When Hassan Al Zaazoua bought a fishing boat, he did not know that he was buying a “coffin” that would carry it and his two brothers Mahmoud and Yasser to their inevitable fate.
About 3 weeks ago, the three brothers mortgaged their sister’s jewelry, and borrowed an amount of money to buy a small fishing boat to work in the sea, after the ways of life narrowed for them on land.
A journey of no return
The three brothers went out as usual last Friday after sunset, heading to the sea on a journey in search of “a livelihood.” But it was their last journey from which they did not return.
Ahmed, the fourth brother, was waiting for a call he got accustomed to from his brothers as they approached the port of Deir Al-Balah (central Gaza Strip), in the early hours of the dawn, in order to receive them by “cutting ice” to preserve the fish. But that did not happen.
Ahmed says to Al-Jazeera Net, “I was very anxious, and I felt that a bad event had happened, but I never expected them to be killed by Egyptian bullets.”
Hassan, 26, and Mahmoud, 22, died, and Yasser, 19, was wounded by an Egyptian boat fired near the Palestinian-Egyptian border in the city of Rafah (southern Gaza Strip).
While the Egyptian authorities handed over the bodies of the two brothers, their third brother is still being held, amid official and popular Palestinian pleas to hand him over to relieve the grieving family.
Not the first time
This incident caused wounds that could hardly be healed until they were renewed in terms of Egyptian attacks against Palestinian fishermen. According to the fishermen’s union documentation in the Gaza Strip, 5 fishermen were killed, and 15 others were arrested by the Egyptian army at sea since 2015. The Egyptian authorities have continued Justifying its exposure to Gaza’s fishermen by crossing the maritime borders.
Ahmed asked, burning with anger, “What is the crime that my brothers committed in order to be murdered without mercy? And even if they entered the Sea of Egypt, we are brothers and Arabs, and we are not enemies.”
The grieving mother, Nawal Al-Zaazou ‘, nicknamed “Umm Nidal,” told Al-Jazeera Net, “I wish they were martyred by the bullets of the Jews, not by Egyptian bullets.”
According to Umm Nidal, her sons were working in the construction sector, and due to the decline in construction movement due to the Israeli blockade, they decided to work at sea, without realizing that it would swallow their lives.
This bereaved mother is struggling with mixed feelings between grief over the separation of her two sons, and anxiety over the fate of their third, Yasser, the wounded and detained in Egypt.
“They killed two … My third comeback,” she says, with tears streaming from her eyes, which were overwhelmed by redness from the intensity of crying. She addressed her invitation to the Egyptian authorities.
She fell silent as she wandered with her tearful eyes in the faces of the mourners clad in black, and she wondered, “For what sin did they kill my children? .. By God, we are victorious, and those who were saving a living went away.”
The sad mother says, “By God, their father is sick, and their big brother Nidal is sick, and we have no one else after God, and Hassan Khattab was thinking that the boat would help him save the costs of marriage.”
And she adds, as if she is searching in vain for any fate for her children other than death, “if they arrest them, or beat them if they enter by mistake, they are not killed.”
A tragic reality
Is this how to return the favor to Mahmoud? The mother wonders, as she remembers how her late son helped save 7 Egyptian fishermen, whose boat was swept away to the Gaza Sea by the waves early last year.
Regarding this incident, the captain of the fishermen’s union, Nizar Ayyash, told Al-Jazeera Net, “It is not a favor, but it is the duty of religion, blood, and Arabism.
Ayyash believes that what the Palestinian fisherman is exposed to is inseparable from the constant attempts of the Egyptian media to “demonize” Gaza.
Ayyash said, “We have all love and respect for Egypt and its people, and we do not want it to share with the occupation the crimes committed against Palestinian fishermen looking for a livelihood in light of a tragic reality, due to the naval blockade and Israeli restrictions.”
Israel imposes restrictions on the movement of fishermen, and obliges them to fish within a range not exceeding 15 nautical miles, an area described by fishermen as “fish poor,” and this is what drives some of them to go fishing near the border with Egypt.
During the past five years, Israel has killed 5 fishermen, wounded and arrested dozens of others, and confiscated their boats, according to the fishermen’s union documentation.
Ayyash says that the Syndicate is working to activate the issue of the continuous attacks on fishermen, and to press for protection for them, to prevent new victims.