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Israeli Navy Chases Fishermen, Confiscates Fishing Equipment in Gaza Waters

Palestinian Center for Human Rights – December 19, 2013

Israeli Naval Forces stationed off Beit Lahi shore, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in 4 separate incidents, while sailing between 600 meters and 3 nautical miles. Israeli naval forces also confiscated 24 fishing nets.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses concern over the continued targeting of fishermen and their livelihoods.

Economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza waters since June 2007.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 10:40 on Wednesday, December 18, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat that was sailing about 600 meters off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Two gunboats surrounded the fishing boat which was boarded by 3 fishermen: Mahmoud ‘Ali ‘Arouq (16); his brother Mohammed (22); and Jom’aah Amin ‘Arouq (24).

Israeli naval forces then ordered the men to stop fishing and give themselves up, but they refused and fled.

The naval forces confiscated 14 fishing nets, a total length of 840 meters.

Mahmoud ‘Ali ‘Arouq (28) said that they left the waters, to the shore, and watched the gunboats, hoping that they would regain their fishing nets.

However, the gunboats confiscated the nets and left the place.

In another incident, at approximately 12:30 yesterday, December 18, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a fishing boat belonging to Khalid ‘Awad al-Kafranah, from Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, while sailing at approximately 1.5 nautical miles off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia, also in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli naval forces then confiscated 10 fishing nets.

In a third incident, at approximately 06:00 on Tuesday, December 17, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire in the vicinity of Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing approximately 3 nautical miles offshore.

The shooting continued for about 10 minutes, so the fishermen were forced to flee, for fear of being attacked.

In a fourth incident, at approximately 14:10 on Monday, December 16, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire in the vicinity of Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing at approximately 3 nautical miles offshore.

The shooting continued for about 15 minutes, so the fishermen were also forced to flee, for fear of being attacked.

PCHR condemns the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and:

1. Calls for the immediate halt of the policy of chasing and arresting Palestinian fishermen, and allowing them to sail and fish freely;

2. Demands compensation for the fishermen, for the physical and material damage caused to them and their property as a result of these violations;

3. Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to immediately intervene and stop the Israeli violations against the Palestinian fishermen and to allow them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza Sea.

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For more information please e-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org

December 20, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Gaza have a date with ‘lean’ years in the future?

By Sufian al-Shorbeiji | Alestqlal News* | August 22, 2013

A state of anxiety and confusion has taken over the residents of Gaza as the tunnels leading to the Egyptian border have been almost entirely closed off. Humanitarian crises are beginning to emerge as it becomes increasingly difficult to move consumer goods both into and within the Gaza Strip. Many fear that Gaza will once again be under siege as a result of the tensions occurring in the Egyptian arena. The current situation differs greatly from the sense of relief and mobility that Gazans experienced last year when the blockade was gradually lifted.

Hamas has recently called on regional and international forces to make every possible effort to break the siege on Gaza that occurred after the majority of tunnels were destroyed and the Rafah border was closed off entirely.

Political and economic analyst Mohsen Abu Ramadan believes that the situation in the Gaza Strip is regressing back to the initial stages of the 2007 siege. Ramadan anticipates that this time, the consequences will be more severe in terms of the ability to move both goods and people, which are restricted by Israel’s continued siege of the Strip. Conditions will be worsened by the decreasing amounts of supplies brought in through the tunnels as the chaos in the Egyptian arena continues. He pointed out that the commercial crossing linking Israel to the Gaza strip provides a mere thirty per cent of the needs of the people; whereas, the remaining seventy per cent of goods come through the Egyptian tunnels.

In a conversation with Alesteqlal, Abu Ramadan explained that Egyptian procedures and restrictions related to the tunnels and the closure of the Rafah border have pushed Hamas to call on convoys to break the siege. The group has also asked for the creation of a waterway that would link the Gaza Strip to the world. Abu Ramadan pointed out that while the proposal is legitimate and while Gazans do deserve to have a channel that links it to the international community, it is more important to remedy the lack of connections between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The divisions must first be solved by forming a national government as soon as possible, so that any passage that is built would be considered part of the Palestinian Territories and not just particular to Gaza.

Large implications

Abu Ramadan stressed that the return of a severe siege on Gaza would have seriously detrimental repercussions for the residents of the Strip. The humanitarian conditions will also be negatively impacted due to the various crises resulting from the Israeli blockade and the closure of the crossings. He noted that if the situation in Egypt continues in this vein, it would have a negative impact on the social and humanitarian quality of life for Gaza’s population.

