The Israeli government has banned Palestinian fishermen from working off the coast of Gaza, Wafa news agency has reported. Already prevented from fishing in the full 12 nautical miles of occupied Palestine's own territorial waters, the Israeli occupation authorities have now set a zero limit until further notice.
According to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the [Palestinian] Territories (COGAT), the measure has been imposed "due to the continuation of the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards the State of Israel during the night."
Rights groups have condemned the move as collective punishment, which is illegal. Hamas, meanwhile, called it "a flagrant infringement on the rights of the Palestinian people," reported Arabi21.
Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been allowed by the occupation state. Moreover, the Israeli navy regularly fires on Palestinian fishermen and confiscates their boats and fishing gear, so much so that it has been deemed a "dangerous" profession by rights organisations.
Last year alone, Israeli occupation forces attacked Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip on at least 320 occasions, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) reported, 63 more than in the previous year. Israel also closed the fishing zone altogether for 16 days last August.