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18-year-old fisherman killed by Israeli forces off the coast of Gaza

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GAZA CITY – On the sunny and warm afternoon on February 25th a crew of fishermen set out to sea to switch shifts with their younger team who had the task of preparing their boat for a night of fishing.

18-year-old fisherman Ismail Saleh Abu Riyala was preparing the boat along with Mahmoud Adel Abu Riyala (18) and Ahed Hassan Abu Ali (26). They were preparing the tools, lights and fuel for the generator so all would be ready for the incoming crew before sunset.

However as the crew approached the damaged boat, the young men were nowhere to be found. Instead, they found a pool of blood, bullets and a first aid bag with Hebrew letters printed on it.

Ismail was shot dead with a live bullet to the head that day by Israeli forces while Mahmoud and Abu Ali were injured in the leg with rubber-coated bullets. Israeli forces forced the two survivors to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the Israeli gunboat where they were detained under Israeli custody and interrogated.

Mahmoud recounted to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights that their fishing boat was sailing three nautical miles from Gaza’s shore around 3:30 p.m. when Israeli forces heavily opened fire at it.

Abu Ali told Mondoweiss that even though they remained in the permitted fishing zone, the Israeli gunboat had been following them since the early morning.

“We prepared everything in the boat, got the nets ready, dropped the anchor and took a nap. When we woke up the Israeli navy was circling around us. I heard them shout something but I didn’t understand and then they started shooting at us with live bullets.

“We fired up the engine and tried to move back to shore to avoid the bullets, but the Israeli navy kept following and shooting at us. Ismail got shot when he pushed us out of the way to protect us,” Abu Ali said.

According to an Israeli military spokesperson, the boat had breached the fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Naval forces called on the suspects to stop and when they did not comply, warning shots were fired into the air. Upon their continued advancement, shots were fired towards the vessel,” the spokesperson told Reuters.

Israel currently imposes a limit of six nautical miles for Palestinian fishermen. However, according to PCHR all Israeli attacks on Palestinian fishermen have taken place within the allocated fishing zone.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented; the widest range Israel has allowed is 12 nautical miles. The limit reduced over the years; at times it was at as little as three nautical miles.

Findings by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem show that Palestinian fishermen are arrested even when they’re within the permitted fishing zone.

According to Zakaria Al Bakr, head of Gaza’s fishermen committee, the boat had been anchored for six days at sea.

“The boat didn’t move; it was at a standstill,” Al Bakr said. “They were fishing there for six days.”

The Gaza Strip’s collective of charitable organisations announced last week that more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza have died due to the Israeli 12-year land, air and navy blockade of the coastal enclave.

Children crowd around a poster of Ismail Abu Riyala. (Photo: Mersiha Gadzo)

At Ismail’s funeral on Monday at Gaza City’s Al Shati refugee camp, hundreds gathered in the streets waiting the whole day for Ismail’s corpse, which never arrived. According to Al Shifa Hospital, Israel is still withholding the body, violating international humanitarian law.

Ismail’s father, Saleh Abu Riyala sat outside his front door with his younger daughter Warda, tears streaming down her face.

Ismail’s father, Saleh Abu Riyala (Photo: Mersiha Gadzo)

“When my cousin called me to tell me they found the boat full of blood with no one there, I lost my mind. They shoot at our lights, at our boats, at all the fishermen,” Saleh said, explaining that the attacks are a regular occurrence.

“Especially these last two days, the Israelis have been acting really crazy.”

Ismail’s death was a financial hit for the family as well as he helped provide an income for the family.

“The fishermen are the poorest of the poor,” exclaimed Ismail’s uncle, Subhi Abu Riyala, exasperated. “Even in the sea, there’s no work; there is no fish left.”

Saleh Abu Riyala and Ismail’s sister Warda sit outside their home. Ismail’s uncle, Subhi Abu Riyala, prays in the background. (Photo: Mersiha Gadzo)

95 percent of Palestinian fishermen in Gaza live below the poverty line, living off of loans and humanitarian aid to survive.

