From the Free Gaza campaign:
We’re going fishing
25 August 2008
NOTE on fishing restrictions imposed by Israel on the fishermen of Gaza. These restrictions are also intended to stop Palestinians from reaching the outside world and from the world reaching Gaza. Israeli naval boats and warships constantly patrol the waters to prevent any breach of the prohibited area. The boats of human rights activists openly defied this clear and present danger to challenge Israel’s claim that it no longer occupies Gaza. It remains to be seen if their safe arrival on the shores of Gaza will in fact mean that the Palestinians will finally have access to the outside world once the media spotlight is no longer trained on the area. The 1.4 million population ammed into this tiny strip of land has no way of getting out through the land crossing points either. Israeli forces prevent exit and entry whether it is for work, medical needs, studying requirements or family and social visits. Simply, Israel prevents the very real human right of Palestinians to move freely in and out of their own territory. Israel claims that this is not occupation. In fact, it is worse: Gaza is a maximum security prison where the “inmates” are completely at the mercy of their jailer, Israel.
ON MONDAY MORNING, HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS GO TO SEA TO FISH
For More Information, please contact:
(Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, tel. +972 599 130 426
(Gaza) Jeff Halper, tel. +972 542 002 642
(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, tel. +357 99 793 595 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, tel. +972 547 366 393 /
GAZA CITY, GAZA (24 August 2008)
Two days after the SS FREE GAZA and the SS LIBERTY arrived to a jubilant welcome in Gaza, 20 to 25 of the human rights watchers will go to sea with the fishermen in a show of support for their struggle to keep their industry productive.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, “in the 1990s, the Gazan fishing industry produced an annual income of around £5m. That had halved by 2007 and is still shrinking fast. Under the Oslo accords, which in 1993 were supposed to herald the coming of an independent Palestinian state, Gazan fishermen were to be allowed 20 nautical miles out to sea, where they could catch sardine as they migrated from the Nile delta up towards Turkey during the spring.But Israeli naval ships in recent years have imposed their own, much-reduced limits, sometimes fewer than 6 miles out.”
The group will leave in the very early morning and go to sea at least 7 to 8 miles off the Gaza coast. They will be on board two to three of the small fishing boats lining the shores of the Gaza port, making sure they and their international flags are prominent. They intend to stay at sea for several hours, providing protection for the men as they search for and catch the fish.
“What gives Israel the right to take away the livelihood of these fishermen, and why does the world allow them to destroy an industry that used to provide for thousands of Palestinians?” Said Greta Berlin, one of the five organizers of The Free Gaza Movement. “We intend to challenge that right, backed up by warships and machine guns, just as we challenged Israel’s right to prevent us from coming here on Saturday.”
The organizers feel that, since they sailed to Gaza with no interference from the Israeli military, they have established a precedent to press for the human rights of Palestinians, who want nothing more than to be free to make a living, go to school, and receive medical treatment.