High Court Orders Israel to return seized boats to Gazan fisherman

July 2, 2019 18:46
2 minute read.
High Court Orders Israel to return seized boats to Gazan fisherman

Habil's boat, after being returned to the Gaza Strip yesterday. (photo credit: AL TUFIK ASSOCIATION FOR FISHERMEN IN GAZA)

Israel returned a boat to fisherman Abad Al-Moati Al-Habil from the Gaza Strip following long legal proceedings that human rights organization Gisha--the center for freedom of movement of Palestinans, "Adalah"--the legal center for the rights of Arab minorities in Israel and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza administered.

This comes after Israel held it over the course of three years. Similarly, at the request of the organizations, the state told the High Court of Justice that in the course of the 4 upcoming months, it will return another approximately 65 boats that were captured from the hands of the fishers in the Strip.

In a petition to the High Court of Justice in January 2019, the organizations demanded that in addition to Al-Habil's boat, which was returned yesterday, Israel would immediately return all fishing boats from the Gaza Strip that were seized by the army, along with everything that was on board. It has happened in the past that Israel returned boats to its owners without the goods that were in them. In response to the court, on June 13, Israel informed the High Court of Justice that it would return Al-Habil's boat within two weeks, and that with regard to the rest of the boats, they intended to "start in a month or so the process of returning them to the Gaza Strip, following the process of the seas. This process is expected to be completed in four months or so."

Al-Habil's boat was damaged during the seizure by the Navy and from the years it was held without maintenance, to the extent that it could not be transferred by sea. It was driven to the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday, from where it took another seven hours to go to the Gaza port due to logistical challenges. Al-Habil estimates that the damage repair will cost more than $ 45,000. Spare parts and materials required for repairs are very difficult to obtain in the Gaza Strip, because Israel severely restricts and even prevents the entry of items it defines as "dual use". Among other things, the aforementioned materials refer to spare parts for engines and fiberglass, which are used to repair the body of the boat.

Gisha claimed that the seizure and holding of the boats by Israel for months and years was done without authority and contrary to the provisions of international law. Israel must cease its punitive, violent and illegal practices against Gazan fishermen over the years, thereby seriously impairing their ability to earn a living and the economy of Gaza, Gisha claimed.

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