Palestinian fishermen killed in Gaza blast after netting Israeli drone
Three Palestinian fishermen who died in an off-shore blast over the weekend encountered an explosive-laden Israeli drone that fell into the sea and detonated in their nets, authorities in Gaza said on Thursday.
The incident, which happened on Sunday, was initially thought to be an accident when militants were test-firing rockets into the sea, according to Gaza-based human rights group, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
However, Eyad Al-Bozom, a spokesperson for the Hamas-led authority in Gaza, said that none of the Palestinian rockets hit the fishing boat.
Investigations had uncovered an Israeli quadcopter drone that was caught in their nets and exploded, killing the three fishermen.
The official said that the drone had probably been in the water since an Israeli attack on a Palestinian naval craft on 22 February off the besieged enclave's maritime territory.
At the time of the explosion, the Israeli military had denied any involvement in the incident.
In 2006, Israel imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the strip, effectively turning the coastal enclave into an open-air prison, where basic necessities such as food, fuel and medicines are severely restricted.
Israel restricts the distance of Gaza's fishing zone as part of a decade-long blockade on the territory, claiming it is a preventative security measure.
Palestinian fishermen have been prevented from carrying out their work with live fire and water cannons and by tearing fishing nets and damaging engines.
A number of fishermen have been killed or injured as a result.
The policy has also crippled the fishing industry in coastal Gaza, with over 90 percent of fishermen dependent on aid to survive, according to rights groups.
The restricted fishing zone has led to overfishing in this small area, resulting in depleted fish stocks.