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Israel shoots dead Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast

95 percent of Gazan fishermen live below the poverty line due to Israel's blockade. [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 May, 2017

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A Palestinian fisherman has died in hospital after being shot by Israeli forces and six others arrested, after their boat drifted into restricted zone.
A Palestinian fisherman has died from his injuries after Israeli forces opened fire on his vessel which had entered a restricted zone off the Gaza coast, on Monday.

The man was shot when his boat left an Israeli designated fishing zone, with the fisherman taken to hospital where he died from his wounds.

Israel claimed it fired on the boat after the vessel ignored earlier warning shots.

"A vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip," the spokeswoman told AFP. "Naval forces in the area called upon the vessel to halt and fired warning shots into the air."

Israeli military boats stationed along the beseiged Palestinian enclave rountinely open fire on fishermen to enforce a restricted fishing zone of six nautical miles off Gaza's coast.

Four other crewmen were detained during the incident and the injured man was identified as 25-year-old Mohammed Majed Bakr, the head of the Palestinian fishermen's union Nizar Ayash said.

He was evacuated to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment but later died from his injuries.

Four of his crew were also arrested.

Overnight, Israeli naval forces boarded another Palestinian fishing vessel and detained two other fishermen, he added.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the shooting but did not speak of additional arrests.

The size of the fishing zone has varied over the years, having been set at 20 nautical miles by the Oslo accords of the 1990s, before being reduced by Israeli authorities.

Earlier in May, Israel temporarily expanded the fishing zone to nine nautical miles, but severe restrictions continue to hamper the industry.

Prior to Israel's blockade, there was a thriving fishing sector in Gaza, with fresh produce from the area sold across Israel and the West Bank.

But Israeli restrictions on Gaza have all but crippled the fishing industry, and 95 percent of fishermen now live below the poverty line, according to rights group B'Tselem.

In 2016, Israel's military detained 113 fishermen and the navy rountinely opens fire at fishermen to enforce the limited fishing zone.

Due to the blockade, it is near impossible to obtain the parts needed to maintain fishing vessels, and since 2000 the number of fishermen has reduced by over half.

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