Fishermen in Gaza anno 2006
Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 26.09.2006:
September 26 – Gaza City — Abu Hasan, 47 years old, was sitting under a tent fixing his fishing nets, while the fishing boats are idle in front of his eyes. He is one of the fishermen who are waiting patiently for the Israeli warships to let him earn his living by fishing in the Mediterranean Sea. Abu Hasan is a refugee living in the Beach Camp in Gaza City.
He said angrily, “What a siege is this! We are going on five months and we don’t fish properly. Who can stand this? Nobody … The only thing remaining for us is air. If they prevent it, we will die.”
The fishermen have suffered from their inability to properly fish since September 2000. They are not free to fish in the Mediterranean because Israeli warships prevent them from fishing and sometimes they shoot at the fishing boats, in spite of being in the area which is defined as their designated fishing zone according to signed agreements with Israel. Abu Hasan said, “We are targeted by Israeli warships. There was a fisherman killed last year. Nowadays, they shoot at our boats almost everyday.”
“After the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, we thought that the sea will be more accessible to the Palestinians and we fishermen would be able to venture out deeper into the sea and fish in more productive areas, but it never happened like this. It is not a real withdrawal if fishermen cannot go out into the sea to earn their livings.” Abu Hasan clarified.
“After the withdrawal, we had some progress for a few weeks, but now we cannot reach more than one mile out in the sea.” Abu Hasan explains, “Everyone has a capital. People have cars and others have factories, but we have only the sea … Everyday we come to the port and sit. It is really frustrating for us since from our childhood, we have been raised up to be fishermen, so we don’t have any other craft to do.”
“You see! All of these boats and ships are not being used. What can we do?! The siege is imposed upon every Palestinian, not only us. Every sector suffers in Gaza. Catastrophes are everywhere.” Abu Hasan complained.
Abu Hasan has six daughters and two sons who work with him in fishing. They need to feel alive. They need to survive, but they do not know anything about their future or even for what they are surviving. In spite of these hard circumstances, Abu Hasan is trying to be optimistic.
He said, “I don’t know how long this current situation will last. But I expect good things will happen. We have to be optimistic, but our future is unknown.”
Caritas Jerusalem Press release