Israeli navy opens fire on Gaza fishing boats

Published February 16th, 2016 - 09:00 GMT
Palestinian children play on the beach in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza on February 13, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
Palestinian children play on the beach in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza on February 13, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip near Gaza City on Monday, fishermen said.

Fishermen told Ma'an that the forces opened fire on their vessels, forcing them to return to the shore. No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson had no immediate information on the incident.

Palestinian fishermen are frequently targeted by Israeli forces, facing near daily harassment and interference with their work. Israel's army routinely says such measures are necessary to counter security threats.

As part of a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the summer of 2014, Israel agreed to expand the fishing zone off of Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and to continue to expand the area gradually.

Despite this agreement, the head of Hemaya Center for Human Rights, Omar Qarut, told Ma'an that the Israeli navy had opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at sea at least 159 occasions in 2015.

At least three fishermen were killed last year while working off of the Gaza coast, which has been under naval blockade by Israeli forces since 2007.

Seventy fishermen were detained by Israeli forces last year, including seven children, and 26 boats were confiscated, according to Qarut.


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