The Israeli Navy fired on a third Palestinian boat spotted outside of permissible fishing waters off the coast of Gaza Wednesday night. The military said that there were no injuries.
The vessel, believed to be involved in smuggling, was reportedly towing another boat and did not respond to Israeli calls to stop, nor to warning shots fired into the air and sea, according to Israel Radio.
Early Wednesday, an Israeli naval vessel shot at two boats attempting to speed from Egypt to Gaza. Four people were reportedly injured.
An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said the vessels were being used for smuggling from Egypt to Gaza; Palestinian sources confirmed that they were smuggling cigarettes and tobacco.
After shooting at the boats Wednesday morning, the IDF said it took fire from the Gaza coast.
There were no Israeli injuries, an army spokesperson said.
The two earlier boats had deviated from Gaza into restricted waters toward Egypt and on their return, the navy called on the vessels to stop and fired after they failed to heed warnings, the IDF said.
Palestinian witnesses and medical sources said the navy opened fire at the vessels as they were heading towards Rafah.
After firing on the Palestinian boats, the naval vessel was fired on by gunmen from near Rafah and sustained light damage. The navy returned fire.
Palestinians sources claimed the navy used light artillery to hit the boats and Rafah, causing a power outage in the southern Gaza town, according to Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
Israel has maintained a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007, when Hamas took control of the coastal enclave. Fishing boats are allowed to operate in a restricted area off the coast.
AFP contributed to this report.