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FreeGaza Movement

Human rights group that sailed 5 times into port of Gaza.

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Tomorrow another fishing day in high sea has been organised, on board with us we will have the first german television channel and some arab journalists.

<p>World has to know, to open eyes and react facing what happens just few miles away from Gaza coasts.</p><p>In the attached video, shot by one of my partner on board, it's clearly visible how our fishboat was bombarded from machine-gun fire coming from an Israeli war ship.</p><p>These crimes against humanity, of which Israel is responsible, occur almost daily, murders and woundings of Palestinian fishermen whose only guilt is trying to sail at a distance from the coast bigger than 3 miles, this limit being an illegal one imposed by Israeli authorities, although the Oslo Agreements established that the maximum limit is equal to 20 miles from the coastline and although the Bertini Agreement, stipulated in August 2002 between UN and Israel, set this distance at 12 miles. </p><p>Some days ago our presence on board as internationals avoided death or wounding of Palestinians, we wish that tomorrow the presence of television cameras will work as a deterrent for any criminal Israeli action.</p><p>
We, nonviolent people, will take at a distance not bigger than 10 miles from the coast, some nonviolent fish boats which activity is one of the few nourishment sources for a destroyed economy as the gazan one. </p><p>
In 90's, when fish boats could sail from the Strip coast and reach a distance equal to 12 miles, fishermen could bring inshore, sell and also export almost 3.000 tons of fish every year.</p><p>In 2007 just 500 tons of fish were fished from more than 3.500 professional fishermen along the 40 kms of the Gaza Strip coast; among these 3.500 fishermen just 700 are still working today in an economical field that was able to sustain at least 40.000 people as mechanics, fishmongers and thousands of families of local fishermen.</p><p>It's always more difficult to find fish in the sea close to the Strip coast, pollution and extreme exploitation made this water sterile; this is one of the reasons why tomorrow I will take the fish boats far from the seashore hoping for another miraculous fishing; being able to sail 20 miles further there would be the chance, in spring, to meet school of sardines migrating from the Nile delta to the Turkish sea, while staying at less than 6 miles from the coast is almost impossible to find big group of fishes. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Israel never allowed palestinian fishermen to sail and reach the 20 miles established by the agreements. Gaza fishermen state that they cannot go at a distance bigger than 2,5 miles without being exposed to the risk of Israeli shooting, the risk of having boats and nets destroyed while Israeli patrols lead them inshore: a situation carrying on since 2003 and that worsened during the last years with the presence of Israeli rockets and helicopters used against the fishermen. According to the Rafah Fishermen Union, Israeli war boats patrol the sea, in the southern part of the Strip, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, under the pretext of keeping security and fighting weapons traffic. During 2007 more than 70 fishermen were arrested, their boats destroyed together with nets and fishing equipment. For months thousands of fishermen didn't have the permission to leave the port.</p><p>"In a report published by Israeli Bet'selem some fishermen stories were collected. Isma'il Basleh was fishing, on the first of January 2007, with his brother Samir and his friend Aymen al-Jabur. In the distance they saw an Israeli warship coming close and, after having stopped at less than 30 metres from them, starting shooting in the air. The Israeli captain, then, ordered Isma'il to follow them for 6 km, to turn off engines and swin in frozen water towards them. But the warship was slowly moving away and Isma'il was about to drown. The rest of story reported by Bet'selem is about bound arms and legs, about threats and intimidations, about sleep deprivation and demeaning and inhuman treatments. Adnan al-Badwil described as well his misadventure: he was fishing with his brother at 5 am, they had just pulled up the nets with the fish when they heard som e shooting in the dark. The boat, hit, started oscillatine and both of them fell into the water. Three people of the crew were wounded and treated for three days in hospital. But, despite all the risks for their own lives, gazan fishermen still go out with their boats and try to go over the 3 km limit, to survive.</p><p>Nowadays they can just use rowing boats, since there is no more fuel in Gaza not being due the high oil price, but because Israel don't allow the entrance of fuel in the Strip pushing forward an embargo which appears as a general punishment for a whole population."  </p><p>Tomorrow we will dedicate our fishing day to three fishermen who, some days ago were arrested and, against Ramadan'laws, forced by the soldiers to eat and drink breaking in this way their fast.</p><p>
We will mainly dedicate it to two fishermen recently wounded, Mohammad Ani Assultan,
19 years old, and Hussam Assultan di anni 32 tears old, hit in his head and still in critical conditions.

</p><p>These crimes can no more be kept under silence.</p><p>
Please, spread the video</p><p>And stay, in shore as offshore, human.</p><p>Stay human.</p><p>

Vittorio Arrigoni.