1. Palestinian vessels from Gaza have the right to safely access their coastal waters in an area up to and including 20 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza, for fishing and other peaceful purposes, as specified in the Jericho accords (part of the Oslo Agreement).
Sunday, 15 December, the sea was very calm for fishing and the sun was shining . .
It was actually a nice sunny day after having a very strong cold weather front.
We should remember that Palestinian fishermen are suffering in the besieged Gaza Strip because of the ongoing illegal and inhuman Israeli naval blockade that prevents fishermen from exercise their basic right to fish freely. Fishermen in Gaza also suffer from the severe lack of fuel supplies needed to run the fishing boats and equipment.
Awni Farhat is a Palestinian living in Gaza. He has been updating about the current situation in Gaza particularly on the impact of the recent floods and hardship of fishermen.
On Monday, 2nd December 2013, 200-250 Palestinians, foreign activists and journalists, many from international media, gathered in the Gaza seaport for a joint action to alert the world about the siege and its consequences for fishermen pursuing their profession. The action resulted from long negotiations between the event’s initiators, the Intifada Youth Coalition, and the General Union of Fishermen. The stumbling block has been whether the siege would be broken or not. It was a negotiation from which the fishermen emerged victorious. The illegal and inhumane siege would be highlighted but not broken. The risk was imminent that they would be attacked and have their boats confiscated.
The video includes coverage of Gaza's Ark initiative and an interview with David Heap.
CORRECTION: Gaza's Ark will NOT carry over 100 people. In addition to its cargo, it will likely carry no more than 20 people or so; and our revised timeline is to sail in the spring of 2014 as announced on 21 August (NOT by the end of this year).
We had a meeting with some leaders in the Gaza commercial fishing industry, to hear their stories and see if or how we can assist them.
Fishermen in Gaza City (Photo by Kevin Neish)
Gaza Strip fishers have historically been some of the poorest families here, especially as many are not refugees, and so do not receive UN assistance. Their lot has been made that much worse with the attacks and restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli forces. Since the July Egyptian coup, the Israelis have ignored the Nov 2012 ceasefire that was brokered by the previous Morsi Egyptian government. There’s been a sad litany of recent violations against Palestinian fishers:
the arbitrary reduction of the fishing area from six nautical miles to five.
the Israelis are now holding weekly military exercises within Palestinian waters. Yesterday morning activists watched as an Israeli gunboat cruised along, only 500 meters off the coast of Gaza City.