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Gaza fishermen union denies reports saying Israel to expand fishing zone

Oct. 16, 2017 2:24 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 17, 2017 6:27 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities reportedly announced on Monday that they would be expanding the designated fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip from 6 to 9 nautical miles starting Wednesday October 18th, 2017, according to Israeli media.

Reports said that Israel demanded all Gaza fishermen “not violate” the boundaries of the designated zone, threatening them with immediate punishment.

Meanwhile, head of the Gaza Fishermen's Union Nizar Ayyash, denied to Ma'an any knowledge of the new Israeli decision, saying that the union did not receive any calls in this regard from any official sides.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports.

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.

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.

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.

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