Under gunfire, the six fishermen were forced to undress, jump into the water and swim to the naval gunboat; their two boats and 55 nets were captured and the six fishermen: Mohammed Khalil Abu Riyalah, 35; Shaher Muhsen Abu Riyalah, 20; Khaled Khaled Abu Riyalah, 22; Ali Hasan Khalil Abu Riyalah, 19; Bilal Hasan Khalil Abu Riyalah, 14; and Hasan Hasan Abdel-Rahman Abu Sama’an, 55, all of whom are Palestinian refugees from the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, reported the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The six seized fishers were taken to Ashdod, as was their boat.
Over 120 Palestinian fishers and their boats have come under fire by Israeli naval forces off the coast of Gaza so far in 2016. The naval closure imposed on Gaza and the cordoning off of the fishing zone has created massive poverty in Gaza’s once-wealthy fishing industry, upon which 70,000 Palestinians rely. Palestinian fishermen have repeatedly been shot by gunboats, causing serious and sometimes life-altering injuries, and further contributing to economic and social devastation. Boats are rarely returned to their Palestinian owners after being confiscated by the occupation navy.