Ref: 53/2013

 

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli
forces’ attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and expresses
deep concern over the rise in such attacks. 
In the past two days, the Israeli forces arrested 2 fishermen and held
their boat while they were fishing nearly 70 meters off the
seashore.  The Israeli forces also fired
at other fishermen in the central Gaza Strip and confiscated their fishing
equipment.

 

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately
21:30 on Sunday, 19 May 2013, an Israeli gunboat approached a Palestinian
fishing boat boarding 2 fishermen, sailing nearly 70 meters of al-Waha
Resort shore in the north of the Gaza Strip. 
Israeli soldiers fired around the boat and then forced the two fishermen
to take their clothes off, jump into the water and swim towards the
gunboat.  They arrested the two fishermen
and held their boat.  The two fishermen
were identified as Mahmoud Mohammed Zayed, 25, and his brother Khaled, 20.  They were released at 11:30 on Monday, 20 May
2013.

 

Mahmoud Mohammed Zayed, 25, stated to PCHR:

 

“At approximately 21:30 on Sunday, 19 May 2013, I was sailing
together with my brother Khaled, 20, opposite to al-Waha Resort in the north of
the Gaza Strip.  A number of other boats
were near us.  Suddenly, 2 gunboats
approached us and I saw soldiers firing at us. 
We immediately jumped into the water to avoid getting shot.  When the shooting stopped, we got onto the
boats.  My brother was shocked and he
fainted for some time.  Soon after, an
Israeli gunboat approached our boat. 
Israeli soldiers handcuffed and blindfolded us and transferred us to
Ashdod Harbor.  An officer interrogated
us and took our phone numbers, and a soldier photographed us.  We were detained until 11:30 on Monday, 20
May 2013.”

  

In another incident, at approximately 07:00 on Sunday, 19 May 2013,
Israeli gunboats opened fire at some fishermen who were fishing nearly 3
nautical miles off Deir al-Balah seashore in the central Gaza Strip.  Israeli soldiers then confiscated fishing
equipment belonging to 4 fishermen. 

 

Mohammed Ahmed ‘Aayesh, 42, a fisherman from Deir al-Balah, stated to
PCHR:

 

“At approximately 19:00 on Sunday, 19 May 2013, my brother and I
sailed in Deir al-Balah seawater up to 3 nautical miles off the seashore.  A number of fishing boats were near us.  Soon, an Israeli gunboat approached us.  I heard a soldier ordering us through a
megaphone to leave the area.  They fired
into the air and around us.  I sailed 600 meters away.  There, I found another Israeli gunboat firing
at fishing boats.  I saw Israeli soldiers
pulling fishing nets.  I sailed towards
the other side of the fishing nets in an attempt to pull them.  I could save parts of the fishing nets, and I
then sailed away to avoid being arrested. 
I stopped nearly 1,000
meters
away from the scene.  I remained there until 23:00 watching the
area hoping that I would be able to get my nets back.  I then saw the Israeli gunboat pulling the
fishing nets to confiscate them.  I
sailed back to the beach.  There, I
learnt that the Israeli gunboats also confiscated fishing nets belonging to
another 3 fishermen.” 

 

It should be noted that the two attacks took place within the
3-nautical-mile limit for fishing imposed by Israeli forces for fishing in Gaza
seawaters.

 

PCHR condemns
the continuous Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip,
and:

 

1- Calls for immediately stopping the policy of
chasing and arresting Palestinian fishermen, and allowing them to sail and fish
freely;

2- Demands compensation for the fishermen for
the physical and material damage caused to them and their property as a result
of these violations;

3- Calls upon the international community,
including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949
Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of war, to intervene
immediately to stop the Israeli violations against the Palestinian fishermen,
and to allow them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza sea.