The few fishermen who remain in poverty-stricken Jisr al-Zarqa say state restrictions make it nearly impossible to make a living
JISR AL-ZARQA, Israel - Fishing has been in 44-year-old Musa Jurban’s family for at least three generations.
“My father was a fisherman and my grandfather was also a fisherman,” Jurban told Middle East Eye. “It was passed down from grandfather to father to son.
“But if my children said they wanted to be fishermen, I wouldn’t want that,” he said.
Because of the state’s restrictions on small-scale fishing in his village, Jisr al-Zarqa, Jurban won’t be teaching his children to fish.
“You can't depend on fishing to make a living. Me, as a 44-year-old, I can’t give it up. I’m going to be going out into the sea for the rest of my life,” he said. “But I want my children to learn something else.”
Fishing has historically been a pillar of Jisr al-Zarqa’s economy. While it is regularly referred to as a “fishing village” in Israeli media, only about 20 local families remain that depend on fishing for a livelihood, down from 200 or so in the 1990s.
Jisr is the only coastal Palestinian village that remained in Israeli territory after most Palestinians were displaced amid the violence of the state’s creation in 1948. The town is also Israel’s poorest village, with its residents earning the lowest wages in the country, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Some 80 percent of its people live below the poverty line, including many fishermen.