By Ramzy Baroud,

On August 16, the Israeli navy declared the Gaza sea a closed military zone. A few days later, a group of Gaza fishermen decided to take their chances by fishing within a mere two or three nautical miles off the Gaza shore. No sooner had they cast their nets, Israeli navy bullets began whizzing all around them.

Soon after the incident, I spoke with one of these fishermen. His name is Fathi.

“My wife, my eight children and I, we all live off fishing. The Israeli navy shot at us today and asked us to leave the sea. I had to return to my family empty-handed, without any fish to sell and nothing to give to my children,” Fathi told me.

This fisherman’s story is typical. According to the Israeli rights group B’tselem, “about 95% of fishermen in Gaza live below the poverty line”.

Gaza’s fishermen are true heroes. Against numerous odds, they brave the sea every day to ensure the survival of their families.

In this scenario, the Israeli navy represents modern-day pirates opening fire at these Palestinian men – and, in some cases, women – sinking their boats sometimes and driving them back to the shore. In Gaza, this has been the routine for almost 13 years.

As soon as Israel declared the complete closure of Gaza’s fishing zone it prevented  thousands of fishermen from providing for their families, thus destroying yet another sector in Gaza’s decimated economy.

The Israeli military justified its action as a retaliatory measure against Palestinian protesters who have reportedly launched incendiary balloons into Israel in recent days. The Israeli decision, therefore, may seem rational according to the poor standards of mainstream journalism. A slight probe into the subject, however, reveals another dimension to the story.

Palestinian protesters have, in fact, released incendiary balloons into Israel which, reportedly, cause fires in some agricultural areas adjacent to occupied Gaza. However, the act itself has been a desperate cry for attention.

Gaza is almost completely out of fuel. The Strip’s only power generator was officially shut down on August 18. The Karem Abu Salem Crossing, which allows barely limited supplies to reach Gaza through Israel, has also been closed by an Israeli military order.  The sea, Gaza’s last resort, has, recently, turned into a one-sided war between the Israeli navy and Gaza’s shrinking population of fishermen. All of this has inflicted severe damage to a region that has already endured tremendous suffering.

Gaza’s once healthy fishing sector has been almost obliterated as a result of the Israeli siege. In 2000, for example, the Gaza fishing industry had over 10,000 registered fishermen. Gradually, the number has dwindled to 3,700, although many of them are fishermen by name only – as they can no longer access the sea, repair their damaged boats or afford new ones.

Those who remain committed to the profession do so because it is, literally, their last means of survival – if they do not fish, their families do not eat. The story of Gaza’s fishermen is also the story of the Gaza siege. No other profession has been as directly linked to Gaza’s woes as that of fishing.

When the Oslo Accord was signed between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, Palestinians were told that one of the many fruits of peace would be the expansion of Gaza’s fishing zone – up to 20 nautical miles (approximately 37 km), precisely.

Like the rest of Oslo’s broken promises, the fishing agreement was never honored, either. Instead, up to 2006, the Israeli military allowed Gazans to fish within a zone that never exceeded 12 nautical miles.  In 2007, when Israel imposed its ongoing siege on Gaza, the fishing zone was reduced even further, first to six nautical miles and, eventually, to three.

Following each Israeli war or violent conflagration in Gaza, the fishing zone is shut down completely. It is reopened after each truce, accompanied by more empty promises that the fishing zone will be expanded several nautical miles in order to improve the livelihood of the fishermen.

After the Egyptian negotiated truce that followed a brief but deadly Israeli campaign in November 2019, the fishing zone was expanded, again, to reach 15 nautical miles, the largest range in many years.

However, this respite was short-lived. In no time, the Israeli navy was sinking boats, firing at fishermen and pushing them back into the original small spaces in which they operated.

While Israel has redeployed its forces to the outskirts of Gaza in 2005, under international law it is still considered an Occupying Power, obligated to ensure the welfare and the rights of the occupied Palestinians living there. Of course, Israel has never honored international law, neither in Gaza, nor anywhere else in occupied Palestine.

In February 2018, Isma’il Abu Ryalah was killed by the Israeli navy while fishing in his small boat five nautical miles off the Gaza shore. Predictably, no Israeli was ever held accountable for Abu Ryalah’s murder. Soon after the incident, desperation – but also courage – prompted thousands of Gaza fishermen back to the sea, despite the impending danger posed by modern-day pirates masquerading as an army.



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  1. I feel so sorry for the people of GAzA who are victims of zionists but also of their Arab brothers who left them for years now without support and do nothing to help them only to send them
    Mistles to shoot on Israeli children so to spike the conflict

    IF you happen to be in washington NOW and want to help
    Palestine please joIn the Israeli protesters who especially flew to USA following B.b wherever he is going with their demos and protests until he will resign
    If you don’t know there are massive protests in Israel every week in the last 1.5-2 months in front of his Jerusalem home and isrsel face now a new total lockdown starting Friday that is Jewish new yeas eve and for at least 3 weeks
    . People say they will reaist though as they are bankrupt already and not from first lockdown but way before that . They will not tolerate this further and had enough of the corruption

    What a shame you don’t cover the protests and ignore the upcoming lockdown although footages and references were sent to you . Proof of what’s really going on in Israel proof that demonstrate the courage and persistence of Israelis who said enough and that sweep the whole county now + the new unity and love between the people who were deliberately devided to ethnic political and religiously groups to hate each other among themselves while their momey and rights were taken away from them in the last 20 year as it was never only Jewish vs Arabs

    It’s a pitty you don’t give a chance and show this to set example and inspiration to other countries maybe you could support us in your hearts instead though if you still choose to show only one side so people here could post those usual mantra since genesis about satanic Israel bla without understanding the inner dynamics

    Please don’t let our spirit fall and pray for good energies and strength for people here to keep on resisting so evil could be demolished for good . It’s not an easy job as you probably know yourself

    I’m so proud to be here and witness this .proud to see Israelis take responsibility and do something despite the fear massive state propaganda and threaten on the civilians for 2 decades I’m so proud seeing orthodox and ssecular dancing and singing together hugging each other shouting B.b go home and that “there is no difference between any blood as we are all humans and brothers” rising energy to the sky as shown in those footages from last week . I’m so proud of them all and so is God ❤️

    Be well

    • anyways I give up. writing comments is a waste of energy it feels like grinding watering not that unwelcomed
      personally Iknow a lot of good people living in israel who spent a lot of time and private finance doing good and for years now try to make a change.and it was important for me to emphasise this. they are no banker and not satan but ohh well..
      I’m not a political expert and those things have actually little matter to me my interest is in make points by letting people see what I see usually through arts , moving hearts with those means making little but huge changes seeded in such ways
      .politics/ political relations is jlike religion in my eyes, and for me has nothing to do with humanity
      guess its not my job to change opinions about israel its your job to change your opinion about it based on more research also about its people and contemporary life getting inner information maybe self experience and feel of the country ( kind of hard now I guess ) at least i think that its about time
      I will aways be happy to share info but not like this.
      take care and good luck thanks for all the good you do here.

  2. Will someone please explain to me what the deal is with the relationship between Trump and Netanyahu? From what I can recall, according to Cobra and Benjamin Fulford, Natanyahu is super DS/Cabal/Black hat… Why is Trump so concerned with Netanyahu and seemingly supporting him all the time???


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