By Ayman Quader – Gaza
Everyday in the news, I hear about the suffering of the Gaza fishermen – one was killed, others wounded, and the Israelis are firing on still others. And I wanted to shed a light on their pain. So I went to the main Gaza port. While I was there, I realized how sad the sea and the fishermen are. Boats are stuck and fishermen are looking at the sea with no hope.
The Palestinian fishermen have been consistently harassed by the regular Israeli attacks on them, as they abuse the fishermen for pursuing their livelihood. Furthermore, they are prevented to work for far distances inside the sea. The allowed distance for them is just around 4.5 Km. Unfortunately, once they reach that distance, they find themselves under Israeli fire.
Around 3000 fishermen are now despondently jobless and in a real tragedy. The tragedy began with the complete blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. The fishermen are prohibited from going to a deeper and richer area of fishing, and they have been dramatically affected with these restrictions from the Israeli navy forces. Indeed, they now have very low incomes with which to feed their families.
Ismael Kalilo is a 65-year old fisherman in Gaza City, who has spent 50 years of his life in the sea, and now lives in the Beach Camp. "I am totally satisfied to be a fisherman in Gaza, but completely exhausted by the conditions imposed on us."
The aged fisherman is also a father of 8. I asked him how he takes care of his dependents, and how he feeds them: "No one can bear the situation that the fishermen are living with. He should go to the sea and see how much they suffer. We were peacefully fishing before the time of the siege on Gaza, as we just depended on our livelihood. We have become unable to secure even the basic needs of our life.
I asked him about his own experience regarding the Israeli navy forces. He took deep breath, then pointed at his son to tell us the story. Ahmed is 24 years old, and is also a fisherman.
"I was with my boat about a year ago at Sudania coast, north of the Gaza Strip," he said. "With no alert and at 10 pm, I found that the Israeli ship started firing missiles toward my boat, exactly at my net. They ordered me to get back without my net. I tried to save my big net, which costs around $2000, but it was in vain. Then I found myself obliged after staying in the sea from 10am to 7am to get back home, and they took the net – including what I had fished. That even had increased our tragedy, as they took the net which we all depend on for fishing."
"We are passing through a rough time, and we are suffering," said Ismeal, as he took me to see the bullets still in the boats, the fishermen unable to get them repaired. "The siege has suffocated us for almost 3 years."
Ismeal finished his interview with me, calling upon all of those people who claimed humanity, to stand beside the Palestinian people, their besieged people in Gaza, and to take responsibility for ending this daily suffering.
– Ayman Quader is a 23 year old writer and activist from the Gaza Strip. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.