Israeli Attacks on Fishermen continue: Two Fishermen arrested, Boat and Nets Confiscated
Israeli forces have continued their attacks on Palestinian fishermen in Gaza over the past two days. In addition to the Israeli imposed restrictions on fishermen's work as part of the closure of Gaza, on the 19th and 20th of May, Israeli forces opened fire on fishermen, arrested two of them and confiscated a boat and fishing nets. Al Mezan condemns the restrictions and attacks on fishermen and calls for international intervention to protect their rights.
According to the documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, at approximately 9:35 PM on 19 May 2013, Israeli naval forces opened machine gun fire towards a group of fishing boats who were off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza Strip. Israeli military boats approached and arrested two men, Mahmoud Zayid, 27, and his brother Khalid, 25, from a small fishing boat, which was about 400 meters off the coast and approximately 1.5 nautical miles south of the Northern Israeli restricted zone. Their brother, Ahmed, informed Al Mezan that their boat was clearly inside the designated fishing zone and the Israeli markers were clearly visible to them.
He added that he saw a “small fishing boat with an engine (hasaka) near them and that Israeli forces opened fire at it, so it steered away from the area”. He then heard the Israeli soldiers speaking to his brother using a megaphone, ordering them to raise their hands up, take off their clothes, and swim towards the Israeli naval boat. The fishermen followed the instructions and were arrested in this way. He also said that the Israeli forces “confiscated the boat and nine fishing nets before sailing northward”.
The IOF released the two fishermen at approximately 1PM on 20 May 2013 at the Erez Crossing. Their boat and nets have remained confiscated.
In another attack, at approximately 9 PM on 19 May, Israeli naval vessels opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Deir Al-Balah in the Middle Gaza district. The boats were within the Israeli-sanctioned fishing zone, about three nautical miles from shore, when they attacked. According to the statements given to Al Mezan by fishermen who were present at the scene, the Israeli boats opened fire at fishing boats, who rushed to leave the area where they had spread fishing nets. Some fishermen managed to pull a few nets out of the water; however, most of the nets remained in the water as they had to escape from the shooting. They then saw an Israeli naval boat with soldiers onboard pulling nets out of the water and confiscating them. According to the fishermen, the Israeli forces confiscated fifteen fishing nets.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the continuous attacks on Palestinian fishermen by Israeli forces; attacks which put the fishermen in grave danger, expose them to arrest and ill-treatment, and restrict their access to their work.
Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to intervene and provide protection for Palestinian civilians and fishermen under Israel's control in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the Gaza Strip. Attacks targeting civilians and civilian property constitute serious violations of international law, regardless of any agreements or declarations of security or buffer zones, and must stop immediately.