The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights continues to document attacks and incursions by Israeli forces into Gaza’s access restricted areas (ARA) that amount to grave violations under international law. In 2015, Al Mezan documented 82 incidents by land that resulted in the killing of one child and injury of 31 people, including nine children. 37 Palestinians were arrested, including 16 minors, while trying to cross into Israel. The violations against fishermen also continue, with 40 fishermen arrested in the same time period. In 88 incidents, Israeli forces used live fire against fishermen, killing one fisherman and injuring 23. The Israeli forces also confiscated 12 fishing boats and nine pieces of fishing equipment. Al Mezan condemns the continued attacks by Israeli forces, which have escalated in the last several months, and calls on the international community to intervene.
At approximately 7:25 pm on Thursday, 3 September 2015, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a group of fishermen who were off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the district of North Gaza. As a result, Belal Omar Yousif Abu Amro, 10, was injured by a bullet to his left thigh. Medical sources at Kamal Odwan hospital described his injury as moderate. According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, the child was fishing with his father when he was injured. The two are residents of Beit Lahiya. In his affidavit to Al Mezan, Belal’s father stated that he was practicing his hobby, fishing with a hook, as usual. This time, his son Belal went with him. He was around 50 meters away from the separation fence. Tens of fishermen were in the area. He suddenly heard shooting. He collected his equipment and quickly moved from the area. While he was running, his son stopped to catch his breath. He was about 100 meters away. Then, his son screamed. He went to Belal and found him bleeding from his left thigh. Belal’s father called an ambulance to carry his son to Kamal Odwan Hospital.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns Israel’s continued violations against Palestinian civilians in the ARA including Israel’s excessive use of force. Al Mezan also asserts that the rights to livelihood and freedom of movement are basic human rights. The Israeli forces violate the principles of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law by attacking, killing, injuring, and arresting civilians. Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to intervene, to provide protection for civilians. Al Mezan reiterates its calls on the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to uphold its legal obligation and to take effective steps to lift the Israeli closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and the associated ARA regime, of which these attacks are part and parcel.