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Israel to temporarily expand fishing zone in southern Gaza to 9 nautical miles

May 3, 2017 12:06 P.M. (Updated: May 3, 2017 2:41 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities decided on Wednesday to temporarily expand the designated fishing zone in the southern Gaza Strip, according to official Palestinian and Israeli army sources.

Head of the Gaza fishermen's union Nizar Ayyash told Ma’an that Israeli authorities decided to expand the fishing zone from six to nine nautical miles from the Wadi Gaza area of central Gaza, to the end of the southern coastline of the besieged enclave.

The fishing zone from Wadi Gaza to the northern Gaza Strip would remain six nautical miles, Ayyash said, adding that the expansion would begin at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, though it remained unclear exactly how long the expansion would last.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the reports, and said that she would look into further details.

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

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.

Israeli forces have previously expanded the zone for short periods of time, typically leading up to and during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on May 26 this year.

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