Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continue to violate Palestinians’ right to not be arbitrarily arrested and detained. The systematic violation is being perpetrated throughout the occupied Palestinian territory (opt), with significant emphasis on the targeting of Palestinian fishermen in Gaza during the past months. Such practices and policies by the Israeli government amount to a violation of the right to liberty and security of person in disregard for obligations arising under International Human Rights Law (IHRL). The targeting of Palestinian fishermen in particular has caused a severe deterioration in the viability of the Palestinian fishing sector where thousands of jobs have been lost, not just from arrests, shooting and harassment by the Israeli authorities, but also from the confiscation of equipment. Recently, in two separate incidents, Israeli forces arrested eight fishermen and confiscated one boat.
Pursuant to the same policy of arbitrary arrest and detention of fishermen, the Israeli security authorities are using Erez crossing as “trap” to detain Palestinians traveling in and out of Gaza. Following a lengthy security and administrative procedure, the Israeli authorities at times issue permits to Palestinians that enable them to travel via Erez crossing. Somewhere within the process of traveling through the crossing the individuals are arrested. The arrests are carried out with blatant disregard to the related legal safeguards under IHRL, particularly the right of the detainee to know at the time of arrest the reasons behind the arrest. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) expresses concern at Israel’s arrest and detention policy, which is part and parcel of its violation of fair trial principles.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 7:00 am on Wednesday, 27 July 2016, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza sea west of Al Waha Resort near the maritime borders that are west of Bait Lahiya in the North Gaza district. The IOF arrested two fishermen onboard and confiscated their boat and approximately seven nets. Al Mezan identified the arrested fishermen as follows:
According to Al Mezan's field investigations, the fishermen were about 2,000 meters away from the northern illuminated buoys. They were collecting their nets when the Israeli gunboats opened fire at them. Two Israeli boats surrounded the Palestinian fishing boat and ordered two fishermen onboard to take off their clothes and to swim to the Israeli boat. The other fishermen who were in the area abandoned their work for the day, sailing back to land immediately, a reflection of the dangers arising from the Israeli presence. At approximately 8:00 pm the same day, the Israeli authorities released the fishermen at Erez crossing.
In a separate incident, at approximately 8:40 pm on Wednesday, 27 July 2016, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats that were in the Gaza sea west of Al Waha Resort near the maritime borders that are west of Bait Lahiya in the North Gaza district. The Israeli forces surrounded one fishing boat and ordered six fishermen onboard to take off their clothes and to swim to the Israeli boat. The Israeli forces arrested the fishermen and took them to an unknown destination, also confiscating their boat. Al Mezan identified the arrested fishermen as follows:
In the same context, at approximately 11:30 pm on the same day, Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat, owned by Iyad Rajab Al Hissi, 41, while it was mooring off of the coast to the west of Al Sudaniya. As a result, the boat – including the engine – was severely damaged.
At approximately 2:00 pm on Tuesday, 26 July 2016, the Israeli authorities arrested Palestinian businessman Shadi Mtawea’ Al Ghourani, 33, at Erez crossing. According to his brother Nahedh’s affidavit, Shadi, who works for Al Ghourani Company for Fruits and Vegetables, went to Erez crossing to travel to the West Bank to import goods. Sometime afterwards he lost communication with his brother. Nahedh went to Erez crossing to ask about his brother. An employee at the Palestinian Liaison Office informed him that his brother had been arrested by the Israeli authorities.
Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s continued violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians, including the right to liberty and security of person cited within Article 9 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights to which Israel is a Party. The violation is perpetrated within the context of severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians of Gaza in particular – a violation which impacts the lives of Palestinians holistically by undermining the right to education, health, work, family life, to live free from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to free movement in and out of the country, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
Al Mezan calls for immediate release of detainees arrested subsequent to this policy. Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its moral and legal obligations towards Palestinians, to exert pressure on Israel to left the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to respect the principles and obligations of international law. Al Mezan asserts that the silence of the international community has encouraged Israel to continue its violations against Palestinians and maintain the status quo.