A new project by the non-violent activists of the International Solidarity Movement began on Wednesday, as activists launched a fishing boat from which to monitor attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian fishermen. The activists resolved to continue their human rights work despite the kidnapping and murder last week of one of their members, Vittorio Arrigoni, by right-wing Palestinians.Attacks on Palestinian fishermen are commonplace on the Gaza coast, with 53 fishermen having been injured in the last year by live ammunition fired by Israeli naval forces. In addition, 17 fishing boats have been confiscated indefinitely, thus depriving the Palestinian fishermen of their only source of livelihood.
The international activists are equipped with cameras and phones to document and report on the frequent attacks against the fishermen.
They have called on Israel to end its siege of the Gaza Strip, which includes the closure of the Gaza coast and all borders. The siege has prevented imports and exports into Gaza, and has devastated the Gazan economy since Israeli authorities imposed the siege in 2007.
The new observation boat, dubbed Olivia, was launched in a ceremony at a Gaza beach on Wednesday.
Currently, Gaza’s 3500 fishermen, who depend on fishing for their livelihood, have been limited by a 3 kilometer zone along the coast, which is patrolled by Israeli naval vessels. Israeli troops fire at any fishing boat that they deem to have strayed outside the zone, or to be “acting suspiciously”.