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Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza

July 19, 2017 11:02 A.M. (Updated: July 19, 2017 4:22 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the Mediterranean coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, according to witnesses, with no injuries being reported in the incident.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats opened fire towards fishing boats in the al-Sudaniya area of Beit Lahiya, forcing them to sail back to shore for safety.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into reports of the incident.

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.

Two Palestinian fishermen were hospitalized two days ago after coming under fire from the Israeli army.

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 two fishermen.

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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