Three fishermen were killed off the coast of Gaza last Sunday in an explosion Hamas is trying to blame on Israel. But the IDF was closely monitoring the situation and stated unequivocally the source of the explosion came from within Gaza.
This morning, fishermen were reportedly killed off the coast of Gaza.
The IDF is not responsible for the incident, and our indications show that their deaths were caused by an explosion inside Gaza.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 7, 2021
The IDF reported that there had been “no Israeli fire” toward Gaza and “This is an internal Gaza incident.”
Hamas Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad al-Bozm released a statement claiming that the fishermen were killed by an explosion caused by a downed Israeli drone that they caught in their net.
“The three fishermen from the Al-Lahham family were killed due to the detonation of an explosive device installed on a quadcopter belonging to the Israeli occupation, which got stuck in their nets and exploded while they were extracting it,” al-Bozm said. According to the Hamas Interior Ministry, the drone alleged to have exploded on Sunday had been there since February 22 during a clash between a Hamas naval unit and the Israeli military.
It should be noted that even the Hamas version of the event places the blame for the explosion on the actions of the fishermen but Hamas still held Israel responsible and vowed revenge.
“The occupation is behind this hideous crime and has committed this odiousness. A response will surely arrive from the Palestinian resistance,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement.
The official Hamas version also contradicts the statement made by the Al-Lahham family who told local media that “a local mortar struck their boat.” This was confirmed by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which released a statement saying the fishing boat “may have been hit by accident.” Hamas regularly fires experimental rockets toward the sea, both to test their military capacities and as a show of force.
“After inspecting the experimental missile launch platform, the coordinates of its fall, reviewing camera footage from resistance observation points, and confirming the exact timing of the launch, it became clear that the explosion site was completely outside the range of the missile firing zone,” al-Bozm said in reaction to their statement.
Hamas frequently endangers its citizens, placing explosives and military installations adjacent to or even inside civilian structures. Last month, an explosion in a building in northern Gaza injured at least 36 civilians. The Israeli military charged that Palestinian terror groups had stored weapons inside civilian homes. Hamas promised to investigate the incident, but no conclusion has yet been reached.
An investigation by the UN into the 2014 IDF incursion into Gaza revealed that Hamas stored rockets in UNRWA schools and used the schools to launch rockets against Israel, all of which constitute grave violations of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.
Fishermen from Gaza are frequently used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into the terrorist enclave.