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Israel eases restrictions on Gaza, expands fishing zone

September 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm

Gazan fishers prepare to sail to the sea at the Port of Gaza, 3 September 2020 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Israel today announced it would expand the Gaza fishing zone and open the Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing to shipments of goods and equipment.

The Israeli government also decided to increase the amount of water it supplies to Gaza by an additional five million cubic metres.

The announcement comes as Israeli occupation forces continue to fire at protesters gathered near the fence separating Gaza from the occupation state calling for the end of Israel’s brutal siege on the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s military liaison officer to the Palestinians, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), confirmed the move and said: “It has been decided to expand the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip to 15 nautical miles, as well as to completely open the Kerem Shalom crossing for the passage of equipment and goods.”

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel is obligated to permit fishing off the Gaza Strip’s coast within an area of 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented.

READ: Israel shoots at Palestinian fishermen 3 miles from Gaza’s shores

COGAT added that 5,000 Palestinian traders would also be granted entry permits to Israel from Gaza, increasing the number of permits issued from 2,000 to 7,000.

“These civil steps were approved by the political echelon and are dependent upon the continued preservation of security stability for an extended period. An extension of them will be considered in accordance with a situational assessment,” it said.

Bassam Ghabin, director of the Palestinian side of the Karm Abu Salem border crossing, said that 30 truckloads of cement, 120 trucks of gravel and 15 trucks of steel entered Gaza on Tuesday. He said the materials began entering on Monday, and that the crossing was operating almost at the same capacity as before Israel’s military attack on Gaza in May.

Israel imposes severe restrictions on the movement of imports into Gaza in spite of a ceasefire which came into effect on 21 May.

On 10 May, Israel launched a military attack on Gaza that lasted 11 days, killing more than 250 Palestinians, including women and children, and injuring thousands more.

Rights groups, including the UN, have accused Israel of carrying out collective punishment against Palestinians in Gaza as a result of its continued siege of the Strip.