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Gaza fishermen detained from local waters

Jan. 4, 2011 3:22 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2011 4:01 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- An unknown number of Gaza fishermen were detained Tuesday morning after being apprehended by Israeli warships off the coast of Gaza City.

Gaza's Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement that fellow fishermen reported the detention, after seeing the boat of the men approached by Israeli vessels maintaining the sea blockade on Gaza.

The boat was approached and the men were detained and taken to an unknown location, officials said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that the boat had "deviated from the fishing area" and refused to halt when a naval ship called out ordering them to turn around.

The craft was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod and the men were taken for questioning, she said.

The ministry said the lives of the fishermen were in the hands of Israel, and condemned their detention from Gaza waters, demanding their immediate release.

Israel maintains a three nautical mile fishing limit, enforced unilaterally since 2008 when the country launched its war on the coastal enclave. Prior to the war, a unilaterally-declared six nautical mile limit was imposed following the election of the Hamas government in 2006.

The last agreed upon fishing limit for Gaza was 20 nautical miles, signed off on during the Oslo accords in the 1990s.
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