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Egyptian navy kills two Gaza fishermen for breaching territorial waters

Palestinian prime minister mourns the brothers killed as 'martyrs of breadwinning'
Palestinian fishermen make their way to port to escape an Israeli Navy patrol near Gaza City on 23 August 2020 (AFP/file photo)

Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot dead two Palestinian fishermen from Gaza and wounded a third for allegedly crossing into Egyptian territorial waters, according to officials and local media.

Nizar Ayyash, the head of Gaza's fishermen union, declared on Saturday that Egypt’s navy opened fire on the fishermen's boat after it crossed into Egyptian waters. He added that the three men were brothers from Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. 

Ayyash told Safa news agency that the shooting led to the deaths of fishermen Mahmoud and Hassan al-Zaazou, and the injury of their brother.

He added that Egypt has informed his union that the bodies of the fishermen and the detained wounded brother will be handed over to authorities in Gaza on Saturday afternoon through the Rafah border crossing.

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Ayyash also announced that Gaza's fishing activities will be suspended for three days to mourn the fishermen's death.

'Martyrs of breadwinning'

Later on Saturday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh mourned the death of the fishermen.

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"It is a sad day for our people. It is with a lot of pain that we mourn the two young fishermen Mahmoud and Hassan al-Zaazou, martyrs of breadwinning," he said in a statement quoted by local media. 

A spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza on Friday said his authorities had been looking into the reported disappearance of three fishermen. 

The Egyptian government has yet to comment on the incident.

The incident has been condemned by Gazan social media users who contrasted it with how the Palestinian navy rescued six Egyptian fishermen last year after a storm dragged their boat into Palestinian territorial waters. 

A large number of people in Gaza depend on fishing as their main source of income, despite Israel restricting the fishing zone between three to nine nautical miles off the coast as part of its 13-year siege on the Palestinian territory.

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