Israeli Navy sinks Palestinian boat off Gaza coast

Jerusalem: The Israeli Navy fired on a Gaza fishing boat off the shores of the Palestinian enclave, causing it to sink after suspecting that the boat was conducting a smuggling operation, military officials said.

The incident occurred early Saturday when an Israeli patrol spotted a boat coming from the direction of Egypt with a shipment on board, Efe news agency reported.

Military officials noted that the patrol urged the crew of the boat to step back and fired several warning shots, but the boat continued on its course, while the crew threw their cargo in the sea and then jumped into the water.

A military spokesperson said that Israeli soldiers responded through firing on the boat, which caught fire.

Palestinian sources quoted by MAAN news agency confirmed the incident, but did not clarify the fate of the crew.

Israeli patrols usually open fire on Palestinian boats crossing the six-mile limit authorised for them to fish under the blockade imposed on Gaza Strip since it has been controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas.