Twelve Palestinian fishermen detained by Israeli forces off Gaza coast
A Palestinian fishing boat destroyed by Israeli forces lies off the Gaza coast, March 26, 2014. (AFP/File)
Israeli forces detained 12 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday, sources told Ma'an.
A researcher for the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center For Human Rights told Ma'an Israeli naval forces detained fishermen from four boats near the al-Sudaniyya area.
Forces first detained Mahmoud Zayid and his brother Ahmad from Beit Lahiya.
They then detained three more fishermen from Gaza City and later six more, the researcher said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Israeli gunboats confiscated the four fishing boats, taking them to an unknown destination.
The researcher said the arrests were the largest "detention campaign" against Gaza fishermen since a ceasefire between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces was announced.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said that over the course of the night, five fishing boats were apprehended after veering from the permitted fishing zone.
Twelve fishermen were arrested, the spokeswoman said.
A ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza on Aug. 26 stipulated that Israel would ease its blockade on the Strip and lighten restrictions on fishermen.
Since the agreement, Israeli forces have opened fire regularly at Gaza fishermen, saying they have veered outside the "designated fishing zone" which ends six nautical miles from shore.
Prior to the recent agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further, despite earlier agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit.
The restrictions crippled Gaza's fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.
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