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Egyptian naval ship fires at Gaza fishermen

Feb. 22, 2014 12:08 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2014 6:07 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Egyptian naval ship opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip early Saturday, a Palestinian union official said.

Nizar Ayyash, spokesman for the union of Gaza fishermen, told Ma'an that the Egyptian navy fired warning shots at a fishing boat off the coast of Rafah.

The fishing boat was nearing Egyptian territorial waters, Ayyash said.

The Egyptian ship was stationed just within Palestinian territorial waters at the time, he added.

Ayyash said that the Gaza fishing boat sailed away after the warning shots were fired. No injuries were reported.

In August, Egyptian forces fired at Gaza fishermen, injuring two men and arresting six others.

Egypt-Gaza relations have deteriorated since the military ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July.

Palestinian fishermen are severely impacted by the Gaza Strip's political isolation. Israel imposes strict limitations on Gaza fishermen, regularly firing at boats that stray into what Israel's army calls "unauthorized fishing zones."

In the Oslo Accords, Israel agreed to a 20-nautical-mile fishing zone off Gaza's coast, but it has imposed a three-mile limit for several years.

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

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