Israel Navy Shoots, Kills Palestinian Off Gaza Coast After Boat Leaves Fishing Zone

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Palestinian fishermen sit in boats at the sea near the border with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip January 13, 2018.
Palestinian fishermen sit in boats at the sea near the border with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip January 13, 2018.Credit: \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

A Palestinian man was shot to death by Israel Navy forces Sunday after the vessel he was on sailed past the authorized fishing zone off the northern Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said.

According to an IDF spokesman, the boat, which was carrying three men, did not respond to calls from the Israeli military before the latter opened fire. The two other men on board were detained for interrogation. 

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The Ministry of Health in Gaza said it has yet to be informed of any casualties or admissions to hospitals in the Strip. 

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. The head of the union said he was aware that a fisherman's boat had been seized by the Israeli military, but that he did not know where the fishermen had been taken. 

"We are sure that the wounded are fishermen who went out to sea to make a living – and nothing else," he said. "The [Israeli] army is always inventing stories about crossing [out of] the fishing zone."

A similar incident occured last month when the Egyptian navy opened fire on a Palestinian fisherman at sea and killed him. While it could not be confirmed whether the fisherman was attempting to cross into Egyptian waters, Egyptian naval forces have previously opened fire on Gazans they accused of crossing the maritime border. 

Fishermen from Gaza have often brought in catch from Egyptian territory to sidestep restrictions imposed by Israel's naval blockade of the enclave, which Israel maintains citing security concerns. 

Gaza fishermen say that the limited fishing zone imposed by Israel is not big enough to meet demand of the coastal strip's 2 million people. 

Last week, two Palestinians were killed and two others were wounded by Israeli shells when they approached the Gaza border. Earlier that day, four Israeli soldiers were wounded when an explosive device was set off near the troops at the fence bordering the southern Gaza Strip.

This was followed by "large-scale" attack by the IDF against Hamas targets in the Strip.

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