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Gazan fisherman in critical condition after being shot in back by Israeli forces

Feb. 21, 2017 10:02 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 22, 2017 5:45 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian fisherman who was detained earlier on Tuesday off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip was reported to be in critical condition after being shot in the back by Israeli forces during his detention.

Zakariya Bakr, head of fishermen committees at the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, told Ma’an that the family of Muhammad Imran Sabri Bakr had informed the union that he was injured with a bullet wound in his back.

According to the family, he was taken to the al-Majdal Hospital in Gaza where doctors reported his injuries as critical.

Israeli forces had detained Bakr earlier in the day off the coast of al-Sudaniyya, along with four other Palestinian fishermen, identified as Abdullah Sabri Bakr, Mahmoud Sabri Bakr, Thabet Muhammad Bakr, and Omar Muhammad Bakr. All of the detained are in their twenties.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports.

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

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

Earlier this year, a Palestinian fisherman, Muhammad Ahmad al-Hissi, 33, went missing after an encounter with Israeli forces near Israel’s sea-side buffer zone. His body was not found by either Palestinian or Israeli authorities, prompting the family to declare his death after several days of failed search missions.

Locals told Ma’an at the time that Israeli forces had purposely attacked and sunk al-Hissi’s boat.

The incident sparked anger in the besieged coastal enclave. A sit-in protest was organized during the search campaign where demonstrators condemned the “Israeli crime” and demanded an international intervention to protect Gaza fishermen and prosecute Israel for its crimes.

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” often come under fire from military forces, as the Israeli military has not made clear the precise area of the designated zone. The practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the blockaded coastal enclave.
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