According to B’Tselem, Israel’s fishing sector has been decimated by Israel due to severe restrictions on sea access, fishing exports and entry of raw materials into Gaza as well as harassment of fishermen. The shrinking fishing zone has led to overfishing in a small area, depleting fish breeding grounds.

“God alone is sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs for us,” Saleh said three times, citing a verse from the Qur’an that’s often quoted by Palestinians whenever one suffers a calamity.

“Ismail had a feeling that he was going to die soon. For the last 20 days he was constantly calling all of his family and friends to come over for a visit.

“Ismail was asking to die as a martyr because our situation is so difficult,” Saleh said.

Ismail is the second fisherman from Gaza to be killed this year. Abdullah Zeidan (32) was killed in January by Egyptian forces while fishing along Gaza’s southern border. Since 2000 Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has documented 1,192 shooting incidents that led to the death of eight fishermen.

About Mersiha Gadzo

Mersiha Gadzo is a multimedia journalist. Her articles have appeared in Al Jazeera, CBC, Canadian Dimension and the Middle East Eye. She tweets at @MersihaGadzo.

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43 Responses

  1. eljay
    March 1, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Whether on not-Israeli land or at not-Israeli sea, it’s all in a day’s work for Israeli Occupation and Oppression Forces to summarily execute not-Israelis.

  2. Jackdaw
    March 1, 2018, 2:15 pm

    ““Ismail had a feeling that he was going to die soon. For the last 20 days he was constantly calling all of his family and friends to come over for a visit.

    “Ismail was asking to die as a martyr because our situation is so difficult,” Saleh said.”

    I don’t live in Gaza, so to my ears, this sounds odd.

    • gamal
      March 1, 2018, 6:29 pm

      “so to my ears, this sounds odd”

      yes i suspect it’s another cycling accident.

      • oldgeezer
        March 1, 2018, 9:08 pm


        The oppressor’s burden is ever so heavy. Must wear him out trying to imagine what empathy even means let alone ever experience it.

      • JosephA
        March 3, 2018, 12:21 am

        Perfect response. I am regularly amazed by the Palestinians in Gaza; their will to live despite and against all odds.

      • gamal
        March 3, 2018, 9:16 pm

        “their will to live despite and against all odd”

        hey Joseph we have words in Arabic but Sir in common parlance Sir you are a “Mensch”, alhamdullilah.

    • Bumblebye
      March 1, 2018, 6:39 pm

      I’ve known a few people have that kind of premonition, shown by that kind of behavior change rather than an outright declaration. They were proven right. Closest declaration was “just a feeling of not being around much longer”.

    • Misterioso
      March 2, 2018, 10:53 am


      “I don’t live in Gaza, so to my ears, this sounds odd.”

      Crawl back under your rock you despicable, creepy fascist!!

      No wonder ever increasing numbers of Jews around the world, especially youth, are seeing you and your ilk for the monsters you are and abandoning Zionism and the entity known as “Israel.”

    • Mayhem
      March 3, 2018, 1:38 am

      @Jackdaw, some people around here have trouble connecting the dots.

      • Mooser
        March 4, 2018, 4:53 pm

        “@Jackdaw, some people around here have trouble connecting the dots.”

        Ismail didn’t, apparently.

  3. Ossinev
    March 2, 2018, 6:43 am

    “so to my ears, this sounds odd”

    Nothing odd about it. Just Nazis behaving like Nazis.

    • Jackdaw
      March 2, 2018, 11:03 am


      Remind me. What ‘Shangra La’ country do you hail from?

      • Marnie
        March 3, 2018, 9:56 am

        @jackdoff – Your ears don’t hear anything. Nothing gets past that heavy ziowax buildup.

  4. Misterioso
    March 2, 2018, 11:27 am

    “Gaza update: Teenage fisherman killed and Palestinians injured,”

    MAP – Medical Aid For Palestinians, 2 March 2018.

    “On Sunday 25 February a Palestinian teenager, 18-year-old Ismail Saleh Abu Reyala, was killed by Israeli forces while fishing off the coast of northern Gaza. During the incident, two other fishermen were injured and detained.

