Ref: 152/2012

 

On Monday, 17th December 2012,
Israeli forces opened fire at a fishing boat, boarding two Palestinian fishermen,
in the Gaza Strip seawaters. As a result, one of the fishermen sustained a
gunshot wound. Both the fishermen were arrested by the Israeli forces. The Israeli
forces confiscated their fishing boat and towed it to the Ashdod seaport in
Israel. The wounded fisherman was transported to an Israeli hospital. The other
fisherman was released later on the same day after interrogations.

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
strongly condemns Israel’s continuous violations against the Palestinian fishermen
in Gaza waters, including the use of excessive force against civilian fishermen
at sea. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High
Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 Relative to the Protection
of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to intervene to stop the Israeli violations
against the Palestinian fishermen and to allow them to sail and fish freely in
the Gaza seawaters.

 

According to investigations conducted by PCHR,
at approximately 09:30 hours on Monday, 17th December 2012, two
Israeli gunboats approached a Palestinian fishing boat, boarding fishermen
Mos’ad Abdel-Razeq Baker, 38, and his nephew, Mohammed Tareq Baker, 19,
residents of Gaza City, while fishing at 8 nautical miles off the Gaza shore.
Israeli soldiers opened fire at the fishermen to force them to stop.  The fishermen tried to escape sailing back
towards the shore, but were stopped at 5 nautical miles from the shore. The
Israeli soldiers continued shooting at the boat.  As a result, fisherman Mos’ad Baker sustained
a gunshot wound on his left thigh. Israeli forces arrested both fishermen,
transported them to Ashdod seaport and confiscated their boat. The wounded
fisherman was transported to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment; he is
still in the hospital up to this moment. Fisherman Mohammed Baker, after being
interrogated by Israeli security forces at Ashdod seaport was released at Beit
Hanoun Crossing (Erez) on Monday evening.

 

Moahmmed Tariq Baker told a PCHR field worker
that he and his uncle (Mos’ad Baker) were surprised when two Israeli gunboats
approached their boat, from the southern and the western directions. The
gunboats started shooting at them and ordered them to stop. He added that they
attempted to escape and reached 5 nautical miles off the shore; however, the Israeli
gunboats chased them and continuously fired at them. He also said that his uncle
had to stop the boat after sustaining a gunshot wound on his left thigh.
Mohammed was arrested and moved to one of the Israeli gunboats, while his uncle
was transported to the hospital. According to Mohammed, he was blindfolded and
handcuffed while being interrogated at the Ashdod port. He was released later
on Monday, and reached home at approximately 19:30 hours.

 

PCHR has been following up developments at the
Gaza seawaters since the Israeli forces ceased their eight day long offensive
on the Gaza Strip, on 21st November 2012, under terms of the truce
deal reached between the Palestinian armed groups and Israel under Egyptian and
international auspices.  Since 22nd November 2012, the
Palestinian fishermen have been able to fish within 6 nautical miles off the
Gaza shores, under intense supervision by the Israeli gunboats which were
deployed in the Gaza seawaters. A number of fishermen have sailed up to 6
nautical miles during the past few days. They were very cautious because of the
presence of the Israeli gunboats, despite the Israeli authorities’ announcement
that Palestinian fishermen could fish up to 6 nautical miles off the Gaza
shore. However, the Israeli forces have escalated their violations against the
Palestinian fishermen in Gaza seawaters. 
According to PCHR investigations, the Israeli forces have destroyed,
damaged, and confiscated 10 Palestinian fishing boats and arrested 33 fishermen
at sea; they were all released hours after their arrest except for one
fisherman who is still in their custody.

 

In light of the above circumstances, PCHR:

 

1- Condemns
the continued Israeli violations against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza seawaters,
and calls upon Israel to immediately stop its policy of chasing and arresting
Palestinian fishermen, and to allow them to sail and fish freely;

2- Condemns
the use of excessive force by Israeli forces which resulted in the injury of a
civilian fisherman who did not pose any threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers,
and calls for an investigation of the attack;

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