Date: 15 December 2011
PCHR Condemns Placing Large Floats 3 Miles from Gaza Seashore to Tighten the Siege Imposed on the Gaza Strip
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the placing of large floats by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) 3 miles from the Gaza Strip seashore, beyond which Palestinian fishermen are banned from sailing. This measure serves to institutionalize the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and enhances IOF’s control over the Gaza Strip’s regional water. PCHR warns that this measure will lead to more attacks by IOF against Palestinian fishermen, depriving them of their means of subsistence, under the pretest of sailing beyond the sea floats.
PCHR has obtained affidavits from a number of Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, in which they expressed concerns that such Israeli measures would tighten the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and restrict their work by limiting the permissible fishing area to only 3 nautical miles.
According to Mr. Mohammed Subhi al-Hissi, Head of the Union of Fishermen in Gaza City, the Israeli naval forces started to place large floats to serve as border signs, above which are lights and devices believed to be photographing and monitoring devices, at a distance of 3 nautical miles from the Gaza Strip seashore. The Israeli naval forces warned Palestinian fishermen through leaflets not to sail beyond such border signs, otherwise, they would be subject to shooting, detention and confiscation of fishing tools. Al-Hissi warned of the repercussions of this measure on the fishing industry in the Gaza Strip, which is the sole source of income for hundreds of fishermen and their families.
It should be noted that IOF have imposed a long term closure on the Gaza Strip since 1991, under which they have deprived Palestinian fishermen their right to fish Gaza’s waters. They also decreased the permissible fishing area in the Gaza Strip’s seawater from 20 nautical miles, as agreed under the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo Accords, to 6 nautical miles in 2008, and to 3 nautical miles in 2009. During the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in the period 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009, IOF imposed a total closure on the Gaza Strip, completely preventing Palestinian fishermen from fishing. Following the offensive, IOF imposed a partial closure on the Gaza Strip preventing Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond a distance of 3 nautical miles.
In light of the above:
1. PCHR condemns placing such large floats 3 miles from the Gaza Strip’s seashore, banning Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond them.
2. PCHR calls upon the international community to exert pressure on IOF to open the fishing area up to 20 nautical miles.
3. PCHR condemns attacks by IOF against Palestinian fishermen, and believed that such attacks are part of the collective punishment measures against the Palestinian civilian population, including denying them of their means of subsistence, which is prohibited under the international humanitarian law and human rights law