Israel tightens sea blockade on Gaza after rocket launch

Israel tightens sea blockade on Gaza after rocket launch
Israel has reduced the offshore fishing limit it has imposed on Gaza following rocket strikes.
2 min read
30 April, 2019
Fishing is one of the main ways besieged Gazans can get food [Getty]

Israel reduced the offshore fishing limit it imposes for vessels operating out of the besieged Gaza Strip from Tuesday following rocket fire from the territory by militants, officials said.

Gazan fishermen will now be able to operate no more than six nautical miles into the Mediterranean, down from a limit of up to 15 nautical miles Israel had enforced since April 1.

The Israeli army’s ministry unit that oversees civil matters in the Palestine, said the new limit would be in force "until further notice."

A COGAT spokesperson said the decision was taken in the light of a rocket launch from Gaza late on Monday.

A military spokesperson said the rocket fell into the Mediterranean, a few kilometres (couple of miles) off the Israeli coast.

An army source said the rocket was fired by Gaza based militant group, Islamic Jihad.

The source alleged that in recent weeks Islamic Jihad had been "taking steps to harm" efforts to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

But the source underlined that the evidence Islamic Jihad had fired the rocket would not affect Israel's longstanding policy of holding Hamas responsible as Gaza's de facto ruler.

"We still consider Hamas responsible for whatever happens in the (Gaza) Strip," the source said.

Israel had extended the fishing limit to 15 nautical miles in some areas from April 1 as part of a package of measures intended to calm a flare-up of violence with Hamas ahead of the April 9 Israeli general election.

The Gaza fishermen's union said the limit was then set at 15 nautical miles in the south near the Egyptian border, at 12 off central Gaza and at six in the north near the Israeli border.

Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008 and has blockaded the territory for more than a decade.