Friday, 16 September 2011

Israeli navy campaign against Gaza fishermen sees 61 attacks this year says rights group

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns ongoing Israeli attacks targeting Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and expresses grave concern regarding the escalation of these attacks in recent days. This escalation has resulted in the injury and arrest of a number of fishermen, and the confiscation of a number of fishing boats. Detained fishermen were questioned, pressured to provide security information and collaborate with Israeli forces, and subject to cruel and degrading treatment.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 06:15 on Sunday, 11 September 2011, two Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to al-Waha Resort, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, surrounded two Palestinian boats. There were eight fishermen, including two boys, on board the two boats. The gunboats opened fire on the two Palestinian boats. As a result, two fishermen were wounded by shrapnel. Israeli naval forces arrested the eight fishermen after forcing them to take their clothes off and jump into water, confiscated their boats and sailed to Ashdod Port in Israel. Hassan Khader Hassan Baker, 53; and his sons Khader, 29; Ja'far, 27; and Mohammed, 21; and 'Allam Naser Fadel Baker, 16, were on the first boat. Khalil Jawher Khalil Baker, 21; Mohammed Majed Fadel Baker, 19; and Mohammed Suheil Fadel Baker, 17 were on the second.

At approximately 18:00 on the same day, Israeli forces released 'Allam Naser Baker; Mohammed Majed Baker; and Mohammed Suheil Baker, who was wounded by shrapnel in the right thigh during his arrest. They were released via Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. Approximately 3 hours later, Israeli forces released Hassan Khader Baker, who was wounded by shrapnel in his left hand during his arrest, and his sons Ja'far, Mohammed and Khader; Khalil Jawhar Baker via Beit Hanoun (Erez) after they were questioned regarding their work. In his testimony to PCHR, a released fisherman stated that Israeli forces blindfolded the fishermen when transporting them to Ashdod Port and handcuffed them all with iron chains. He added that after four hours of waiting under cruel conditions, they were subjected to questioning and that interrogators offered them money in order to collaborate with the Israeli Internal Security Service (Shin Bet).

At approximately 07:15, on 13 September 2011, Israeli gunboats sailing opposite to al-Sudaniya coast, west of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian boats. The Palestinian fishermen were able to escape in great fear of being arrested or wounded.

The Israeli attacks against the Palestinian fishermen and their property have increased since the beginning of this year and there has been a dramatic rise in the number and form of attacks. Since the beginning of the year, PCHR has documented 61 attacks against fishermen at sea in the Gaza Strip. PCHR has also documented 38 cases of shooting, including five that resulted in injury to eight fishermen; five cases involving chasing fishermen that resulted in arrest of 18 fishermen; and 19 cases that led to the confiscation and damage to boats and fishing tools. more