By: Motaz El-Shawa
The Israeli sabotage of Al-Attar farm
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
Israeli Navy ships distort the beauty of the sea, and the sound of shells and gunfire takes away the tranquility of its waves. While the fishermen of Gaza rush every morning to the sea, searching in its offer for their daily sustenance, and those boats continue to chase these poor people with hatred to restrict their livelihood in every way possible.
Nothing has changed in the situation of the fishermen since 2007. In front of the roar of the engines of their small boats, the noise of the engines of huge boats rises, accompanied by direct and intense fire, and at the same time the sound shells are trying to cover up the voices of the fishermen imploring the occupation to leave them alone.
And the occupation’s aggression does not stop when water is sprayed inside the fishermen’s boats, but aggression is even extended through repeated arrests of the fishermen, and there is nothing they can do except to pray to God for a miracle from the skies to end this.
Suffering Lack of protection
Israeli occupation forces use several ways to make the lives of fishermen horrible. Sometimes they fight with them about the space they are allowed to fish, and sometimes they chase their boats, they even attempt to flood them with water several times.
The restrictions are increasing day by day. Last July, Israel reduced the fishing area in Gaza Strip from 12 miles to 6 miles. Israel also prevents the entry of maintenance equipment for fishermen’s boats, while in the occupied territories of Palestine, the Israelis are allowed to fish completely freely and for areas up to the territorial waters. Their ships also fish for large quantities of the bounties of Gaza Sea, which threatens the number and diversity of fish in it, and thus this profession in Gaza has suffered two types of losses, one of which is financial and incurred by the helpless fisherman, and the other in marine resources.
Bitter truth is whether we like it or not and without underestimating the severity of the disaster. The business sectors in Gaza, without exception, are affected by the practices and siege of the occupation, which has caused huge losses to farmers and fishermen, and the result on the ground: an economic depression beyond everyone’s capacity.
Although international and humanitarian laws urge the occupation to lift the siege on Gaza Strip, and to facilitate the work of fishermen and farmers in particular, the occupation disregards these laws.
We stopped the Aid Al Najjar to chat with him, his heart was overflowing with sorrow, filled with the smell of the sea, he was like other residents of Al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City.
Al-Najjar told the reporter of “Afaq Magazine" about a small part of the pain the fishermen live with every day. He said: "I have been working in the fishing profession since I was 17 years old, and so is my whole family, we all confirm that we have not seen such a deterioration that fishermen are currently experiencing."
This young man in his thirties, a father of two daughters, used to earn about 2,000 shekels a month, but since 2008 the return has been decreasing until it is at best no more than 700 shekels a month, according to him.
He added, "Our work is very hard and risky that may end sometimes with the martyrdom of some of us or the sinking of our boats, while we are only allowed to fish in an area that does not exceed a few kilometers compared to before, as the fishing area was tens or even hundreds of kilometers, and what we get from selling fish does not even cover the cost of fuel for our boats."
He talked about the experience of detention, from which a number of fishermen cannot escape: “The fisherman is taken by the “Israeli Navy” to interrogate him about the military arms of the resistance, and to ask him about individuals from the areas surrounding their residence to try to obtain some security information.
He added: "The arrested fisherman suffers from bad treatment and verbal and physical abuse before being released, and his boat may be held."
Once again, these types of attacks contradict with what is specified in international laws and human rights, including the right to life, following the legal procedures defined by international law.
Translated by: Rasha Abu Dayyeh