Last updated: 17 December, 2012

Gazan fisherman shot and army arrests 4 West Bankers

Israeli naval forces shot and wounded a Palestinian fisherman in waters off the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, sources on both sides said.

Nizar Aayesh, head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, said the man was wounded when navy gunfire hit his boat after which he was taken to hospital in the southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon.

“There was shooting towards a Palestinian fishing boat in the sea off northern Gaza. One fisherman was injured and the occupation’s navy took him to Barzilai hospital,” he told AFP.

Under the terms of Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, Palestinian boats are permitted to fish within waters up to six nautical miles from the coast.

The fishing zone was extended from three nautical miles after a November 21 truce ended an eight-day confrontation between Israel and Gaza militants.

“It was within the six nautical mile limit, but the Israeli vessels took the boat and whoever was on it and we are waiting for the fisherman to come back to know more details,” Aayesh said.

The military insisted the boat had been beyond the permitted fishing limit.

“Earlier this morning during routine activity, soldiers from the Israeli navy identified a Palestinian vessel which deviated from the designated fishing area,” a spokesman said, indicating the boat had failed to respond to orders to stop.

“The soldiers fired in order to halt the vessel,” he said, confirming that one Palestinian “was injured by shrapnel” and had been treated by soldiers before being transferred to an Israeli hospital.

Meanwhile, troops in the northern West Bank arrested four Palestinians in Beit Rima near Ramallah early on Monday on suspicion of shooting offences, witnesses said.

“Soldiers came to a house and arrested three brothers and another Palestinian, who was wounded,” the witnesses told AFP, saying they were accused of shooting at soldiers.

The incident sparked several hours of clashes, they added.

The army said that one of the suspects being rounded up “on security grounds” was shot as he tried to flee.

“Security forces fired towards his legs, he was lightly injured,” she told AFP. “A medical team provided him with initial medical care, then they evacuated him to a hospital.”

In another incident just south of Nablus, Jewish residents of the hardline Yitzhar settlement clashed with shepherds from the nearby village of Madama, one of whom was hit in the leg by a bullet, a local official said.

“Settlers from Yitzhar attacked shepherds who were tending their flocks south of the village and started shooting with live ammunition,” Madama local council head Ehab al-Qat told AFP.

He said a 27-year-old shepherd was shot in the leg and his brother “was beaten by settlers.” Palestinian medics confirmed they had treated one person for a gunshot wound.

The Israeli military said it was a soldier who shot the Palestinian, after a stone-throwing crowd ignored orders to disperse.

The incident began, a spokeswoman said, when a Palestinian approached Yitzhar, then scuffled with a soldier sent to move him away.

“Several Palestinians gathered in the area and began to throw rocks at the soldiers,” she told AFP, adding that a settler was injured by a rock. “The soldiers were forced to fire at one of the rioters’ leg and identified a hit.”