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Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The fisherman of Gaza - a dying way of living?
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¬†The Israeli authorities have enforced restrictions and closures on the fishermen of Gaza, that are strangling an already-devastated sector of the Palestinian economy, Christian Aid revealed this week. The agency's partners in the Holy Land: the Near East Council of Churches, the YMCA and the YWCA have sent this report. Jamil Al-Amoudy is a fisherman based in Gaza city. His father was a fisherman, as was his grandfather before him. "I have worked as a fisherman for the past 50 years," he said, "and throughout all those years, I haven't faced a situation as bad as the one we are living now." He spends his days sitting by the harbour in Gaza City, mending his nets, painting his boat and playing cards with the other stranded fishermen. Today, the Gaza fishermen are allowed to go out 20 nautical miles under an agreement made by the government of Israel. But this commitment is not adhered to. Sometimes the fishermen are restricted from going further than six nautical miles, while on other days they simply aren't allowed out at all. In Khan Younis and Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, the situation is even worse. The Israeli authorities have imposed a full curfew on the fishermen, prohibiting them from even going on the beach. There are more than 2,000 fishermen in Gaza and almost all live below the poverty line. Naheed Bakker is a specialist in sardine fishing. "I would catch four tonnes of sardines in a day," he said. "I would go all the way down to the border with Egypt." Some months ago he was out fishing when an Israeli patrol boat arrested him and confiscated his boat. "They took me to Ashdod prison," he explained, "and then made me pay 5,000 Jordanian Dinars (£4,500) to release the boat. I am ruined." He affirmed that he was close to the shore, well within the area allowed. Now Naheed can't afford the petrol to take his boat out, and so he earns no money. "It's a disaster," he says. "My wife is pregnant, and I can't even afford a sack of flour. I can't do anything; I just sit here waiting for the mercy of God."
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