At 6:30am on Saturday, 6 October 2018, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen sailing off the coast of west Beit Lahia city in North Gaza district. The Israeli warships circulated a boat carrying two fishermen and detained both: Safwat Zayed, 42, and Ref’at Zayed, 30. The boat was about 2.5 nautical miles away from the coast at the time of detention. The two fishermen were detained.
Al Mezan's documentation shows that from the start of 2018, Israeli forces have carried out 242 attacks on fishermen—237 of them involved the use of live fire—killing one fisherman, injuring 15, detaining 51, and confiscating 15 fishing boats.
Al Mezan condemns the violence against fishermen and stresses that the constant harassment, detention, and shooting resulting in death and injury, as well as confiscation and destruction of equipment, is part of an unlawful closure and blockade policy that amounts to prohibited collective punishment. Fishermen must be protected so that they can work and earn living with dignity and safety, yet the Israeli authorities restrict them to a zone between three and nine nautical miles in which to fish— and still targeting them when in the permitted zone.
These attacks are in violation of international human rights law, compound the dire conditions of the fishing community in the Gaza Strip, 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line. The Israeli authorities’ policy to unduly hinder Palestinian fishermen’s access to Palestinian territorial waters restricts their enjoyment of Palestine’s natural resources, in violation of international humanitarian law, and stifles what would otherwise be a viable sector within the Palestinian economy.
Al Mezan demands the immediate release of the two fishermen in detention at the time of drafting. Al Mezan urges members of the international community to take immediate steps to protect Palestinian civilians and to seek an end to Israel’s closure and blockade.