Israeli naval forces detained six Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, according to locals.
Nizar Ayyash, head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza told Ma’an that Israeli naval forces stopped two fishing boats off the coast near the northern town of Beit Lahiya, confiscated the boats, and detained the crews that were onboard.
Ayyash identified the detained fishermen, all residents of Gaza City, as Mohammad Abu Ryala, Shaher Abu Ryala, Ali Abu Ryala, Bilal Abu Ryala, Khaled Abu Ryala and Hassan Abu Samaan. It remained unclear for exactly what reason the boats were confiscated, and why th fishermen were detained.
Most recently, Israeli authorities postponed on Monday a decision to expand the fishing zone off the northern Gaza coast from the current six nautical mile limit, to nine nautical miles for the duration of the month of November.
As part of Israel’s blockade off the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited “designated fishing zone.”The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated, most recently extended to six nautical miles from three, following a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Palestinian territory.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has reported that Israeli naval forces often open fire on fishermen within these limits, putting their lives in danger on a near-daily basis.
Israeli forces also regularly detain Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza working within the fishing zone, generally for alleged security reasons.
The center said that Israeli naval forces also opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year, wounding 24 and damaging 16 fishing boats.
“These attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living,” PCHR said.