Israeli media revealed on Friday an Israeli plan to reduce Gaza's fishing zone as a "punitive measure" in retaliation for the seaborne protests aiming to break the 12-year Israeli siege imposed on the coastal enclave, Quds Press has reported.
"In spite of Israel's expansion of the fishing zone off the Gaza coast from six to nine [nautical] miles, Hamas has intensified breaking the siege flotillas so that friction with the Israeli navy has increased," a security official told Israeli Channel 24 TV.
Territorial waters are, by convention, set at 22 nautical miles, although fishing vessels are normally allowed to work in international waters. In any case, the Israeli navy often attacks Palestinian fishermen even within the very restrictive zone that the siege imposes.
"We will continue seaborne demonstrations until we break the siege and end the suffering of the Palestinian people," responded the National Committee for Breaking the Siege. "The Israeli occupation authorities impose strict restrictions on the work of the Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast." A spokesman called on the whole world to stand against the Israeli measures.
Read: Israel naval forces 'escalate' attacks on Palestinian fishermen
Meanwhile, the Israeli news website Walla reported Israeli military officials claiming that the sea demonstrations "provoke" the Israeli navy. "The [Israeli] army is afraid that Hamas will carry out attacks from the sea, using boats or divers," it reported.
During the past few months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have launched several seaborne protests aiming to attract international attention to the 12-year Israeli siege imposed on over 2 million people in the territory.