For the fifth week, Israeli authorities continue its naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, through reducing the fishing area to 3 nautical miles adjacent to the Gaza Strip shores. As a result, the economic and living conditions of fishermen were deteriorated and they suffered great losses, due to restricting their movement and denying them access to areas where fish breed.
A report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza said that decreasing the fishing area caused great losses to about 4000 fishermen and 1500 workers in professions that are associated with fishing in the Gaza Strip. The fishermen were banned from sailing for more than 3 nautical miles and practice their normal profession, while a limited number of fishermen practiced their profession in the distances that were set by the Israeli authorities where the fish don’t not breed.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, the amount of fish production was reduced to less than 70% compared to the period prior to tightening the closure and reducing the fishing area. This has negatively affected on the living conditions of fishermen families and workers in professions that are associated with fishing and they were estimated at 30.000 individuals.
Nizar ‘Ayash, Head of the General Union of Fishing Workers in the Gaza Strip, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the ongoing policy of naval blockade and reducing the fishing area along the Gaza Strip shores, disastrously reflected on the economic and living conditions for around 4000 fishermen and 1500 workers, professionals and fishing enthusiasts, who are associated with fishing in the Gaza Strip, given that the distance of 20 nautical miles is the good distance for fishermen where the fish breed. ‘Ayash added that due to policy of restricting fishermen’s movement in the Gaza water, the amount of fish production reduced to less than the half compared to the period before the Israeli decision to reduce the fishing area.
The measures to decrease fishing area to 3 nautical miles coincided with continuous attacks against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza sea. During this period, PCHR documented about 40 attacks against Palestinian fishermen, the last of which was at approximately 08:00 on Sunday, 12 August 2018, when Israeli gunboats chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles off al-Waha shore in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli gunboats opened fire at thePalestinian fishing boats, surrounded one of the boats, arrested 5 fishermen, including a child, and detained the fishing boat. The arrested fishermen were identified as:
Nasser Fadel Baker (55), his brother Hassan Fadel Baker (32),Yasser Nasser Baker (26), his brothers Mubarak (15), and Fadel (19), all of them are from Gaza City.
These violations are part of collective punishment practiced against the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, which aim at imposing restrictions on the fishermen and depriving them from practicing their job. The collective punishment constitute a flagrant violation of the international human rights and humanitarian law relevant to the protection of civilians’ lives and respecting their rights, including each person’s right to work, life, security, personal safety, according to Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It should be noted the Israel is a contracting party of the abovementioned covenant.
PCHR confirmed that the decision to reduce the fishing area affects the economic and social rights of Palestinian fishermen and is a violation of the right to work according to Article (6) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen is considered a flagrant violation of the rules of the international humanitarian law.
Thus, PCHR: called upon the Israeli authorities to immediately reverse the decision of decreasing the fishing area and to enable fishermen to fish and sail freely, especially that they do not pose threat to the Israel authorities, and to compensate the Palestinian fishermen for losses suffered by the blockade and decreasing the fishing area.
In addition, it called for immediately stopping the policy of chasing Palestinian fishermen, and allowing them to sail and fish freely, release the detained fishermen and their fishing tools.
Finally, it called upon the international community to pressurize the Israeli authorities into ending the naval blockade, which led to the deterioration of the fishermen and their families’ living conditions, and stopping all violations against the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip.