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Israeli Naval Forces Chase Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza Sea, Wounding Fisherman, Arresting 7 Others, including Child, and Confiscating Fishing Boat

Ref: 40/2017       

On Monday Morning, 15 May 2017, and Sunday afternoon, 14 May 2017, Israeli gunboats chased and opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  As a result, a fisherman was wounded; 7 others were arrested, including a child; and a fishing boat was confiscated. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has monitored the escalation of Israeli attacks against fishermen in the Gaza Sea despite the Israeli forces’ declaration on 03 May 2017 that fishermen are allowed to sail up to 9 nautical miles instead of the previous 6 nautical miles.  This is a clear indication of the ongoing Israeli policy to target fishermen and their livelihood and deny them fishing and sailing freely in the Gaza Strip sea.

At approximately 08:30 on Monday, 15 May 2017, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a fishing boat manned by 4 fishermen, wounding Mohammed Majed Fadel Baker (25) with a bullet to the abdomen.  The Israeli naval soldiers then arrested Baker and took him to an unknown destination while the other fishermen fled away.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 20:30 on Sunday, 14 May 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore, west of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, chased a fishing boat belonging to ‘Ashour Shamalakh, who was sailing within 3 nautical miles.  One of the Israeli gunboats then surrounded the fishing boat, which was manned by 3 fishermen, and the Israeli soldiers ordered the  fishermen to stop fishing and arrested them.  Those arrested fishermen were identified as Mohammed Sa’id Baker (17); Mohammed Tariq Baker (22); and ‘Abdullah Sabri Baker (19).

In a separate incident, at approximately 23:45 on the same day, Israeli gunboats stationed off the shore, northwest of al-Wahah, west of Beit Lahia, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  The gunboats then surrounded a fishing boat belonging to Amin Rushde Abu Wardah (49) sailing within 2 nautical miles and manned by his 3 sons; Yousif (27); Mohammed (24) and Hussein (13).  All of them are from Jabalia. The Israeli naval soldiers forced them to take off their clothes, jumped into the eater and swim towards the Israeli gunboat.  The fishermen were then arrested while the boat was confiscated.

In light of the above, PCHR strongly condemns the Israeli ongoing attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and calls for:

  1. Immediately ending Israeli violations against fishermen and allowing them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza Sea;
  2. Releasing those fishermen arrested by Israeli forces;
  3. Ensuring remedy for victims of Israeli violations for the physical and material damage; and
  4. Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to intervene to stop all Israeli violations against fishermen and allow them to fish freely in the Gaza Sea.