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Israeli navy opens fire at Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

Aug. 4, 2016 11:46 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 4, 2016 3:52 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli navy boats opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip in two separate incidents.

The head of the fishermen union, Zakariya Bakr, told Ma’an that Israeli boats opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza overnight Wednesday, destroying the engine of a boat belonging to fisherman Muhammad Saif Abu Riyaleh, who lost a fishing net in the Mediterranean during the incident.

Israeli war boats also reportedly opened fire at fishermen in the northern Gaza Strip, in a separate incident in which no injuries were reported.

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

Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone" which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.

Palestinians who work near the “buffer zone” between the Palestinian enclave and Israel often come under fire from military forces, as the Israeli military has not made clear the precise area of the designated zone.

The Israeli army regularly open fires on Palestinian fishermen and farmers along the border areas, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war.

The practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the blockaded coastal enclave.

Israeli forces also 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 (PCHR), 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," PCHR said.
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