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Israeli navy shoots, injures Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast

Jan. 17, 2017 2:13 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2017 2:13 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman off the coast in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, as locals reported two other shooting incidents in the besieged coastal enclave.

A spokesman for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees Zakariya Bakr said that the fisherman, identified as Khalid Abu Riyala, was shot several times with rubber-coated steel bullets, without specifying the extent of his injuries.

Bakr added that Israeli naval forces also confiscated several Palestinian fishing boats.

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

Palestinian fishermen reported that Israeli naval forces also opened fire in the direction of fishing boats off the coast of al-Wahah in the northern Gaza Strip, forcing them to sail back to shore. No injuries were reported.

The army spokesperson confirmed the al-Wahah incident, telling Ma’an that the Palestinian boat had “deviated from the designated fishing zone,” and that Israeli forces fired warning shots into the air.

Meanwhile, five Palestinian fishermen who had been detained by Israeli forces on Monday morning were released later that day, although their fishing vessels were not returned.

Separately, Israeli troops opened fire at fields on the eastern outskirts of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, witnesses said, without reporting any injuries.

The army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into the report.

Israeli army incursions inside the Palestinian territory have long been a near-daily occurrence, as the Israeli army regularly opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen and farmers along the border areas, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war.

There have also been intermittent reports of Israeli forces attempting to sink the boats of fishermen as they approach Israel’s unilaterally declared “buffer zone,” which lies on both the land and sea sides of Gaza.

Gazan fishermen, whose numbers are estimated to be around 4,000, have suffered from the near decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip, which limits their incursions to just six nautical miles into the sea in accordance with the ceasefire agreement signed with Palestinian factions in 2014.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian fisherman went missing after an encounter with Israeli forces off the coast of Gaza, with his family announcing his death days later despite his body having yet to be recovered.
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