[News] Gaza fishermen refuse return of confiscated ships stripped of motors, equipment

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 8 13:17:25 EDT 2011

Gaza fishermen refuse return of confiscated ships stripped of motors, equipment

Submitted by maureen on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 19:02

After extensive correspondence between 
Palestinian human rights groups and the Israeli 
authorities, Israel agreed to return several 
fishing vessels confiscated off the coast of Gaza.

On 2 August, Israel brought the stolen ships to 
the Karem Abu Salem crossing with Gaza to return 
the ships to their owners. However, the boats had 
been stripped of their motors and fishing 
equipment; in some cases the missing equipment was worth thousands of dollars.

Israel also attempted to charge the boat owners 
for transportation fees to the Karem Abu Salem 
crossing ­ therefore the Palestinian fishermen 
refused the Israeli receipts for their vessels 
and returned to Gaza without their ships.

The Palestinian rights groups Adalah and Al Mezan 
released a statement on 4 August explaining that 
the returned boats had been confiscated from 
eight fishermen over the course of 18 months. The 
full statement by the rights groups is below.

The Electronic Intifada has continuously covered 
Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza fishermen and 
industry. Israel has arrested fishermen, shot 
them dead and more recently 
a small ship carrying human rights observers 
monitoring Israel’s harassment of fishermen.

In addition to physically attacking Gaza 
fishermen, Israel has prevented them from 
rightfully accessing deep sea waters ­ decimating 
the fishing industry, robbing Palestinians in 
Gaza of self-sufficiency and depriving 
Palestinians in Gaza from an affordable source of protein.

Israel’s attacks on the Gaza fishing industry 
takes place in the wider context of its 
systematic decimation of Gaza’s economy, through 
exports from the besieged territory, and through 
of agricultural areas.

The full statement by Adalah and Al Mezan follows:

4 August 2011

Israeli Navy Releases Boats Confiscated from Gaza 
Fishermen without Equipment and Large Motors; Fishermen Refuse to take Boats

Adalah and Al Mezan continue to work intensively 
to secure the return of the boats and equipment 
belonging to fishermen from the Gaza Strip 
following its undue confiscation by the Israeli 
navy. The two human rights organizations are 
following the cases of eight fishermen whose 
boats were confiscated over the past 18 months

On 1 August 2011, after extensive correspondence, 
Adalah received a written response from the 
Israeli military prosecutor for the Israeli navy 
informing it that dozens of fishermen from Gaza 
would be permitted to go to the Karem Abu Salem 
(Kerem Shalom) crossing to collect small fishing 
boats (hasakat) that were confiscated from them 
by the Israeli navy over the course of the past 
18 months. However, the military prosecutor also 
informed Adalah that any outboard motors over 25 
horsepower on the boats had been dismantled and 
would not be returned to their owners, on the 
pretext that there was a legal prohibition 
against the export of such engines to Gaza.

When the fishermen arrived at the crossing to 
collect their boats on 2 August 2011, they were 
further shocked to discover that all they were 
given were the empty hulls of the fishing boats: 
in addition to larger motors, all of the fishing 
equipment and supplies that were onboard had been 
removed, in some cases worth tens of thousands of 
shekels. For example, on 26 April 2010, the 
Israeli navy raided the fishing boat of fisherman 
Mr. Fayyad Murtaji along the Gaza coast, arrested 
him and other people who were present on the 
boat, and impounded his vessel. The navy released 
the men soon afterwards but kept the fishing boat 
and equipment, which included fishing nets worth 
more than NIS 13,000 shekels, an outboard motor 
worth NIS 21,500, diving suits, fishing tackle, 
and search lighting, together worth thousands of shekels.

Furthermore, the fishermen were then required to 
pay the transportation fees for moving the boats 
from Israel to the Karem Abu Salem crossing, at a 
cost of between NIS 3,500 and 5,000 each. In 
addition, the fishermen are expected to pay for 
the transportation of the boats from the 
landlocked crossing to seaports. All the 
fishermen refused to take receipt of their boats 
and returned home without them.

The military prosecutor’s response follows 
extensive legal correspondence between Adalah - 
on behalf of the fishermen and Al Mezan Center 
for Human Rights - and the Office of the Navy 
Prosecutor over the past 10 months. In the 
correspondence, Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou 
rejected the navy’s claims that the confiscation 
of the boats came in response to violations of 
security restrictions and for sailing in a closed 
military zone, arguing that the boats were 
impounded within the maritime areas of the Gaza 
Strip in permitted fishing zones.

As Adalah emphasized in a letter dated 20 July 
2011, the refusal to permit the import of 25- 
horsepower outboard motors to Gaza on the basis 
of the Defense Export Control Law - 2007, which 
prevents the export of security equipment from 
Israel into the Gaza Strip - was illegal in these 
cases, which entail the return of 
illegally-seized goods from the Gaza Strip and not exported goods.

The military prosecutor for the Israeli navy 
conditioned the return of the fishing boats on 
written commitments from the fishermen that they 
would observe “the security restrictions in the 
maritime zone off the coast of Gaza and the 
orders of the Israeli army not to violate the 
security restrictions,” and “forfeit their right 
to compensation as a result of the lengthy 
duration of the impounding of the fishing boats.”

Adalah further argued, in a letter dated 8 
September 2010, that the impounding of the 
fishing boats and the conditions imposed by the 
Israeli navy constituted a grave violation of the 
rights of Gaza residents to occupation and 
property under both Israeli domestic law and international law.

Attorney Mervat An Nahhal of Al Mezan stated that 
the confiscation of the fishing boats from Gaza 
comes within the broader context of the Israeli 
maritime blockade on the Strip, which is imposed 
by force of arms by the Israeli navy. Fishermen 
are exposed to serious rights violations that 
tread on their dignity and undermine their 
ability to work, even while fishing in permitted 
areas. Dozens of fishermen have been killed, 
injured and detained, their property has been 
illegally seized, and many of them have been 
driven into poverty and unemployment. Attorney An 
Nahhal argued that these practices constitute 
grave violations of international law, and form 
part of the collective punishment that is imposed 
on Gaza. They further violate the prohibition on 
targeting civilians and their livelihoods in the 
context of Occupation and armed conflict. She 
further stated that Adalah and Al Mezan would 
continue to work together on these cases to gain justice for the fishermen.

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