Thursday, 25 September 2014

Israel forces Gaza fishermen to undress in attack violating ceasefire deal

Nearly a month after Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip ended in an indefinite ceasefire on 26 August, Israeli forces continue to shoot at and detain Palestinian fishermen.

The Israeli military has captured ten fishermen and confiscated four fishing boats, while firing live ammunition in dozens of attacks on both the sea and shore of the besieged coastal enclave.

A day before its security cabinet ordered the military operation on 7 July, and two days before its forces started intensely bombarding the Gaza Strip, Israel unilaterally reduced the permitted zone it had imposed on Palestinian fishermen to three nautical miles from the shore.

Its navy had previously allowed them to sail as far as six nautical miles after a ceasefire ended eight days of Israeli attacks on Gaza and retaliatory Palestinian rocket fire in November 2012.

“War against livelihoods”

In a statement released to media, the Palestinian agriculture and fisheries ministry called the reduction “a war against thousands of the Palestinian fishermen and their livelihoods.”

During this summer’s offensive, Gaza fishermen endured severe losses. Only during occasional lulls in the violence did a few dare sail, sometimes keeping their boats in the relative safety of the Gaza seaport.

By 10 August, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that Gaza’s fishing sector had already lost 234.6 tons of fish, or 9.3 percent of its annual catch.

On 28 August, two days after the ceasefire agreement, Israel once again extended its limit to six nautical miles.

Nizar Ayyash, chairperson of Gaza’s General Union of Fishermen, hoped the change would indicate further improvements. At the time, he told reporters the area “will be nine miles by next week and will increase to twelve miles within the next month according to the agreement reached in Egypt on Tuesday.”

Instead, Israel began to reverse the shift as soon as attention from international media and foreign governments dissipated, reducing the zone back to five nautical miles on 8 September.

By then, its navy’s attacks had already resumed in earnest. Regular bursts of machine-gun fire and the occasional thuds of naval artillery punctuated the silence of early mornings along the Gaza coast.

The first capture of fishermen came on 3 September. At 6:00am that morning, Muhammad Ishaq Zayid told The Electronic Intifada last week, he and his cousin Mousa Talal al-Soltan had paddled their fishing boat off the coast of Sudaniya in the northern Gaza Strip. more


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