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Gaza fishermen: Lift naval blockade too

May 27, 2011 11:16 A.M. (Updated: May 28, 2011 2:40 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) - Fishermen in Gaza are calling for protection after four years of siege, as Egypt said it would open the Rafah crossing on a daily basis in a bid to ease the blockade.

At a sit-in Thursday in Gaza's port, a group of fishermen rejected Israel's blockade policy, which for four years has limited their ships to the near coast at risk of being fired upon.

Mohammad Al-Hisi, one of the fishermen, told Ma'an that "the occupation's forces destroyed my small boat, which I depend on for my livelihood. And no one cares. I just want my livelihood."

The sea off Gaza has been mostly off limits since June 2006 when Israel imposed a tight blockade on the territory after militants there snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.

The blockade was tightened a year later when the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory, ousting forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

Israel took steps to ease the measure last summer following a wave of international pressure after its troops staged a botched raid on an aid flotilla which was trying to break the embargo, killing nine Turkish activists.

On Thursday, fishermen appealed to the UN and human rights organizations to end the naval siege and pressure Israel to increase the area of fishing as well as "bring Israel into account for its crimes."

The fishermen say they want international protection against Israeli attacks at sea.

Mustafa Al-Jarbu, a member of fishermen committee, explained that the sit-in is in protest of the "vicious acts" carried out by the Israeli army against fishermen, which have injured hundreds and killed dozens.
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