The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) escalated its attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the past two days. One fisherman was shot in the chest and six others were arrested by the IOF in three separate incidents that involved attacks on fishing boats. The injured fisherman died later. Continuous IOF attacks and restrictions on fishermen have pressed the fishermen community severely; pushing them into extreme poverty and vulnerability.
On Monday, 15 May 2017, at approximately 8:30 am, an Israeli gunboat opened fire at a Palestinian fishing vessel located off the coast near Al Waha, northwest of Beit Lahiya, in the North Gaza district. The IOF surrounded the small Palestinian fishing boat and opened fire at the four fishermen aboard who were fishing about two and a half nautical miles from shore. Mohammed Majed Bakr, 23, resident of Al Shati refugee camp in Gaza City district, was shot in the chest and subsequently arrested, while the other three were sent back to shore. Mohammed died later at 12:30 pm on the same day.
In his affidavit to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Mohammed’s brother, Omran Majed Bakr, 33, stated that the two were together aboard their fishing boat when the IOF opened fire. His brother sustained a bullet wound in his chest, and was bleeding when the Israeli gunboats surrounded their boat and arrested him.
In another incident in the same location, at approximately 8:30 pm on Sunday, 14 May 2017, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat that was about two nautical miles from shore. The IOF arrested the three fishermen Mohammed Sa’eed Bakr, 30, Mohammed Tareq Bakr, 22 and Abdullah Sabri Bakr, 19, and confiscated their boat. All three are residents of Al Shati refugee camp.
In the third incident, at approximately 11:00 pm on the same day, Israeli gunboats surrounded a Palestinian fishing boat located in the vicinity of the IOF-installed illuminated buoys that demarcate the fishing zone, about three nautical miles off the Beit Lahiya coast. The IOF arrested all three fishermen onboard: Mohammed Amin Abu Warda, 26, Yousif Amin Abu Warda, 22; and Hussein Amin Abu Warda, 14, and confiscated their boat and fishing gear. All three are residents of Jabaliya in the North Gaza district.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, since the beginning of 2017, the IOF opened fire on Palestinian fishermen in 64 incidents, killing two and injuring six. In the same period, the IOF arrested 21 fishermen, and confiscated seven boats.
Al Mezan condemns the shooting and killing of the fisherman and demands that the remaining fishermen be released immediately. Their boats and equipment rightfully returned. Al Mezan strongly condemns IOFl’s continued attacks on fishermen off Gaza shore, which are deliberate attacks on vulnerable civilians who are protected under international law. These attacks represent serious violations of fishermen dignith and human rights; including their right to work and to a standard of living. Al Mezan asserts that these practices in the Gaza sea follow a systematic policy that result in denying fishermen their right to work, and involve ill-treatment and humiliation.
The IOF’s daily attacks against fishermen gravely violate International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Practices of the Israeli navy against the fishermen have devastated Gaza’s fishery sector, and caused serious harm to fishermen and their families. Al Mezan therefore reiterates the call to the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to condemn these attacks and the killing of fishermen, and to uphold their legal and moral obligations to protect fishermen, and to impel Israel to respect IHRL and IHL principles.