Israel will expand the Gaza Strip's fishing zone and allow the import of raw materials to essential industries in the enclave from today, the Israeli military has announced.
According to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the [occupied Palestinian] Territories (COGAT), the decision which would allow Gaza fishermen to venture nine nautical miles into the sea instead of just six and open the Kerem Shalom (Karm Abu Salem) crossing, was made following "this past week's calm security situation."
It was also stated that "the civilian measures approved by the political echelon are contingent upon the continued stability" in the region.
However, the type of products allowed into Gaza will only be expanded when Hamas releases two Israeli prisoners of war, along with the remains of two soldiers, reports have said.
At the start of the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza on 11 May, the occupation closed off the sea completely. Since the end of the offensive on 21 May, Israel has opened the sea only for six nautical miles, stifling the fishing industry.
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.
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