Palestinian fishermen check their nets on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea near the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, November 6, 2015
Palestinian officials say Israeli naval forces have opened fire on seven Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip.
Security authorities, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli forces targeted Palestinian boats near the shores of Beit Lahia on Saturday morning, the Arabic-language Palestine Al’an news agency reported.
There were no immediate reports on casualties and the extent of damage inflicted on the Palestinian boats.
Around 4,000 fishermen work in Gaza, with more than half of them living below the poverty line.
Israel had imposed limits of three nautical miles on fishing in waters off the Gaza shore until last August.
Under a ceasefire agreement following a deadly 50-day Israeli war on Gaza 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.
The agreement also stipulated that Israel expand the area gradually up to 12 miles.
Palestinian fishermen, however, say the Israeli navy opens fire on them 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 Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s blockade since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
Israel started its latest war on the Gaza Strip in early July last year. The offensive ended on August 26, 2014, with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, were killed in Israel’s 50-day onslaught. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also injured.
(Source / 19.12.2015)