A Palestinian fisherman rides a boat near the port of Gaza City on 22 March 2013. (Photo: AFP – Mohammed Abed)
Israeli forces opened fire on fishermen off Gaza’s coast Saturday, two days after the Jewish state announced that it limited Palestinian sea travel in a move widely regarded as collective punishment.
Israel’s army announced Thursday that the fishing zone for Palestinians in Gaza would be reduced from six to three miles following a rocket attack launched earlier this week by a marginal Salafi group.
Fishermen in Gaza told Ma’an News Agency that Israel’s navy opened fire at them on Saturday to prevent them from going out further than three miles.
Mahfouth Kabariti, head of a federation for fishermen and water sports, confirmed that the Israeli navy had set up new signs defining the permitted fishing zone.
The zone had been extended to six miles as part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that ended Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza in November that killed 177 Palestinians and six Israelis.
Hamas complained to Egypt on Friday after Israel suspended part of a Cairo-brokered truce agreement. An Egyptian official confirmed that the Hamas complaint had been received, saying Israel had complained separately about the rocket attack.
The official said Cairo would contact both sides to “restore their commitment to the truce.”
Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis, a hardline Salafi faction with a small presence in Gaza and the neighboring Egyptian Sinai claimed responsibility for the salvo on Sderot.
THE BRUTAL BLOCKADE OF GAZA
Editorial- Arab News | June 15, 2011Gaza reels under five years of Israeli siege as the world community stands and stares
It has been five years since Israel imposed its oppressive and inhuman blockade on the Gaza Strip. Without doubt it has been easily one of the toughest and most trying periods in the eventful history of the Palestinian people. The proud and fiercely independent people, however, have refused to give in to Israeli diktats or allow their fighting spirit to waver under the totally asphyxiating blockade of Gaza by land, air and sea.
However, the Palestinians have had a monumental price to pay for their defiance. The United Nations report on Gaza, issued to mark the five nightmarish years of Israeli siege on Tuesday, makes for disturbing reading and must come as a wake-up call to the world’s sleeping conscience. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has slammed Israel for the acute humanitarian crisis in Gaza, warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Nearly half of Gaza’s population is unemployed. Wages have fallen 34.5 percent since 2006 when Israel inflicted its “sanctions” on Gaza imprisoning its entire population for the sin of electing Hamas in Palestinian legislative elections. Most of Gaza’s population is not just desperately impoverished, it craves and has to fight for basics such as food, medicines to fuel. Nothing can get in — or get out. Many put their lives on line to smuggle in these “valuables” using those tunnels under Gaza’s Rafah border with Egypt. Not surprisingly, the Palestinian refugees, the poorest of the poor who make up two-thirds of the Strip’s population, are the worst hit.
An anguished UNWRA says it’s “hard to understand the logic” of deliberately impoverishing so many and condemning hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution. But then whoever said there was any logic or reason behind any of Israel’s actions? If Israel had ever been inspired by reason or common sense, we wouldn’t have this crisis created by the world’s longest occupation in the first place.
Ironically, the UN claims, the punitive Israeli blockade has failed to affect or weaken Hamas or made it any less popular. Indeed, the UN findings suggest the Hamas government in Gaza has been able to actually increase public employment by one fifth even as private sector jobs have vanished in the same period.
The question is, how long will this shameful state of affairs continue? How much more an already persecuted people have to suffer before the world community — if there’s such a things as the world community— decides to confront Israel and its powerful patrons?
What is the Palestinian crime? The audacity to choose who they want as their representatives and leaders? Isn’t this the very freedom that people in Western democracies routinely exercise? Why does it become a problem when the same right is exercised by the Palestinians and Arabs? Why are international champions of democracy and freedom, howling over the atrocities of Libyan and Syrian regimes, silent on Israeli crimes? It is precisely because of this hypocrisy and double standards that no one today takes Western lectures on democracy and freedom seriously.