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Israel expands fishing zone in Gaza as tensions ease Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel expands fishing zone in Gaza as tensions ease

Rights group frequently decry the dangerous fishing conditions in Gaza [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 April, 2019

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Israel has expanded the permitted fishing zone in Gaza in line with a ceasefire agreement signed between Israel and Hamas.

Israel has expanded the permitted fishing zone in Gaza Strip in line with a ceasefire agreement signed between Israel and Hamas, although fishermen still remain tightly restricted.

The deal, brokered in Egypt, stipulates expanding the fishing limit along the Mediterranean coast from six to 15 nautical miles.

The move which aims at boosting Gaza's economy, heavily reliant on the fishing sector, is a breakthrough after a years-long siege on the Palestinian land strip.

Israel imposed a land, aerial and naval blockade on Gaza in 2007, following Hamas' election victory. Since then, the sector has declined and fishing exports have decreased.

Expansions occasionally occur, but they usually don't last more than three months at a time. In the past 10 years, the widest range Israel allowed was 12 nautical miles.

Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, as stipulated by Oslo Accords signed in 1993. However, the Hebrew state has never implemented the accord.

Overfishing in a limited area over the years has caused the fish population to decline as well as depleted fish breeding grounds.

Rights group frequently decry the dangerous fishing conditions in Gaza due to Israel's harassment of fishermen. In February, Israeli forces injured three Palestinian fishermen when they were attacked by navy boats whilst fishing.

Israel also reopened Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings with the blockaded Gaza Strip on Sunday after having kept them closed for nearly a week following a long-distance rocket strike from the Gaza.

The reopening followed protests of tens of thousands of Palestinians along the Gaza border with Israel on Saturday, marking the 'Great Return' anniversary, one year after the start of weekly protests on the boundary with Israel,

Four Palestinians were killed during the protests, but unrest was limited and fears of mass bloodshed were averted.

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