Israeli navy troops conduct training exercises. (Credit: Israeli army, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli navy forces detained three Palestinian fishermen on Wednesday morning after reportedly attacking and sinking their fishing boat off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip, the speaker of the union of Gaza fishermen told Ma’an.
According to Nizar Ayyash, the fishermen were detained off the coast of Gaza City. He did not have immediate information on the identity of the detained.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, locals in the northwestern Gaza City neighborhood of al-Sudaniya reported Israeli shelling and machinegun fire towards several Palestinian fishing boats.
Most of the fishermen sailed back ashore, out of fear of Israeli fire. No casualties were reported.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the reports.
On a near daily basis, the Israeli army fires "warning shots" on Palestinian fisherman, farmers, and shepherds entering the Israeli-enforced “buffer zone,” implemented after Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip a decade ago.
As part of Israel's blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited "designated fishing zone" off the coast.
The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated, and was extended in 2014 to six nautical miles from three, following a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel's offensive on the Palestinian territory.
The fishing zone was temporarily extended to nine nautical miles off the southern coast of Gaza for two months earlier this year
However, the fishing zone was technically set to 20 nautical miles according to the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PA in the early 1990s.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has reported that Israeli naval forces often open fire on fishermen within these limits, putting their lives in danger on a near-daily basis.
Due to the high frequency of the attacks, live fire on fishing boats often goes unreported.
The Israeli army often says in such circumstances that the use of live fire is necessary to deter potential "security threats,” a policy that has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the impoverished Palestinian territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.