Israel’s occupying forces (IOF) continue to systematically attack and harass Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip in violation of international law and to the severe detriment of the fishing sector. In a recent attack, the IOF arrested six fishermen and confiscated their boats. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) condemns the arbitrary arrests and detention, and calls on the international community to intervene and protect civilians according to international legal obligations.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, at approximately 8:30 am on Tuesday, November 1 2016, Israeli gunboats opened fire at two Palestinian fishing boats off the Gaza coast near the Al Waha resort in northwest Beit Lahiya, North Gaza. The boats were approximately four nautical miles off of the coast at the time. The IOF boats surrounded two Palestinian fishing boats and arrested six fishermen, including a child who was fishing with the group. Al Mezan has identified them as follows:
The fishermen had gone to the aforementioned area to withdraw one of their boats that had drifted near the northern illuminated buoys placed by the IOF as restrictions within Palestinian territorial waters. While they were towing the boat, the IOF opened fire at them. Two Israeli gunboats surrounded their boats and arrested the fishermen. The IOF towed the two Palestinian boats northward.
Al Mezan condemns Israel’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen that result in death and injury, arrest and ill-treatment, and the confiscation and destruction of property, in violation of international law. Al Mezan notes that the fishing equipment and boats represent the fishermen’s only source of income. Al Mezan reaffirms that the fishermen’s right to work is an inherent human right, and that the Israeli authorities are committing systematic violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by repeatedly targeting civilians and employing methods ill-treatment and sometimes torture.
Al Mezan calls for the immediate release of the detained fishermen. Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its legal and moral obligations toward civilians, to promptly intervene to lift the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and to exert pressure on Israel to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Al Mezan asserts that the silence of the international community in the face of Israel’s violations has encouraged the commission of more violations against Palestinian civilians.