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PCHR Organizes Workshop on: “Naval Blockade and Its Repercussions on Fishermen’s Rights”

Ref: 33/2020

Date: 28 July 2020

On Tuesday, 28 July 2020, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) organized a workshop titled “Naval Blockade and Its Repercussions on Fishermen’s Rights” in PCHR’s head office in Gaza City.  The workshop addressed fishermen’s conditions in the light of the ongoing Israeli naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and the grave violations committed against fishermen within the permitted fishing areas. The workshop was attended by experts representing the fishermen, Fish Wealth Sector, civil society organizations (CSOs) and media.

 

Fadel al-Muzaini, PCHR’s economic and social rights researcher, opened the workshop and presented PCHR report: “Naval Blockade and Israeli Attacks against Palestinian Fishermen in the Gaza Strip.” Al-Muzaini stressed  that expanding the allowed area for fishing by Israeli authorities did not translate in cease on persecuting fishermen, chasing and shooting them at sea, endangering their lives. From 01 May 2019 to 30 July 2020, PCHR documented 133 shooting incidents against Palestinian fishermen, rendering 18 fishermen wounded, 15 arrested; 8 fishing boats damaged and 8 others detained.

 

Al-Muzaini added that restricting the permitted fishing area prevented fishermen from sailing and fishing freely and undermined the livelihoods of 4160 fishermen and 700 workers in professions associated with the fishing sector. Condequently, those fishermen and workers, the main providers for their families (a total of 27,700 persons), became unable to provide basic needs, such as food, medicine, clothing, and education.

 

In his presentation, Zakaria Baker, Coordinator of Fishermen Committees in the Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC), emphasized that the Israeli authorities manipulate the allowed fishing areas, as they decreased it to 3 nautical miles and have closed the sea more than 20 times in recent months. Baker also stressed that during this year, Israeli naval forces escalated their attacks against fishermen, deliberately targeted them with rubber bullets and damaged their fishing boats and engines. He added that Israeli naval forces’ attacks coincide with the continued restrictions imposed on the entry of equipment and necessary supplies for boat maintenance. As a result, at least 205 fishing boats are still damaged because spare parts are not available.

 

Eng. ‘Alaa al-Farra, from the Fish Wealth Sector at the Ministry of Agriculture, pointed out that the fishing sector suffers from serious problems due to the Israeli naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, that reduced its contribution to the Gaza Strip’s economy. Al-Farra added that fish production in the Gaza Strip does not meet the needs of the local population, as it reached 3,700 tons in the first half of 2020. Al-Farra emphasized that the fishermen’s income decreased in 2020, as the average fisherman’s income was less than  NIS 500 per month, which does not provide the minimum basic needs for fishermen. Al-Farra called upon international and humanitarian organizations to provide urgent financial and technical assistance to the fishermen who suffer deteriorating conditions.

 

At the end of the workshop, the participants concluded with the following recommendations:

 

  • Calling upon the international community to intervene immediately and practice pressure on the Israeli authorities to expand the permitted fishing area to 20 nautical miles off the Gaza shore;

 

  • Calling for an urgent and prompt intervention with the Israeli occupation forces to stop all forms of serious violations committed against fishermen in the Gaza Sea, including intimidating and terrorizing fishermen, shooting at them, and confiscating their boats and equipment; and

 

  • Calling upon Israeli authorities to  remove restrictions  and  allow the entry of equipment and necessary supplies for fishermen to sail and fish freely.