An old fisherman turbulent times and fortunes
Thursday, May 30, 2002
The old fisherman was sitting across the small table, smoking and gazing
at the blue sea with sad eyes. The sixty years old fisherman Eid Abu Hasira
found himself confined helplessly, sitting and waiting at the cafeteria
of Gaza Port, now for weeks at one stretch, because Israel prevents him
from going to the sea and fishing. ・Ahlan Wa Sahlan.・ with these Arabic
words meaning Welcome. Eid pulled a couple of chairs as a warm gesture
and graciously asked us to join him at his table. ・My family is famous
here in Gaza for centuries as a family of fishermen.・Eid said with pride.
He continued, pointing his hand to the blue beautiful sea of the Mediterranean,
・from my great great and great grandfather, my family love this sea and
always made a living from its blessings.
Then, the old man stopped, took a deep sigh and added, ・ Never I experience
such harsh and difficult times like this. Only during Israel occupation,
my work has become almost impossible to continue. Israeli gunboats shoot
at us, harass and arrest us inside the sea.
In the Gaza Strip, the number of fishermen is 3000 working with 723 fishing
boats in total. Under Oslo agreement, Palestinian fishermen are allowed
to fish up to 20 nautical miles deep inside the sea. However, in practice,
Israel military patrol boats permit Palestinian boats only 12 miles. Many
other times, fishermen can only venture up to 3 miles. Sailing inside more
than that would mean being shot at. According to a Palestinian official
from Ministry of agriculture, the total amount of fishing area which is
allowed to Palestinians is about 660 KM Square. ・That is considered a
very small area to fish.・Said the official.
The fisherman Abu Hasira has a lot to speak about unjust incidents with
Israeli military inside the sea. ・Not many people know about the hardships
imposed on us by Israeli gun boats.・Said Eid. He added, ・Let me tell
you a story which happened not far ago.・He said,・One day, I got a permit
from Israeli authority to fish within one and a half mile only. That was
Feb. 14th., of this year. I remember it was a Thursday, exactly at 10 in
the morning. Suddenly, an Israeli patrol boat appeared in front of us.The
officer ordered us to lift the nets from the water. Next, he ordered to
bring in all the fishermen in one boat. We were eleven of us. The Israelis
arrested three of the fishermen. Two of them were my sons.
Eid, at this moment paused and said,・I told you before we are a family
of fishermen. And my three sons were with me fishing that day.
He continued his story,・so, the Israeli gunboat arrested my two sons,
Kamel and Adel. The soldiers blindfolded three and took them to their big
boat. Now, my third son, Talal, saw his two brothers being taken away just
like that. So, all f the sudden, he jumped inside one fishing boat and
escaped towards the beach.
・The Israeli gun boat fired heavily at the my son's escaping small fishing
boat. And Talal barely made it to the beach, jumped off the boat and ran
Among the fishing community of Gaza Strip, every fisherman speaks of Israeli
terror confronting them inside the sea. Israel military boats fire at the
fishermen during their work. In addition to that, soldiers drown fishing
nets, towing boats to Israeli ports like in Ashdod, 70 KM north of Gaza,
imprisoning of fishermen and fining them. Sometimes, the military boats
attack the beach areas like what happened before in Rafah, south of Gaza
Strip. There, the soldiers took away boat engines and nets and arrested
fishermen to seek information on Palestinian coastal police stations. For
the last 9 months, Israeli authorities have been preventing the south area
of Gaza strip from fishing entirely. Also, Israel closes off the sea with
gunboats during the high fishing season. As one fisherman put it that was
to destroy our livelihood.
When the two sons, Kamel and Adel, were arrested, they were taken to an
Israeli port called Ashdod. The father, Eid, explained that his two sons
were taken to a prison and after six days they stood before a military
court. The Israeli court accused the two sons of ・smuggling weapons.・The
court verdict was swift in which it ordered the confiscation of the boat
engine, a fine of 250 shekels (about $60) and finally not to permit the
two sons from fishing with a boat in the future.
The court accusation is a lie. That is a lie. the father stressed. I have
lost all of that now. I do not know what will happen.・said Eid. ・Since
7 months, there is no financial income. The same goes with most fishermen.
The Israeli gunboat knows where is the fish. But he prevents us form going
to the best places. He added, You know now, it is the Sardine season. But
Israeli says NO FISHING・ Israel always says the excuse security.