Israel has extended the distance it permits Gaza fishermen to head out to sea along certain parts of the coastline of the enclave, which is run by the Islamist terror group Hamas, reports Reuters.
Fishermen in Gaza are now sailing further from the coastal territory after Israel expanded the fishing zone. The fishing zone was expanded from six nautical miles (11 km) to nine (16 km) along Gaza’s central and southern shores.
COGAT, the Israeli defense body that handles civilian issues with the Palestinians, announced the new easing of restrictions on its Arabic Facebook page. About 60 boats raced to the new zone after police blew a whistle Sunday afternoon.
Israel, citing security concerns that include fears of Hamas weapons smuggling, maintains a naval blockade of Gaza, and the zone will remain at six nautical miles in northern areas near the Israeli border.
The expansion of the fishing zone is expected to add 400,000 shekels, or nearly $106,000, to the 6 million shekels in annual revenue generated by Gaza’s fishing industry, according to Cogat.
Palestinian fishermen have been complaining about frequent Israeli interception and arrests of fishermen after damaging their fishing boats and confiscating equipment.