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Affidavit No. 7125/2012

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Rani Sami Omar Bakr, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 906702774, born on 21 May 1981, a fisherman, and a resident of the Ard Bakr area, Al-Shati’ refugee camp, Gaza governorate, would like to declare the following:

At around 8:00 am on Saturday, 7 January 2012, I set out on a fishing trip from the Gaza port onboard a hasaka (fishing boat) in company with my cousins Tal’at ‘Uthman Bakr (46 years), Jad ‘Uthman Bakr (36 years), and Mahmoud Yi’hya Bakr (25 years). I have been fishing on this boat, which my cousin Jad ‘Uthman Bakr owns, since Israeli navy officers confiscated my father’s fishing boat about six months ago. The fishing boat, on which I work, is six metres long and one metre and a half wide. It is run by two 40-horsepower engines. The boat is green and light orange. It has fishing equipment, including fishing nets, hooks and a global positioning system (GPS). It is almost 10,000 Jordanian dinars.

We sailed from the Gaza port towards the south, staying at a close distance near to the beach for about two hours. We crossed the Egyptian border at the sight of the Egyptian authorities, who at times allow us to cross the border and fish. We sailed west on Egyptian waters until we were at a distance of almost 20 nautical miles at sea off the Egyptian coast. We started to fish on international waters, escaping from Israeli vessels that pursue us almost every day within the permissible fishing zone on the Gaza Sea and force us to abandon fishing. The area, where we were fishing was abundant with fish. At around 10:30 am, while we were fishing, I saw a large Israeli warship sailing north to south at a great speed towards us. I heard the sound of intense gunfire launched towards us by Israeli navy officers onboard the Israeli warship. When it was about ten metres away from us, I heard a navy officer ordering us, through a megaphone, to turn off the boat engine, take off our clothes, jump into the water, and swim to the Israeli warship. Otherwise, the Israeli navy officers would continue to open fire on us. We obeyed the navy officers’ orders because we were afraid for our lives. We stripped to our underwear, jumped into the water, and swam to the Israeli warship. The water was so cold and deep that we felt frightened for our lives.

As soon as we got onboard the Israeli boat, soldiers gave us black pants and sweaters, which my cousins and I put on. The soldiers then tied our hands behind our backs with plastic handcuffs and blindfolded us with pieces of cloth. They also tied our fishing boat to the rear of the warship with a rope.

For almost an hour and a half, the Israeli boat sailed north at a great speed. After it stopped and soldiers removed the blindfolds from our eyes, we found ourselves at the Ashdod port. Guarded by a large number of soldiers, who were armed with machine guns, we stepped down from the warship and walked for several metres on the wharf. The soldiers put black sacks on our heads and took us to a place. My cousins and I sat inside that place for about an hour. The soldiers led us out of the place one after the other. When it was my turn, they took me to an adjacent place, which was a medical clinic. A person, who carried a stethoscope and was in civilian clothes, told me he was a doctor. A soldier stood nearby and carried a small camera. The doctor asked if I suffered from any diseases and conducted fast medical tests on me. Then, the soldier asked for my name and age. He wrote down words in Hebrew as well as a number on a paper, which he gave to me. He also took three photographs of me from different angles. I was blindfolded and handcuffed, and two soldiers took me and my fellow fishermen back to the same room. Guarded by a number of soldiers, we were seated on the ground for almost three hours.

Later, they took me to an adjacent place. When they removed the blindfold, I found myself in a room with a person, who was in civilian clothes, of white complexion, and tall. He sat at a desk with a laptop in front of him. Three soldiers in the military uniform, including two female soldiers, stood next to him. The person in the civilian clothes told me he was an Israeli Intelligence officer and inquired about my name, address and age. Assisted by the two female soldiers, the officer displayed pictures of my house and place of residence on the laptop. Then, he showed me aerial images and maps, which he said were of the Gaza port. The officer ordered me to identify the nature of rooms around the port and to locate where Naval Police officers stood at the gates as well as their rooms on the port. Additionally, he demanded that I state the number of Naval Police officers who worked on the Gaza port and the work of each one of them. He ordered me to identify the number of the Naval Police boats and the area where they were kept inside the port. Then, he asked me about Hamas’ arms stores on the port and whether I knew persons affiliated with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements in the area where I lived. I kept saying I was “a fisherman and did not know anything about Hamas or the Naval Police”. I also said I did not know any arms stores.

After I had been interrogated for almost one and a half hours, they took me to the room where my cousins were being held. We sat for a period of five hours, handcuffed and blindfolded. Following the interrogation, a number of soldiers came in, removed the blindfolds from our eyes, put our hands and feet in shackles, and led us out to a bus. A soldier told us that we would be transported to the Erez Crossing so that we could go back to our homes. He also said that the Israeli army had confiscated our fishing boat. The bus drove for about an hour. Guarded by five soldiers, we walked through long corridors and passageways until we reached a waiting hall on the external gate of the Erez Crossing. The soldiers removed the shackles and ordered us to get out of the Crossing through a metal detector and go back home. They showed us the road leading to the Gaza Strip.

We walked for a distance of about one and a half kilometres until we reached a police checkpoint on the al-Jamarik junction north of Beit Hanoun. Then, it was 1:00 am on Monday, 8 January 2012. We reported the incident to the police officers. They called a car that transported us to our houses.

 

This is my declaration, which I hereby sign, 10 January 2012

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 7125/2012
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 10 January 2012
  • Name: Rani Sami Omar Bakr
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