Israeli navy fires on Gazan fishing vessels

Monday, August 31, 2009

At least one person was injured when the Israeli navy opened fire on Gazan fishing vessels fishing off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Monday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that the Israeli navy had opened fire on fishing vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Beit Lahia in Northern Gaza. At least one vessel suffered damage from a fire.

"[They] violated security boundaries off the coast of the Gaza Strip ... out of the permitted fishing zone," said the spokesman. Officials added that any boat that ventures beyond the boundaries will be "met with a harsh response." The Israeli navy says the fisherman ignored several warning shots and radio calls to turn around before they were fired upon. Twenty people were reported to be on the boats when they were targeted.

The Israeli navy is ordered to enforce a security blockade by patrolling waters internationally recognized to be a part of the Gaza Strip. Fisherman complain of constant harassment from the Israeli navy which prevents boats from going more than five kilometers (three miles) from the coast of Gaza. More than 3,500 fishing boats fish off the coast of Gaza.

Yesterday, the Israeli army bombed a tunnel in Gaza that they say was used to smuggle in terrorists and weapons. The military also claimed that this attack was in retaliation for two mortar shells fired into Israel days earlier. No one was injured or killed in any of the attacks.