Israeli forces continue perpetrating grave and systematic violations against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, including against fishermen. Years of illegal and unwarranted attacks, arbitrary arrests, and restrictions on Palestinian fishers by Israeli authorities have rendered fishing off the Gaza coast a dangerous occupation with inherent risk to life and security. The seizure, damage, and destruction of fishing boats are regularly reported, and the use of live ammunition against fishers is recorded periodically by Al Mezan. In the most recent incident, the Israeli navy arrested eight fishermen and confiscated two fishing boats off the coast of Rafah, south Gaza.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigation, at approximately 7 pm on Tuesday, 31 May 2022, the Israeli navy opened fire and surrounded a fishing boat located three nautical miles off the coast of Rafah, south Gaza. The boat was carrying five fishermen: Mahmoud Ibrahim Abu Ouda, 36, Hussein Mohammed Abu Ouda, 20, Mohammed Saed Abu Ouda, 22, Ibrahim Mohammed Abu Ouda, 18, and Mohammed Khalid Abu Ouda, 22—all residents of Rafah City. They were arrested and their boat was confiscated without cause.
In a separate incident in similar circumstances, at approximately 7:30 pm on the same day, the Israeli navy surrounded a fishing boat located three nautical miles off Rafah coast, arresting three fishermen who were on board: Hassan Mohammed Abu Ouda, 26, Ibrahim Saed Abu Ouda, 19 and Reda Mohammed al-Mobasher, 42, all residents of Rafah City, and confiscated the boat.
The Israeli authorities released six fishermen at around 7 am the next day through Erez crossing. However, two siblings, Hassan and Hussein Mohammed Abu Ouda, remain in Israel’s custody to this writing. Both boats are still being held.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that since the beginning of 2022, the Israeli navy has carried out 152 attacks against Palestinian fishermen, injuring 11 (including three children), arbitrarily arresting 35 fishers (including six children), and confiscating ten fishing boats.
Al Mezan calls for the immediate release of Hassan and Hussein Mohammed Abu Ouda and the return of the confiscated boats and fishing equipment. Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s continuous unwarranted and illegal practices against Palestinian fishers, which are part of Israel’s unlawful closure policy that amounts to a prohibited collective punishment under international law and represent inhumane acts that constitute the crime of apartheid under the 1973 Apartheid Convention.
Al Mezan also reiterates its calls on the international community, in particular, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, to uphold their obligations toward the Palestinian people and pressure Israel to end its closure on the Gaza Strip and stop its systematic violations against the civilian population, including fishers.