Israel has expanded the fishing zone off of the cost of the Gaza Strip to a range of 10 nautical miles after it was completely closed last week.According to a political source quoted by Walla! News, the fishing zone was extended at 11.00 on Tuesday morning after several days of relative quiet along the Gaza front.The move comes a day after a Qatari delegation led by envoy Mohammed al-Emadi arrived in the blockaded enclave to deliver $15 million in funds as part of a ceasefire arrangement to keep a fragile calm between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas, confirming the delivery of the aid money, said that a second more advanced stage of the ceasefire arrangement with Israel was to be implemented.
According to a report by Ynet News the second stage would see improvements to the blockaded enclave’s water and electricity supplies, as well as relaxed rules on imports and exports into the Strip and the expansion of industrial projects.
As part of improving the water system, Israel’s national water company Mekorot has begun work on an upgraded pipeline to Gaza that will increase the flow of drinkable water into the Strip alongside three older pipelines which can carry 11.5 million cubic meters of water.
The implementation of the ceasefire arrangement between the two sides comes as tensions have increased along the Gaza border in recent weeks with incendiary balloons continued to be launched towards southern Israel, causing dozens of fires to break out.
In response Israel imposed a rare full closure of the Gaza Strip fishing zone last week which in turn led to terror groups in the Strip firing two rockets towards southern communities, one of which struck a Yeshiva in Sderot.
In response Israel struck several Hamas military targets in the Strip.
On Sunday Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh was reported to have told the United Nations Special Envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov that he did not know who was responsible for firing the rockets at Israel.
Haniyeh was quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat as telling Mladenov that Hamas was investigating and stressing that “no faction fired toward Israel” in the past week.
While no group has taken responsibility for the rocket fire, the Israeli military holds Hamas responsible for any violence emanating from the coastal enclave.
The rocket fire last week was the first such attack in over a month when a ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel and terror groups in the Strip after a deadly round of violence saw close to 700 rockets fired killing 4 Israelis. The retaliatory Israeli strikes killed 25 Palestinians.
According to reports the ceasefire agreement includes, among others, that Hamas stop the violence along the border fence and maintain a 300 meter buffer between protesters and the fence and end to the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons towards Israeli communities.
Israel in return would reopen the fishing zone and border crossings and allow the transfer of Qatari money, to enable United Nations cash-for-work programs and to open negotiations on healthcare, electricity, and more.