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Text testimonies We shot at fishermen, cut their nets
catalog number: 250512
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Navy
Area: Gaza strip
period: 2005 - 2007
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We shot at fishermen, cut their nets
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Navy
Area: Gaza strip
period: 2005 - 2007

There’s an area that borders Gaza, an area called Area K, which is under the navy’s control. Both before and after the disengagement, nothing changed with regard to the sea sector, everything remained the same. The only thing that changed was that Area K divided Israel and Gaza, Area M was between Egypt and Gaza, and in the middle there was another partition, which prevented boats from crossing from the Rafah harbor to the Gaza harbor. This partition disappeared with the disengagement, and then afterward it was open again. That was the only plus. I remember that near Area K, between Israel and Gaza, there were kids who would get up early in the morning, kids as young as four or six. Seventy percent of the population in Gaza lives on fishing. It’s their bread and water and everything. If there’s no fish, there’s no food. They’d go to the off-limits areas early in the morning, around four or five every morning. They’d go there because the other area is crowded with fishermen. It’s a small area, and the fish swim up there because there are no fishermen. The kids always tried to scout it out and cross over, and every morning we’d shoot in their direction to scare them off, it got to the point of shooting at the kids’ feet where they’d stand on the beach, or at those heading in that direction on a surfboard. We had Druze police officers on board who’d scream at them in Arabic and curse them. Afterward, you could look at the cameras and see the kids crying, poor kids.

What does that mean, “shoot in their direction”? It starts with shooting in the air, then it shifts to shooting close by, and in extreme cases it becomes shooting toward their legs. I didn’t shoot at anyone’s legs, but there were other ships in my company that did.

What distance did you shoot from? Far, from five hundred or six hundred meters. You shoot with a Rafael heavy machine gun, it’s all automatic.

Where do you aim? It’s about perspective. In the camera, there’s a measure for height and a measure for width, and you mark with the cursor where you want the bullet to go, and it cancels out the effect of the waves and hits where it’s supposed to, it’s precise.

You aim a meter away from the surfboard? More like five or six meters away. There were cases I heard about where they hit the surfboard, but I didn’t see it. They said the shrapnel hit them, the ricochet of the bullet hitting the water. There were other things that bothered me, there’s this thing with Palestinian fishing nets. Their nets cost around four thousand shekels, which is like a million dollars for us. When they disobeyed us a lot, we’d sink their nets. They leave their nets in the water, the nets stay in the water for something like six hours. The Dabur (a navy patrol boat) comes along and cuts their nets.

Why? As a punishment.

For what? For the fact that they’d disobeyed us too many times. Let’s say a boat drifts over to an area that’s off-limits, so a Dabur comes, circles, shoots in the air, and goes back. Then an hour later, the boat comes back and so does the Dabur. The third time around, the Dabur starts shooting at the nets, at the boat, and then shooting to sink them. That never happened with me, but I’ve shot at the boat and nets.

But how do you know whose net it is? The boat is dragging the net. It’s always connected to the boat.

Is the off-limits area the one that’s close to Israel? There’s the area that’s close to Israel, and the area along the IsraeliEgyptian border. The sea border is three miles out, something like twenty miles wide, about thirty kilometers.

This is when you take into account the twenty miles between Gaza and Egypt and between Israel and Gaza? Yes.

These twenty miles, are they taken from Israel’s area or from Gaza’s? What do you think? Of course Gaza’s. Not only that, Israel’s sea border is twelve miles out, and Gaza’s is only three. They’ve got just those three miles, which lie in the direction of the Mediterranean, because of one reason, because Israel wants its gas, and there’s an offshore drilling rig something like three and a half miles facing the Gaza Strip, which should be Palestinian, except that it’s ours. They work there like crazy, and Shayetet 13, the Navy Special Forces unit, provides security. A bird comes near the area, they shoot it. There is an insane amount of security for that thing. One time there were Egyptian fishing nets that crossed the three miles, and we dealt with them, it was a total disaster.

Meaning? They were in international waters, and we don’t have jurisdiction there, but we’d go out and shoot at them.

At Egyptian fishing nets? Yes. And we’re at peace with Egypt.