Gazan fishermen detained after protests over Israeli blockade

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After staging protests against the Israeli blockade, five Gazan fishermen were detained by the Israeli navy off the coast of the Gaza Strip. "The five fishermen were detained while fishing off northern Gaza's shores," Nizar Ayyash, head of the Gaza's fishermen union, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

A group of Palestinian fishing boats that sailed off the shore of Gaza to challenge an Israeli naval blockade of the coastal enclave drew warning shots from the Israeli navy on Saturday, the boats' organizers said. About 20 fishing boats set sail from Gaza City port toward the maritime border with Israel.

According to the fishermen's union, roughly 50,000 Gazans earn their living from fishing. After Israel's devastating military onslaught against Hamas-run Gaza in mid-2014, in which some 2,150 Palestinians were killed, Israel began allowing Palestinian fishermen to fish up to six nautical miles off the Gaza coast, as opposed to three nautical miles previously. In May, Israeli authorities increased the fishing area for Gazan fishermen to nine nautical miles.

Similar attempts by activists to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza have been foiled before. The most serious was the infamous Mavi Marmara incident on May 31, 2010, in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli forces in international waters while attempting to break the siege, and another Turkish activist died nearly four years later, succumbing to injuries sustained during the raid.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine. In the long-embargoed enclave, the humanitarian situation has gotten worse each day. After 20 weeks of protests, at least 158 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured by Israeli army gunfire.

Compiled from wires

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