An investigation has revealed that three Palestinian fishermen killed over the weekend in an offshore blast near the besieged Gaza Strip had encountered an explosive-laden Israeli drone that fell into the sea and blew up in their nets.
The trio was killed under mysterious circumstances off the coast of the Gaza Strip while fishing on Sunday. Initial Palestinian media reports said that the Israeli navy and forces had opened fire at the fishermen while they were sailing off the city of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Interior Ministry said it had launched a probe into the deadly incident.
Eyad al-Bozom, the ministry’s spokesman, said on Thursday that parts of an Israeli quadcopter drone that carried explosives were discovered in their fishing boat’s nets.
The drone had blown up as the fishermen were lifting their nets, killing all three.
The spokesman held Israel responsible for the incident and called on rights groups to prosecute Israeli authorities at the international courts for their crimes against the Palestinian people.
“The Ministry holds the Israeli occupying regime fully responsible for the martyrdom of the three fishermen in the coast of Khan Younis, southern Gaza,” al-Bozom noted.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Bozom said the drone had probably been in the water since an Israeli attack on a Palestinian naval craft on February 22 off Gaza.
The Israeli military said at the time that its forces noticed suspicious naval activity off Gaza’s shore and thwarted a “potential threat to Israeli naval vessels.”
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, the 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.
Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.