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25 Feb, 2018 22:28

‘Suspicious’ Palestinian fisherman killed by Israeli forces off Gaza coast

‘Suspicious’ Palestinian fisherman killed by Israeli forces off Gaza coast

A Palestinian man has been shot dead by the Israeli Defense Forces after his boat breached the boundaries of a designated fishing zone. The IDF described the vessel as “suspicious” in their comments on the incident.

As a boat carrying three Palestinians strayed from the fishing zone off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF immediately “conducted an arrest protocol,” the Israeli military said in a statement, cited by the local media.

The soldiers allegedly called on the vessel to stop and fired warning shots before targeting the boat directly, the statement notes. “As a result of the gunfire, one of the suspects was seriously injured and later died of his wounds,” the Israeli military said. The other two people in the boat were detained for questioning.

The IDF did not mention any particular provocative actions on the part of the Palestinians, except for them leaving the designated fishing zone, yet still referred to the vessel as “suspicious.” No Israeli soldiers were injured in the incident.

The Gaza Fisherman’s Union identified the three men as Mahmoud Adel Abu Riala, 18, Ismail Salah Abu Riala, 18, and Ahed Hassan Abu Ali, 26. “We are sure that the wounded are fishermen who went out to sea to make a living – and nothing else,” the head of the union told Haaretz daily.

Israel imposed a blockade of the Gaza strip in 2007, to prevent arms-smuggling to the local militant groups. The blockade specifically prohibits Palestinians from fishing beyond six nautical miles (11 kilometers) off the coastline. Boats that exceed this limit are often treated as potential arms-smuggling vessels by the Israeli forces and may come under fire.

In the meantime, Gaza fishermen say the designated fishing zone is too small to meet the demands of the region’s population of roughly two million people. According to the Times of Israel, a half of some 4,000 Gazans who earn their living by fishing live below the poverty line.

Last week, another Gaza fisherman was killed, this time by an Egyptian naval patrol, as his boat came close to the maritime border with Egypt. Gaza officials urged Cairo to investigate the fatal incident.

Incidents involving IDF using excessive or deadly force against the Palestinians have been on the rise since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there.

In a recent incident, a Palestinian detainee, who was brutally beaten by the IDF, died in custody shortly afterwards. The IDF said that he might have died from inhaling tear gas, used to disperse rioters during West Bank clashes, while the Palestinian Authority called the incident a “cold-blooded execution.”

Earlier, a Palestinian schoolteacher told Ruptly video agency that he was savagely mauled by an Israeli military dog in a raid on his home in the West Bank. The IDF said that the troops “followed standard procedure and sent a search dog to locate people inside the establishment.”

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