24th October 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza-team | Gaza, occupied Palestine
On Sep 5th, 2016, the Gaza fisherman, Ahmed Mohamed Zaied. 32 years of age, was fishing along with his friend using a hasaka (small boat). They were fishing closer than 1.5 miles in the Palestinian territorial waters, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, when the tarrad (Israeli warship) was at 3 miles.
“The Israeli occupation warship approached us and started to shoot at our boat, without even warning us. I got injured in my right arm and my belly. I was screaming out loud in pain when my friend was trying to escape, trying to go back to the beach. Luckily, an ambulance was there, it took me directly to the hospital,” says Zaied.
Zaied stayed in the hospital for 9 days and is now forced to stay in his bed for a period of six months. Since the date of the incident, Zaied was not able to get out of bed but for a short walk that the doctor ordered him to have.
“The suffering of the Palestinian fishermen in Gaza doesn’t end with the ‘shoot to kill’ policy that the Israeli occupation is applying,” Zaied’s brother who is also a fisherman, says. “My four brothers and I, we are all fishermen. Each one of us used to have his own small boat, but the occupation has taken 3 of them 2 years ago.”
“They say that we are working against the security of Israel, but generally, tell me what do I want from going to fish but to provide for my family?”, explains Zaied.
Palestinian fishermen depend on fishing as their only source of livelihood in the Gaza Strip, but the navy continuously attacks the fishermen, preventing them from providing for their families. Such attacks also led to many casualties, like Zaied’s case, including fatalities, dozens of arrested, in addition to the high costs of repairing the boats, while many other boats are illegally confiscated by the navy.
“Now it’s the fishing season, during those months they save money for all the year,” his brother explains. “Instead he is lying in bed. He wants to sell his boat, even for half of its value, because he needs about 20 NIS each day for medicine for 6 months, and he simply can’t afford it.”
Zaied has been shot 3 times by the Israeli occupation warships, the first time was in 2000 while he was at the beach, and he was injured in his leg. He was also shot in 2006 while he was fishing. His injury was in his chest and his right arm.
“They say that we can’t fish here, but that’s our land, how can they forbid us to fish in our own land and our own sea?” Zaied explains trying to move on his left side with pain: “I am waiting for another operation that I have to do to take away what is left of the bullet in my belly. I am dying slowly with all this pain I am bearing.”
He continues, “Whenever I came back home with 20 NIS I feel happy. I don’t belong to any faction and never have I shot any rocket. What do they want from me? I just want to live.”
Palestinians are enduring various forms of suffering, mainly because of the imposed siege on Gaza, and the fishermen are facing so many hardships due to their nature of work, that requires them to go to the sea to fish.
“Despite his situation, my husband is always thinking of another way to provide for his family, me and our three sons, in the time that he is unable to leave his bed,” his wife expresses.