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Israeli warships fire at Gaza fishermen

Jan. 25, 2014 11:16 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 26, 2014 9:41 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warships early Saturday fired at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza City, fishermen told Ma'an.

The fishermen said Israeli ships fired machine guns at them, and that many were forced to sail back to shore.

No injuries were reported.

An army spokeswoman told Ma'an that an Israeli navy soldier identified a Palestinian boat outside of its "designated fishing zone."

After calling on the boat to stop, the Israeli ship "fired in its vicinity to halt the vessel's progress," the spokeswoman said.

Then the ship returned to its "designated" area, she said.

Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to go three nautical miles from Gaza's shore, even though Israeli-Palestinian agreements previously settled on 20 nautical miles.

Israeli naval forces frequently harass Palestinian fishermen who near the three-mile limit, as well as those inside the zone.

There are 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent are poor, a 40 percent increase from 2008 resulting from Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The Israeli blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
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