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Al-Mezan Center slams Israel's ongoing assaults against Gaza fishermen, calls for ending the siege


Tuesday September 16, 2008 00:10 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights slammed the Israeli occupation army’s ongoing assaults against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing and unjust Israeli siege on the coastal region in spite of Israel’s claims of being committed to ending all attacks and gradually lifting the siege.

The center stated that the siege on Gaza is ongoing and the humanitarian conditions are worsening as the people are still living under harsh conditions and lacking the basic components of decent livelihood.

“Despite that nearly three months have passed since the announcement of a ceasefire, which took effect on 19 June, nothing tangible has occurred. Gaza people did not notice any remarkable improvement in their life in terms of the provision of basic needs, drugs, medical supplies and fuel. The Strip is suffering from a choking crisis because of the lack of fuel and cooking gas, contradicting the claims of the IOF that it partially lifted the siege and re-opened the Gaza crossings,” the center reported.

It also stated that the army’s attacks against the fishermen continued on a semi-daily basis in violation to the declared ceasefire. The army repeatedly opened fire at the fishermen and continued the illegal acts to terrify them and force them to fish only in a limited and narrow zone.

The center added that the Israeli Navy repeatedly forced the fishermen to take their clothes off and swim towards the navy boats and even showered them with waste water.

The center also reported that “such violations continued since 9 October 2000 after the IOF announced it would tighten the closure and siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Since that time, fishermen were denied access to fishing zones that were allowed before, 21 nautical miles. This number decreased to 12 nm and then reached 6 nm. Monitoring work of the Center shows that the IOF does not allow fishermen to go beyond 3 nm on the days it allows them to go fishing.”

Since the ceasefire was declared, the Israeli navy kidnapped four fishermen and wounded another one. The center reported that the most serious assault was carried out on Wednesday, September 10 at 17:15, when the Israeli navy attacked a Palestinian fishing boat owned by resident Rajab Muhammad Abdul Mun'em al-Hissi.

The navy boar hit the Palestinian fishing boat in its rear side in mid-sea opposite to the Gaza Coast. The 20 meter long and 8 meters wide Palestinian boat was severely damaged but no injuries were reported.
The Al-Mezan Center further reported that “field investigations show that 7 fishermen of one family, al-Hissi family, were boarding the targeted boat. They were intimidated and stayed on board risking drowning until four Palestinian motorboats came to rescue them. The motorboats towed the damaged fishing boat to Gaza port.”

The center strongly slammed that constant harsh and humiliating attacks and assaults carried by the Israeli army against the Palestinian fishermen and added that these attacks are barring them from fishing.

“Consequently, fishermen and their families are now below poverty line. The Center considers such practices as serious violations of the IHL, especially the collective punishment of the Palestinian civilians through the tight siege that is imposed on the Gaza Strip.”

Finally, the center called on the international community, especially the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention to intervene and protect the Palestinian civilians and stop the Israeli assaults and violations to all human rights principles.

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