Tuesday afternoon, sitting on a boat in El Meena ( Port) Gaza, we share a conversation with Sohail Al Amoudy. Sohail and his son, Wael, are fishermen, from Beach camp area , Gaza.
In 2001, Sohail’s small boat was targeted by the Israeli Navy and his engine was seized and never returned. In 2007, his family , in total 16 people including grandchildren, had to sell his one other boat to pay of debts and have since survived on very little, mainly buying and selling small amounts of fish. Apart from Sohail and his son, only one other member of the family have employment.
In April of this year, Sohail was the first to receive a new boat from AOREP organisation
http://www.aorep.org ( The Association for the Organization and Implementation of Projects and Events, Africa & Middle East, is a non governmental, apolitical and nondenominational organisation based in Lugano, in Switzerland. ) http://www.aorep.org
Hopefully, this will be the first of 6 families to benefit from the donation of fishing boats to Gaza families by AOREP.
As Sohail explains, the plight of fishermen, worldwide is very hard, they , like all fishermen , face constant inherent dangers just to earn a living, but here in Gaza the dangers are increased dramatically by the unilaterally imposed Israeli limit of 3 miles , causing dramatic reduction in stock and increased risk of attack if the fishermen dare get even close to the 3 mile limit to try to catch enough fish to make a living.
But Sohail and his son are fishermen, this is what they know, this is their only opportunity to survive, to feed their family and dangerous or not, without a boat , they can’t survive.
Before, Sohail explains, he could catch enough fish to feed his family and save a little for the future, now he barely makes enough to feed his family alone. He now fishes , maybe 20 days a month, if money for fuel or indeed fuel itself is available, where as before they would fish 6 sometimes 7 days a week.
Life is hard in Gaza, especially for fishermen, but organisations like AOREP and others are trying to ease the burden and work in solidarity with Palestine. Hopefully, there will come a day when Sohail and the other fishermen of Palestine have the freedom to fish their own waters without the extra fear of arrest , injury or even death.
This project was organised in association with the Palestinian association for fishing and marine sports .