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Israeli forces nab 10 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

Palestinian fishermen fix nets on a boat as they start fishing off the coast of the Gaza Strip on April 3, 2016. (© AFP)

Palestinian authorities say Israeli naval forces have nabbed ten fishermen after opening fire on several Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli forces targeted the Palestinian boats off the shores of the Sudaniyah district in northern Gaza during the early hours of the day, Arabic-language Palestine al-Yawm news agency reported.

Israeli marines then boarded the boats and nabbed those on board, before seizing five boats, all fishing equipment and taking the Palestinian fishermen to an unknown location.

Zakariyya Bakir, the spokesperson for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees, identified the detainees as members of the same family.

About 4,000 fishermen work in Gaza, half of whom live below the poverty line.

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 Palestinian fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles off the shore. 

On April 3, the Israeli regime expanded the Palestinian fishing zone off the southern portion of Gaza’s coast to nine nautical miles from six.

The zone was limited to three nautical miles between 2006 and 2012.

Under the Oslo peace accords, the fishing zone is supposed to extend to 20 nautical miles, but it has shrunk over the years as the Tel Aviv regime has imposed greater restrictions.

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.

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since June 2007. The siege has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

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