In its fifth week since the Israeli government tightened their 11 year blockade by reducing Gaza’s fishing zone from six nautical miles to three, the economy and living conditions have rapidly deteriorated.
In a statement released by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), the impact of these restrictions has directly affected 4,000 fishermen and approximately 50,000 people who rely on the fishing industry.
According to PCHR, the amount of fish production has been reduced by 70 percent compared to the period prior to tightening the closure and reducing the fishing area.
Head of the General Union of Fishing Workers in the Gaza Strip, Nizar ‘Ayash told PCHR the diminishing fishing area has had a ‘disastrous’ effect on the living conditions of thousands of people in Gaza who rely on the fishing industry.
Given that the distance of 20 nautical miles is the good distance for fishermen where the fish breed, the amount of fish production reduced to less than half compared to the period before the Israeli decision to reduce the fishing area, Ayash said.
Since the fishing zone restriction was imposed, PCHR has documented 40 attacks on fishermen by Israeli forces. The latest attack was on 12 August when Israeli opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat sailing within 2 nautical miles off al-Waha shore in the northern Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) announced in its report that Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the besieged Gaza Strip prevent fishermen from practicing their fishing work and accessing their livelihood resources.
Continual blockade punishment
The measures to reduce the fishing zone coincided with Israel’s announcement to halt fuel deliveries from entering the Palestinian enclave in a bid to stop Palestinians sending incendiary balloons and kites into southern Israel.
Palestinians in Gaza view the balloons and kites as legitimate resistance against Israel’s blockade, however Israel considers them to be ‘terror efforts of Hamas’ and has used this to further restrict Palestinian maritime movement and goods entering Gaza.
Under the Oslo Accords signed in the early 1990’s, the fishing zone initially extended to 20 nautical miles. But as part of Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have only been allowed to work within a limited ‘designated fishing zone’ of six nautical miles from Gaza’s shore.
The restrictions imposed by Israel over the course of the last 11 years have led to intensive, near-shore fishing, which has depleted fish stocks by disturbing their natural breeding grounds and threatened the fisheries resource base.
According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, 95 percent of fishermen in Gaza live under the poverty line as a direct result of Israeli’s harsh restrictions on marine access, fishing exports, and the entry of raw materials into Gaza, as well as harassment of fishermen.
Source: Palestine Monitor