By The International Solidarity Movement
Israeli navy vessels today attacked a group of Gazan fishing boats using live ammunition, shells and a high-powered water cannon. The boats were only 4 miles away from the Gazan shore, well within both shot at and shelled a group of Gazan fishermen who were only 4 nautical miles from the coast of the Gaza Strip. A high-powered water cannon was also used, causing significant damage to the boats.
Accompanying the boats were international solidarity activists who have been regularly accompanying fishermen from Gaza for the last month. No one was injured by the attack, though shells fired by the Israeli navy landed very close to the boats.
The Israeli navy have imposed severe restrictions on fishing Gazan waters, regularly attacking any boats attempting to fish over 3 nautical miles. With international accompaniment, fishermen have been regularly attempting to fish outside the Israeli imposed limits.
The International Solidarity Movement has recently announced the re- establishment of ISM Rafah. Internationals will continue to accompany fishermen attempting to continue their livelihood that is being destroyed by the Israeli siege and occupation.
40,000 people in Gaza make a living from the fishing industry, yet this community has been decimated by Israeli restrictions on fishing rights and the prevention of fuel from reaching the Gaza Strip.
According to the Fishing Syndicate in Gaza, fishermen need 40,000 litres of fuel and 40,000 litres of natural gas each day to operate throughout the high fishing season.
Starting in April each year, there is a migration of fish from the Nile Delta to Turkish waters which Palestinian fishermen have traditionally relied upon. Yet Israel limits fishing 6 miles from the Gaza shore and regularly attacks those who venture further than 3 miles – over 70 fishermen were arrested last year by the Israeli forces. The large schools that form the migration are usually found 10 miles from shore. The average catch of fish was over 3000 tons a year in the 1990’s, now it is around 500 tons directly due to the Israeli siege of Gaza.
Not only this, but the brutal effects of the siege, the water in which the fishermen of Gaza sail in is now receiving 50 million litres of sewage per day because the people of Gaza have no alternative.
-The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. We call for full compliance with all relevant UN resolutions and international law.