Israel restores Gaza fishing area to six miles

Area previously restricted to three nautical miles after rocket fire on southern Israel; announcement comes ahead of Kerry visit.

May 21, 2013 12:19
1 minute read.
A Palestinian boy fishes at the Gaza Seaport

Gaza fishing 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Israel is restoring the Gazan fishing area to six miles (11km), the IDF said Tuesday, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had confirmed the decision.

The announcement came two days before a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled since 2010.

The area was restricted to three nautical miles (5.5 km) from the Gaza Coast in March in response to rocket fire on southern Israel.

Citing security concerns, Israel maintains a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas Islamists. It also restricts the movement of people and goods through its overland borders with the territory.

After news the zone had been extended, Gaza fisherman Nahed Abu Hasseera said some of his 3,000 colleagues had already ventured further out into the Mediterranean on Tuesday to try to net a lucrative seasonal sardine catch generally available only in deeper waters.

"This is a good thing and we hope restrictions can be eased further. The deeper we go into the sea the more fish we catch," he told Reuters.

Israel had expanded the fishing zone to six nautical miles from three in November as part of Egyptian-mediated truce with Hamas that ended the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense.

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