GAZA (Ma’an) -- The search for a missing Gaza fisherman entered its third day on Friday, as Israeli forces reportedly aided in the search for Muhammad Ahmad al-Hissi, 33, who went missing after an encounter with Israeli naval forces
, in which locals claimed that the forces purposely attacked and sunk al-Hissi’s boat.
Head of the Gaza Fishermen's Union Nizar Ayyash told Ma'an Friday that Israeli forces were still looking for al-Hissi in the area where the attack took place, as well as in the northern sea areas, considering that the sea current’s direction is to the north.
An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into reports to confirm whether or not Israeli forces were participating in the search for the missing fisherman.
The incident, which took place late Wednesday night, has sparked anger in the besieged coastal enclave. A sit-in protest was organized on Thursday
condemning the “Israeli crime” and demanding an international intervention to protect Gaza fishermen and prosecute Israel for its crimes.
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.
Despite the ceasefire agreement that ended the deadly war, The Israeli army regularly opens fire on Palestinian fishermen and farmers along the border areas, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war.
The Hamas movement released a statement on Thursday, condemning the "direct assault" on al-Hissi's boat, calling it an "organized and hideous crime."
Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad movement also released a statement, calling the incident a "terrorist assault," and added that the missing fisherman represents a new violation to the declared ceasefire in 2014.
The statement added that the incident was entirely Israel's fault by targeting Palestinian fishermen attempting to provide for their families. "If the offensive does not stop it is our right to defend ourselves and our people,” the statement read.
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.