Israeli Naval Forces Arrest Four Fishermen in Gaza Waters

GAZA, January 27, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli army announced Monday night the arrest of four Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza Strip shores, after firing warning shots at them for fishing beyond six nautical miles.

According to the Israeli army radio, the Israeli naval forces arrested four Palestinians who were fishing just beyond the six nautical miles, the limit to which Palestinians are allowed to fish.

Warning shots were fired and the fishermen were arrested, said the army. The four fishermen were referred for interrogation by the so-called Israeli General Security Service, known as Shin Bet.

Nizar Ayyash, in charge of the fishermen in the Gaza Strip’s districts said that seven gunboats of the Israeli naval forces fired at a fishing boat with five Palestinians on board who work off the northern Gaza Shore.

He said the boat sank in minutes due to the hard blow and the five fishermen were arrested after jumping into the water. No injuries were reported.

According to the Fishermen Syndicate in Gaza, around 4,000 fishermen are supporting over 50,000 people. Fishermen of Gaza continue to endure huge loses and risk their lives in order to make a living.

The Israeli navy targets Palestinian fishermen off Gaza’s shores almost on a daily basis, causing civilian casualties among fishermen or sever damage to their boats.

According to Amjad Shrafi, deputy head of the Gaza Fishermen’s Syndicate, hundreds of Palestinian fishermen have been arrested, injured and even killed off Gaza’s shores, whereas the Israeli navy has approximately confiscated around 54 fishing boats.

During the Israeli aggression last summer, Palestinian fishermen suffered severe financial losses after Israeli jet fighters struck sheds storing fishing equipment.

The current six-nautical-mile fishing zone falls drastically short of meeting the actual demand for fish products in Gaza and the West Bank.

OXFAM reported on the fishing industry and fishermen, “With most of the fish at least nine miles out at sea, they have already been struggling to make a living and now 90 percent of them need international aid.”

The sea areas accessible to fishermen in Gaza witnessed major reduction since 1994. OXFAM said that in 1994, Palestinian fishermen had access to 20 NM off the Gaza shores.

However in 2002 they were allowed access to 12 miles, and later reduced in 2006 to six NM. At the end of the Israeli military offensive “Cast Lead” in January 2009, the accessible area was further reduced to just three NM. After the latest ceasefire agreement it was expanded again to six NM. Nevertheless, fire attacks on Palestinian fishermen by the Israeli navy continue until the moment.