In 2019 alone, Israel reduced the “fishing zone” it enforces in Gaza’s sea space nine times. In four of these instances, Israel barred access to the sea completely. Throughout the year, Gaza’s fishermen were notified of changes to Israel’s demarcation of the zone where they are allowed to fish 19 times.
Reductions to the fishing zone are often framed by Israel as a response to rocket fire or the launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip toward Israel, though no one is claiming these actions have anything to do with fishermen. Israel’s repeated toying with the demarcation of the fishing zone constitutes collective punishment, both illegal and immoral. lsrael’s practice of limiting access to Gaza’s territorial waters causes deliberate harm to what was once an important sector of the Strip’s economy, now struggling to survive.
The Israeli navy enforces restrictions on access to sea through use of live fire, that has killed and injured fishermen, by seizing fishing boats and valuable equipment, and arresting and detaining fishermen, even when they are within the permitted zone. Fishing boats are seized unlawfully and are held by Israel for months, even years, before they are returned. Earlier this year, a petition we submitted along with human rights organizations Adalah and Al Mezan compelled Israel to return a total of 66 boats to their owners, whose livlihoods depend on them.
The GIF-illustration below reviews all 19 changes implemented by Israel to the demarcation of the fishing zone over the course of 2019. It demonstrates the frequency and arbitrariness of a practice that must end, immediately.
To view the changes click here