Israeli navy forces have once again opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the besieged Gaza Strip’s coast, reports say.
According to local media sources, Israeli gunboats fired at Palestinian boats while they were within Gaza’s territorial waters, on Sunday.
“Israeli gunboats opened fire toward a group of Palestinian boats in the north of the Gaza Strip,” said Nizar Ayash, the head of Palestinian Fishermen’s Union in Gaza.
Although no casualties have been reported yet, two boats were damaged. Israel has yet to comment on the incident.
“The Israeli forces shoot at Palestinian fishing boats under the pretext that they go beyond fishing space specified for them,” Ayash added.
In a similar act of violence last month, Israeli forces shot dead 32-year-old Palestinian fisherman Tawfiq Abu Reala.
Around 4,000 fishermen work in Gaza, with more than half of them living below the poverty line.
Israel had imposed a limit of three nautical miles on fishing in waters off the Gaza shore until last August. Israeli forces have frequently targeted Palestinian boats, well inside the radius.
Under a ceasefire agreement reached between Israelis and Palestinians following a deadly 50-day Israeli war 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 would expand the area gradually up to 12 miles.
Palestinian fishermen, however, say that the Israeli navy opens fire 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 attacks come as the Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s blockade since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
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