Palestinian factions preparing 'battle' to break Gaza naval blockade

The maritime actions being planned by the Palestinian factions would reportedly be similar to the "March of Return."

 Palestinians sail with boats towards the maritime border with Israel as smoke rises from a burning tire during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza, in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip September 10, 2018 (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Palestinians sail with boats towards the maritime border with Israel as smoke rises from a burning tire during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza, in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip September 10, 2018
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip are preparing for a "battle" to break the naval blockade on the coastal enclave, with a number of activities being planned in the coming weeks, informed sources told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Wednesday.

The sources added that the actions being planned by the factions would be similar to the "March of Return," a series of often violent demonstrations that took place along the Gaza border on a nearly weekly basis between March 2018 to December 2019. The report did not mention any specific actions planned.

In a recent address, Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, claimed that Hamas was working with other parties to operate a maritime line to the Strip in order to bypass the Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave.

Sinwar added that consultations and preparations on this issue are "in full swing" in order to "break the siege completely," but did not elaborate on how such a line would get past the Israeli blockade.

The Gaza Strip is under a land, sea and air blockade by Israel and Egypt. As part of the blockade, Gazan maritime vessels are only allowed a certain distance off the coast of Gaza, with this distance changing depending on the security situation. No vessels are allowed to enter Gazan waters from outside the blockade and multiple flotillas which have attempted to do so in the past have been intercepted by Israeli forces.

Navy, Shin Bet thwart attempted weapons smuggling into Gaza from Sinai (credit: SCREENSHOT/IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)Navy, Shin Bet thwart attempted weapons smuggling into Gaza from Sinai (credit: SCREENSHOT/IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

A Palestinian fisherman was moderately injured on Wednesday after he was shot by the Egyptian Navy off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian reports.

Last week, the IDF announced that it had thwarted a naval smuggling network that was bringing parts for weapons into Gaza for Hamas. The Shin Bet, Intelligence Directorate and Navy arrested three suspects on April 8 after they attempted to cross into Egyptian territorial waters from Gazan waters. One of the suspects was found to have conducted additional smuggling operations for Hamas in the past.

"We hit a significant axis that was used to transfer components to create weapons to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip," said Eli Sukholitsky, commander of the Navy's Ashdod base.