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Palestinian fishing vessels damaged after Israeli forces open fire

Feb. 27, 2016 9:34 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2016 3:11 P.M.)
Palestinian fishermen collect their catch off the coast of Gaza City on July 6, 2014 (AFP/Mahmud Hams, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli naval forces early Saturday opened fire on Palestinian fishermen working off the coast of Gaza City, damaging their vessels, fishermen said.

Fishermen told Ma’an their boats were damaged when Israeli forces opened fire while they were working around four nautical miles off the coast of the central Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the reports.

Palestinian fishermen are frequently targeted by Israeli forces, facing near daily harassment and interference with their work. Israel's army routinely says such measures are necessary to counter security threats.

As part of a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the summer of 2014, Israel agreed to expand the fishing zone off of Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and to continue to expand the area gradually.

Despite this agreement, the Hemaya Center for Human Rights reported that the Israeli navy opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at sea at least 159 occasions in 2015.

At least three fishermen were killed last year while working off of the Gaza coast, which has been under naval blockade by Israeli forces since 2007.

Seventy fishermen were detained by Israeli forces last year, including seven children, and 26 boats were confiscated, according the center.
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