Video: Spearfishing in Gaza

Palestinian fishers in Gaza must sometimes resort to creative means to make a living under Israeli siege.

Spearfishing is an ancient method of diving and catching fish using a sharpened metal object. Contemporary methods use spearguns.

Israel currently restricts fishers to waters up to six nautical miles off of Gaza’s northern coast and between nine to 15 miles off its central and southern coasts.

In 2019, Israeli forces shot at Palestinian fishers, who typically use boats, 347 times.

Equipment for freediving and spearfishing is hard to come by in Gaza.

“Diving equipment is really expensive and is not available due to the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip,” Mahmoud al-Housh, a spearfisher in Gaza, told The Electronic Intifada.

Israel considers these items to be “dual purpose,” meaning they could serve as weapons – a pretext it uses to ban a wide range of goods from entering the territory.

“So it’s a big problem for us as divers and professionals,” Muhannad, a spearfisher who asked not to be fully named, told The Electronic Intifada.

There are also no training centers in the coastal enclave.

“Here, we rely on ourselves. We don’t have training clubs. We face many difficulties,” Muhannad added.

To circumvent those difficulties, fishers in Gaza make do with what they have.

Using old rifles and wood, they make their own spearguns to catch fish.

“At first, we would fish with light nets,” Ashraf al-Amoudi, a fisher who prepares spearguns, told The Electronic Intifada.

“Then we wanted to fish using spearguns. We started inventing and doing research on the internet and YouTube.”

Common catches by spearfishers include sea bass, mullet and mackerel.

Video by Mohammed Asad.