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'No reason' to shoot Gaza fisherman, family says

Oct. 24, 2012 7:04 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 4, 2012 2:43 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The family of a 22-year-old fisherman killed by Israeli forces says soldiers had no reason to kill him.

Fahmi Abu Riash, father of a one-year-old son, was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers while fishing at the beach in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza in late September. His brother Youssef was shot and wounded.

Their mother, Mariam, told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that the family frequently fished in the area, and she usually accompanied them to make them lunch at the beach.

"We used to go to that same place all the time and the soldiers used to watch us. My whole family used to swim, cook and have fun there over the weekends. They knew who we were. I never let my sons go beyond the fence. I would never put my children in danger. It was normal to fish there and there had never been any threat, yet on that day they decided to shoot at my sons for no reason."

Fahmi had been fishing since the age of 10. On Sept. 28, he was fishing meters from the shore in the northern Gaza Strip when Israeli soldiers entered the enclave and stationed themselves behind a hill at the beach before opening fire at fishermen.

"The majority of the fishermen were able to flee. However, two fishermen, who were located nearly 15 meters away from the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, were unable to escape. According to fishermen present in the area, Israeli soldiers fired directly at the two fishermen, wounding them," PCHR says.

Fahmi's brother Youssef recounted the day to PCHR.

"I remember seeing about 10 soldiers standing on an elevated piece of land and there were many more mobilized behind them. I rushed to help Fahmi and started shouting for help from the other fishermen on the shore. I carried my brother, and then they shot at us again. They were firing from behind and I also got hit on my arms and legs. I carried Fahmi, and then walked about 30 meters before I fainted."

Fahmi died in Kamal Adwan Hospital and Youssef sustained partial paralysis and needs surgery to remove shrapnel from his body.

Mariam says she has no hope for the future.

"My son was so close to my heart and they killed him. Everything was destroyed by his death. I was proud of how good he was at sports, such as volleyball, football and swimming. He always promised me that when he got enough money, he would take me to have surgery to correct a problem with my eyes. He had only been married for two years and he has left behind a 1-year-old son.

"This little child lost his father and he will never know how it feels to have one. Fahmi’s wife is still young, only 22. She stays at home mourning her husband. What does the future hold for her? All my hope in life is lost. I do not know how to move on without my son. In the past, we were a bit hopeful that everything would be okay but now we know that nothing is ever going to change."

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