GAZA, July 14, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli naval boats Saturday opened machine gunfire on Palestinian fishing boats offshore the northern and central Gaza Strip, reported witnesses.
Israeli naval boats opened machine gunfire on fishing boats sailing within the unilaterally-imposed six-nautical-miles fishing zone offshore al-Sudaniyya area to the northwest of Gaza city and Az-Zawayda and Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip.
No injuries were reported among the fishermen who apparently fled the scene for fear of being injured, killed or arrested.
Meanwhile, forces stationed in borderline military watchtowers along the border in central Gaza Strip indiscriminately opened heavy fire on civilian homes and farmlands to the east of Wadi al-Salqa, south of Deir al-Balah, and Abu Samra area. There were no reports of casualties, nonetheless.
Israeli navy and troops routinely open fire on Palestinian fishermen sailing within the six-nautical-miles zone and farmlands along the border, flagrantly violating the ceasefire deal that was reached in August 2014
Furthermore, Palestinians farmers are often targeted by Israeli forces if they approach borderline land that Israeli forces have deemed off-limits to Palestinians.
The buffer zone extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.
According to UNOCHA, 17 percent of Gaza’s total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land lie within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gaza residents.
Israel has imposed a tightened blockade since 2007 after Hamas won the democratic legislative election and took over power in the strip.
The current six-nautical-mile fishing zone falls drastically short of the twenty nautical miles allocated to Palestinian fishermen in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented during June alone 10 shooting incidents that resulted in the wounding of four Palestinian fishermen while sailing off Beit Lahia shore in the north of the Gaza Strip.
“In addition to damaging fishing equipment and tools. Moreover, PCHR documented the detention of 14 fishermen and confiscation of five fishing boats and nets.”
Noting lack of Israeli naval forces’ compliance with the ceasefire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian auspices on 26 August 2014, including allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within six nautical miles in the Gaza Sea, PCHR reported that all attacks took place within the distance of six nautical miles, which it said, “proves that Israeli forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s fishermen and their livelihoods.”