In coordination with the Hai As-Salateen Association, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has organized a training workshop entitled 'Human Rights Law and the Protection of Civilians.
' The workshop was held for the benefit of those social groups most frequently subjected to Israeli human rights violations, as part of the Center’s ongoing efforts to raise the consciousness of Gazan citizens.
The workshop targeted fishermen from North Gaza district, who are subjected to continuous and grave abuses by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) during their work at sea or on the beach.
The workshop was held at 10:30 on the morning of Thursday 28 June 2012, in the office of the Hai As-Salateen Association in Beit Lahiya, North Gaza district.
More than twenty-five fishermen attended the workshop, which constitutes one component of the “Promoting Freedom of Expression, Assembly, and Movement in Gaza through Support for Civil Society Organizations” project, implemented by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights with support from Oxfam - Great Britain.
The project aims to raise awareness of international humanitarian law and human rights among different Palestinian social sectors in Gaza, and to educate fishermen on means to respond legally to the Israeli occupation.
Shirin Ash-Shobaki, Al Mezan’s training and mass communication unit coordinator, welcomed the attending fishermen and thanked the Hai As-Salateen Association for organizing the workshop.
After that, she discussed monitoring and documentation work of the Center and the need for such workshops.
She also stressed the importance of strengthening the means of communication between fishermen and Al Mezan and its various units.
She added that there is a need to expose all the violations to which fishermen are subjected, at both the regional and international levels.
Ash-Shobaki advised the participants on the need to understand international humanitarian law and its definitions, especially the fourth Geneva Convection Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and urged them to get as much as they could out of the workshop, particularly those parts concerning their profession as fishermen.
Iyad Nasser then presented his lecture, starting his speech by discussing Palestinian fishermen and their difficult economic situation, noting the occupation’s restrictions on their freedom to practice their work.
He also described the abuses they are exposed to, especially when they approach the northern maritime borders, and the history of these grave, systematic, and continuous human rights violations from the beginning of the Intifada.
He then turned to an explanation of international humanitarian law and its conventions and protocols.
He referred to the legal situation of the Gaza Strip, which remains occupied territory, and discussed the importance of international humanitarian law for fishermen in particular.
Nasser described the scope of the maritime areas where fishermen are allowed to freely pursue their work according to the rules of international humanitarian law, and how they can use the this law in the service of their profession.
At the end of his speech, he described mechanisms of international adjudication and the responsibility of the IOF for its crimes.
He also described means to recover fishing boats, nets, and equipment confiscated by the Israeli Navy, and the possibilities for obtaining appropriate compensation according to the extent of the damage suffered.
In their important contributions and interventions in the discussion, the fishermen described the different kinds of daily suffering they endure, and the history, development, and continuation of Israeli maritime abuses, from before the advent of the Palestinian Authority and up to the present.
Another point of discussion was the impact of Israel’s imposition of a “security buffer zone” on both land and maritime borders.
The fishermen also called for real and effective action from both international associations or community in stopping those violations or at least protecting Palestinian fishermen against them.
The fishermen concluded the workshop by providing an evaluation and thanking the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights for such initiatives.
They also called on Al Mezan to carry out other such meetings on different topics affecting victims’ lives in the future.