Israel to extend severely limited Gaza fishing rights
Israel is to extend the structly limited fishing rights for Gaza's boats, starting from Sunday, Palestinian trade union officials have revealed.
Fishing vessels working out of ports in the southern part of the Gaza Strip will now be allowed to operate up to nine nautical miles off the coast, Nizar Ayyash, the chairman of the Gaza fishermen's union, said on Friday.
He said that the previous six-mile limit would be retained in waters off the north of Gaza which neighbour those of Israel.
The Israeli defence ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, COGAT, said on its Facebook page that ahead of the fishing season, the navy "decided to expand fishing south of Wadi Gaza from six to nine miles".
The wadi, or stream bed, reaches the Mediterranean just south of Gaza City.
COGAT estimated the decision could add 400,000 shekels ($106,000) a year to the Gazan economy.
Around 4,000 fishermen work in Gaza, more than half of whom live below the poverty line.
Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fought three wars since 2008, including a devastating 50-day conflict in 2014.
The territory remains under Israeli blockade and Israeli forces routinely fire on any fishing vessel close to the outer limit.