2 Gazan fishermen said injured by Israeli fire

IDF reportedly acknowledges troops fired rubber bullets at Palestinians off coast of Strip but doesn’t address injuries

Fishing boats in the Gaza City port, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Fishing boats in the Gaza City port, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Israeli troops on Thursday fired rubber bullets toward Palestinian fishermen off the northern Gaza coast, reportedly injuring two of them.

The Israel Defense Forces acknowledged that troops opened fire, according to the Kan public broadcaster, but did not confirm any Palestinian injuries.

It was not clear from Palestinian reports what prompted the soldiers to open fire. IDF soldiers also reportedly shot and injured a fisherman with rubber bullets on Wednesday.

Israel limits the permitted fishing zone off the Gaza Strip as part of a blockade on the Hamas-controlled enclave aimed at preventing arms from reaching Palestinian terror groups.

The fishing zone was restricted during a flareup in February between the Israeli military and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but was later expanded to 15 nautical miles after a ceasefire ending the fighting.

A member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, wears a protective face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on March 26, 2020. (Said Khatib/AFP)

A period of calm has been holding in Gaza in recent weeks as authorities on both sides of the border have focused on combating the outbreak of the coronavirus, though Palestinian terrorists in the Strip fired a rocket toward Israel late last month.

As of Wednesday, there have been 13 reported coronavirus cases in Gaza, where health experts have warned that an outbreak would prove particularly deadly given the severe crowdedness and weakness of the healthcare system.

The Hamas-run health ministry said Sunday it was nearly out of coronavirus testing kits, while Yahya Sinwar, the terror group’s leader in Gaza, last week threatened Israel if more ventilators were not brought into the Palestinian territory.

A senior Hamas official said Wednesday that the terror group was willing to enter talks “tomorrow” to return two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza War.

Musa Dudin, a member of the Hamas political bureau, speaking on a Hamas-affiliated TV channel, said Israel had a “window of opportunity” that it can take advantage of before it will once again be forced to “negotiate under more difficult conditions,” apparently referring to the willingness to make a gesture during the coronavirus crisis.

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