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Israel navy fires at Gaza fishermen, forcing them back to shore

Israel to return 20 boats to Gaza fishermen on 2 July 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza fishermen on 2 July 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israel’s navy today opened fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen as they were sailing off the coast of Gaza City, forcing them to return to shore, reported Wafa news agency.

According to a Wafa correspondent, the Israeli navy fired live bullets and bombs towards fishermen who were sailing approximately three nautical miles away from northern Gaza, in the Al-Sudaniya shore, forcing them to abandon their fishing trip and return home.

No casualties were reported.

Israeli naval forces and their gunboats have long been harassing Gaza fishermen, shooting at them, damaging their boats and making arrests. Sometimes fishermen are injured or killed during gunfire attacks.

The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) recorded 17 Israeli violations against fishermen in Gaza since the start of this year.

READ: 45 days community service for Israel soldier who killed Palestinian

The fishing industry, a main source of income for thousands of Gazans, declined 50 per cent due to Israel’s continuous bullying of fishermen, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Sami Al-Amasi, the head of the Palestinian Workers’ Union in Gaza saying earlier this month.

He added that the outbreak of the coronavirus added to the losses.

In addition to attacking fishermen, Israel regularly bans boats from accessing the water and reducing the fishing zone which Palestinians from Gaza can access.

Israeli naval authorities have been enforcing a sea blockade on Gaza’s 40-kilometre-length coast, since 2007.

The blockade has restricted fishing for the 3,700 registered fishermen in Gaza – the majority of whom live below the poverty line according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem – by shrinking the fishing zone from 25 nautical miles, down to only six to nine nautical miles.

Earlier this month, an Israeli occupation soldier was sentenced to 45 days of community service for killing a Palestinian fisherman off the Gaza coast in 2018.

READ: Gaza fishing industry declines 50% due to Israel attacks on fishermen

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