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Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinian fishermen off Gazan coast

April 8, 2016 1:08 P.M. (Updated: April 8, 2016 5:38 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 on Thursday detained four Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip and seized their fishing boats.

Fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli forces opened fire on the fishing boats before detaining them, although no injuries were reported. They said the incident took place within the designated nine nautical mile fishing zone.

An official with the Agricultural Work Union, Zakariya Bakr, identified the detainees as brothers Iyad and Ahmad Omar al-Bardawil and brothers Bilal and Muhammad Jihad Musleh. He said two fishing boats were confiscated.

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

On Thursday, another two Palestinian fishermen were detained off the coast of Khan Younis after they allegedly passed beyond the designated fishing zone.

As part of Israel's near-decade long blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited "designated fishing zone" off the coast, which was extended to nine nautical miles last week.

Israeli forces regularly detain Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza working within the fishing zone, generally for alleged security reasons. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats throughout 2015.

The center said that Israeli naval forces also opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year, wounding 24 and damaging 16 fishing boats.

"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.
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