Gaza Fishermen Fight For A Catch Despite Israel’s Blockade.
Palestinian fisherman Mohammed al-Nahal leads a convoy of decrepit boats out for another perilous night under the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, crashing through the Mediterranean waves at dusk.
The men argue that they must seek a catch from overfished shallow seas with dwindling populations since they are forced to stay close to shore due to Israeli limitations on powerful engines.
“It would be fantastic if we could capture 200 kilos (450 pounds) of sardines,” Nahal says. “However, we could also return empty-handed.” Because of the high cost of fuel in the enclave, fishermen’s operating costs are crippled, forcing them to stay closer to shore.
“The further we travel, the more we pay for fuel with no assurances regarding the catch,” Nahal explains as he leads a line of five boats through the stink of diesel and sardines in the air.
The open sea appears to give the prospect of independence to Gaza, which is surrounded by Israel and Egypt and where Hamas Islamists assumed power in 2007.
The Israeli navy has complete control of the waters off Gaza’s 40-kilometer (25-mile) shore, and it regularly restricts or expands the fishing zone in response to security concerns.
Following months of relative peace following an 11-day confrontation between Israel and Hamas in May, the permissible fishing zone was enlarged to 15 nautical miles last month, the maximum allowed under the blockade, encompassing deep water with higher fish stocks.
Nahal’s crew, on the other hand, does not go that far. Their outside limit is six miles, which is good for sardines but too near to coast for higher-value fish like tuna.
“We fisherman don’t have the right engines to cover a 15-mile stretch,” Nahal explains. “We are currently not permitted to enter Gaza with these advanced engines.” Some Palestinian fisherman are likewise apprehensive about venturing too far out to sea. To impose access restrictions in the past, Israeli gunboats have opened fire and damaged nets.
To make ends meet, Nahal has repurposed a Volvo vehicle engine to power the boat and drive the strong lights that the fisherman shine into the night waters to attract the sardines.
Israel also restricts access to other critical equipment, such as sonar systems used to locate fish shoals, due to the blockade’s import restrictions.
Israel prohibits such things due to their “dual use,” claiming that they might either enable Hamas weapons manufacture or be used by smugglers.
The siege, it claims, is vital to protect Israeli civilians who have been slaughtered in their numbers. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.