Gaza Rights Group Urges Hamas to Release Probe of Fishermen's Death by Errant Rocket

Al Mezan makes rare public call as its own investigation finds the three Palestinians died in an explosion on their boat, apparently caused by a rocket fired by a local armed group

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Mourners carry the body of one of the three Palestinian fishermen who were killed when their boat exploded off Gaza's coast, during their funeral in Khan Yunis, on Sunday.
Mourners carry the body of one of the three Palestinian fishermen who were killed when their boat exploded off Gaza's coast, during their funeral in Khan Yunis, on Sunday.Credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP

A Palestinian human rights group made an unusual public call on Tuesday for Hamas to publish the details of their investigation into the deaths of three fishermen off the coast of Khan Younis, after its own appraisal found that they were killed by gunfire from one of the enclave's armed factions. 

According to the investigation by Al Mezan Center For Human Rights, the three fishermen – Yahya Mustafa al-Laham, and brothers Hamdi and Zakaria Higazi al-Laham – sailed out into a well-known training area for armed groups in Gaza at 6 A.M. on Sunday. The human rights group found that their deaths were caused by an explosion on their boat two hour later, seemingly from one of the militias operating in the area.

Al Mezan said it made a public call to investigate the incident after government officials, including from the Interior Ministry, did not respond to their requests to share the findings with the group. Public calls of this nature are rare in the Gaza Strip, and do not tend to receive widespread publicity. 

The Interior Ministry in Gaza, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas, previously said that it was investigating the  "painful incident," and that it would publish the results as soon as possible.

Relatives of the three Palestinian fishermen mourn during their funeral in Khan Yunis, on Sunday.Credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said earlier in the week that the boat was two miles offshore when the shell hit and "completely destroyed it" and that "indications suggest mostly likely occurred as a result of resistance training," refuting earlier reports that Israeli fire was responsible. 

The Israeli military said in response to those Palestinian reports that "the Israeli navy did not fire" at the Strip, and said "our indications show that their deaths were caused by an explosion inside Gaza."

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