Three Gazan fishermen killed in suspected Hamas rocket misfire

Group, which often fires rockets toward the Mediterranean Sea in shows of force, says it is investigating the incident; Hamas military wing calls event ‘painful’

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)

Three Palestinian fishermen were killed in an explosion off the coast of the Gaza Strip in what appeared to be a misfired rocket launched by the Hamas terror group.

The explosion occurred close to the coast of Khan Younis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip. The three deceased fishermen, Yahya Mustafa al-Laham, Hamdi al-Laham and Zakaria al-Laham, were two brothers and their cousin, Gaza fishermens’ union head Nizar Ayyah told local media.

“They were the martyrs of their daily bread,” the al-Laham family said in a statement on their official Facebook page. The three had died, the family said, after “a local mortar struck their boat.”

Hamas regularly fires experimental rockets toward the sea, both to test their military capacities and as a show of force.

Hamas’s military wing said it mourned the death of the three fishermen “with great sorrow.”

In its statement, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades did not take responsibility for the deaths of the three fishermen.

“The resistance leadership and the security forces will form a specialized team to discover the circumstances of this painful incident, and the whole truth will be announced as soon as possible, God willing,” the terror group said.

In a statement, the Hamas Interior Ministry also said it was “investigating the incident.” The terror group, which avowedly seeks to destroy Israel, regularly condemns Israel for other incidents that have led to wounded fishermen in the Strip.

It was not the first time that technical errors with weaponry were said to harm or even kill civilians living in the Gaza Strip. In the past, blasts have sometimes been caused by accidents as operatives of terrorist organizations in the territory built bombs or otherwise handled explosives.

Last month, a blast ripped through a building in northern Gaza, injuring at least 36 civilians. The Israeli military charged that Palestinian terror groups had stored weapons inside civilian homes. Hamas promised to investigate the incident, but no conclusion has yet been reached.

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday immediately denied any involvement in the death of the three fishermen, saying in a statement that there had been “no Israeli fire” toward Gaza on Sunday morning.

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

Israeli and Egyptian forces occasionally fire upon craft that violate the sea borders they have demarcated around the Gaza Strip. Two Gaza fishermen were killed by Egyptian soldiers in an incident last year.

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