Israel allows fuel shipment to Gaza, expands fishing area

Israel on Friday allowed the shipment of fuel for the operation of the only power station in the Gaza Strip and expanded the area for fishing off the coast of the Hamas-ruled enclave, officials said.

Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told Xinhua on telephone that Egyptian and global mediation “informed us (Hamas) that the occupation (Israel) is committed to calm understandings in the Gaza Strip.”

“We will follow up the implementation of the entire calm understandings provisions with the Egyptian mediators who are expected to visit the Gaza Strip early next week,” said Qassem.

Zeyad Thabet, director of Gaza Power Company, told reporters that Israel allowed on Friday the shipment of fuel to operate Gaza power station, adding that fuel was shipped through Kerem Shalom crossing on the border with Israel.

“The fuel was brought by fuel containers to operate the station. In the last few days due to shortage of fuel, two generators only were operated and a third one stopped,” said Thabet, adding “the company on Friday reoperated the third one.”

Meanwhile, Zakareya Bakker, head of the fishermen committees in Gaza, said Israel expanded the fishing area after it reduced it last week.

“But saying 15 miles is not accurate and unclear because Israel divided the coast of the Gaza Strip into three separate areas, north of Gaza is 7 miles, central Gaza 12 miles and southern Gaza close to Egypt 15 miles,” said Bakker.

The agreement on restoring clam in the Gaza Strip was made few hours before the Palestinians join the weekly anti-Israel rallies and protests that had been organized in eastern Gaza Strip since March 30 last year, known as the Great March of Return.

According to Hamas officials, Israel in return is obliged not to directly open live ammunition and gunfire at Palestinian demonstrators who join the weekly rallies in eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel.

Israeli media outlets, had meanwhile, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the agreement, in condition to stop releasing arson balloons from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel.

Israeli Radio had earlier reported that 15 fire incidents occurred in southern Israel after Gaza activists released dozens of arson balloons into Israel. No injuries were reported, but severe damage was caused to large agricultural areas in Israel.

Senior Hamas leaders had earlier warned that the calm understandings, brokered by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar, “are in danger” after Israel delayed and postponed the implementation of the agreement.