Israel Limits Gaza Fishing Zone After Incendiary Balloons From Strip Set Fields Aflame

Fire services say 11 fires contained in border communities ■ Move comes only day after government announced it was expanding fishing zone in order to avoid 'humanitarian deterioration' in Gaza

Fishing boats carrying a group of Palestinian activists to set sail from Gaza City harbor.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Israel announced Wednesday it is limiting the fishing zone for Gazans down to 10 nautical miles from 15, saying decision comes after several incendiary balloons were launched across the border from the Strip and caused several conflagrations.

This comes only a day after Israel announced it was expanding the fishing zone as part of the cease-fire agreements with the two main factions in the Palestinian enclave, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

A Fire and Rescue Services spokesman said emergency teams cooperating with security forces were dealing with 11 brushfires in Gaza border communities on Wednesday, all of which have been contained.

A statement by the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories said the limit will be upheld until further notice.

Flames seen in a field after an incendiary balloon launched from the Gaza Strip set it on fire in southern Israel, May 22, 2019
Israeli Fire and Rescue Services

Gazans had been barred from fishing at all after the latest round of violence began, but fishing zones were reopened less than two weeks ago.

The COGAT statement on Tuesday said the move is part of "a civilian policy to avoid a humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip and part of a policy that differentiates between terroristactivities and an uninvolved civilian population."

COGAT added that the expansion would remain in place on condition that Gazan fishermen do not exceed the agreed-upon fishing zone, and that any deviation will be handled by the security forces.