Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Israel further restricts Gazas naval blockade

By Eli Lillis - October 09, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [fishermen]

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered Gaza’s naval boundary to be restricted to six nautical miles, down from its previous nine nautical miles. 

Lieberman made the decision on October 6 stating it was due to an escalation of violence along the Gazan border.

“The Defence Minister’s decision was made following the violent rioting over the weekend near the fence and attempts to harm IDF forces and launch confrontational flotillas,” the ministry
According to the Oslo Peace Accords, Gazan fishermen are allowed to operate up to 20 nautical miles off the coast.
However, Israel has restricted Palestinian fishing boats to an extremely limited zone since it imposed its economic blockade on Gaza in 2007.
This zone has fluctuated at Israel’s whim.
Around 50,000 Gazans live off the fishing industry, but 95 percent of those are below the poverty line according to a report by human rights group B’Tselem.
The report concluded Israel’s harassment of fishermen has been destroying Gaza’s fishing sector, as well as enforcing overfishing in such a small area.
A senior Palestinian official derided Israel's decision to further reduce the naval boundary off the Gaza coast "unjust and unfair."
Nizar Ayyash, head of the fishermen association in Gaza, told Xinhua News “the decision will negatively influence the living of hundreds of fishermen amid a severe economic recession in the Gaza Strip."
On the same day as the announcement, Israeli gunboats opened fire on a Palestinian fishing vessel.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), two men were arrested, while one was wounded by rubber coated steel bullets.
The men were forced to strip naked, and swim in open seas to an IDF gunboat. Both men were released by the end of the day.
The PCHR noted the restrictions by the Israeli naval forces are part of collective punishments imposed against Palestinian civilians. 
PCHR also noted the decision to reduce the area allowed for fishing violates the right to work recognized by Article (6) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Israeli Defence Minister indicated retaliations against protests in Gaza would increase.
“We’ve been through the [Jewish] High Holidays exactly as we planned, exacting a heavy price on the rioters along the Gaza border,” Lieberman wrote on his personal Twitter account, referencing the people killed and injured by IDF troops during the clashes.
“The holidays are over, and I say to the heads of Hamas: 'Take that into account,” the Defence Minister tweeted.

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