Israeli Patrol Boat Comes Under Fire from Gaza
A vessel of the Israeli Navy came under fire from the Gaza shore early on Thursday while intercepting a fishing boat which had strayed beyond permitted fishing areas.
The Navy patrol vessel instructed the fishing boat to turn back, but it did not. The patrol boat fired shots and one individual on the fishing boat was injured.
“IDF forces called the vessel to halt, firing warning shots into the air,” an army spokeswoman told Times of Israel. “Upon the continued advance, forces fired toward the area of the vessel to stop their advance, wounding a suspect.”
As the patrol vessel moved to escort the boat towards permitted waters, it came under fire from the Gaza Strip, the IDF said in a statement. No Israeli Navy soldiers were hurt and the patrol boat was not damaged.
The fishing boat was allowed to return to the permitted fishing zone, and the wounded fisherman was brought ashore for treatment.
Nizar Ayyash, head of the Palestinian fishermen's union, had a slightly different account: he told local media that the Israeli Navy detained fisherman Abed al-Aziz Saadallah off Beit Lahiya after opening fire at Palestinian fishing boats.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) suggests that such incidents are common: it asserts that Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats last year.
In April, Palestinian media alleged that the Israeli Navy shot at and sank another fishing boat off Gaza.
Gaza has been under naval blockade for a decade in order to prevent smugglers from bringing in arms. Fishing is permitted out to nine nautical miles, recently increased from six, and an estimated 4,000 fishermen ply the waters along the 20-nm shoreline.
The blockade has been a source of tension with other nations, notably Turkey: 10 Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli forces when a humanitarian aid ship attempted to break through and land supplies in the Gaza Strip in 2010. Aid from Turkey has since resumed, with shipments processed at the Israeli port of Ashdod and transshipped overland to Gaza.