An Israeli gunboat attacked the Oliva today off the shores of Gaza, according to two crew members, injuring the Palestinian captain. The Oliva, a boat operated by the Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA) accompanies Gaza fishermen to sea to monitor frequent Israeli attacks and harassment of Palestinian fishing boats. Rana Baker rode aboard the Oliva on its first mission last summer and reported about the purpose of CPSGAZA.
According to a CPSGAZA press release received by email this morning:
At 10:55 am, an Israeli naval warship attacked the international observers and Palestinian captain of the Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA) boat Oliva, injuring its captain in an apparent attempt to capsize it.
The two international observers, both Italian citizens, are available for media questions or interviews.
“The Israeli navy passed near us and the fishermen, and started to go around us, creating waves,” said Rosa Schiano, one of the international observers. “The fishermen escaped, but we couldn’t because of a problem with our engine. We couldn’t move, and they went around us very quickly. The Israelis saw that we couldn’t move, and that the captain was trying to fix the engine, but they didn’t stop. We told them, ‘Please stop! Please stop!’ But they didn’t.”
When the warship was two meters away from the Oliva, one of the waves it had created nearly capsized the small boat, filling it with water and causing the Palestinian captain to fall out, injuring his left leg.
“Their intentions were to do something very bad,” said international observer Daniela Riva. “Coming so close to us was very dangerous, and they obviously knew that.”
After more than twenty minutes, the warship retreated, and the Oliva was rescued by a small Palestinian fishing boat, or hasaka, which threw it a line and towed it toward the shore.