Israeli Forces Shoot, Injure Two Gaza Fishermen

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, March 5, 2015

Israeli naval forces opened fire at a group of fishing boats off the Mediterranean coast west of the al-Sudaniyya neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip, injuring two.

Nizar Ayyash, head of Gaza's Palestinian Fishermen's Union, identified the victims as Eid Muhsin Bakr and Ziad Fahd Bakr, adding that one of them was in a serious condition.

Israeli forces arrested three other fishermen, Ayyash added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an news agency that a fishing boat had gone outside of Gaza’s maritime border, and that Israeli forces fired warning shots in the air.

Israeli forces often fire at fishermen, claiming they venture beyond the six nautical miles limit allowed by the Israeli authorities as part of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal which ended its 51-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, as opposed to the three miles assigned previously. Palestinian authorities have rejected the assertion that any of the fishermen had violated the limit.

The restrictions on Gaza’s fishermen have crippled the coastal enclave’s fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.

According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent of Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 as a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

According to Ayyash, some 50,000 Gazans earn a living from the fishing business. He estimated their combined losses during the most recent Israeli assault on Gaza at more than $6 million.

Besides fishermen, Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

For seven weeks this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea, killing 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, and injuring 10,626.

The assault left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza's population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people, mostly children, homeless.

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, over 96,000 Palestinian family homes were damaged or destroyed during the aggression, including 7,000 homes that were completely lost. UNRWA has estimated that at least $720 million is needed to address the housing crisis caused by the conflict.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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