Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Intifada Youth Coalition prepares to break Gaza sea blockade

The Intifada Youth Coalition, a Palestinian organization in Gaza, stated on Tuesday that is was preparing to break the six nautical-mile barrier imposed on Gaza fishermen by the Israeli occupation. The Coalition declared that it is in consultation with several parties to organize a demonstration that will break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

A cargo ship is currently being rebuilt in which Palestinian and international activists intend to set sail from Gaza’s port to deliver Palestinian products to buyers across the world, in defiance of Israel’s blockade.

Campaigners are well aware that Israeli forces will prohibit any boats from leaving Gaza’s port.

Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally established a “buffer zone” - an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as the “buffer zone” is not clear and the policy is typically enforced with live fire.

The establishment of the “buffer zone” is illegal under both Israeli and international law. Preventing Palestinians from accessing their lands and fishing areas violates numerous provisions of international human rights law, including the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Enforcing the “buffer zone” through the use of live fire often results in the direct targeting of civilians and/or indiscriminate attacks, both of which constitute war crimes.

Israel has formally restricted the movement of Palestinians since June 1989, when it imposed a magnetic-card system whereby only those with such a card were allowed to leave the Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities did not issue the cards to released prisoners, former administrative detainees, or people who had been detained and released without charges being filed against them.

January 1991 marked the beginning of the permanent closure policy imposed on the Gaza Strip. Each resident of Gaza who desired to travel to Israel or the West Bank was required to obtain a personal exit permit. On the eve of the Oslo Agreements, in March 1993, Israel imposed a general closure on Gaza with the building of permanent checkpoints.

On October 2000, Israel imposed a comprehensive closure of Gaza, building an electronic fence around the strip. In addition, Israeli forces bombed Gaza International Airport forcing its closure. During the second intifada Israeli forces destroyed the infrastructure of a seaport that was under construction. The sea blockade has severely damaged Gaza’s fishing industry. According to the Oslo Agreements, Palestinian fishing was to be permitted up to 20 nautical miles (37 km) offshore, however, the agreement has not been ratified and Israel allows fishermen to travel only up to 6 nautical miles (11Km) - and in many instances up to 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) - offshore. more


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