Israeli naval boats, on Saturday, continued to breach a truce agreement reached in August of 2014, under Egyptian auspices, opening heavy machine gunfire on Palestinian fishermen offshore, in the north of the Gaza Strip.According to WAFA, the navy fired on the fishermen despite their sailing within the unilaterally imposed 6-nautical mile fishing zone, forcing farmers to flee back to shore, for fear of being injured, killed, or arrested.
The Israeli navy targets Palestinian fishermen and farmlands along the border on an almost daily basis, in a blatant breach of the August 2014 truce agreement reached between the Israeli side and Palestinian armed resistance in Gaza, following 51 days of bloody aggression on the Strip.
The aggression claimed the lives of over 2,200 Palestinians — mostly civilians, including some 551 children — and left more than 10,000 others injured.
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According to a press release issued in December of 2015, al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said that Israeli occupation forces have escalated their attacks against Palestinian fishermen off of the coast of Gaza amidst the ongoing siege, through which Israel prevents the entry of fishing equipment vital for the survival of the fishing community.
“Fishermen in Gaza are being deprived of their basic right to work, amidst violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”
According to al-Mezan’s monitoring, since the beginning of 2015 and until the publishing of the release, Israeli forces ‘killed one fisherman, injured 17, and arrested 63… confiscated 19 fishing boats, destroyed fishing equipment on 12 occasions, and opened fire on Palestinian fishermen in 118 incidents during the same period.’
In line with the 1993 Oslo Accords, Palestinian fishermen are entitled to 20 nautical miles of fishing grounds; however, Israel restricts the fishermen to six nautical miles or less, where the catch is almost completely diminished and the fishermen are barely able to work.
“The restriction is a clear violation of the fishermen’s right to work and to access land and natural resources.”
The center noted that Israeli authorities continue to prevent the entry of fishing equipment into Gaza, including engines and fiberglass used to make boats. This restriction has an enormous impact on the ability of the fishing community to survive with the deteriorating standards of living and increasing poverty and unemployment.
In September, the United Nations warned that that the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable for residents within just five years, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israeli blockade.
Al Mezan strongly condemned ‘Israel’s ongoing siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and the continued and systematic attacks against Palestinian fishermen that include death and injury, arrest and ill-treatment.’
In addition, the group condemned the Israeli damage, destruction and confiscation of Palestinian fishing equipment and boats, which represent their only source of income.
It reiterated its call on the international community “to promptly intervene to uphold its legal obligations towards civilians in the oPt and to respect its obligations under international law to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of gross violations of international humanitarian law.”
“Israel’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen, who do not pose any threat to Israeli soldiers, in the Gaza Strip constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, relevant to the protection of the civilian population and respect for its rights, including every person’s right to work, and the right to life, liberty and security of person, as codified in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), despite the fact that Israel is a State Party to the Covenant,” said the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).
In June 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip.
According to a World Bank report issued on May 2015, “The blockade has reduced Gaza’s GDP by 50%.”
According to OCHA report titled: The Humanitarian Impact of the Blockade, “Israel, as the occupying power, must lift the blockade, which prevents the realization of a broad range of human rights for Palestinians in Gaza. The Secretary General of the United Nations has stated that the blockade and its related restrictions contravene article 33 of the Geneva Convention IV prohibiting collective penalties.”
Archive IMEMC report: 03/01/15 94 Israeli Ceasefire Violations Since August