The Israeli authorities have decided to reduce the Palestinian fishing zone in the besieged Gaza Strip from 9 nautical miles to 6 nautical miles, the chief of the Palestinian Fishermen's Union announced today.
Nizar Ayash told Quds Press that the decision included the fishing area off the central and southern portions of the enclave's coast. He noted that the message was conveyed by the Israeli agriculture ministry.
In May, Israel extended the zone from 6 nautical miles to 9 nautical miles, allowing fishing in areas that had been off limits for a decade.
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Despite the two-month extension, the Palestinian fishermen did not benefit from it, as a result of the frequent shootings and arrests carried out by the Israeli navy against Gaza fishermen, Ayesh stressed.
Israeli forces frequently fire upon Gaza fishermen, even while within the fishing zone imposed by Israel.
The Palestinian official demanded the Israeli authorities to re-extend Gaza fishing zone from 6 to 20 nautical miles, according to the Oslo Accords that were signed with Tel Aviv in 1993, under which Palestinians are allowed to exercise their full rights within the fishing zone.
He called on the international community to pressure Israel to stop its "brutal" practices against the Palestinian fishermen.
Some 4,000 Palestinian fishermen work off the coast of Gaza, providing vital food to over 50,000 people in the Strip.
Ayesh stressed that the 11-year Israeli blockade on Gaza had "negatively" impacted the fishermen's economic conditions, to the extent that they were unable to meet their families' needs.
The two million inhabitants of Gaza have been living under an Israeli blockade since 2007, being deprived of basic commodities such as food, fuel, medicine and building materials. Since then, the Strip has been largely depending on foreign aid as the economy plunged under the Israeli blockade.