Israel expands Gaza fishing area to 15 nautical miles

Israel announced on Tuesday that it would allow the expansion of fishing area off the coastal of Gaza Strip to 15 nautical miles.

The Israeli government coordinator Kamil Abu Rukan said in a statement “this step is part of the civil policy to prevent the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

He added that “the implementation of this step is based on the respect of fishermen in Gaza for what has been agreed upon,” noting that “we will not allow violation of the distance that has been identified and any breach will be followed up appropriately by navy forces.”

Israeli naval forces have imposed strict restrictions on the work of Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip to prevent smuggling and counter any possible attacks, according to fishermen who said to Xinhua.

On Monday, Islamic Hamas movement denied Israeli media reports which said that Hamas reached a cease-fire deal with Israel in the Gaza Strip for six months.

The Israeli reports said that in return, Israel agreed to expand the fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, to 15 nautical miles and allow medicines and increase the export and import in the enclave.

Basim Na’eem, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, told Xinhua that “nothing is new except the calm understandings that had been agreed upon, which were brokered by Egypt and the United Nations.”

Na’eem declined to give any more details. However, an official source in Hamas, on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that “the clam understandings in Gaza are linked to Israel’s commitment to implementing it.”

“We are not talking about new cease-fire or new understandings,” said the source, adding “any progress in empowering the calm understandings, is linked to the immediate implementation of the deal and easing the siege imposed on Gaza.”

Earlier on Monday evening, Israeli Televisions reported that a deal, which was mediated by Egypt and the UN to reinforce calm in the Gaza Strip, has been reached.