Gaza’s fishermen struggle to live amid Israeli restrictions
Following the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, in which Hamas gained the majority of the votes, Israel imposed new crippling restrictions
By News Desk - November 07 2022

Palestinian fishermen and demanding the return of fishing boats seized by Israel November 2021
Photo credit: Joe Catron

Dozens of fishermen on the coast of the Gaza Strip have been struggling to support their families after years of illegal Israeli restrictions, The New Arab reported on 7 November.

Fishermen complained about how they cannot work freely in the sea, despite Israeli claims that they are allowed to fish in an area stretching over 15 nautical miles.

Despite Israeli-Palestinian agreements to allow fishermen to work off the Gaza coast in an area of up to 15 nautical miles, the occupation navy attacks fishermen almost daily and does not allow them to sail beyond three nautical miles. The fishermen understandably insist that this is not enough to catch a commercially viable volume of fish, according to Middle East Monitor.

Every day, the Israeli naval forces “deliberately violate their rights under the excuse that the fishermen were outside the fishing area, including firing at the boats, arresting the fishers, as well as expelling them from the sea,” according to The New Arab.

On 5 October, Israeli occupation forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday, WAFA news agency reported.

At the time the Israeli occupation navy opened fire, the fishermen were only three nautical miles from the coast. They were forced to return to Gaza’s small fishing port.

Human rights organizations in Gaza have documented hundreds of Israeli violations against Palestinian fishermen since October 2000. Their boats have been damaged, destroyed, or confiscated, and many have been killed and injured by the Israeli navy.

The deteriorating situation in Gaza is by all measures a result of the blockade, which was first imposed in 2006.

On 31 January The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, an independent, nonprofit organization that advocates for human rights across Europe, West Asia, and North Africa, released a report documenting the negative consequences of the 16-year-long blockade of Gaza by the Israeli occupation.

The report shows that over the last 16 years, poverty levels have increased by nearly 30 percent while the unemployment rate has risen by 26.6 percent. These negative indicators are reportedly being driven by the closure of factories due to restrictions on imports of necessary materials and spare parts.

On 27 September, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released the report titled “Gaza’s Youth: Suspended lives, fading opportunities,” in which the results of the ICRC survey were presented.

One in every five inhabitants of Gaza is aged between 18 and 29 years old. Almost all of them believe that “the next phase of their lives will continue to be defined by the same critical challenges they have faced in recent years.”

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