Egypt returns bodies of 2 Gaza fishermen shot by its navy
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The bodies of two Palestinian fishermen whom Egyptian naval forces killed in Mediterranean waters were returned Saturday to the Gaza Strip, the territory’s Interior Ministry said.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group ruling Gaza, has called on Egypt to investigate the incident, condemning it as violence targeting “those hunting for a living for their children.”
The shooting occurred Friday as three fishermen were fishing near the Gaza-Egypt maritime frontier, said the Palestinian fishermen union, noting the three were brothers. The third brother was receiving treatment in Egypt.
There was no immediate comment from Egyptian officials, but the union said fishermen usually work near the border and the Egyptian navy is aware of their presence.
“Even if they happen to exceed the limit, shooting and killing them is unjustifiable,” said Nezar Ayyash, head of the fishermen union. “They could have stopped them because their boat’s engine is weak and can’t run faster than the naval boat.”
Egypt sent the bodies via the Rafah crossing point, Gaza’s main gate to the outside world, on its 13-kilometer-long border with the Gaza Strip Saturday evening.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 to isolate Hamas after it seized control of the territory from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority. Hamas’ relations with Egypt have experienced different phases of warmness and tension, but Cairo has been a longtime mediator between Hamas and Israel, securing numerous ceasefire deals and unofficial truces between the two sides to calm down cross-border fighting.
Ayyash of the fishermen union said the Egyptian military has killed six Gaza fishermen in separate incidents in the past 14 years. He said the fishermen will go on a general strike for three days to protest the loss of their colleagues.