The Israeli navy on Sunday stopped a Palestinian fishing boat off the Gaza coast and arrested those on board, sources on both sides said.
“A Palestinian fishing boat was found outside the limits of Gaza’s fishing zone and the navy took it to (the southern Israeli port of) Ashdod where the crew will be interrogated,” an Israeli military spokeswoman said.
She said the navy had fired warning shots towards the boat but that nobody had been injured.
A spokesman for the Gaza-based Fishermen’s Syndicate confirmed five fishermen had been detained — four of them Palestinians from the same family, and an Egyptian national.
“They were arrested this morning while at sea, and they were taken to Ashdod,” he said.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Gaza was granted a fishing zone of 20 nautical miles, but following the outbreak of a second Palestinian uprising in 2000, Israel cut back on fishermen’s access to the Mediterranean, according to OCHA, the UN humanitarian agency.
When Israel launched a devastating 22-day assault in the Gaza Strip at the end of December 2008, the military imposed a ban on any fishing outside a limit of three nautical miles that remains in place until now.
According to Gaza’s Department of Fisheries, almost 3,100 fishermen are registered in the coastal strip, down from approximately 10,000 in the year 2000.
Elsewhere in Gaza, the army arrested two men overnight who were caught trying to sneak across the border into southern Israel, the spokeswoman said, indicating they were both unarmed.
Photo by J McDowell via Flickr