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From the field

Three fisherman injured by shell fired by an Israeli Navy ship, December 2006

'Adnan al-Bardwil, fisherman

'Adnan al-Bardwil

I have been a fisherman for twenty years. I learned the profession from my father, and it is my family's sole source of livelihood.

I go to sea to fish every day and sell the catch. My house is about fifty meters from the Rafah coast.

Last Wednesday [12 December], around five in the evening, I went to sea in a small, seven-meter motorboat I own. My brother Sa'id and another fisherman who works with us, Hamdan, Barhum, were also in the boat. We had two instruments on the boat, one for locating fish, which was worth $150, and one for detecting rocks, which was worth $500.

We sailed westward, until we got to about two kilometers from shore. We threw out the nets and waited for the fish to be caught. My nets are meant to catch two kinds of fish, Ghuzlan and Palmyra . After waiting about ninety minutes, I felt that fish were in the net, and we began to lift them out of the water. I think we caught about ten kilograms of fish. Then we started back to shore.

When we were about one hundred meters from shore, I heard shooting. It was about seven o'clock and it was dark. The boat started shaking a lot, and the two instruments shattered. Sa'id, Hamdan and I fell into the water. I didn't see where the shots came from, but I am sure it came from the Israeli warship that was at sea. I didn't see anything else in the water.

I got back into the boat and helped Hamdan get in. The boat was hit, apparently by a shell. The three of us were injured by shell fragments. I still have marks on my face from them. Luckily, the motor wasn't hit, so we managed to make our way back to the Rafah coast. When we arrived at the shore, we barely managed to get out of the boat, and fisherman there helped us. They called an ambulance that took us to the hospital.

I suffered relatively light wounds, so they took me to Abu Yusef a-Najar Hospital . Sa'id and Hamdan suffered more serous injuries, and they were taken to the European hospital in Gaza .

I was hospitalized for three days, and released on December 16, 2006. Sa'id was also discharged on the same day. Hamdan was very seriously injured, so he is still in the hospital.

I am at home now, unable to move. The shell fragments struck me all over, including close to my right eye. I am unable to work, or do anything. I lost my sole source of livelihood. I don't know how I'll support the eighteen people in my family. My eldest daughter is sixteen and the youngest is two years' old.

'Adnan Khalil 'Abdallah al-Bardwil, 45, married with eight children, is a fisherman and a resident of al-Mawasi neighborhood, Rafah. His testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah at the witness's home on 18 December 2006.