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Israeli forces detain Gaza fishermen, seize their boats

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 load their nets onto a boat before sailing into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea in Gaza City on May 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli naval forces have arrested at least two fishermen and seized their boats off the northern coast of the besieged Gaza Strip, local media reports say.

Palestine's official Wafa news agency quoting sources reported that the assault occurred near al-Sudaniya area, northwest of Gaza City early on Thursday when the fishermen were sailing within three nautical miles from Gaza’s shore.

Israeli forces forcibly abducted the fishermen and took them to an undisclosed location before impounding both fishing boats, the report said.

Palestinian fishermen come under Israeli attacks on almost a daily basis and those who get close to the fishing limit get shot or detained by the Israeli navy.

On Sunday, the Israeli regime reduced the Gaza fishing zone from 12 to 6 miles.

Israel regularly shoots and detains Gazan fishermen over allegations of crossing the "designated fishing zone," which is practically three nautical miles.

Under a ceasefire agreement reached between Israelis and Palestinians following the deadly 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. The agreement also stipulated that Israel would expand the area gradually up to 12 miles.

Currently there are some 4,000 fishermen in the blockaded coastal land and only hundreds of them fish regularly as they fear being shot or arrested by Israeli naval forces.

The fishing sector has traditionally been the sole source of income for thousands of families across the impoverished coastal region. Some 70,000 Palestinians in Gaza make a living directly or indirectly from fishing.

Israeli attacks have made it nearly impossible for most fishermen to make ends meet.

By decreasing the fishing limit Israel deprives Gaza’s population of around two million of a rich source of protein and increases the already high poverty rate among families. 

Statistics show that Gaza’s fishery has sharply declined since 2007 due to Israeli naval attacks and restrictions imposed on the fishing areas.

Experts say the Israeli blockade remains the root cause of hardships affecting every aspect of life in the impoverished coastal enclave.

Israeli forces storm homes in West Bank

Palestinian media also said Israeli military forces broke into residences of prominent leaders of Hamas resistance movement and stormed the organization’s headquarters during separate overnight operations across the occupied West Bank.

Israeli troops raided the house of senior Hamas official Sheikh Hasan Yousef in Beitunia town near the city of Ramallah before violently searching the building and confiscating several computers and precious items.

Israel released Sheikh Yousef on July 7 after he spent eight months in administrative detention, in which the Israeli regime keeps the detainees for up to six months without charges.

The Israeli forces also ransacked the house of senior Hamas official Sheikh Jamal Attawil in Umm ash-Sharayet neighborhood in Bireh city in Ramallah.

In another development, Israeli forces invaded the headquarters of a leading child rights organization in Ramallah.

The non-governmental organization Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) said in a press statement that the soldiers raided its headquarters in Sateh Marhaba neighborhood in al-Bireh.

The statement said heavily-armed Israeli forces smashed the main door of the child rights organization’s premises and barged their way inside, violently confiscating several computers.

The DCI-Palestine is a national branch of Defense of Children International, a child-rights movement and non-governmental organization established in 1979, which currently has over 35 sections around the world and an international secretariat in Geneva.

DCI-Palestine strongly condemned the Israeli invasion and any serious violations targeting all local and international human rights organizations and institutions. The attacks, it said, would not deter it from performing its duties in protecting the rights of the Palestinian children.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces went on the rampage through the headquarters of Bisan Center for Research and Development in Ramallah, causing widespread damage to its computers and electronic devices.

The Thursday raid came a day after Israeli forces shot and killed an 11-year-old Palestinian boy who was riding in a car with his father near the entrance to the town of Beit Ummar, north of the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron).

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