Israel closes off Gaza sea to Palestinian fishermen in move decried as 'collective punishment'

Israel closes off Gaza sea to Palestinian fishermen in move decried as 'collective punishment'
Palestinian fishermen will not be able to access waters off the Gaza coast.
2 min read
This is not the first time Israel restricts Gaza's fishing zone [AFP/Getty]
Israel said on Monday it is blocking Gaza waters to fishermen after rocket fire from the blockaded Palestinian enclave, an action that has been condemned as "collective punishment" on the local population.

The Israeli army said five rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel overnight, two of which were intercepted by its air defences.

The measures mean that Palestinian trawlers will not be able to go to sea, causing further economic hardships for the Palestinian population in the besieged land strip already suffering from poverty and shortages.

"The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip would be completely closed until further notice," said COGAT, the Israeli military body that administers civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including the West Bank.

Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, said this decision was "a flagrant infringement on the rights" of the Palestinian people, Arabi21 reported.

In 2019, Israeli human rights group Gisha's Miriam Marmur told Al Jazeera a previous restriction placed on Gaza's fishing industry was "illegal collective punishment".

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Israel said the measure was "due to the continuation of the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards the State of Israel during the night," it said in a statement, although rights groups have decried this as punishment on the whole Palestinian population In the enclave.

Israel said it would hold Hamas "accountable for all that is done in and from the Gaza Strip towards Israel", COGAT said.

Rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza overnight Friday and again Saturday evening with Israeli airstrikes hitting the enclave.

Israel, which has imposed a blockade on Gaza for more than a decade, had set the fishing zone for the coastal enclave at 20 nautical miles following the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s.

But over the years Israel has reduced the size depending on tensions with Hamas.

In September, the fishing zone was set at 15 nautical miles after an agreement between Israel and Gaza's rulers.

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