After Week of Escalation, Israel Limits Gaza Fishing Zone

Move comes after barrages of rockets, mortar shells and explosive-laden balloons from Gaza and retaliatory airstrikes targeting Hamas

Yaniv Kubovich
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Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on January 15, 2020.
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on January 15, 2020. Credit: AFP
Yaniv Kubovich

Israel has reduced Gaza's fishing zone from 10 to 15 nautical miles after a week of escalation sparked by the unveiling of the Trump administration's peace plan in Washington, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The move, which came into effect on Wednesday at 4 P.M. and is said to last "until further notice," comes after rockets and explosive-laden balloons were launched from the coastal enclave at southern Israel. The Israeli army has responded with airstrikes.

Netanyahu's 'annexation nation' is ready to strike again. ListenCredit: Haaretz Weekly Ep. 60

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Kamil said in a statement that the decision to limit Gaza's fishing zone "was taken after repeated terror activities were carried out from within the Strip against Israel's citizens over the past several weeks, which constitute a violation of Israeli sovereignty."

The statement added that Israel views "Hamas as responsible for everything that emanates from the Gaza Strip and the organization will be held accountable for the ramifications of the violence exercised against Israel's citizens."

Palestinian fishermen unload their catch from boats after an overnight night fishing trip in the Gaza seaport during windstorm, January 13, 2020.
Palestinian fishermen unload their catch from boats after an overnight night fishing trip in the Gaza seaport during windstorm, January 13, 2020.Credit: Hatem Moussa.AP

On Wednesday evening, the Israeli army said two mortar shells launched from the Strip toward Israel fell in an open area and caused no damage. 

Over the last week, at least 13 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory on seven different occasions.

Three rockets were fired Tuesday overnight from Gaza into Israeli territory.

Rocket alert sirens rang out shortly after midnight in southern Israeli towns east of Gaza. There were no casualties reported.

Israeli air force struck Hamas positions near Khan Younis in the south of the Strip, Hamas-affiliated media channels in Gaza reported around an hour later.

The Israeli army issued a statement confirming the strikes. "IDF fighter jets struck targets belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip [including] a site used to manufacture weapons," the statement said.

It stopped short of blaming Hamas directly for the original attack, but said it holds Hamas "responsible for what is happening in and coming out of the Gaza Strip."

Israeli defense officials believe this is an attempt by Hamas to pressure Israel to make good on its promises on recents agreements between the two parties before the next round of elections, Haaretz reported on Monday.

On Saturday, Israel announced several new restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

Abu Rokon said no cement will be allowed into Gaza and 500 entry permits for Palestinian merchants will be suspended as of Sunday morning “until further notice.”

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