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Support Gaza's Fishermen

11-20-2008

1. A Plea for Funds

2. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen released

3. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen still being held by Israeli authorities, three internationals fighting deportation with at least one engaging in a hunger-strike

4. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen and three internationals abducted from Palestinian waters off the coast of Gaza

5. The Daily Star: UN rights chief implores Israel to lift illegal siege of Gaza Strip

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-------------------- 1. A Plea for Funds - Please distribute widely

On Tuesday 18th November, the Israeli Navy forcibly abducted 15 unarmed Palestinian fishermen and three International Human Rights Observers from the waters 7 miles off the Gaza coast. Although the fishermen were well within their rights to fish in their own waters, the Israeli Navy boarded and confiscated their boats, and illegally detained all of the civilians in Israel.

Under tremendous pressure, the Israeli government released the 15 fishermen, but are so far refusing to return the most precious possessions these men own - their boats.

The three Human Rights Observers, Andrew Muncie of Scotland, Darlene Wallach of the U.S., and Vik Arrigoni of Italy are currently in prison awaiting court dates. They are challenging their illegal detention and insisting that Israel release them back to Gaza.

The International Solidarity Movement and the Free Gaza Movement are asking for funds to help pay our attorneys;

1. To get the boats released from Israel's grasp, or for them to pursue compensation to the fishermen for their loss; 2. To represent the three internationals in court; 3. For representation of the fishermen.

If you can help provide funds for these vital causes please consider these options for donation:

1. Donating via PayPal on the ISM website (http:// www.palsolidarity.org/main/)

2. Transferring money directly into the ISM Palestine bank account;

ARAB BANK P.L.C RAMALLAH AL_BALAD BR PALESTINE SWIFT CODE; ARABPS22090 ACCOUNT #673589

3. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, please make your checks of $50 or more to 'NorCalISM' and put in the subject line ATTORNEY FEES. Send to:

International Solidarity Movement 405 Vista Heights Rd. El Cerrito, CA 94530

When making a donation for these attorney fees please email palreports@gmail.com with the amount being donated and confirmation that the donation is for this purpose.

We will make sure this money goes directly to the attorneys representing the Palestinian fishermen and the internationals.

In Solidarity,

ISM Palestine

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----------------- 2. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen released

19th November Update: The fifteen Palestinian fishermen who were abducted from Palestinian waters by the Israeli navy on the 18th November have been released. Their boats, however, have yet to be returned.

The three internationals who were also taken by the Israeli navy are still being held in Ben Gurion detention facility. All three face deportation despite entering Gaza from international waters and not leaving Palestinian waters with the fishermen. At no point, before they were transported by the Israeli navy into Israel, did the internationals enter internationally recognised Israeli waters.

The lawyer representing the international human rights observers has been told that she can have access to them on Wednesday morning.

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----------------- 3. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen still being held by Israeli authorities, three internationals fighting deportation with at least one engaging in a hunger-strike

The fifteen Palestinian fishermen abducted from Palestinian waters this morning (10am 18th November) are still being held by Israeli authorities in Ashdod, while their boats have been confiscated. Legal proceedings were initiated today that petition for their immediate release.

The three international Human Rights Observers who were arrested while accompanying the fishermen have been taken to Ben Gurion detention facility as Israeli authorities starting deportation proceedings. Andrew Muncie, a British citizen who was one of the three internationals arrested has made it clear that he will non-violently resist any attempt to deport him and that he is engaging a hunger- strike until all fifteen of the Palestinian fishermen are released.

The status and plans of the other two international Human Rights Observers arrested, American citizen Darlene Wallach and Italian citizen Vittorio Arrigoni, are not yet known.

This action comes after international journalists have been denied access into Gaza due to the current siege.

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---------------- 4. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen and three internationals abducted from Palestinian waters off the coast of Gaza

Gaza City, 10 a.m.- Fifteen Palestinian fishermen and 3 international Human Rights Observers (HRO’s) were surrounded by the Israeli Navy and taken from their boats 7 miles off the coast of Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip.

