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Israeli forces 'seize 4 Gaza fishermen'

May 30, 2012 11:18 A.M. (Updated: May 31, 2012 9:00 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained four Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, witnesses said.

Israeli warships surrounded two fishing boats off Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, forcing the fishermen off the vessels and taking them to an unknown destination, a Ma'an correspondent said.

The fishermen were identified as Nour al-Sultan, 49 and his brother Hasan 39, as well as Jihad al-Sultan, 38 and his brother Zahir, 22.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said a Palestinian fishing boat "deviated from the designated fishing area," and failed to respond to calls to return, prompting forces to detain its crew.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed on a 20-nautical-mile fishing zone off Gaza's coast under the Oslo Accords, but Israel unilaterally imposes a 3-mile limit. Israeli warships frequently open fire at boats that allegedly stray from the permitted area.

Fishermen say the limits have destroyed their livelihood and that it is impossible to trawl a large catch within the designated area.

Israel has controlled Gaza waters since its occupation of the area in 1967, and has kept several warships stationed off the coast since 2008.

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