Israeli forces fire "heavily" at Gaza fishermen, detain seven

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There are an estimated 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. (Photo: AFP - Said Khatib)

Published Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Updated at 1:26 pm (GMT +3): Israeli naval forces detained seven Gaza fishermen off the coast of Gaza City early Wednesday, the head of the Gaza fishermen syndicate confirmed, in a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement that ended a bloody 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza.

"The Israeli navy arrested seven fishermen from one family in Sudaniya in the sea off northern Gaza," Nizar Ayash, told AFP.

According to Ma'an news agency, the Israeli naval forces opened fire "heavily" on a group of Palestinian fishermen.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the arrest of seven fishermen on two boats, saying that "two vessels sailed beyond the permitted fishing zone" and that one of the fishermen was "very lightly" wounded by the "rubber bullets" fired by Israeli forces.

Ayash accused Israel of constantly violating the terms of the agreement.

"Since signing the truce, the Israeli army has violated (the agreement) eight times, arresting fishermen and destroying a giant fishing boat, in addition to firing at fishermen on a daily basis," he said.

The August 26 agreement stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Last week, Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The boat belonged to local fisherman Jamal Abu Watfa who lost consciousness after the incident, but was saved from the water. The boat sunk and Watfa’s financial losses could reach more than JOD 100,000 ($140,000).

There are an estimated 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent are poor, a 40 percent increase from 2008. This change is believed to be a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The eight-year Israeli blockade has severely crippled Gaza’s economy and contributed to the frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gaza residents.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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