GAZA CITY — An Israeli patrol boat fired at Palestinian fishermen accused of breaching the blockade off the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, seriously wounding one man who later died of his wounds, officials said.
Fishing off the northern part of the strip, adjacent to Israel, is limited to six nautical miles offshore and the Israeli navy regularly fires at Palestinians who breach the zone’s outer limit.
The man’s family identified him as Mohammed Majed Bakr, 25.
The fishermen’s union head Nizar Ayash said that the shooting and the arrest of four crewmen happened in one incident and two more arrests were made when the military boarded another Gaza boat overnight.
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the shooting but did not speak of additional arrests.
“A vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip,” the spokeswoman told AFP. “Naval forces in the area called upon the vessel to halt and fired warning shots into the air.”
She said that the boat ignored the warning and the navy then fired at it.
“As a result of the fire a Palestinian was injured and was evacuated to an Israeli hospital for immediate medical treatment,” she added, where he later died of his wounds.
Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for 10 years, which it says is necessary to keep arms and other materials that can be used for military purposes out of the hands of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.
UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
The size of the fishing zone has varied over the years, having been set at 20 nautical miles by the Oslo accords of the 1990s before being reduced by Israeli authorities.
About 4,000 fishermen work off the coastal strip, more than half of whom live below the poverty line.