Israel escalates attacks on Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza coast

Ahram Online , AFP , Sunday 27 Aug 2023

Israeli naval vessels escalated their attacks against Palestinian fishing boats off the northern coast of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, according to the Palestinian News Agency (WAFA).

File Photo - Several thousand Gazans depend on fishing for their livelihoods but often changing Israeli restrictions have led to prolonged layoffs that mean many live below the poverty . AFP


The Israeli navy fired live rounds and tear gas canisters toward Palestinian fishing boats operating off the Al-Sudaniya coast in northern Gaza, forcing the fishermen to stop fishing, according to a WAFA correspondent. 

Over the weekend, according to local sources, Israeli ships fired live rounds, water cannons, and concussion grenades at Palestinian fishermen navigating 3-4 nautical miles off the northern coast of Gaza.

Targeting livelihoods

The Israeli navy routinely harasses and intercepts Palestinian fishermen off the coasts of the Gaza Strip, accusing them of involvement in smuggling operations or breaching the designated fishing zone and thus depriving them of their only source of livelihood.

Thousands of families among the  2.3 million inhabitants of the strip, who have been living under a brutal air, sea and land siege by Israel since 2006, depend on fishing in the Mediterranean as a sole source of income.

The fishing zone authorized by Israel extends only to the densely fished regions between six and 15 nautical miles (approximately 11 to 28 kilometres) off Gaza's coast.

In 2022, Israel seized 23 Palestinian fishing boats - the highest number of boats seized by Israel since 2018 - after it accused owners of involvement in smuggling operations or breaching the fishing zone, according to the Palestinian NGO Al Mezan.

Despite formally withdrawing troops from Gaza in 2005, Israel continues to exercise direct control over Gaza's air and maritime space and retains control over six out of seven of the strip's land crossings.

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