An Italian solidarity activist has been injured today by the Israeli Navy while he was accompanying fishermen in Gaza.
Vittorio Arrigoni was hit by flying glass as the Israeli navy used a high power water canon against the unarmed boats. The water canon smashed the glass surrounding the steering section of the boat, with shards lacerating Vittorios back. He was been taken to hospital immediately upon reaching shore, requiring ten stitches.
International activists were accompanying Gazan fishermen 8 miles out from shore, as they have been doing regularly since they arrived in Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement boats.
The Israeli navy have imposed severe restrictions on fishing Gazan waters, regularly attacking any boats attempting to fish over 3 nautical miles. With international accompaniment, fishermen have been regularly attempting to fish outside the Israeli imposed limits where they can . Following Israels disengagement from Gaza, Israeli restrictions on fishing were escalated so that Gazan fishermen could only fish safely within 3 nautical miles from the coast.
On the 1st of September, international activists managed to film the Israeli navy opening fire on fishing boats 8 miles from the Gaza coast.
40,000 people in Gaza make a living from the fishing industry, yet this community has been decimated by Israeli restrictions on fishing rights and the prevention of fuel from reaching the Gaza Strip.
According to the Fishing Syndicate in Gaza, fishermen need 40,000 litres of fuel and 40,000 litres of natural gas each day to operate throughout the high fishing season.
Starting in April each year, there is a migration of fish from the Nile Delta to Turkish waters which Palestinian fishermen have traditionally relied upon. Yet Israel limits fishing 6 miles from the Gaza shore and regularly attacks those who venture further than 3 miles - over 70 fishermen were arrested last year by the Israeli forces. The large schools that form the migration are usually found 10 miles from shore. The average catch of fish was over 3000 tons a year in the 1990s, now it is around 500 tons directly due to the Israeli siege of Gaza. Not only this, but the brutal effects of the siege, the water in which the fishermen of Gaza sail in is now receiving 50 million litres of sewage per day because the people of Gaza have no alternative.