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Israel detains 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

Gazan fishermen seen heading back to shore in Gaza on January 23, 2018 [Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Gazan fishermen seen heading back to shore in Gaza on January 23, 2018 [Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Israeli naval forces on Tuesday detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to a local official.

"[Israeli] occupation gunboats chased a fishing boat north of Gaza and arrested two fishermen," Nizar Ayyash, head of Gaza's fishermen union, told Anadolu Agency.

There was no comment from the Israeli army on the report.

Tuesday's arrest came despite an Israeli decision to increase the fishing area for six nautical miles.

Roughly 50,000 Gazans earn their living through fishing, according to the fishermen union.

After Israel's devastating 2014 military onslaught on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip (which left more than 2,150 Palestinians dead), Israel began to allow Palestinian fishermen to ply their trade up to six nautical miles off the coast (as opposed to three previously).

Last May, Israel increased this to nine nautical miles. One month later, however, Israel reduced this again to only three nautical miles in response to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel by Palestinian activists in Gaza.

The kite/balloon attacks came as part of ongoing Palestinian rallies along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to protest Israel's 12-year blockade of the coastal enclave.

Since the rallies began on March 30, more than 250 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.

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