    “Since 2000, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has documented 1,283 attacks on Palestinian fishermen, including 1,192 shooting incidents. The Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) highlighted that such attacks ‘deny fishermen from practicing their fishing work and accessing their livelihood resources.’ B’Tselem has stated that blockade and closure and ‘harassment of fishermen’ have been ‘destroying Gaza’s fishing sector,’ with 95 percent of fishermen living below the poverty line.

    “MAP’s team also reported that 21 Palestinians were injured last Friday during a peaceful protest close to the border with Israel. Protests have occurred every Friday across the occupied Palestinian territory (OPt) following President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement in December. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has raised concern about ‘indiscriminate use of excessive and disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians’”.

  5. Ossinev
    March 2, 2018, 1:04 pm


    “Remind me. What ‘Shangra La’ country do you hail from?”

    Ah you mean do I live in a fictional realm like Narnia or Ziobibliand? No I live in a real country the UK. Yup riddled with faults – good Christians,bad Christians – good Jews,Bad Jews – good Moslems , bad Moslems etc. Yet still by and large a civilised humane non racist country with a civilised and humane society. Not at all like the make believe artificial quasi -Nazi apartheid hellhole which you drool over.

    Hope that answers your question.

    You have a nice day now you hear.

    • Misterioso
      March 2, 2018, 3:26 pm


      Well and truly stated!!!

    • Jackdaw
      March 3, 2018, 2:34 am


      When was the last time that rockets were fired into British cities?

      • Bumblebye
        March 3, 2018, 2:11 pm

        I think that might be the 90s. Also it was within London, being the IRA.
        During John Major’s premiership iirc.

      • John O
        March 3, 2018, 2:58 pm


        How about 17 February 1991, when the IRA fired mortar bombs at 10 Downing Street?

      • Jackdaw
        March 4, 2018, 5:43 am


        Legitimate responses to the ‘occupation’ of Northern Ireland?

      • amigo
        March 4, 2018, 10:37 am

        “When was the last time that rockets were fired into British cities?

        Were you suggesting no British city was attacked since 1945 and if so why did you then go on to provide a link to a Gaurdian article that listed several such attacks and consequently shoot yourself in both feet.

        Then when you are given an example byJohn O you ask the following!!!.

        “Legitimate responses to the ‘occupation’ of Northern Ireland?”jackduh.

        Btw , Gaurdian article makes no mention of Occupation.Did you even get past the first line. Or maybe a side effect of ziocaine is memory loss.

        Depends what you mean by “Legitimate ” responses.

        Here is mine.

        I am an Irish Nationalist (no I never planted bombs anywhere)who longs for the day Ireland becomes one country again.However , I like many of my brothers and sisters came to relaise that there was/is no military answer to the conflict and voted to delete the clause from our constitution that stated the people of the ROI reserved the right to unify the two entities by what ever means necessary–ie, Militarily or diplomatically.
        That clause now states that we wil only work towards unity using diplomatic means.

        Real politics , my boy.

        Ireland was occupied by Britain for circa 500 years but as of the Good fridany agreement that is no longer the case.

        So the majority of the population of the ROI no longer view NI as being occupied .

        You zionists might find a lesson in there somewhere.Try something new , what you have been doing ain,t working.

      • Bumblebye
        March 4, 2018, 10:44 am

        Corvid, why do you keep moving the goalposts? It doesn’t seem to stop you scoring own goals.

      • Jackdaw
        March 4, 2018, 1:12 pm


        The IRA was forced to the peace table when it learned that one of it’s deputy chiefs, was a spy for the British. He spying gutted the IRA from within, both the political and military establishments, so the IRA ‘saw the light’, and decided that it was time to make peace.

      • Brewer
        March 4, 2018, 9:22 pm

        The British are not in the habit of firing rockets onto their own land at present. I dare say that would change should some alien immigrants occupy it and force them into a fenced off enclave however.

    • Jackdaw
      March 3, 2018, 2:31 pm

      Love you, too!

