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Decision to extend Gaza fishing zone to 9 miles takes effect

April 3, 2016 10:02 A.M. (Updated: May 30, 2016 4:28 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- An Israeli decision to extend the fishing zone off some parts of the Gaza Strip coast to nine nautical miles took effect early Sunday morning, the Palestinian civil administration said.

Official sources told Ma’an that as of 2 a.m Sunday, Palestinian fishermen would be able to sail for nine nautical miles from Wadi Gaza southward. The fishing zone, the source added, would remain within six nautical miles north of Wadi Gaza.

The source highlighted that the Palestinian Authority’s civil administration committee reached an agreement with Israeli authorities to allow the entry of materials for Gazan fishermen into the besieged enclave. This material includes equipment to repair fishing boats.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the extension of the fishing zone to nine nautical miles had gone into effect, adding that the decision was expected to add 400,000 shekels to the fishing industry in the Gaza Strip.

As part of Israel's blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited "designated fishing zone" off the coast.

The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated, most recently extended to six nautical miles from three, following a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel's 2014 offensive on the Palestinian territory.

However, the fishing zone was technically set to 20 nautical miles according to the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PA in the early 1990s.

However, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights has reported that Israeli naval forces often open fire on fishermen within these limits, putting their lives in danger on a near-daily basis.

Due to the high frequency of the attacks, live fire on fishing boats often goes unreported.

Last year Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times, killing three, wounding dozens, and damaging at least 16 fishing boats.

The Israeli army often says in such circumstances that the use of live fire is necessary to deter potential "security threats,” a policy that has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the impoverished Palestinian territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.
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