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Israeli forces fire at Gaza farmers, fishermen

Jan. 31, 2017 10:15 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 31, 2017 2:23 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen and farmers in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, locals told Ma’an.

Witnesses said that Israeli military vehicles stationed near the Sufa military post fired towards Palestinian farmers tending their crops between the cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah.

No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli navy ships fired in the direction of Gazan fishermen off the coast of Rafah, forcing them to sail back to shore.

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

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 if 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 fishing 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.

Meanwhile last week, Israeli aircraft flew the Palestinian side of the “buffer zone" on the outskirts of the Khan Yunis, spraying Palestinian farmlands with weed killers.

Agronomist Wael Thabet of the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture told Ma’an that the excess spray can travel up to 1,200 meters through the air away from the buffer zone, burning crops and causing farmers huge economic losses. He added that the farmlands near the border area constitute about one third of the agricultural space in the besieged coastal enclave.
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