THE WORLD FOOD Programme has calculated that half the population of Gaza does not have enough to eat.
One important source of food for the people in Gaza is fish – but the fishermen of Gaza are not free to fish how and where they want. Their work is restricted by the Israeli state. Normally the Palestinian fishermen can only travel six nautical miles from the coast. The Israeli state has recently made one small concession, allowing boats in south Gaza to travel up to nine nautical miles from the coast for the months of May and June.
Whenever they go to sea, the fishermen are taking risks. Last year, 2016, there were 126 recorded incidents of fishermen being fired at by military vessels; 12 fishermen were injured; and seven fishing boats were targeted by shells. The Palestinian fishing boats are often harried while they are at sea, with fishermen often being arrested and interrogated.
On average, each fisherman is feeding a family (often an extended family) of six. Across Gaza, 95% of fishermen live below the national poverty line. Unemployment in Gaza is 43% (67% for young people) and 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. The UN estimates that agricultural output has shrunk by 31% since 2013. Even with the restrictions, fish stocks in the small area where they are allowed to fish are being depleted. The fishermen keep going out, having to take the risks to keep up the supply of food: without it, there is nothing else to go round.
Restrictions on imports put in place by the Israeli state make it hard for the fishermen to get materials and spare parts to maintain their boats. The Manchester based charity Human Appeal has been raising funds to send them equipment and materials to keep the boats running and bringing back the fish. The charity is making an appeal for funds to support this very worthwhile cause.
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