Fishing in Dangerous Waters

Hanna Kawas, from Vancouver’s Voice of Palestine on-line radio show, interviewed me this morning as I sat at the base of the Mavi Marmara memorial in Gaza City harbour.  Moments into the interview I looked up and saw in the distance an Israeli warship circling Palestinian fishboats who were just a few miles off shore, well within the new ceasefire agreed 6 mile limit.  For the rest of the interview I added a running commentary on the  plight of these harassed Palestinian fish boats, until they eventually gave up and sailed back towards port.

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Most Gazan fishers stay in port rather then risk harassment and capture by the IDF.

Last week a very similar incident occurred to Mohammed and Mehmed Sadella while only one and a half miles from shore, off Sudania, Gaza.  Their ship was machine gunned and then they were forced to strip and swim to the Israeli ship and kidnapped to Ashdod.  There they were shackled, hooded, terrorized and finally interrogated to gather information about their friends, family and their neighbourhood, to the point of being forced to identify theirs’ and others homes from high resolution satellite photos.  It sounds like the old “we know where you live” routine from Hollywood Mafia movies, right down to the IDF offer of “we’ll help you if you help us”.  So it would seem the whole purpose of the IDF capturing 45 Palestinian fishboats, was to gather military intelligence and to terrorize the fishers into becoming collaborators.  The Palestinians go fishing for food while the Israelis go fishing for them.

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So the end result is Mohammed and Mehmed have lost their boat, motor, nets and 50 kgs of fish all worth over $7000 and they and 31 members of their extended families have lost all their income.  I asked Mohammed how long it will take them to earn that money back.  He replied never, as that was the only boat they owned.  When my Dad and uncle commercial fished, they had to worry about the weather and uncharted rocks, not bullets and kidnappers.

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An old timer mending nets, just as my Dad once did, but now with no boat to set them from, and so no future in sight for the young fishers, if the IDF has their way.  I wonder if there was a way for us to own shares in Gazan fishers’ boats, and so share in their financial risks, while they risk their lives catching fish for Gaza.  Just a thought.  Goodnight from Gaza.

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