Abu Ramadan pointed out that the best way to break the siege on Gaza is to achieve solidarity among the masses, in addition to working towards achieving national reconciliation and the formation of a unified national government. The new unified government would then work towards breaking the siege that has been imposed upon Gaza for years.

All tunnels found under the border of the Gaza Strip and Egypt previously provided residents with supplies, food, fuel and other daily necessities. However operations within the tunnels have been fully stopped in the wake of security threats following the coup against President Morsi.

‘Explosion’ in the South

Political analyst Hamza Abu Shanab confirmed that Gaza is currently living under extremely difficult conditions as a result of the lack of stability in the Sinai and the direct effect this is having on the Palestinian scene. In 2008, the Egyptian leadership broke the barrier that separated Egypt from the Gaza Strip. This resulted in mass migrations of Palestinians towards the city of Al-Arish in order to buy their necessities. Abu Shanab noted that the Egyptian leadership learned from this experience and realised from a humanitarian standpoint that any siege on Gaza leads to an ‘explosion’ of people moving towards the south. For that reason, although restrictions will be likely implemented, they will not reach the severity of a siege.

In regards to the situation’s effect on communication between Gaza and Egypt, Abu Shanab said: “Regardless of how much communication increases or decreases, there will always be common interests between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Egypt’s national security remains tied to Gaza regardless of what government is in power and for that reason communication will ultimately not change.”

“The political situation differs from the economic situation. This blockade might be directed towards the political leadership affiliated with Hamas and based on the lack of mobility in Egypt. However, in the end, Egypt will cooperate with whoever is running the Gaza Strip because it benefits the country’s strategic interests,” Abu Shanab added. He explained that the government in the Gaza Strip will attempt to revive the issue of breaking the siege in order to relieve some of the pressure on the Rafah border and on working conditions. However, it is currently too early to speak of solidarity efforts due in large part to the conditions in the surrounding areas.

Abu Shanab believes that the Israeli occupation will not tighten the siege on Gaza in the near future due to a truce between Hamas and Israel. He added that the Israeli occupation does not want the situation in Gaza to escalate and that Israel is avoiding the Gaza Strip altogether until the end of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Abu Shanab also noted that Hamas’ attempts to break the siege are currently limited; however, the group can take advantage of one factor, which is to use pressure from the masses to break the siege. It helps that Hamas’ allies in the region, mainly Turkey and Qatar, currently do not have a stable relationship with Egypt. Furthermore, the security situation coupled with Hamas’ ability to control movement within its territory will force Egypt to deal with the government in Gaza.

Insistent force

According to Jamal Khudairi, the chairman of the People’s Committee against the siege, the Israeli occupation is the first force that is responsible for the severe siege imposed on the Gaza Strip over the last few years. They are also responsible for the difficulties that resulted from closing all border crossings with the exception of one, which is used at all times and under all conditions. Israel forces all travellers to travel through the Beit Hanoun crossing and prevents all goods and necessities from entering the Strip, in addition to prohibiting exports. Khudairi also pointed out that speaking about third parties diminishes Israel’s culpability in the matter.

In his conversation with Alesteqlal, Khudairi said that the door for solidarity campaigns with Gaza is open and that efforts that result from them must be put into effect in the coming months. All solidarity projects bring about legitimate results whether they come in the form of ships breaking the siege, or journalists, human rights groups, or parliamentary groups. Khudairi emphasized that all of the efforts are effective in creating a catalyst for breaking the siege. He also stressed the need to form a Palestinian, Arab, and international force that would raise more pressure for breaking the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for many years.

Khudairi expects a wide international response to the calls for solidarity based on what happened during the last siege; however, he also stressed that each group must be given the ability to determine how much they can help and what means they ought to use based on their own particular capabilities. The most important thing is that these groups call for permanently and completely removing the blockade. He stressed that the occupying forces must be collectively punished and held accountable for the siege, which is in violation of international law.

