Photo: AFP
Gaza fishermen
Photo: AFP

'Why punish us?' ask despairing Gaza fishermen as fishing zone cut again

Chair of the Strip's Fishermen Union slams 'collective punishment,' by Israel, says it's not their role to pressure Hamas leadership into stopping firebombs; 'men only wish to bring money home'

The IDF closed the Gaza Strip's marine border Thursday until further notice due to multiple firebomb attacks this week, and the coastal enclave's fishermen are furious.



Nizar Ayyash, chair of Gaza's Fishermen Union, told Ynet he blames Israel for enforcing a collective punishment against civilians; "they decide the fishing perimeter is 15 nautical miles, and then it changes to ten, it's a joke," he said.


Fishermen in the gaza Strip (Photo: AFP)
Fishermen in the gaza Strip (Photo: AFP)


"It shows the lack of respect for the Egyptian negotiators and for the arrangements that were reached." Ayyash said, referring to negotiations between Hamas and Israel following the early May flare-up.


This week, several fires started as a result of firebombs and for the first time since last month's events, a rocket was launched at the Eshkol Regional Council located near the Gaza border. The Iron Dome intercepted the rocket, while the IDF attacked a tunnel in a military perimeter in Gaza's south.


Following the events, the IDF's spokesperson unit said that "Israel sees the Hamas terror group as responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Stip."


The Islamic Jihad said Thursday, following the overnight events, that "the Gaza leadership is determined to uphold the arrangements that were reached, despite Israel's insistence on making it difficult."


Ayyash said he refuses to accept Israel's decision to tie the launching of firebombs into Israel to the Gaza fishing perimeter; "what's the connection between someone who launches incendiary devices to fishermen at sea? If someone gives you trouble, you punish those who have nothing to do with him?" he said frustrated.


Nizar Ayyash, chair of Gaza's Fishermen Union
Nizar Ayyash, chair of Gaza's Fishermen Union


According to Ayyash, sanctions on the fishing perimeter severely harm this relatively stable industry in the Strip. "Fishermen have harsh feelings about this, they feel desperate. It's impossible to reach agreements about one thing and then discover the next day that the fishing perimeter changed," he said.


"Do you think that a fisherman, that wakes up in the middle of the night (to go to sea) cares about those who launch firebombs? All these people want is to bring money home to their children," said Ayyash.


Israel, on its hand, hopes that the narrowing of the fishing perimeter puts pressure on Hamas and stops the launching of firebombs, that have been destroying precious fields in Gaza border communities. But Gaza's fishermen stress that they won't be the ones to lead the struggle against firebomb throwers.


Stopping the firebombs isn't our responsibility, it's the regime's responsibility," Ayyash said. "We're simple civilians, and if someone thinks that the pressure on the authorities will come from us, he is mistaken."


Ayyash also made it clear that no Hamas official had spoken to him and that he did not address anyone himself. "They deal with policy and I deal with fishermen and their needs," he said. "we don’t intervene in issues that are none of our business."


Mohamed Salah in the IDF's Arabic spokesperson's tweet
Mohamed Salah in the IDF's Arabic spokesperson's tweet


But according to Ayyash, Israel is the one who needs to mend its ways; "you have to be committed to what the Egyptian-negotiated arrangement states," he said.


The IDF spokesperson in the Arabic language Tweeted this week a picture showing Mohamed Salah, an Egyptian soccer star who plays in Liverpool, with a big fish he had caught off Egyptian shores; the tweet reads: "Do you want to be able to catch such fish in Gaza? You can, if you stop the terror."


פרסום ראשון: 06.13.19, 10:28
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