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How Israel's naval blockade denies Gazans food, aid

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"We are witnessing a huge crisis where the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen, associated laborers, and their dependents have been decimated by Israel's blockade and closure," says Erminio Sacco of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Following the Oslo peace accords, signed in 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel permitted the fishermen to go 20 nautical miles (NM) out to sea.

This was restricted to 12 NM in 2002, after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000.

This area was further limited to the current 3 NM when the Islamic movement Hamas wrested control of Gaza after an intense fight with its rival Fatah led to a collapse of a unity government headed by Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Those fishermen who go further out risk being arrested, shot, and killed, or having their boats destroyed or confiscated. However, human rights organizations have reported that fishermen have been attacked even within the 3-NM zone.

Click here to read about fisherman Mohammed Hassuna, who says he and his crew were recently surrounded by Israeli Navy boats, shot at, forced to strip, and swim in frigid water to the Navy gunboat, where they were handcuffed, blindfolded, and their feet chained.

Catch dropped by two-thirds since 2007

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel's restrictions undermined the sardine season, which started in March and peaked in mid-April.

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