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Israel extends Gaza fishing zone

Palestinian fishermen net more Gaza coastline from Israel.

MantaraypickupEnlarge
Palestinian fishermen collect several Manta Ray fish that were washed up on the beach in Gaza City on February 27, 2013. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel on Tuesday announced a fishing extension of up to six nautical miles for Palestinian fishermen on the Gaza coast, reported The New York Times

The move comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in the region for a trip aimed in part at resuscitating stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the zone had been extended from three to six nautical miles, reported Reuters

Israel imposed a naval blockade as well as on-land restrictions on the Gaza Strip in response to the area's Islamist rulers. The measures are controversial because they isolate an increasingly impoverished Gazan population. 

Gaza fisherman Nahed Abu Hasseera told Reuters he and his fishermen buddies had already gone out on the newly-approved Mediterranean waters to get the first available catch. 

"This is a good thing and we hope restrictions can be eased further," he said. "The deeper we go into the sea the more fish we catch."

The Tuesday announcement reportedly restored the designated fishing area to the one agreed upon in November as part of an Egyptian-mediated peace deal that ended days of cross-border violence between Gaza and Israel. 

Gaza fishermen syndicate director Nizar Ayyash told NYT the zone set in the 1990s was at 20 nautical miles. 

“Israel opened the sea now after we lost the sardine season, which is the most important one in the year,” Ayyash complained to NYT, but he still described the provision as "a gain for us."

"Any extra mile we get is better than nothing," he said. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/130521/israel-extends-gaza-fishing-zone