According to information collected by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, at approximately 9:30pm on Saturday 16 January 2010, the IOF opened fire on three Palestinian fishing boats as the boats were heading out to fish in the sea. Seven fishermen were on board the boats. The boats were outside the zone Israel deems restricted. Palestinian fishermen are not allowed to approach the border fence with Egypt. When the boats were attacked, they were less than 500 meters west of the fishermen haven in Rafah; i.e. far away from the restricted zone. According to eyewitnesses, five IOF rubber boats advanced towards the Palestinian boats, opened fire on them and detained seven of them. The IOF also confiscated their boats. Al Mezan identified the arrested fishermen as follows:
- Salim Jamal Hasan Nu'man, 32;
- Mohammed Ahmed Al-Qirim, 38;
- 'Awwad 'Awad Sayid As-Sa'idi, 43;
- Awad Munir Awad As-Sa'idi, 28;
- Ra'ed Sa'id Jamil Al-'Ashi, 25;
- Safwat As-Sultan, 26; and
- Zaki Taroush, 45.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the escalation of the IOF violations against Palestinian fishermen. This new escalation comes as the IOF is tightening the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. This new Israeli violation supports the fact that the IOF prevents fishermen from working, even when they are within the Israeli-determined fishing zone, which the IOF announced in March 2009. The attack on the fishermen violates their rights, inter alia, to security, adequate standard of living, and to work. Al Mezan is concerned about the treatment of the fishermen and the possibility of subjecting them to torture and/or inhumane and degrading treatment.
Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to intervene and provide effective protection for Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, including fishermen in the Gaza Strip.