This report documents Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the
Gaza Strip from 1 June 2008 to 31 August 2009. This is the third report in a
series published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR); it discusses
the reality of life for Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and the attacks
which they are subject to as they attempt to perform their work. These Israeli
attacks aim at imposing restrictions on the areas in which Palestinian
fishermen are allowed to work, and effectively deny their right to work.
Attacks on fishermen are one element of the widespread violations of
international law perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli attacks violate Palestinian fishermen’s right to life, security and
personal safety. The targeting of fishermen, and their property, including
seaports, boats, and fishing equipment, constitutes serious violations of
international human rights and humanitarian law. Israeli forces periodically
escalate their attacks, for example, in the last week of the reporting period,
Israeli forces attacked a number of Palestinian fishing boats, resulting in one
boat being set afire.
During the reporting period, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued
imposing a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. This blockade, part of the wider
blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, constitutes a form of collective
punishment, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In
addition, IOF reduced the area allowed for fishing in the Gaza Strip Sea from 20 nautical miles – the area
agreed on in the Palestinian-Israeli agreements –
to six nautical miles in 2008.
In 2009, this area was further illegally reduced to just
3 nautical miles. During the latest offensive on the Gaza Strip (from 27 December 2008 to18
January 2009), IOF imposed a complete sea closure on the Gaza Strip whereby
Palestinian fishermen were prevented from reaching seaports, sailing or
fishing. The period following the offensive witnessed a partial sea closure
which prevented fishermen from performing their work freely.
IOF continued to attack Palestinian fishermen, even in the restricted area
in which they were allowed to fish. Such attacks prevent fishermen from
working, endanger their lives, and damage equipment. IOF also confiscated
fishing boats and detained, attacked and arrested fishermen, often imposing
PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights unit has closely monitored the fishing
sector in the Gaza Strip. The unit has consistently highlighted and documented
the issues relating to fishermen and the fishing sector, and has issued a
number of specialized reports and periodicals which covered the Israeli
violations against the Gaza Strip fishermen. The unit also reinforced its
activities in that field and started working with Fishermen’s Union
and other NGOs within a cooperative and consultative framework to serve the
interests of fishermen in the Strip. PCHR also support fishermen who are
victims of Israeli attacks, by providing legal support and representation, and
through the submission of compensation claims.
 According to Oslo
agreement, the 42-km Gaza
was divided to k.m.1 areas. K extends to 20 miles in the north of Gaza and 1,5 miles to the south, m
extends from 20 miles
in the south to a mile in the Egyptian waters, and 1 area extends to 20 miles from the seashore