* Translated by Middle East Monitor

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PICKING CABBAGE IN BEIT HANOUN

By Theresa in Gaza | Free Gaza Scotland | February 2, 2013

Today we went to Beit Hanoun to help the farmers to pick cabbage. Its sounds like boring hard work, especially as it was raining quite hard off and on while we were there but actually it was a really enjoyable and interesting day. When we arrived at the field we joined a group of young farm labourers who made the morning very enjoyable with their singing, laughing and joking as we worked quickly to gather as many cabbage in a short period of time as possible. The field we were working on was quite some distance from the fence, we only heard gunfire twice and didn’t feel directly targeted, the jeep only showing itself once on the treeline before stopping behind a small hill in the distance. We helped pile the motorized cart high with cabbage and chatted in the rain until the cars arrived to take us back into Beit Hanoun.

While we were chatting one of the farmers talked about his Grandmother and the stories she told him about her childhood here. We were stunned when he told us that she had talked about being able to go from Beit Hanoun to Hebron in only half an hour in those days. It was something we hadn’t thought about, when you are in Gaza everywhere in the West Bank seems like such a long way away but when you think about it it makes sense, it’s actually only around 40km. To get there today takes a minimum of 2 days with no stop, Beit Hanoun – Cairo-Round the Southern tip of the Sinai via Sharm El Sheikh to cross at Taba into Israel then on to Hebron. That is of course if you are a privileged International, for a Palestinian there are a whole new set of problems.

Beit Hanoun is an interesting town, it’s directly across the border from Sderot. A place I’ve heard of very often and met a couple of residents of but never had the chance to visit. The countryside here is gently rolling low hills and as you leave Beit Hanoun to reach the fields you see Sderot in the distance. Built right up to the border, mainly nestled in between two hills with some of the red roofed buildings of the town on top of one and a large army installation with radio towers on the other.

Being so close to Sderot has meant that Beit Hanoun comes under huge pressure with all houses within one and a half miles of the border bulldozed, mainly in 2009 and all of the citrus trees which used to cover this landscape destroyed in order to leave clear lines of sight for the Israeli Military. Every building facing Sderot shows serious damage from shelling bombing and gunfire, and across the town there are damaged houses. Why is it that I had never heard of Beit Hanoun before I came to Gaza and yet Sderot is on the lips of every Israeli and everyone who defends the Zionist policies of Israel, ingraining it on everyone’s conciseness? Perhaps because there are so many places in Gaza which have the same damage, the same experience of attack, destroyed homes and death due to Israeli Military action? Whereas Sderot is special, in Israel it is the one place which has seen regular rockets causing some structural damage and very occasional death. Is it too much to ask that the violent death or injury of a human being is treated with the same shock and grief whichever side of the border it’s on? That the damage to lives and property is judged by the same standards wherever they occur?

February 2, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 7 Comments

3 More Palestinians Killed In Gaza, 6 Since Wednesday At Night

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | September 06, 2012

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that three Palestinians were killed, on Thursday morning, when the Israeli army bombarded Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Three Palestinians were killed, late on Wednesday at night, when the Israeli Air Force fired missiles into an area east of the Al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza.

The sources stated that the army fired missiles at residents near the Agricultural College, east of Beit Hanoun, killing three residents and wounded at four others.

The army also opened fire at Palestinian medics and ambulances in an attempt to keep them away from the area as they attempted to evacuate the slain residents and the wounded to Kamal Adwan Hospital, in the area.

The three slain residents were identified as Ehab and Akram Az-Za’aneen, and Tareq Al-Kafarna.

The army also carried out a limited invasion into Beit Hanoun, and bulldozed farmlands while firing at random.

The Israeli army claimed that the shells were fired at a group of Palestinian fighters who tried to plant explosives near the electronic fence, in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that its fighters fired shells and into a nearby military base in retaliation to the latest Israeli military escalation.

On Wednesday at night, three Palestinians were killed, and a fourth was seriously wounded, when the army bombarded a car transporting resistance fighters in Al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza.

Medical sources reported that the bodies of the slain fighters were severely mutated, while the wounded resident is in a serious condition. The slain fighters were identified as Khalil Al-Jarba, 27, Zakariyya Al-Jammal, 23, and Khaled Al-Qarm, 23.

The Maan News Agency reported that Al-Jarba got married only six months ago, and his wife is currently pregnant. He is also the brother of Marwan Al-Jarba, who was killed in an Israeli bombardment that took place in central Gaza on April, 13, 2010.

Eyewitnesses reported that six military bulldozers and three armored vehicles invaded Al-Fakhari area in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and bulldozed farmlands while firing at random.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment