At least one person has been hurt in an Israeli navy attack on fishing boats off the coast of Gaza
The navy opened fire on the fishermen off the coast at Beit Lahiya, setting one boat on fire, witnesses said on Monday.
The Israeli navy enforces a blockade on the Palestinian territory and prevents fishermen from venturing more than five kilometres from shore.
An Israeli army spokesman said the fishing boats, "violated security boundaries off the coast of the Gaza Strip … out of the permitted fishing zone."
Israeli gunboats enforce this limit by patrolling the internationally recognized Gazan waters.
The fishermen complain that they get fired on before they even get close to the limit.
The navy spokesman said the boats had failed to respond to warning shots.
Palestinians said 20 people were onboard the boats at the time.
The burning boat was brought ashore where residents helped to put out the blaze.
About 3,500 fishermen struggle to trade off Gaza’s 40km Mediterranean coastline despite the blockade.
Israel imposed a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the Hamas movement took full control of the territory after pushing out Fatah security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
International calls for the siege to be eased have mounted since Israel fought a 22-day offensive in the territory in December and January, increasing the hardships faced by residents.
Israel said that the war was aimed at ending rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters.
(Al-Jazeera.net English and Agencies)