On Monday, 17 June 2019, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights organized a workshop to Palestinian fishermen in Gaza to raise their awareness of their protection as enshrined in the principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). 52 fishermen participated in the workshop, held at the Golden Hall in Al-Salateen neighbourhood in North Gaza district.
The workshop participants were welcomed by Ms. Shirin Al Shobaki, Coordinator of Training and Mass Communication Unit, who first briefed participants about the importance of gaining familiarity with IHL’s essential principles of protecting civilians, including fishermen, in contexts of armed conflict.
Mr. Samir Al-Mana’ama, lawyer at Al Mezan and a member of its Legal Aid Unit, discussed with the participating fishermen relevant provisions from IHL and the Fourth Geneva Convention, focusing on those principles of protecting fishermen. Mr. Al-Mana’ama delineated the fishermen’s rights as mandated and protected by international human rights conventions. He focused on their rights to work, and to live free from arbitrary arrest and torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and to life—rights of which Israeli forces routinely deprive Palestinian fishermen.
Mr. Al-Mana’ama went on to explain the obligations that Israel, the occupying power, holds under IHL, notably regarding the denial of access to Palestine’s natural resources and the undue restrictions that make up the closure and blockade and prevent the entry of materials to repair boats with. The participants were briefed on international and local means of pursuing justice and accountability for violations of international law, including through the various mechanisms of the United Nations and by coordinating with Al Mezan.
At the end of the workshop, Mr. Al-Mana’ama introduced participants to the range of legal aid services provided by Al Mezan and explained how fishermen can benefit from these services, including to claim back boats or fishing equipment confiscated by Israeli forces.
The workshop is part of Al Mezan’s commitment to promoting IHL and human rights in Gaza and is supported by Diakonia through the joint project “Protection and Promotion of IHL in Gaza”.