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Plunged into despair: How Israel's policy affects Gazan families that depend on fishing for a living September 09,2020   |  Source: B'Tselem

On 12 August 2020, Israel reduced southern Gaza’s fishing range from 15 to eight nautical miles, officially because explosive-laden balloons had been launched from Gaza into Israel. On 16 August 2020, Israel banned access to the Gaza sea, and on 2 September 2020, reopened the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles. This further restriction of the permitted range joins various forms of collective punishment imposed on Palestinian fishermen since Israel began its blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Israel has arrested fishermen and seized their boats, banned the import of raw materials used for repairs, and fired at boats that it claimed sailed beyond the permitted range. To date, Israeli gunfire has killed seven fishermen and wounded hundreds.

The restrictions have led to the near-collapse of the Gazan fishing industry: there are currently less than 4,000 fishermen, as opposed to 10,000 or so 20 years ago. Those remaining suffer from perilous working conditions imposed by Israel and live with their families in abject poverty.

The following testimonies were given to B'Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd by wives and mothers of Gazan fishermen and fishmongers. Describing their painful reality and uncertain future, the women talked of constantly fearing for their loved

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