Israel reopens full Gaza fishing zone despite lingering border tensions

Military reduced the permitted area to 10 nautical miles last week after rocket and mortar fire from the coastal enclave

Fishing boats in the Gaza City port, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Fishing boats in the Gaza City port, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians on Monday night announced that he was expanding the permitted fishing zone off the Gaza coast back to 15 nautical miles, as it had been before a series of rocket and mortar attacks last week.

“The fishing zone will be expanded back to 15 nautical miles from tomorrow morning,” Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said in a statement.

Last Thursday, Israel reduced the Gaza fishing zone to 10 nautical miles, following the attacks from the coastal enclave. Though the missile fire has halted in recent days, tensions along the border persisted. On Monday morning, a Palestinian man crossed the Gaza border fence and threatened IDF soldiers with a knife before the troops shot him, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Abu Rukun’s office said in a statement that the Gaza fishing zone expansion would only remain in place as long as Gaza fishermen remained within the permitted boundaries.

“It is important to emphasize that deviation from the agreed-upon limits will not be allowed, and that every deviation will be handled accordingly by the security forces,” Abu Rukun said.

A rocket and mortar shell that were fired at southern Israel on Thursday caused neither injury nor damage. In response, the Israeli Air Force conducted a series of airstrikes on Hamas facilities in the Strip.

The day before, an Israeli aircraft fired at and hit an armed Palestinian who approached the border fence. The military said Wednesday that the Palestinian man was spotted by IDF observation posts as he neared the security fence in southern Gaza. Authorities in the Hamas-run Strip did not comment on the Palestinian suspect’s condition.

Footage of the incident, which was later distributed by the IDF, showed the suspect approaching the security fence armed with what appears to be an assault rifle. The video ends before the airstrike.

On Friday, several thousand Palestinians protested on the Gaza border as part of the weekly March of Return protests, including several hundred who rioted and clashed with Israeli forces, as the coastal enclave’s Hamas rulers marked 32 years since the founding of the terror group. In addition to the border clashes, thousands took part in rallies in Gaza over the weekend to mark the 1987 anniversary of the terror group’s establishment.

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