Affidavit No. 6548/2011

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Ayman Ali Mohammed Al-Habil, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 901019125, born on 3 May 1975, a fisherman, and a resident of Al-Shate’ Refugee Camp, West Gaza governorate, would like to declare the following:

On Wednesday 13 July 2011 at about 6:00 am, I departed on a fishing trip from Gaza port with three of my cousins on a motorised fishing boat owned by my brothers and me. We headed south until we arrived off the coast of the Gaza valley area to the south of Gaza city. I witnessed about 8 fishing boats, one of which included my cousins, sailing west accompanied by a fishing boat carrying two foreign activists and a young Palestinian man.

My colleagues and I became enthusiastic with the presence of foreigners and we sailed out to sea in a westerly direction for a distance of about 6 miles. Then I, along with my fishermen colleagues threw our fishing nets and other fishing tools into the water to catch fish. This was the first time we were able to reach this distance from the coast where there are plenty of fish without being chased by the Israeli military boats. We had become accustomed to being fired upon, arrested and having our fishing boats confiscated.

We spent about an hour and a half fishing happily. Suddenly I saw three Israeli military boats heading towards us quickly from the northern side of the Gaza Sea. They stopped about 20 metres away from our boats and then started firing heavily towards us. I saw the bullets hitting our boats and the water nearby.

The fishermen and I felt very scared and quickly began retreating while trying to remove our fishing nets and fishing tools from the water. However, the Israeli Navy officers were concentrating their shooting on the cables and wires we were using to pull out the fishing nets from water. As a result, the nets dropped into the water.

Heavy firing continued as the boat carrying the international activists tried to help us grab our fishing nets from the water. The activists appealed to the soldiers to stop shooting, but to no avail.

Then three huge Israeli gunboats showed up - what we call turadat or wasps, headed toward us at high speed and started to pump water towards us and towards the boat carrying foreign activists using huge water hoses. As a result, myself and the rest of the fisherman had to return to port because our boats were damaged due to the actions of the Israeli gunboats. The Israeli occupying soldiers continued firing at us until about 12:00.

The boat carrying the foreign activists also returned with us. We had to leave the fishing nets soaked in water and so did my fellow fishermen, fearing for our lives, knowing that the cost of the nets and the other fishing tools used by the boat have an estimated value of USD15,000. Following our return to port, my colleagues were able to help international activists to empty water from their boat. In solidarity, the international activists tried to return to the same place where our nets and fishing tools had been left. As soon as the activists’ boat moved into the sea at a distance of almost two miles, the Israeli gunboats started shooting towards the boat heavily. Then the huge Israeli boats arrived and started spraying the boat using a massive water cannon, and chased them until they were forced to leave the sea and return to port.

The next morning, the activists’ boat returned to sail again in the sea after locating the location of the fishing nets using GPS. Again, the activist’s boat sailed out to sea, and was subjected to heavy fire from the Israeli gunboats, and again the Israeli gunboats sprayed water at the boat using water hoses, which led to it sinking. Then, some local fishing boats quickly headed towards the solidarity activist’s boat and were able to rescue them, and pull their boat to the port.

This is my declaration and hereby I sign, 16 July 2011

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 6548/2011
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 16 July 2011
  • Name: Ayman Ali Mohammed Al-Habil