3 dead as Hamas proves it can accidentally blow up Palestinian fishing boat

Palestinian media initially blamed Israel, but reported Hamas had been test firing rockets out to sea minutes before the explosion.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Three Palestinian fisherman were killed Sunday when their fishing boat was apparently blown up by a rocket in the waters off the coast of Gaza where the Hamas terror group had been conducting test firings, Arab media reported.

The cause of the blast was not initially known and Palestinian media reports blamed the deadly explosion on the Israeli Navy, which had earlier in the day fired warning shots at Palestinian fishing boats to keep them from straying beyond the legal fishing zone, Ynet reported.

The boat appeared to take a direct hit from a rocket fired from land, the Daily Sabah website reported.

A statement issued several hours after the incident by the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza under tight military rule said an investigation had been launched, conspicuously omitting any mention of Israel.

“A team of experts has been set up, in cooperation with the security forces in Gaza, to examine the circumstances of the deaths of the three fishermen. The test results will be published as soon as possible,” said the Hamas statement posted on Telegram by Abu Ali Express, an Israeli group that monitors Arab language media.

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On Sunday afternoon, a massive funeral procession for the three “martyrs” was held under the apparent sponsorship of Hamas, with extensive coverage given to the event by the Hamas-controlled Al-Quds television station in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces issued a statement saying that the IDF was not involved in the incident and at the time of the explosion there were no Israeli Navy vessels in the area where minutes before the explosion local Palestinian media had reported that Hamas was test-firing rockets aimed out to sea.

Over the years Hamas has continued to build up its military arsenal and with the help of Iran has established a local arms industry to produce surface-to-surface rockets that it fires at Israeli towns and cities.

In December, the terror group organized a war games training exercise with other Gaza terror organizations to rehearse for its next confrontation with Israel. That exercise also involved firing multiple rockets out to sea.