Human Rights activists in the Gaza Strip announced that they will be launching this Wednesday a boat tasked with accompanying Palestinian fishing boats to monitor and document the repeated Israeli Navy violations against them.Activists from the United States, Italy, Spain and Belgium will be soon accompanying Palestinian fishermen who are under constant attacks and violations carried out by the Israeli Navy.
“On Wednesday April 20th, the ‘Oliva’, a human rights monitoring boat with an international crew, will launch from the port of Gaza City. The crew of the Civil Peace Service, which currently consists of citizens from Spain, the United States, Italy and Belgium, will accompany Gazan fishermen within Palestinian waters. Violations of international law will be monitored and documented. Data and video materials will be collected and disseminated”, The Free Gaza Movement reported.
The movement said that Vittorio Arrigoni, the Italian human rights activist who was kidnapped and killed by unknown gunmen in Gaza several days ago, was involved in setting up this project, and that a commemoration ceremony will be held on the day of the launch.
Before his death, Arrigoni was also involved in choosing the name of this boat as he stated that the boat should not carry the name of a person, and supported naming it Oliva.
“The mission of this boat will carry on in Arrigoni’s spirit”, the Free Gaza Movement said.
Organizers of “Olivia” stated that the Palestinians showed great support to the initiative, including support expressed by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza, the Fishing and Marine Sports Association, the Union of Agriculture Committees, and the Popular Struggle Coordination Committees, the Maan News Agency reported.
Olivia is an 8-meter long white motor boat, and will be inaugurating the Civil Peace Service Mission. It aims at ensuring that Palestinian fishermen can work without being attacked and harassed by the Israeli Navy.
Following the Operation Cast Lead Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, Israel restricted the fishermen into 3 nautical miles instead of the 20 miles granted to them under the Oslo peace accords.
The Movement said that Olivia came as a response to this dire situation caused by Israeli restrictions and attacks.
“This dramatic reduction of the 20-mile limit which was agreed upon in the Oslo Accords has resulted in the over-exploitation of fishing grounds in which stocks are close to exhaustion”, the Free Gaza Movement said, “Fishermen are threatened by gunfire, confiscation of their boats and fishing tools and arrest by the Israeli Navy which regularly launches attacks and incursions in Palestinian waters”.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, stated that approximately %90 of the 4000 fishermen are either considered poor (making 100-190 US Dollars a month), or very poor, making less than a $100 a month.
Palestinian fishermen have been repeatedly attacked, injured and killed while several fishing boats were boarded and confiscated. Several fishermen were also imprisoned under the claim that they sailed outside the fishing zone they are allowed into.