A familiar early morning sight for generations in Gaza, the territory’s fishing boats returning to harbor, but unloading at the docks today is especially urgent. These nets haven’t been used for nearly a week.
The men and boys here were blocked by Israel’s military from earning their living for Hasam Alabsi, his decision to stay home during the recent escalation in violence was also a show of solidarity for friends and neighbors.
HOSSAM AL ABSI (GAZA FISHERMAN)
“It was unavoidable. We couldn’t just go to work on a day when there were people killed and others injured. We had to feel what others felt.”
But as soon as the airstrikes on Gaza ended, he and his crew started working.
And he hasn’t stopped to sleep since then. After 20 years of what he calls freedom at sea, hussein hates being stuck on land.
“ There are days that a fisherman’s forced to stay at home because there’s nothing to catch and it just costs diesel to sale.But there are lots of problems and troubles on those days at home because he can’t provide for his family.”
About 100,000 people in Gaza rely in some way on fishing for their livelihoods. The catch is stacked at the docks, then moved to a nearby market.
Crabs, sharks, shrimps and sardines are on the menu and the buyers are hungry.
“ After several days of no business because of the bombardment, trading here is Frenetic now as middlemen, representing the boat captain sell the fish on to market traders.”WILLEM MARX ( GAZA Anchor person)
Abu Ali al Biel is one of the men in the middle of arguments and price haggling, the recent blockade on Gaza’s fishing boats. He says another problem alongside a fall in fish stocks.
“The previous week there was no work because there weren’t any fish to catch. For fishermen, that’s a tragedy, because you have family to provide for. They stopped our livelihoods. They stopped our work. And suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of rockets. ”ABU ALI AL HABEEL (Fish Trader)
Every escalation in fighting means normal economic life grinds to a halt. Fresh morning fish. Another. A reminder of what people in Gaza stand to gain when peace is possible.