Gaza Coast
Gaza CoastIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Two Arab fishermen were detained by the Israeli navy off the coast of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, sources on both sides said on Friday.

"The occupation navy boarded a fishing boat off Nuseirat (in central Gaza), arrested the two fishermen and took them to an unknown destination," a source in the Gaza Fishermen's Syndicate told the AFP news agency, referring to Israel.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military responded by saying that, "Two fishermen were outside the authorized fishing zone. They were detained for questioning in the night."

Under the terms of a November truce with Hamas that ended eight days of deadly cross-border clashes, Israel agreed to ease its maritime blockade on Gaza to allow fishermen out to six nautical miles instead of the previous three.

The navy occasionally temporarily restored the stricter fishing limit in retaliation for rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, in an effort to secure the national security of the Jewish state.

According to the latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are some 3,500 registered fishermen in Gaza.