Israel Reopens Gaza Fishing Zones as Part of Cease-fire Agreements

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Palestinian fisherman unload their catch, Gaza Seaport, April 3, 2019.
Palestinian fisherman unload their catch, Gaza Seaport, April 3, 2019.Credit: Khalil Hamra,AP

Israel reopened fishing zones along the coast of Gaza Friday morning, expanding the zone to 12 nautical miles, as part of the implementation of cease-fire agreements mediated by Egypt between Israel and the two main organizations in the coastal enclave, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

According to an announcement by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Thursday, the reopening of the fishing zones is "part of a civilian policy to avoid a humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip and part of a policy that differentiates between terrorist activities and an uninvolved civilian population."

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The announcement also noted that the fishing zones were opened on condition that the Gazans do not exceed the agreed-upon fishing zone. Any deviation will be handled by the security forces, the statement added.

The Qatari envoy to Israel and the Palestinians, Mohammed al-Emadi, is expected to return to Gaza on Friday, or within the coming days, in order to transfer the monthly Qatari funds that pay the salaries of Hamas officials and provide for impoverished families in the Strip.

The Palestinian groups in Gaza told Egyptian mediators earlier this week that they are giving Israel one week to implement the cease-fire agreements – including the reopening of the fishing zone, the transfer of Qatari money and the reopening of the border crossings for the entry of goods.

The reopening of the border crossings has been delayed due to Israel's decision to close all crossings into the Strip and the West Bank during Israel's Memorial Day and Independence day.

A Hamas political source told Haaretz that they expect Israel to complete the three steps over the weekend, and if not, fighting may begin anew.

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