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UAWC demands Israel release body of slain Palestinian fisherman

Feb. 28, 2018 3:05 P.M. (Updated: March 1, 2018 11:25 A.M.)
18-year-old Ismail Saleh Abu Reyala
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) put out a call on Tuesday to international organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) demanding that Israel return the body of a teenage Palestinian fisherman to his family in Gaza.

18-year-old Ismail Saleh Abu Reyala was shot and killed by israeli forces on Sunday while sailing off the northern coast of the Gaza Strip.

Reyala was sailing with Mahmoud Adel Abu Reyala, who was injured with a bullet to the chest, and Ahed Abu Ali, when their boat came under fire after it allegedly “deviated from the designated fishing zone,” according to the Israeli army.

The boat was seized by Israeli forces, and the two men were released after hours of detention, while Reyala’s body was kept by authorities.

“It is the fundamental right of the fisherman's family and his relatives to know the fate of their son,” the group said, adding “it is their basic right to receive his body and bury him.

As part of Israel's blockade off the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited "designated fishing zone."

The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated, most recently extended to six nautical miles from three, following a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel's 2014 offensive on the Palestinian territory.

However, the fishing zone was technically set to 20 nautical miles according to the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PA in the early 1990s.

UAWC issued this month its annual report for 2017 detailing Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the besieged Gaza Strip, highlighting that “these attacks deny fishermen from practicing their fishing work and accessing their livelihood resources.”

The report states that Israeli forces carried out shooting operations and chased down the fishermen hundreds of times, even while inside the designated fishing zone, “causing dozens of casualties as well as destroying and confiscating boats and fishing gears.”

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem recently concluded that Israel’s Gaza closure and “harassment of fishermen” have been “destroying Gaza’s fishing sector,” with 95 percent of fishermen living below the poverty line.

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