Israeli warships open fire at fishermen near Rafah

12:00 Aug 6 2014 Gaza's territorial waters

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warships on Tuesday opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, in an apparent violation of an agreed-upon three-day ceasefire, a union official said.

Nizar Ayyash, spokesman for Gaza's fishermen union, told Ma'an that a number of Palestinian fishermen were near the shore when Israeli forces shot at them with machine guns.

No injuries were reported.

Ayyash said Israeli naval forces had been preventing fishermen from fishing in the area, even within the "authorized fishing zone."

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a Palestinian motorboat in the area had "breached the naval military closure," and that Israeli naval soldiers "fired warning shots into the air."

The boat then moved closer to shore, the spokeswoman said.

A 72-hour ceasefire between Israeli forces and Palestinian factions was set in place at midnight Monday.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at Gazan fisherman if they stray further than three nautical miles from the shore.

Palestinian factions have demanded that Israel lighten restrictions on fishermen as a part of a lasting agreement to end hostilities in Gaza.

Israel's month-long offensive on Gaza has left nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead, the vast majority of them civilians, in addition to 67 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.
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