The fishermen and the HRO’s were transferred from 3 separate boats to the Israeli warships. Other Palestinian fishermen reported that the 3 boats were seen being taken north by the Israeli Navy.

The Human Rights Observers are Andrew Muncie, a Scottish British citizen, Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian citizen, and Darlene Wallach, an American citizen. They have been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) since they entered Gaza on ships with the first Free Gaza Movement voyage on the 23rd August 2008. All internationals have previous experience working with the ISM in the West Bank.

Fellow activists have been unable to establish contact with the HRO’s or with the fishermen since they were abducted.

Since their arrival, the ISM volunteers have been regularly accompanying Palestinian fishermen who are regularly attacked by Israeli navy vessels from as little as 3km from shore. They have regularly filmed Israeli forces using live ammunition, shells and water cannons against unarmed fishermen.

When confronted by the Israeli Navy, the boats were 7 nautical miles from the shore of Deir al Balah, well within the fishing limit detailed in the Oslo Accords of 1994.

With regular claims that from the Israeli government that it has ‘disengaged’ from Gaza, these patrols and attacks from the Israeli navy, regularly occuring from as little as 3 miles from shore, represent a clear signal of the continuation of occupation of Gazan territory as well as regular breaches of the current cease-fire.

Over 40,000 people in Gaza make a living from the fishing industry, yet this community has been decimated by Israeli restrictions on fishing rights and the prevention of fuel from reaching the Gaza Strip.

According to the Fishing Syndicate in Gaza, fishermen need 40,000 litres of fuel and 40,000 litres of natural gas each day to operate throughout the high fishing season.

Starting in April each year, there is a migration of fish from the Nile Delta to Turkish waters which Palestinian fishermen have traditionally relied upon. Yet Israel limits fishing 6 miles from the Gaza shore and regularly attacks those who venture further than 3 miles - over 70 fishermen were arrested last year by the Israeli forces. The large schools that form the migration are usually found 10 miles from shore. The average catch of fish was over 3000 tons a year in the 1990’s, now it is around 500 tons directly due to the Israeli siege of Gaza.

Also, the water in which the fishermen of Gaza sail in is now receiving 50 million litres of sewage per day because the people of Gaza have no alternative due to the lack of power supplies to sewage treatment facilities.

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----------------- 5. The Daily Star: UN rights chief implores Israel to lift illegal siege of Gaza Strip

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

GAZA CITY: The top United Nations human rights official on Tuesday called on Israel to immediately lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, as invading tanks from the Jewish state sparked retaliatory rocket fire from the coastal territory. “By function of this blockade, 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children have been forcibly deprived of their most basic human rights for months,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

“This is in direct contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law. It must end now,” she said.

Israel first imposed a large-scale blockade on the Gaza Strip after the Hamas movement won legislative elections in 2006. The Jewish state further tightened its siege of the impoverished territory after the Islamists ousted their Fatah rivals following reports in the Arab press of an impending US-backed offensive by the secular party to topple Hamas in the strip.

Amid mounting pressure from the international community, Israel last week allowed limited industrial fuel to be delivered to Gaza’s sole power plant and on Monday it let in 33 truckloads of humanitarian and other basic supplies.

Israel condemned Pillay’s call as “utterly shortsighted” and sidestepped the call to end the siege by saying she had not addressed the issue of rocket fire targeting Israel.

“It is disappointing to see the high commissioner fall victim to Hamas’ cynical manipulation of the media, and reprint blatant misinformation in her press release,” said a statement by the Israeli mission to the UN in Geneva.

The statement did not address how such “misinformation” would have trumped reports from other UN agencies - as well as scores of human rights groups - backing up Pillay’s description of the situation in Gaza.

Pillay said that “only a full lifting of the blockade followed by a strong humanitarian response will be adequate to relieve the massive humanitarian suffering evident in Gaza today.”

“Decisive steps must be taken to preserve the dignity and basic welfare of the civilian population, more than half of which are children.”

Other UN and EU officials have deemed the Israeli blockade as collective punishment of a civilian population, an act illegal under international law which the Geneva Conventions defines as a war crime.

Limited food distribution to half the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million population resumed on Tuesday, although the United Nations warned aid supplies would soon run out unless Israel eases its blockade.

