Israel expands Gaza’s fishing zone: official

Israel expands Gaza’s fishing zone: official

JERUSALEM (Rahnuma): An Israeli official said Tuesday that the fishing zone it allows off the Gaza Strip will be expanded, amidst efforts to achieve calm between Israel and Hamas.

The official, speaking on anonymity, told Xinhua that the fishing zone will be expanded from six nautical miles to 10 starting from 11:00 local time (0800 GMT).

The move came six days after COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations, announced it has imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip after helium-filled incendiary balloons were launched from the coastal enclave.

Also on Tuesday, an Egyptian delegation was expected to arrive at Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli officials over Gaza before continuing similar meetings in Ramallah, according to the Hebrew-language Ynet news site.

The talks are part of Egypt’s effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Israel frequently increases the restrictions on the fishing zone off Gaza as a punitive measure or to press Hamas.

Palestinians denounce such moves as collective punishment. The livelihood of at least 5,000 people in Gaza, including 3,700 fishermen, depends on the fishing industry.

The Gaza Strip, home to about 2 million people, has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. Under the blockade, Israel strictly limits exit and entering of people as well as goods, inflicting a humanitarian crisis on the territory.

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