FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday 27th November, 2008 – Gaza City , , Palestine
Three Palestinian trawling vessels confiscated by Israeli naval forces whilst fishing in Gazan territorial waters on 18th November were returned today. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen were also abducted during the operation but have since been released.
The fishing boats, held in Ashdod , were transferred into Palestinian waters six nautical miles offshore at approximately Gaza time and reached the port of Gaza City shortly before .
This action follows an appeal filed yesterday in the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of the vessels' owners for the return of their property. Lawyers intended to challenge the arbitrary limits imposed on Gazan fishermen by the Israeli navy which contravene prior agreements and international regulations.
The boats' captains reported damage to their vessels – indeed one trawler had to be towed in by a second due to engine damage. Equipment such as GPS devices were also missing. The fishermen's loss of earnings over the last ten days is still being estimated.
The three human rights observers from the International Solidarity Movement who were accompanying the fishermen at the time of the Israeli assault were held at Maasiyahu detention centre in Ramle, despite charges never having been brought against them. All have now been illegally deported by the Israeli authorities. Vittorio Arrigoni was deported to Italy on Sunday 23rd November, Andrew Muncie to the UK 25th and Darlene Wallach to the US early .