Israeli authorities have banned the export of fish from the besieged Gaza Strip to the occupied West Bank under the pretext that attempts have been made to smuggle fish into Israeli markets, Haaretz newspaper reported.
The paper said the ban was imposed on Monday after a truck transporting fish from Gaza was intercepted on Sunday at the Rantis checkpoint on its way from the West Bank to Israel.
Haaretz quoted Gaza merchants as saying that the move amounts to collective punishment, because Israel and the Palestinian Authority, not Gaza's fishermen, are responsible for preventing smuggling from the West Bank.
For his part, Coordinator of the Committee of Fishermen in the Federation of Agricultural Action Committees, Zakaria Bakr, said the ban aims only to harm the Gaza Strip and its fishermen.
"The Israeli occupation aims to destroy the fishing sector and empty the Gaza Sea of fishermen, and to work by all means to make the fishing sector economically unviable," he added.
He stressed that any export operations raise prices and benefit fishermen, noting that a fisherman's daily wage does not exceed 25 shekels ($7).
"For years, the Israeli authorities have prevented the entry of fishing equipment and limited fishing areas," he said
"Israel used to allow fish from Gaza to be exported to its markets, but has now limited exports to 40 tonnes of fish to the occupied West Bank," Bakr said, adding that this is very small quantity.
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