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Gaza fisherman dies hours after being shot by Israeli forces

May 15, 2017 4:34 P.M. (Updated: May 16, 2017 1:07 P.M.)
Muhammad Majid Bakr.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian fisherman who was shot and injured by Israeli forces off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip earlier on Monday succumbed to his wounds while hospitalized in Israel, a local NGO reported.

According to the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Muhammad Majid Bakr, a 23-year-old resident from the al-Shati refugee camp, was shot by Israeli naval forces at around 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning while fishing off the coast of Gaza with his brother Umran Majid Bakr.

Umran told al-Mezan that Bakr had been shot in the chest, and was still bleeding when Israeli naval ships surrounded their fishing boat and detained Bakr.

The Palestinian liaison office officially confirmed Bakr's death on Monday afternoon.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that a Palestinian fishing vessel "deviated from the designated fishing zone" in the early morning hours on Monday. As the fishing boat reportedly continued to advance further into sea after Israeli forces fired shots into the air, the spokesperson said, Israeli soldiers shot at the boat.

The spokesperson confirmed that one fisherman was injured and was declared dead once taken to a hospital in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, adding that the case was "under review" by the army.

A spokesperson for the Barzilai hospital, where Bakr was taken by Israeli forces for treatment, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier on Monday, Ma’an reported that at least six Palestinian fishermen had been detained off the coast of Gaza between Sunday and Monday, including three from al-Shati, although Muhammad Majid Bakr had not been identified as being among them.

The incidents came after Israeli authorities decided to temporarily expand the designated fishing zone in the southern Gaza Strip to nine nautical miles on May 3.

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the border areas if they approach the unilaterally declared buffer zone.

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," the exact limits of which are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated.

Al-Mezan has reported that since the beginning of the year, Israel has seized five fishing boats, detained 14 Palestinian fishermen, shot and injured four, and killed one other fisherman, who drowned after Israeli forces sunk his boat.

According to Ma'an documentation, Bakr is one of at least 22 Palestinians to have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2017, three of whom were killed in the besieged Gaza Strip.
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