A Fish Out of Water: Gaza’s First Fisherwoman – Al Jazeera World


Madeleine Kolab always had a strong relationship with the sea. She grew up swimming and helping her father in the family’s fishing business, while dreaming of a career as fashion designer. But the life of the Gazan teenager changed dramatically when her father was attacked by an Israeli patrol boat in 2009.

“I would always go to the sea with my father to play and swim. As I grew older, my relationship with the sea turned from being a game to a part of my life. My dreams were swept away by the waves and became broken ones,” she says.

Due to Israel’s ongoing naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, fishermen are struggling to make ends meet. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Gaza offshore fishing limit was set at 37 kilometres. But over the following 23 years, Israel gradually reduced this to as little as five kilometres at one point. The fishing limit is enforced by Israeli gunboats, so fishing in Gaza has become a risky business.

As the eldest of three children and with no other source of income, Madeleine felt obliged to become the sole family breadwinner after her father was badly injured in the gunboat attack – a challenge she now takes great pride in.

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  1. This is why I stopped helping remodel and build Palestinian homes through Kiva- they destroy everything good they ever had while using them as illegal slave labor to build their homes.

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