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Gaza fishing area temporarily extended

By AFP - Oct 16,2017 - Last updated at Oct 16,2017

A Palestinian fisherman stands in a boat at the seaport of Gaza City, on September 26, 2016 (Reuters file photo)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Israeli officials have announced they will temporarily expand the fishing area for Palestinians off a sector of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

From Wednesday, fishermen in southern Gaza will be able to travel up to 9 nautical miles out to sea in search of hauls, up from six previously, an Israeli statement said on Sunday.

The six-week expansion will “improve the economy in the Gaza Strip”, said the statement from the Israeli defence ministry unit known as COGAT.

Fishing limits off the northern part of Gaza will remain unchanged at 9.6 kilometres.

Nizar Ayesh, head of the Palestinian fishing union, told AFP they had not yet been informed of the decision.

Under the Oslo Agreements of the 1990s, fishermen are supposed to be allowed to fish up to 20 nautical miles off the coast.

Ayesh said he hoped the recent reconciliation between Palestinian factions would pressure Israel to further loosen its restrictions.

Israel has imposed a blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip for a decade, while Egypt has also largely closed its border with the isolated enclave.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

In May, a fisherman was shot dead by Israeli forces who alleged he breached the blockade and ignored warnings to stop.

 

Around 4,000 fishermen work in Gaza, more than half of whom live below the poverty line.

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