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Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishing boats

June 12, 2015 6:08 P.M. (Updated: June 13, 2015 9:53 A.M.)
A Palestinian policeman inspects a burned boat on a beach in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Jan. 3, 2015. (AFP)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, forcing fishermen to flee the area in fear for their lives, a local union said.

The union also reported that Israeli forces confiscated eight fishing nets late Thursday. The report comes as several Palestinian fishermen have been detained this month, and three have been shot dead by Israeli forces since September.

Risk of death or detention by Israeli forces is compounded by ongoing harassment and interference with their work from Israeli naval forces who frequently confiscate boats and fishing materials, according to documentation by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Friday's incident.

In a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas last summer, Israel agreed to expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore and to continue to expand the area gradually, however fishermen are routinely stopped within the zone.

Near-daily confrontation with Israeli naval forces come as many Gazan residents are food insecure, and over 90 percent of Palestinians working in the fishing industry live below the poverty line in Gaza, the Secretary-general of the Union of Fishermen told Ma'an.

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