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Israeli forces open fire at, detain 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

Dec. 21, 2017 12:51 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2017 12:48 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, after opening fire on their boats.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli naval ships opened fire at fishermen Orans al-Sultan and Muhammad al-Sultan, as they were sailing along the oast in their boat.

Sources added Orans was briefly detained several months ago.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a “Palestinian vessel deviated from the designated zone,” prompting naval forces to fire “signal to the vessel to halt.”

“After it failed to comply with instructions, warning shots were fired in the the air, when the vessel continued, Israeli forces fired towards the vessel.”

The spokesperson confirmed that two Palestinians were detained and transferred to interrogation, while the boat was confiscated at Israel’s Ashdod port.

As part of Israel's blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, the Israeli army, citing security concerns, requires Palestinian fishermen to work within a limited "designated fishing zone," the exact limits of which are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated.

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.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem recently concluded that Israel’s Gaza closure and “harassment of fishermen” have been “destroying Gaza’s fishing sector,” with 95 percent of fishermen living below the poverty line.

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