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Report: Israeli attacks on Gaza fishermen cause death, injuries, and property damage

Feb. 13, 2018 3:38 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2018 12:04 P.M.)
Gaza fishermen (File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) issued this week its annual report for 2017 detailing Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the besieged Gaza Strip.

UAWC in Gaza issued a detailed report about Israeli naval violations and attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during 2017, highlighting that “these attacks deny fishermen from practicing their fishing work and accessing their livelihood resources.”

The report states that Israeli forces carried out shooting operations and chased down the fishermen hundreds of times, even while inside the designated fishing zone, “causing dozens of casualties as well as destroying and confiscating boats and fishing gears.”

In 2017, two Palestinian fishermen were killed as a result of Israeli attacks. UAWC identified them as Muhammad Ahmad Al-Hessi, 33, and Mohammad Majid Baker, 25.

Twenty one fishermen were injured by live and rubber-coated steel bullets, while 39 fishermen were “arrested in harsh conditions, humiliation and irrespective the human dignity, transferring them to detention and interrogation centers in Ashdod seaport,” the report said.

Additionally, three boats were completely damaged, six were partially damaged, 13 boats confiscated, and tens of fishing nets and gear were damaged and/or confiscated by Israeli naval forces.

The report also highlighted the fact that as part of Israel's blockade off the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited "designated fishing zone."

The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated, most recently extended to six nautical miles from three, following a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel's 2014 offensive on the Palestinian territory.

However, the fishing zone was technically set to 20 nautical miles according to the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PA in the early 1990s.

“The UAWC considered that the Israeli Occupation State is continuously violating the international conventions of human rights especially the International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, through aggression and terrorism acts against fishermen and their rights to work, to live, security and personal safety,” the report said.

The group also accused Israel of carrying out collective punishment against Gaza’s entire population, which they called “an outrageous violation to human rights principles.”

The UAWC demanded the international community to no remain silent, and “to take immediate actions to stop these brutal attacks and violations, to provide protection for fishermen and to ensure that they practice fishing without fear or intimidation.”

“Moreover, to consider that the Israeli Occupation is committing war crimes requires that perpetrators are presented to the International Criminal Court and not to exempt them from these crimes,” the group said.
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