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Israeli naval forces open fire at Gaza fishermen

April 15, 2015 11:03 A.M. (Updated: April 20, 2015 10:26 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza City Wednesday morning.

Fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli forces had fired at several fishing boats working in the area, and that no injuries were reported.

Witnesses added that Israeli F16 warplanes were flying at low altitude at the time.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not have immediate information and told Ma'an she would look into the incident.

Wednesday's incident comes just one week after Israeli forces shot and injured Palestinian fisherman Khalid Zayid with a rubber-coated steel bullet while he was working off the coast of Beit Lahiya.

Palestinian fishermen continue to be targeted by Israeli forces, facing near daily harassment and interference with their work. As part of last summer's ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, Israel agreed to expand the fishing zone off 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, 29 attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian fisherman were reported between Sept. 1 2014 and March 15 2015, by Gaza-based watchdog al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, however due to the normalcy of such incidents, attacks often go unreported.

The center also said that 49 fisherman had been detained, 17 injured, and 12 fishing boats confiscated in the same period.

On March 7, Tawfiq Said Abu Rayala, 32, was killed while fishing on his vessel within the permitted boundaries of the buffer zone line, which according to Israel is currently six nautical miles. Despite this, Israeli naval forces shot at and killed Tawfiq with live ammunition.

Two fishermen were killed in the months leading up to Abu Rayala's death, marking the fatal risks Palestinians face on a daily basis to make a living off Gaza coast, which has been under naval blockade by Israeli forces since 2007.
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