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Israeli navy shoots, injures 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

July 17, 2017 10:33 A.M. (Updated: July 17, 2017 7:29 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces shot and injured two unarmed Palestinian fishermen who were working off the coast of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip overnight Sunday.

Spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said the two fishermen were evacuated to Nasser Medical Center in Khan Yunis for treatment. They were both shot in the feet, according to al-Qidra.

A Palestinian security source identified the fishermen as Ibrahim al-Jahjouh and Khader Abu Shammala.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

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.

Despite the Israeli army claiming at the time that the boat had “deviated from the designated fishing zone, prompting Israeli forces to open fire, witness testimonies and investigations conducted by multiple rights groups said his fishing boat had been well within the fishing zone when he came under fire.

Palestinian organization the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that as of May, Israel had seized at least five fishing boats, detained at least 14 Palestinian fishermen, shot and injured six, and killed one other fisherman -- who drowned after Israeli forces sunk his boat, since the start of 2017.

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.

The ongoing attacks on Gaza's fishermen come as Gaza's two million residents marked their tenth year under Israeli blockade.

Five years after the United Nations warned that Gaza could become unlivable by 2020, a new UN report determined that the situation there maybe have already reached that stage. In addition to ongoing energy and health crises, more than half of Gaza’s two million residents suffer from food insecurity.
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