Egyptian naval forces have opened fire on three Palestinian fishermen south of the besieged Gaza Strip, killing two and wounding and arresting another after they allegedly crossed into Egyptian territorial waters.
According to Nizar Ayyash, the secretary of the Gaza fishermen’s syndicate, the Egyptian Navy followed the fishermen’s boat and opened fire on them after they allegedly crossed into the Egyptian waters on Friday.
Ayyash added that the three fishermen were brothers and residents of Deir al-Balah, a city in central Gaza.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement strongly condemned the brutal move by the Egyptian coast guard and called for the immediate release of the detained fisherman.
Coordinator of the Fishermen Committee Zakariya Baker told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the three fishermen entered the sea on Thursday evening and were fired on Friday morning.
In November 2018, the Egyptian naval forces opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat over the same allegation and killed a fisherman.
However, in January 2019, the Palestinian navy in Gaza saved six Egyptian fishermen after a storm dragged their boat into Palestinian waters.
The development comes as Israel has tightened its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Isreal closed Gaza’s offshore fishing zone last month.
Israel maintains a heavy naval presence off the coast of the impoverished Palestinian enclave, severely affecting the livelihood of some 4,000 fishermen and at least 1,500 more people involved in the fishing industry.
Over the past few years, Israeli forces have carried out more than a hundred attacks on Palestinian boats, arresting fishermen and confiscating boats.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli land, air, and sea blockade since June 2007, which has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.