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Israeli naval boats open fire at Gaza fishermen

Feb. 20, 2014 10:34 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 21, 2014 1:42 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval boats on Thursday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah in southern Gaza, witnesses said.

Fishermen in the boats jumped into the water following the incident, locals told Ma'an.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed that the fishermen survived the incident, without providing further details.

Israeli warships also opened fire at a military site formerly used by the Palestinian Authority's national security forces near Rafah.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said "Israeli naval forces identified two vessels suspected in smuggling making their way from the Gaza Strip to Egypt. Upon the return of the suspected vessels to the proximity of the strip the soldiers opened fire at them in order to thwart the attempt."

She added that "shore-based Palestinian terrorists" opened fire at the navy soldiers, causing damage to the vessel.

In the Oslo Accords, Israel agreed to a 20-nautical-mile fishing zone off Gaza's coast but it imposed a 3-mile limit for several years, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further.

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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