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Israeli naval forces detain 14 Palestinian fishermen, seize boats

Dec. 22, 2015 10:57 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2015 3:10 P.M.)
Palestinian fishermen collect their catch off the coast of Gaza City on July 6, 2014 (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)
GAZA (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces early Tuesday detained 14 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip near Beit Lahiya and seized their boats, local officials said.

Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that Amjad Zayed, Sami al-Sultan, and two other fishermen who were not identified were detained by naval forces after their fishing boat was confiscated.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the syndicate of Gaza fishermen, Nizar Ayyash, told Ma'an that Israeli naval boats had escorted other fishermen in their boats to the Israeli port of Ashdod, north of Gaza.

Ayyash said 10 had been detained, identifying them as Atif Ahid Bakir and his son Muhib Atif Bakir, Muhammad Ahid Bakir, Mahmoud Zuheir al-Ashwah, Yusri Miqdad, Khalil Bahjat Bakir, Bahjat Khalil Bakir, Shadi Jihad Bakir, Hasan Zaki Bakir and Muhammad Jamal Bakir.

It was not clear if the 14 fishermen were detained in separate incidents.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that naval forces on Tuesday opened fire into the air after calling on “two vessels that deviated from the designated fishing zone” to halt.

After the vessels "refused to halt," they were "escorted" to a nearby port, where the spokesperson said the forces would decide whether or not to confiscate the vessels.

Israeli-imposed blockade on the territory forces fishermen to work within a limited "designated fishing zone" off the coast of the besieged enclave, but Israeli naval forces frequently shoot at fishermen working within these limits, according to documentation by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Due to high frequency of attacks, live fire at fishing boats often goes unreported.

The group recorded at least 117 incidents of forces opening fire on fishermen in the first nine months of 2015, injuring 22 Palestinians.

"These attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living," the center said.

In the same period, at least 15 Palestinian fishermen were detained.

Despite Israel's pledge to expand the fishing zone following the war in the summer of 2014, the limits have remained while the over nine-year blockade imposed by Israel has devastated the livelihood of the around 4,000 fishermen living in the coastal enclave.
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