JERUSALEM – Israel re-expanded on Tuesday the fishing zone in the blockaded Gaza strip to 15 nautical miles (24 kilometers), as the truce which ended the latest outbreak of violence in May – the worst since 2014 – continued in effect.
Major General Kamil Abu Rukun, head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) – the Israeli military body which manages the government’s civilian policy the Palestinian territories and the blockade of Gaza – announced on Tuesday that the fishing zone was being expanded to 15 nautical miles.
The limit amounts to an unprecedented extension since the blockade was imposed in 2007 – except for a small period in April – and is expected to provide relief to the Gaza fishing sector.
“This measure is part of the civilian policy of preventing the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and is consistent with the policy of distinguishing between terrorists and the civilian population,” COGAT said in a statement.
“The implementation of the measure is conditional on the fishermen in Gaza honoring the agreements. It should be emphasized that it will not be possible to deviate from the ranges that were agreed upon, and any deviation will be handled accordingly by the security forces,” the statement said.
Israel expands or reduces the Gaza fishing zone depending on the violence in the area, and after the clashes earlier this month it had cut the zone to six miles, a step which resulted in a sharp decline in catch and affected families which depend on fishing for their livelihood.
The recent escalation saw Palestinian armed groups launching more than 700 rockets into Israel in two days, killing four civilians, and the latter responded with dozens of strikes on suspected military targets in Gaza killing 25 Palestinians, including two women and two children.
The violence ended after the reestablishment of an agreement to cease hostilities brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, which seeks to establish peace in the region and ease the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which is about to complete 12 years.