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Israeli forces attack, detain Gaza fishermen near Beit Lahiya

Nov. 10, 2013 3:52 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 11, 2013 7:12 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Sunday detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza after firing upon them, a union official said.

The head of Gaza's fisherman's union said in a statement Sunday that Israeli forces detained Sadam and Mahmoud Saleh Abu Ward west of Beit Lahiya.

Israeli gunboats reportedly fired at the two fisherman late Saturday, causing them to lose their fishing nets.

They were detained while searching for their nets the following day, the statement said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said that "soldiers identified a Palestinian naval vessel which crossed designated lines," and called out for the vessels to stop. When they did not stop, "warning shots were fired towards the vessels."

Under the terms of the current restrictions, Gaza fishermen are not allowed to enter waters more than six nautical miles from the shore, with naval patrol boats known to fire on those who step out of line.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans. These have been particularly severe given frequently Israeli military assaults, particularly in 2008-9 and 2011, which killed around 1,400 and 170 Gazans respectively and led to major infrastructural damage.

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