BEIRUT

Middle East

Gaza fisherman shot, army arrests 4 West Bankers

Hamas marine security take to the open waters during a drill in preparation for the arrival of ships expected to break the Israeli naval blockade on the port in Gaza City on May 26, 2010. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israeli naval forces shot and wounded a Palestinian fisherman in waters off the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, sources on both sides said.

Nizar Aayesh, head of the Gaza fishermen's union, said the man was wounded when navy gunfire hit his boat after which he was taken to a hospital in the southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon.

"There was a shooting towards a Palestinian fishing boat in the sea off northern Gaza. One fisherman was injured and the occupation's navy took him to Barzilai hospital," he told AFP.

Under terms of Israel's naval blockade on Gaza, Palestinian boats are permitted to fish within waters up to six nautical miles from the coast.

The fishing zone was extended from three nautical miles after a November 21 truce deal ended an eight-day confrontation between Israel and Gaza militants.

"It was within the six nautical mile limit, but the Israeli vessels took the boat and whoever was on it and we are waiting for the fisherman to come back to know more details," Aayesh said.

The military confirmed the incident but insisted the boat was beyond the permitted fishing limit.

"Earlier this morning during a routine activity, soldiers from the Israeli navy identified a Palestinian vessel which deviated from the designated fishing area," a spokesman said, indicating the boat had failed to respond to orders to stop.

"The soldiers fired in order to halt the vessel," he said, confirming one Palestinian "was injured by shrapnel" and had been treated by soldiers before being transferred to an Israeli hospital."

Meanwhile, troops in the northern West Bank arrested four Palestinians in Beit Rima near Ramallah early on Monday on suspicion of shooting offences, witnesses told AFP.

"Soldiers came to a house and arrested three brothers and another Palestinian, who was wounded," witnesses told AFP, saying they were accused of shooting at soldiers.

The arrests sparked several hours of clashes, they added.

An army spokeswoman confirmed the arrests saying: "Four Palestinians were arrested overnight in Beit Rima on security grounds. They were taken for questioning."

 

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