“Distribution will go on of the very small amount we brought in on Monday,” said UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness.

“The supplies will last days, not weeks,” he told AFP.

Crowds rushed to the UNRWA distribution centers to try to get hold of the limited supplies of flour, sugar, rice, powdered milk and luncheon meat.

“I can’t wait to receive the aid. Our lives are in ruins,” said Umm Said, 60, who with her husband looks after 15 children and grandchildren.

On Monday, the first shipment of supplies in two weeks made it possible to resume limited food distribution after a four-day interruption, but Israel again sealed off the Palestinian territory on Tuesday.

UNRWA, which feeds 750,000 people in the impoverished sliver of land, said thousands of dollars worth of powdered milk were lost after Israeli officials slashed the packages for inspection.

“Babies should not be punished by being deprived of milk. I am not aware of babies firing rockets or baby milk being used to power rockets,” said Gunness, adding that food would run out in days unless new supplies are allowed in.

Another UNRWA official has cast doubt on the Israeli pretense of rocket fire for sealing off the territory, noting that no such closure was in effect in the beginning of 2006 when Israel was hit with many more rockets than are currently coming out of Gaza.

An Egyptian-mediated truce signed in June had virtually halted rocket attacks on Israel. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel was to greatly ease its siege, a commitment the Jewish state never complied with.

Israel shattered the truce on November 4 with an invasion of the coastal territory that killed seven Hamas members. The stark violation prompted Gazan fighters to resume rocket fire.

On Tuesday, Israeli armored vehicles came under mortar attack as they invaded southern Gaza in what an Israeli military spokesman described as a search for explosive devices along the border fence.

Hamas claimed it fired a rocket at the vehicles.

Later, Gaza militants fired three rockets that exploded in open areas in southern Israel, causing no casualties or damage, the Israeli Army said.

Israeli officials indicated the crossings were to remain closed on Tuesday.

“This decision has been taken by Defense Minister Ehud Barak because of the continued Palestinian rocket fire at southern Israel,” said Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman.

The Israeli Parliament is to return from its winter recess to hold a special session on the Gaza violence next Monday, a spokesman said. The session was called at the request of the right-wing opposition.

Also on Tuesday, the Israeli Navy arrested Palestinian fishermen and foreign activists off the coast of Gaza on Tuesday, the Israeli military and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said.

“This morning a number of Palestinian boats carrying ISM members deviated from the fishing zone off the Gaza coast,” an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

ISM said the boats were 7 nautical miles (13 kilometers) from shore when confronted by the navy, pointing out this was well within the fishing limits set in the 1994 Oslo Accords.

Under the Israeli-Palestinian agreements, Gaza fishermen were allowed to go as far as 20 nautical miles offshore, but Israel has in recent years reneged on that agreement and reduced this to just 6.

The Israeli Navy regularly forces Gaza fishermen to turn back, often by firing machine guns at the civilian vessels.

The Israeli spokeswoman said those aboard the boats were held for questioning after they refused to turn back.

ISM said the 14 fishermen and three human rights observers, who were aboard three boats, were transferred to Israeli warships.

It said Briton Andrew Muncie, Vittorio Arrigoni from Italy and American national Darlene Wallach were volunteers accompanying Palestinian fishermen, “who are regularly attacked by Israeli Navy vessels from as little as 3 kilometers offshore.”

The three had sailed from Cyprus with other pro-Palestinian activists on August 23 in defiance of the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The Israeli armed forces said: “ISM is known for its provocative action and for being in contact with terror organizations.”

ISM is a Palestinian-led movement of volunteers committed to nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

It mobilizes international volunteers for often symbolic actions, such as blockade-defying boat trips to Gaza. - AFP, with The Daily Star

--~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ Thank you for your continued interest and support for the International Solidarity Movement!

Please consider a financial donation to help continue the important work of the ISM. You may donate securely online at our website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/donations

For more information, visit the ISM website at http://www.palsolidarity.org PLEASE FORWARD THIS UPDATE WIDELY

To unsubscribe from this group, send email to palsolidarity-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---

ENDS

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