      • amigo
        March 4, 2018, 2:56 pm

        “This came clear to Kevin Fulton on the day his cover as an IRA man collapsed. It happened inside an IRA safe house in north Belfast, in 1994. Fulton sat facing a wall, blindfolded. Curtains shut out the pale light of winter. Bottles lay scattered on the floor, and the place stank of stale beer. An interrogator paced the room, his boots scuffing against the floor. He said, “I know what yer done, boyo.”.

        The author is obviously a racist bigot who thinks all Irish people are drunks .

        Funny that.A bunch of drunks took on the mighty empire and now they are part and parcel of the gov in NI.Martin Mc Guiness was the second Minister .One heart beat away from the top position in NI.Not bad for a group that was forced to the Peace table.Ask the Unionists (who also threw rockets at the ROI ) where their ,”Protestant Nation for a Protestant People” went .

        As Ossinev said , you know SFA about NI and should stick to waffling on about your beloved rogue entity , while it is still in existance.

      • Jackdaw
        March 5, 2018, 5:52 am

        ” As Ossinev said , you know SFA about NI”

        And you know all about the I/P conflict and Zionism.
        Great. What a relief.

      • amigo
        March 5, 2018, 8:57 am

        Jack duh .I know far more about theP/I subject than you do about NI and anyone in charge of their own brain knows it.

        One thing for sure . I am glad Israel has you as an apologist.Keep up the good work.

  6. Ossinev
    March 4, 2018, 9:55 am

    “Legitimate responses to the ‘occupation’ of Northern Ireland?”
    Are you answering your own question , asking a question or fumbling about on the usual Ziowhataboutery autopilot ?

    You know SFA about Northern Ireland and the genesis of the IRA campaign which bears zero comparison to Zioland and the Palestinian resistance. Address the issues relating to your own little racist hellhole as in look in the mirror.

    • Jackdaw
      March 4, 2018, 1:17 pm


      IRA terrorism bad. Palestinian terrorism good.
      Got it!

      • Mooser
        March 4, 2018, 1:46 pm

        “IRA terrorism bad. Palestinian terrorism good.
        Got it”

        “Jackdaw” I keep on trying to tell you, the world is not quite as philo-semitic as you have been led to believe.

  7. MHughes976
    March 4, 2018, 11:22 am

    Rights are everywhere the same. Refugees are not to be excluded but allowed to return, former refugees are to be compensated. Even more importantly, sovereign power should not be exercised over disfranchised people ever, except on the clearly temporary basis of belligerent occupation after victory in war, not to last longer than is necessary for the restoration of order and punishment of war crimes, perhaps negotiations over indemnities.

  8. Ossinev
    March 4, 2018, 2:05 pm


    “IRA terrorism bad. Palestinian terrorism good.
    Got it”
    You are drivelling again. Please try to focus.
    I did not say and would never say that any terrorism was “good” or “bad”. As I did say you know absolutely SFA about Ireland,Northern Ireland,the Troubles,the IRA , the UDA , the Peace Process , the Good Friday Agreement. However I bet that you know a s..tload about the Irgun , Hagannah , the Stern Gang and the superheroic murderers Begin and Shamir all of whom of course in your warped Ziolosophy were not “terrorists” but National Liberation Fighters.

    At least in Northern Ireland it took some time for the likes of Adams and McGuinness to be granted status on the negotiating table and become politicians in what became and still is the Peace Process ( BTW the Peace Process came about primarily because the Nationalist Community and the Unionist Community had had enough of the endless dead end violence and in particular the younger generation and both the British and Sinn Fein recognised this ergo the Good Friday Agreement – b—ar all to do with the spying antics referred to in the Atlantic article which you quote.)

    As for Zioland – well terrorists there were and are fast streamed into political prominence , as in Prime Minister Begin and Prime Minister Shamir , where they updated and refined their terrorism into state sponsored ethnic cleansing and incremental genocide(read the article). Zioland in fact has its very own state of the art Long Kesh with priority being on the illegal detention and torture of Palestinian children)

    The terrorists in Northern Ireland on both sides of the divide are now a tiny minority of fanatics. The terrorists in Zioland are now the overwhelming majority of Zraeli politicians backed up by their unbelievably moral IDF.

