GAZA, April 26, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli naval boats Tuesday opened their heavy machine guns on Palestinian fishermen, despite sailing within the unilaterally designated allowed fishing zone.
No injuries were reported among the fishermen who apparently fled the scene for fear of being detained, injured, or killed.
On 3 April 2016, the Israeli authorities expanded the fishing area, along the southern Gaza coast, from 6 to 9 nautical miles, while retaining the current 6 nautical mile fishing along the northern coast, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) protection of civilians weekly report covering the period between March 29th and April 4th of 2016.
“While restrictions have been ongoing since 1999, since 2013, Israeli has enforced, including through arrests, opening fire, and confiscating/destroying property, a 6-nautical mile fishing along the entire Gaza coast, with a 1.5 nautical mile “no-go-zone” along the northern maritime boundaries between Gazan waters and Israel.”
The Oslo agreements provided for a 20 nautical mile fishing . Over 35,000 Palestinians depend on this industry for their livelihoods.
Meanwhile, Head of the Palestinian Fishermen Syndicate Nizar Ayyash said the recent agreement to extend the fishing zone off some parts of the Gaza coast from six nautical miles to nine has brought no benefit for the fishermen.
Ayyash told WAFA the extension included some parts where fish is not found because it is a sandy area with no rocks that are vital for fish reproduction.
He said the decision would prove beneficial only if the extension stretched along the length of Gaza’s coast and not only the south.
In a weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian Territories, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said the illegal closure, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has imposed a tightened blockade since 2007 after Hamas won the democratic legislative election and took over power in the Strip.