Israeli Attacks on Fishermen in the Gaza Sea
Israeli Naval forces continued to carry out
attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period (01-31 January 2014), including
21 shooting incidents causing damage to a fishing boat, and 2 chasing incidents
that led to the arrest of 3 fishermen and confiscation of other fishing
Although Israeli authorities limited the
fishing distance in Gaza Sea to 6 nautical miles, they neither complied with
that distance nor allowed Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip to sail and
fish freely, and continued their attacks against them. PCHR documented
all attacks carried out within the distance of 6 nautical miles, which proves
that Israeli forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s
fishermen and their sources of livelihood.
It should be mentioned that since 29 December
2013, Israeli naval forces has started an intensive campaign in the Gaza
Sea. They chased Palestinian fishing
boats and prevented them from sailing beyond 4.5 nautical miles. Moreover, they chased fishing boats sailing
within 1 nautical mile off the northern Gaza shore and within 1 nautical mile
off the Egyptian-Palestinian borders and prevented fishermen from approaching
those areas. The subsequent period
witnessed shooting incidents at the Palestinian fishing boats.
Violations of the International Humanitarian
and Human Rights Law
Israel’s attacks against Palestinian
fishermen, who do not pose any threat to Israeli soldiers, in the Gaza Strip
constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights
law, relevant to the protection of the civilian population and respect for its
rights, including every person’s right to work, and the right to life, liberty
and security of person, as codified in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR), despite the fact that Israel is a State Party to the
Covenant. Furthermore, these attacks occurred in a time where the fishers
did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their
job to secure a living. Israeli violations in the reporting period were
First: Firing at Fishing Boats in the Gaza
During the reporting period, PCHR documented
21 cases in which Israeli forces fired at Palestinian fishermen in the sea off
the Gaza Strip shore. Those attacks took place off Beit Lahia shore in the
northern Gaza Strip; the Khan Younis shore in the southern Gaza Strip; and Deir
al-Balah shore in the central Gaza Strip.
As a result, fishermen were forced to flee and leave the sea in all
attacks. It is noted that all these incidents happened within the 6
nautical miles allowed for fishermen to sail and fish in, according to the
cease fire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian armed groups
under Egyptian and international auspices.
Second: Arrest of Fishermen:
PCHR documented incidents in which Israeli
Naval forces arrested and chased 3 fishermen, including 1 child, in 2 separate
incidents while they were sailing off Beit Lahia shore in the northern Gaza
At approximately 09:00 on 09 January 2014,
Israeli gunboats stationed off Beit Lahia shore, in the northern Gaza Strip,
opened fire at a group of fishing boats while sailing within the nautical mile
limit. Two Israeli gunboats surrounded a fishing boat boarded by 3 fishermen:
Mohammed Khader Abdul Sultan (26), and his 2 brothers Hamdi (23) and Ahmed
(18). Israeli navy officers ordered the 3 fishermen to take their clothes off,
jump into the water and swim towards a gunboat, but the fishermen refused.
Mohammed and Hamdi informed the soldiers that their brother Ahmed is a cardiac
patient and could not jump and swim in the sea.
Israeli officers nevertheless ordered them again to swim to a gunboat.
Israeli forces arrested Mohammed and took him northwards to Ashdod seaport. He
was released the same day at 19:00 after he was interrogated.
at approximately 10:00 on 20 January 2014,
Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats while sailing just 2
nautical miles off Beit Lahia shore, in the northern Gaza Strip. An Israeli
gunboat surrounded a fishing boat boarded by 2 fishermen, including one child:
Yusef Amin Abu Warda (18) and Ahmed Kamal Abu Warda (17), both from Jabalia in
the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli officers ordered the fishermen to take their
clothes off, jump in the water and sail towards the Israeli gunboat. The
fishermen did so and were taken by the gunboat to Ashdod seaport. At
approximately 23:00 on the same day, the 2 fishermen were released, but their
boat and nets remained in Israeli custody. Yusef stated to PCHR’s fieldworker
that Ahmed and himself were questioned for an hour and a half and were accused
of sailing beyond the allowed area.
Third: Confiscation of Fishing Equipment
During the reporting period, PCHR documented 1
chasing incidents in the Gaza Waters resulting in the confiscation of a fishing
boat and other fishing equipment (fishing nets) while fishermen were sailing 2
nautical miles off the al-Wahah Shore in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
On 20 January 2014, (in the aforementioned
incident), Israeli gunboats confiscated a fishing boat and nets while sailing 2
nautical miles off al-Wahah Shore in the northern Gaza Strip.
Fourth: Damaging Fishing Equipment
On 04 January 2014, Israeli naval forces
stationed off the Gaza City shore opened fire for 10 minutes at Palestinian
gunboats sailing at approximately 3 nautical miles. As a result, a
fishing boat was hit by 9 bullets. Majed
Fadel Baker (55) from Gaza City said to a PCHR fieldworker that four fishermen
and he narrowly escaped death due to the shooting. The five fishermen managed
to sail the boat back to the shore after parts of it flooded with water.
Table of Israeli Attacks on
Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza City in January 2014
Number of Detainees
Confiscation of Fishing Boats
Confiscation of Fishing Equipment
Damaging Fishing Equipment