Palestinian Israeli conflict

Israel closes Gaza fishing zone over rocket fire

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The Israeli army said Monday it is closing the fishing zone off the already blockaded Gaza Strip, preventing trawlers from going out to sea, after repeated rocket attacks on Israel.

The move comes after the Israeli army said five rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight, two of which were intercepted by its air defenses.

The fishing zone off Gaza will “be completely closed until further notice,” said COGAT, the Israeli military body that administers civilian affairs in Palestinian territories including the occupied West Bank.

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The measure was “due to the continuation of the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward the State of Israel during the night,” it said in a statement.

It did not say who was responsible, but said it would hold the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, “accountable for all that is done in and from the Gaza Strip toward Israel.”

Hamas “will bear the consequences for the violence committed against the citizens” of Israel, it said.

Gaza fishing union head Zakaria Bakr told AFP on Monday the Israeli measure constituted “collective punishment for the 50,000 people who make a living from the fishing industry in Gaza.”

Hamas itself denounced Israel’s move as “a flagrant violation” of fishermen’s rights and a form of “continued aggression” against Gazans.

“Will not accept restrictive measures and pressure on the Palestinians,” a spokesman said in a statement, warning that Israel will “pay” for its “aggressive behavior.”

Salvos of rockets were also fired at Israel from Gaza overnight Friday and again overnight Saturday, prompting Israel to carry out retaliatory air strikes on the coastal 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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