GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained four men fishing off the northern Gaza shore on Sunday morning.
Head of Gaza's fishing association Mahfouth al-Kabriti said gunboats seized Majed Fadel Baker, and his three sons Omran 26, Fadi 23, and Muhammad, 19, while they were on a fishing trip.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said the boat breached the designated fishing zone and did not respond to warning shots by the Israeli navy.
The boat was taken to Israeli port Ashdod and the men are being held for security questioning, she said.
Under Israel's maritime blockade, Palestinians are forbidden from fishing more than three nautical miles from the coast.
A week ago, 22-year-old fisherman Fahmi Salah Abu Rayash died after he was shot by Israeli snipers stationed near the shore, Hamas officials said.
Four Fishermen Arrested and a Fishing Boat Confiscated, PCHR Condemns Continued Israeli Violations Against Palestinian Fishermen in the Gaza Strip
Monday, 08 October 2012 00:00
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns continued Israeli violations against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and is concerned about the escalation of these violations, which have resulted in the arrest of four fishermen and the confiscation of a fishing boat belonging to a fisherman from the Gaza Strip.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 8:10 on Sunday, 07 October 2012, Israeli Naval Forces positioned off Al-Waha resort northwest of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, arrested four fishermen while they were fishing 2.5 nautical miles off the shore. IOF chased a fishing boat belonging to a fisherman Majed Fadel Baker (51), who was sailing with his three sons Imran (27), Fadi (26), and Mohammad Majed Baker (20). IOF surrounded and stopped the Palestinian boat, forced the four fishermen to take their clothes off, jump into the water, and swim to the Israeli gunboat. They arrested the fishermen, handcuffed and blindfolded them, and then transported them to Israeli waters, towing the boat with them. The four fishermen were released at approximately 16:00 on the same day via Beit Hanoun Crossing (Erez), after being questioned.
In his testimony to a PCHR field worker Majed Fadel Baker (51), from northern Rimal neighborhood in Gaza city, states:
"At 5:00 on Sunday, 07 October 2012, I sailed with my three sons in my boat towards Al-Sodaniya area where we reached 2.5 nautical miles off Al-Waha shore, northern Gaza Strip. At 8:00, two Israeli gunboats approached us at a distance of nearly 50 meters, with 10 soldiers on board. One of the soldiers ordered us to stop, take our clothes off, jump in the water, and swim towards them. We did as we were told, and swam towards an Israeli gunboat. The soldiers handcuffed us with metal chains, blindfolded us and strapped us to one of the gunboat's steel pillars. We reached Ashdod seaport and were questioned until 15:30. We were then handcuffed, blindfolded again, and transported by an Israeli vehicle to Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing, where we were released at 16:00. IOF confiscated my boat and my fishing equipment."
Israeli violations committed by the Israeli Naval Forces against the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip's waters have escalated since the beginning of this year. PCHR documented 166 violations against fishermen in the Gaza Strip between the beginning of 2012 and late September, including 77 shooting incidents which led to the killing of a fisherman and wounding another. These violations also resulted in the arrest of 45 fishermen in 17 arrest incidents, as well as the confiscation of 19 fishing boats and the destruction of fishing tools and equipment in 8 different incidents.
It should be noted that Israeli forces have recently imposed more restrictions on the work of fishermen in the Gaza Strip. Since 2000, fishermen have been denied their right to sail and fish. Israeli forces reduced the area of fishing from 20 nautical miles, which was established upon in the agreements signed between Palestinians and Israel, to 6 nautical miles in 2008. However, Israeli forces have continued to prevent fishermen from going beyond 3 nautical miles since 2009. As a result, fishermen are prevented from reaching areas beyond that distance where fish is abundant. Sometimes, Israeli forces also chase fishermen within the 3 nautical mile area. Consequently, Palestinian fishermen have lost 85% of their source of income, because of the limiting the fishing area.
In light of the above, PCHR condemns the recent violations committed by the Israeli Naval Forces against Palestinian fishermen. PCHR believes that these violations are committed in the context of the escalating collective punishment policies against civilians, and that they are part of the policy that seeks to prevent civilians from meeting their subsistence needs, which is prohibited under international humanitarian and human rights law. PCHR calls upon the IOF to:
1- Immediately stop its policy of chasing and arresting Palestinian fishermen, to allow them to sail and fish freely, and to return confiscated fishing boats and tools;
2- Pay compensation to the victims of Israel’s violations for the physical and material damage caused to fishermen and their property;
3- Return the confiscated boats to their owners immediately, and compensate them for any damages caused by the confining these boats for a long period of time or any other damage that might have been caused.