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Israeli forces target Palestinian fishermen off Gaza

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian fishermen offload crates of fish at the port of Gaza City on April 21, 2015. (© AFP)

Israeli naval forces have opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip, wounding two fishermen.

Head of the Gaza Fishermen’s Syndicate Nizar Ayash said the fisherman, identified as 26-year-old Muhammad Ziad Bakr, sustained injuries when Israeli forces targeted Palestinian boats near the shores of the city of Beit Lahia on Monday.

The injured Palestinian fisherman was taken to a nearby hospital to receive medical treatment, Ayash added.

Hours later, Imad Muhsin Bakir, 26, was shot and injured in the same area and taken to hospital in Gaza City.

Around 4,000 fishermen work in Gaza, with more than half of them living below the poverty line.

Israel had imposed a limit of three nautical miles on fishing in waters off the Gaza shore until last August. Israeli forces have frequently targeted Palestinian boats well inside the radius.

Under a ceasefire agreement reached between Israelis and Palestinians following a deadly 50-day Israeli war in August 2014, Tel Aviv agreed to immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles off the shore.

Palestinian fishing boats move on the water at the port of Gaza City on January 25, 2015. (© AFP)

The agreement also stipulated that Israel would expand the area gradually up to 12 miles.

Palestinian fishermen, however, say that the Israeli navy opens fire before they reach the agreed limit.

Over the past two years, Israeli forces have carried out about 150 attacks on Palestinian boats, arresting nearly two dozen fishermen and confiscating nine boats.

The attacks come as the Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s blockade since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.


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