Thursday, September 7, 2023

Gaza Fishermen Protest Israel’s Export Ban: Collective Punishment | TOME


Israel’s Closure of Gaza Crossing Devastates Economy and Fishermen

Israel’s recent closure of the main commercial crossing in the Gaza Strip has had devastating effects on the territory’s already struggling economy. The closure, which came after Israel claimed to have found explosives in a shipment of clothes bound for the West Bank, effectively bans exports from Gaza and severely limits the movement of people and goods. Gaza’s fishermen, who heavily depend on exports to Israel and the West Bank, have been particularly hard hit.

The closure of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing has been condemned by Palestinian fishermen, businessmen, and rights advocates as a form of collective punishment against Gaza’s 2 million people. The closure has caused significant losses for Gaza’s fishermen, with 26 tons of fish rotting and weekly losses amounting to $300,000, according to the main fishermen’s union.

The closure has also affected Gaza’s wealthiest traders, such as Mohammed Abu Hasira, the owner of a popular fish restaurant near the Mediterranean. Abu Hasira had plans to export truckloads of seafood, but the Israeli decision thwarted his efforts, resulting in evaporated profits and skyrocketing costs. He questions why innocent traders like him are being punished along with those at fault.

This closure represents a reversal of recent Israeli military moves to ease the blockade and relieve economic pressure on Gaza. Israel had allowed thousands of Gazan laborers to enter Israel for work and issued hundreds more permits in July. However, the closure has once again subsumed Gaza’s fishermen and others into a larger political struggle that has nothing to do with them.

Israel claims that the closure is intended to deter militants from smuggling explosives through the crossing and to pressure Hamas to crack down on smuggling activities. However, rights groups argue that it exposes Israel’s inability to provide an effective answer to security incidents and address Gaza’s underlying problems. Instead of finding proportionate and reasonable measures, Israel imposes sweeping and punitive closings, according to Miriam Marmur, a spokeswoman for Gisha, an Israeli human rights group.

Gaza’s fishermen have long struggled under the blockade, which limits their access to necessary materials and restricts how far they can go into the Mediterranean Sea. The restrictions prevent them from importing engines, fiberglass, and other materials needed to repair their boats. They also face the constant risk of being shot at or having their boats seized by the Israeli navy if they drift too close to the boundaries.

The closure of the crossing has dealt a fatal blow to Gaza’s economy, which was already on the brink of collapse. Fishermen account for 6 percent of all exports in Gaza, according to the United Nations. The closure has not only affected fishermen but also all merchants in Gaza, who are struggling to survive in an already dire economic situation.

The closure of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing has had severe consequences for Gaza’s economy and its fishermen. The blockade, which Israel claims is necessary for security reasons, has only exacerbated the suffering of Gaza’s population. The international community must take action to address the underlying issues and find a sustainable solution that allows Gaza’s economy to thrive and its people to live in dignity.

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