Israel expands Gaza fishing zone, approves extra 2,000 work permits

On February 5 it reduced the fishing zone to 10 nautical miles and on February 1 it revoked some 500 travel permits for Gaza merchants.

Palestinians travel through a crossing monitored by COGAT on umrah, the pilgrimage to Mecca for Hajj (photo credit: COGAT)
Palestinians travel through a crossing monitored by COGAT on umrah, the pilgrimage to Mecca for Hajj
(photo credit: COGAT)
Seeking to ensure Gaza calm, Israel on Wednesday will expand the enclave’s fishing zone from 10 to 15 nautical miles and approve an additional 2,000 travel permits for merchants.
“In light of the relative calm in the Gaza envelope in recent days and the cessation of explosive balloons, it was decided after a security consultation to restore the civilian measures that were halted last weekend,” the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Tuesday.
“If the calm is preserved, Israel will restore the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles and will increase by 2,000 the permits for Gaza merchants,” COGAT said.
“The continuation of this policy will be determined by action on the ground,” it said. “Hamas is responsible for what is happening in Gaza and from Gaza. If the calm is not preserved, Israel will act accordingly.”
On Saturday, Israel held off from taking similar measures to ease conditions in Gaza following continued Palestinian violence originating from there.
On February 5, it reduced the fishing zone to 10 nautical miles, and on February 1 it revoked some 500 travel permits for Gaza merchants.
On February 9, the left-wing Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement wrote a letter to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and COGAT commander Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun asking that they restore the permits. It estimated there were more than 5,000 permits for merchants.
It warned that withholding travel permits harmed the “traders’ businesses,” infringed on their rights and had “grave repercussions for Gaza’s economy as a whole.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas of military action unless it halted the launching of rockets and incendiary balloons against Israel. In a meeting with mayors and regional council heads from the South, Netanyahu said: “Israel was prepared for any scenario, including a wide-ranging operation.”
Earlier in the day at the cabinet meeting, he said: “Only a few weeks ago, we targeted the senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, and I suggest that both Islamic Jihad and Hamas refresh their memories. We are prepared to take devastating action against the terrorist organizations in Gaza.”


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