    Are there any mirrors in your home?

    • John O
      March 4, 2018, 4:03 pm

      “… both the British and Sinn Fein recognised this ergo the Good Friday Agreement – b—ar all to do with the spying antics referred to in the Atlantic article which you quote.”

      So true. Spies vastly overestimate their own importance, and silly stuff like the James Bond books and films reinforce the myth.

      While I’m here, my attitude to the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland was largely influenced by a man called Tom Sheerin. He was my cousin Mícéal’s father-in-law. He took part in the Easter Rising of 1916, was captured and shared a cell in Dublin with Thomas McDonagh (who was executed as one of the leaders of the Rising), then was transferred to a prison in London (where militant Suffragette leaders visited him), before being sent to a POW camp in Wales. He told me that it was right then to take up arms, but in the 1970s that no longer held, and peaceful means and political negotiating was the way forward. I thought then – and still do – if that was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.

      • amigo
        March 4, 2018, 6:25 pm

        John O . The leaders were not executed.They were murdered after a 2 minute trial.One of them —James Connolly was shot in a wheel chair.

        My Father served in the IRA of that period and shot a few of his enemies.I cerainly do not view his actions as terrorism .He served his Country bravely and he and his fellow soldiers are rightfully honoured for frèeing part of their nation from the yoke of oppression and colonialism.

        Hopefully the Palestinian People will achieve the same goal in the not too distant future .If some of Israel.s most moral heroes die in the process .so be it.That is Israel.s fault.

    • MHughes976
      March 4, 2018, 5:05 pm

      Many would favour bringing ‘terrorism’ within a theory of just war, so that a terrorist campaign might be justified if fundamentally defensive, if in defence of acknowledged human rights, if with a leadership capable of negotiating, if with a clear intention to show some restraint in respect of civilians, if with some reasonable hope of success. There will be quite a lot of difference in the ability of different ‘terrorist’ groups to comply with these criteria.

    • Jackdaw
      March 5, 2018, 2:24 pm

      Israel and the Arabs have negotiated, but without success. Why?

      I believe that the Arabs will not negotiate in good faith because for them, and most Westerners cannot get this, this is a zero-sum game. ‘We win everything, you get nothing’.
      The Arabs are playing a waiting game. Sixty years, one hundred years, two hundred years. How ever long it takes until Israel collapses, but NOT a negotiated settlement.

      • eljay
        March 5, 2018, 2:58 pm

        || Jackdaw: … I believe that the Arabs will not negotiate in good faith because for them, and most Westerners cannot get this, this is a zero-sum game. ‘We win everything, you get nothing’. … ||

        I believe that the Zionists will not negotiate in good faith because for them, and most Westerners cannot get this, this is a zero-sum game. ‘We win everything, you get nothing’.

        || … The Arabs are playing a waiting game. Sixty years, one hundred years, two hundred years. How ever long it takes until Israel collapses, but NOT a negotiated settlement. ||

        Little do “the Arabs” know that the Zionists’ waiting game is a Thousand Years! Anything but a negotiated settlement.

      • oldgeezer
        March 5, 2018, 3:04 pm


        Pure projection yet again. It’s the zionists who are playing the time game. Forestalling any possibility of peace until they manage to steal every last square inch. The GoI all but state that. Both current and former leaders. You live in a bizarro world.

      • John O
        March 5, 2018, 4:11 pm

        You can believe what you like, mate. It won’t alter the facts.

      • amigo
        March 5, 2018, 5:20 pm

        “You can believe what you like, mate. It won’t alter the facts.”John O ,

        John O , is that response to me ? or Jackdaw.

        Did I say something out of line.I certainly didn,t mean to.

      • John O
        March 5, 2018, 5:30 pm



  9. amigo
    March 5, 2018, 6:42 pm

    Thanks for clarification John O.

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