By Mustafa Haboush and Hani al-Shaer
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Israeli naval forces detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, according to a local official.
“The two fishermen were rounded up off the coast of the southern Rafah city,” Nizar Ayyash, head of Gaza's fishermen’s union, told Anadolu Agency.
He said Israeli forces intentionally sank the fishermen’s boat.
There was no comment from the Israeli military on the claim.
Roughly 50,000 Gazans earn their living through fishing, according to the fishermen’s union.
After Israel's devastating 2014 military onslaught on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip (which left more than 2,150 Palestinians dead), Israel began to allow Palestinian fishermen to ply their trade up to six nautical miles off the coast (as opposed to three previously).
In May of this year, Israel increased this to nine nautical miles.
One month later, however, Israel reduced this again to only three nautical miles in response to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel by Palestinian activists in Gaza.
The kite/balloon attacks came as part of ongoing Palestinian rallies along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to protest Israel’s 12-year blockade of the coastal enclave.
Since the rallies -- which have continued on an almost-daily basis -- began on March 30, more than 210 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.