Adalah, Al Mezan: Israeli military must return boats it seized from Gaza fishermen

Israel's attacks on Palestinian fishermen off Gaza Strip coast conducted without any authority and in violation of international law.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights filed a pre-petition motion on 11 March 2018 demanding Israel return to five Gaza fishermen boats that were seized from them by the Israeli military. The boats are seized during incidents of abuse and arbitrary arrest of Palestinian fishermen within the Israeli-declared restricted fishing zone. 


The pre-petition, filed on behalf of the fishermen, was sent to Osnat Mandel, director of the Supreme Court Petitions Department in the State Attorney's Office. 


The organizations also demanded the institution of a compensation mechanism for damages caused by the Israeli military to boats and the equipment they carried, and that the State Attorney's Office instruct the military to refrain from attacking and shooting at fishermen off the Gaza coast. 


Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad noted in her appeal that these are not isolated or exceptional cases, and that similar reports of attacks on fishermen, and damage caused to them and their   equipment, are received almost every day.


"The conduct of the military, which includes harassing the fishermen and taking control of their boats, detaining the fishermen, and the use of arms, is carried out without any authority and in violation of the provisions of international law. It causes severe harm to the lives, physical integrity, and livelihood of the fishermen and their families, and violates their right to dignity, liberty, and property,” Attorney Haddad wrote in the pre-petition.


Al Mezan and Adalah stated that following an earlier appeal concerning this issue, the military agreed in 2016 – "as an exception" – to release the boats it had seized. However, unjustified and impractical conditions were set for the return of the boats, such as grueling commitments and high costs, with which the fishermen were unable to contend.


Al Mezan and Adalah demand that the State Attorney's Office instruct Israeli military authorities to take immediate steps to return the boats and associated equipment without imposing any costs or conditions, and to compensate the fishermen for their damages; to allow fishermen to carry out their work without intrusion, and without endangering their lives, and refrain from further seizure of boats; to publish procedures and clear instructions for handling seized fishing boats that will regulate the return of the boats to their owners together with their contents without delay.


(Photo courtesy: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan)