On Sept. 8, 2016, Israeli naval forces opened fire on five Gaza fishermen, then detained them and seized their boats—a daily occurrence for the fishermen of the Strip. This week, one of those boats, owned by Abd al-Muti Al-Habil, served as an open-air gallery for a tribute to the many fishermen of Gaza who risk their lives to support their families and maintain this element of Palestinian culture.
To date this year, two Gazan fishermen have been killed: Mohammed Bakr and Mohammed Al-Hissi. Twenty-three fishermen have been arrested and six boats have been destroyed. Photographer Khalid Hashem spent a day documenting the lives of the Gaza fishermen as part of his work for Samidoun, an organization that advocates for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. For two days, he displayed 18 dramatic photographs in an exhibit called “Hook,” dedicated to the some 3,000 fishermen who continue to take to the sea every day (compared to the 10,000 who used to earn their living this way in 2000).
“Although many Israeli navy boats shot directly at them while they were fishing, no one was afraid. I was taken by their bravery,” he said as he described what he called their “journey of death.” The camera is the only thing that frightens the Israelis, he says, because it exposes their brutality.
His next exhibition will focus on the similar assaults against farmers, who are prohibited from cultivating in the “buffer zone” along the border with Israel—home to about a third of the Strip’s most arable land.