The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Ref: 50/2022 – Date: 27 April 2022: The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing Israeli naval forces’ chasing of Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea, opening fire on them and endangering their lives while sailing within the allowed fishing area.

Since the beginning of this year, PCHR has documented recurrent shooting incidents against fishermen, in addition to incidents where IOF chased and arrested fishermen at work; the last of which was the arrest of 6 fishermen, including (3) children, and the confiscation of two boats manned by them off Rafah Shore, southern Gaza Strip.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, at approximately 21:30 on Tuesday, 26 April 2022, Israeli gunboats sailing off the seaport in western Rafah, chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 8 nautical miles and opened fire at them. The Israeli gunboats surrounded 2 fishing boats manned by 6 fishermen, including 3 children, and arrested them. The detainees were identified as:

  1. Mohammed Ayman Khalil al-Bardawil (20).
  2. Ibrahim Howaishel Hammad Abu ‘Edwan (25).
  3. Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil al-Bardawil (16).
  4. Mohammed Is’aied Naser Abu Baten (27)
  5. Mahmoud Nabil Khail al-Bardawil (17).
  6. Khalil Nabil Khail al-Bardawil (14).

Moreover, the Israeli naval forces transferred the detainees to Ashdod Seaport and confiscated the two fishing boats that included two generators and flashlights. At approximately 07:00 on Wednesday, 26 April 2022, Israeli authorities released the 6 fishermen through Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

Two days earlier, the Israeli naval forces arrested 3 fishermen; 2 of them were injured with rubber bullets.

Fisherman Jaber Tareq Baker (21), from al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, said that at approximately 02:00 on Monday dawn, 25 April 2022, he was shot with a rubber bullet in his left leg after Israeli gunboats surrounded the fishing boat he was on along with his brother, ‘Awad (25), and the boat’s owner, Mohammed Rajab Abu Ghanem (24).

Baker stated that 2 Israeli gunboats opened fire at them after surrounding the fishing boat and ordered them via loudspeakers to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat. When he refused to jump into the water because he cannot swim, the soldiers directly fired rubber bullets at him, wounding his left leg and his brother ‘Awad’s back.

He added that they were forced to swim towards the gunboat and board it. Upon their arrival at the gunboat, Abu Ghanem fainted. Despite that, the soldiers tied their hands to their backs with plastic wires and took them to Ashdod Seaport to interrogate them about sailing in the area where they were arrested. Baker also said that at 19:00 on the same day, the Israeli naval forces released them while the fishing boat and its contents remained in IOF custody.

So far in 2022, PCHR documented the injury of 6 fishermen and the arrest of 23 others, including 6 children; 3 fishermen remain in IOF detention. Also, the Israeli authorities continue to keep 7 fishing boats and dozens of fishing tools and equipment in their custody.

PCHR confirms that Israeli practices against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip constitute a grave violation of all international covenants and agreements, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Also, the Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which deals with the protection of civilians in time of war and affirms the need to protect workers and their rights.

PCHR condemns the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea, and calls upon the international community, including the States Party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, to force Israeli authorities to cease attacks and persecution of Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza waters and to allow fishermen to fish freely. Additionally, PCHR calls upon Israeli authorities to compensate fishermen for their losses caused by the continued Israeli attacks and release the detained fishing boats and equipment.