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Israeli forces detain 4 Gaza fishermen

Sept. 9, 2014 9:53 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2014 3:03 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces early Tuesday detained four Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, a Ma'an reporter said.

Israeli gunboats intercepted a Palestinian fishing boat near Beit Lahiya and detained four fishermen from the al-Sultan family, taking them to an unknown location.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an Israeli naval forces "identified two vessels" that were outside of the "permitted fishing zone" in the area, saying they were further than six miles from shore.

The forces called on the boats to stop, fired warning shots into the air, shot "toward the vicinity of the vessels," and then took the fishermen for "questioning," the spokeswoman said.

Last Wednesday, Israeli forces detained two Palestinian fishermen in the same area.

Since the signing of a ceasefire agreement that ended 50 days of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza on Aug. 26, the Israeli navy has in at least three instances fired at Gaza fishermen under the pretext that they had surpassed fishing zone limits.

Last Tuesday, fishermen told Ma'an Israeli forces fired at them with machine guns while they were fishing well within the six-mile limit near Rafah, in an apparent breach of the ceasefire deal.

The Israeli army confirmed the incident at the time but said only warning shots had been fired and that the fishermen were further than six miles from shore.

The Aug. 26 agreement stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Under the terms of the deal, Israel also agreed to ease its siege on the coastal enclave.

Prior to the recent agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further, despite earlier agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit.

The restrictions crippled Gaza's fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.
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