After Escalation, Israel Agrees to Expand Gaza Fishing Zone

Israel has expanded the permitted fishing zone in the besieged Gaza Strip as part of a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

The Egyptian-brokered deal includes expanding the fishing limit along the Mediterranean coast from approximately 11 kilometers to 28km for the first time in years, with the purpose of boosting Gaza’s economy that is heavily reliant on fishing.

Expansions occasionally occur and usually last for only three months at a time.

Since Israel imposed a land, aerial and naval blockade on Gaza in 2007 following Hamas’s election victory, Gaza’s fishing sector has been hit and its exports have dwindled.

The widest range Israel has allowed in the past 10 years is 22km and, at times, the limit was reduced to even 1.85km, Nizar Ayash, the head of Gaza’s fishermen union, previously told Al Jazeera.

Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 37km, but it has never been implemented. Overfishing in a small area over the years has decreased the fish population and depleted fish breeding grounds.

There are approximately 4,000 registered fishermen in the Gaza Strip, operating some 1,000 boats. Limited access to raw materials has left most boats lacking the necessary renovations needed to function at full potential.

The profession has been deemed dangerous by rights organizations due to Israel’s harassment of fishermen at sea.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities also reopened two border crossings a day after tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the fortified fence with Israel to mark the first anniversary of the Great March of Return protests.

Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire, and at least 207 others were wounded on Saturday during the protests, Gaza’s health ministry said.

Since March 30, 2018, Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip have been demanding the right to return to lands from which their families were violently expelled during the founding of Israel in 1948. Protesters in the weekly rallies are also calling for an end to the blockade.

Source: Palestine Chronicle