The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continue to impose restrictions on Palestinian fishermen, limiting their fishing zone to three nautical miles. This limitation prevents fishermen from their right to work and has diminished their source of income and thrown them into dire poverty. The IOF also continues its systematic attacks on fishermen, frequently pursuing and arresting them and destroying their fishing equipment.
Gazan fishermen are considered the poorest social group in the Strip. In 2010, poverty among fishermen was estimated at 90%, up from 50% in 2008. Under Israel’s siege of Gaza unemployment has raised dramatically and the fishers’ community has been living under extreme poverty, pushing many Gazan children to work in the fishing sector. The estimated number of children working in the fishing sector is about 190. Most of those work with their families, who usually cannot afford to hire adult, professional fishermen due to their difficulties. Subject to live fire and other attacks by the IOF, child fishers risk their lives on their small vessels and are constantly subjected to fear and panic, which affect their mental development. According to Al Mezan’s documentation, since the beginning of 2010 the IOF has carried out about 113 attacks against fishermen. As a result of these attacks, 11 people were injured; including two child fishers.