Israeli Navy fires on Palestinian boat after it breaches sailing limit, military says

An Israeli Navy vessel fired on a boat Sunday after it ignored warnings and strayed from a fishing area in the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel, a military spokeswoman said.

A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, who was traveling in the boat with two others, was killed in the incident.

The Gaza fisherman’s union said the boat was targeted as it made its way back to Gaza, and Nizar Ayyash, the secretary of the Gaza fisherman’s syndicate, said in a statement to Reuters that the men did not violate the maritime limit.

Israel has maintained a blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is dominated by Hamas Islamists, for more than a decade. It patrols the waters to prevent arms smuggling and protects citizens from any terrorist or militant attack from the sea.

“Israeli forces targeted a Palestinian fishing boat which was on the way back to Gaza shore, which led to the death of one fisherman and wounding two others,” the fishermen’s union said, reports Reuters.


But the military spokeswoman said a Palestinian vessel with three suspects aboard was shot at after it had deviated from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Naval forces called on the suspects to stop and when they did not comply, warning shots were fired into the air. Upon their continued advancement, shots were fired toward the vessel. Subsequently, one of the suspects was severely injured and he later succumbed to his wounds. The other two suspects were handed to security forces for interrogation,” she said.

Fishing is one of the biggest industries in the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave of almost 2 million inhabitants.

Reuters reports that over the past two years, Israel has detained dozens of Gaza fishermen who have strayed beyond the border, a senior naval commander said.

Boats are not allowed to stray beyond a fixed limit to the north toward Israeli waters. Israel restricts fishing to a seasonally adjusted zone of between 6 and 9 nautical miles.