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Gazans attempt to build largest locally-made fishing boat

Palestinians carpenters in the besieged Gaza Strip are building a large fishing boat, which it is hoped will provide an income for some 15 families in the enclave.

Manufactured in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, the boat is about 21 metres long and between 4-6 metres wide. It is hoped that it will be ready to set sail within a few months if all the necessary tools needed for its completion are available.

Funded by Beit Al Khair Foundation, the vessel has had to overcome numerous obstacles, not least Israel's ongoing siege which means the necessary raw materials needed for its completion aren't always available.

Khaled Alwan, the Palestinian contractor supervising the project, said it is hoped the boat will provide 15 families with an income."If the boat is finished, 15 fishermen from different families will work on it every year … [it] provides a source of livelihood for them."

"I hesitated at first to agree to this project, due to the lack of capabilities, equipment, and large machines for cutting wood."

"Eucalyptus wood is essential in building the hull of the boat, but its availability in Gaza was scarce, so we searched for it until we provided the necessary quantity, along with some other types of wood."

READ: Israel eases restrictions on Gaza, expands fishing zone

He indicated that the boat also needs "an electric generator, an engine, fishing nets, spare parts, and other equipment." The Israeli occupation authorities prevent this equipment from entering the besieged enclave, he explained.

Palestinians are capable of manufacturing boats, he explained, "but the continuation of the Israeli blockade and its repercussions undermine those opportunities and deprive the fishing sector of renewal."This boat may remain a wooden structure anchored on the seashore if Israel refuses to allow the necessary materials into the Strip.

According to the Palestinian Fishermen's Association in Gaza, there are some 4,000 fishermen working in Gaza's fishing sector, who are looking after about 50,000 dependents.

The profession has been deemed dangerous by rights organisations due to Israel's harassment of fishermen at sea.

Last year alone, Israeli occupation forces attacked Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip on at least 320 occasions, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) reported 63 more attacks than the previous year. Israel also closed the fishing area altogether for 16 days in August.

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