JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli navy shot and killed a Palestinian on a Gaza fishing boat in the Mediterranean on Monday after the craft ignored warning shots and continued to stray out of its authorized zone, the Israeli military said.
Israel maintains a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas Islamists, and restricts fishing vessels to a seasonally adjusted fishing zone of between six and nine nautical miles.
“A fishing boat from Gaza strayed beyond the designated fishing zone, naval vessels called on it to halt and fired warning shots into the air and when it did not, they fired toward it,” the Israeli spokeswoman said.
“A Palestinian was injured and was taken an Israeli hospital where he was later pronounced dead,” she added.
The Palestinian fishing union identified him as Gaza fisherman Mohammed Baker, 33. The union says its boats are often fired on and that boats and crews are sometimes detained.
Fishing is one of the biggest industries in the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave of some 1.9 million inhabitants.
The Israeli military says it patrols Gaza’s waters to prevent the smuggling of munitions into the territory and to stop militants trying to attack or infiltrate its territory from the sea.
Boats are also not allowed to stray northwards toward Israeli waters and Egypt keeps similar limitations to the south-west.
In 2016, Israel detained at least 70 Gaza fishermen who had strayed beyond the border, a senior naval commander said.
Many Western countries classify Hamas as a terrorist group over its failure to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.
Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Gareth Jones