ISM Gaza | Fishing Under Fire
4 June 2009
Gazan territorial waters – At around 9 am, six Palestinian fishermen were abducted by the Israeli Navy whilst fishing in Palestinian territorial waters. The fishermen are reported as being; Adham Al – Habil 21, Mohammed Al – Habil 20, Ahmed Al – Habil, Maher Abu Sultan 25, Mohammed Al – Arayshi, and Sadam Bakar.
The fishermen embarked from Gaza port at 8 am, in a trawling vessel owned by Abu Adham. At around 9 am when they were 3 miles from shore, and 0.5 km south of the “K” area (a designated no-fishing area in the Oslo Accords), they reported that an Israeli gun boat had approached, fired at them, and demanded that they turn of the boats engine. Communication with the fishermen was then lost.
It is believed that all of the fishermen have been abducted, and that their boat has been seized. Several fishermen that were recently abducted in similar circumstances, but have now been released, had reported that at the time of their abduction, the Israeli Navy threatened that “If we see Abu Adham’s boat in the sea again, we’ll seize it and arrest all the fishermen.”
In the last few months, the Israeli Navy have escalated their campaign of persecution against the Palestinian fishermen. Of particular note is the recent spate of abductions. Since the declaration of a cease-fire in January of this year, and prior to today, 40 abductions of fishermen have been reported, and 17 fishing boats have been seized or stolen. About 10 of these boats have been returned but with damages and equipment missing.
Abu Adham’s trawling boat was one of three boats seized by the Israeli Navy in November 2008. 15 of the fishermen aboard along with three members of the International Solidarity Movement were also abducted. Following a court case filed by PCHR, Al Mezan, and the ISM the 3 vessels were returned – although damaged and with equipment missing. On the 7th May 2009, one of these boats (belonging to Abu Rami) was again seized by the Israeli Navy and its crew abducted. Israel is refusing to return this boat. Along with Abu Adham’s vessel, it now appears that two of the trawlers stolen by the Israeli Navy in November 2008, are again in Israeli hands.