Palestinian fishermen in the waters off of the Gaza Strip

Israel has announced further reductions of the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone, stating it was in response to the weekly protests near the fence east of the coastal enclave.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office said in a statement on Saturday that the fishing zone will be reduced from nine nautical miles to six nautical miles.

Lieberman cited Friday’s “riots” at the fence dividing Gaza and Israel as contributing to his decision, in addition to the midweek beach protests in which fishing boats and protesters gathered at the northwest end of the Gaza Strip.

Three Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed in Friday’s protest, bringing the total death toll to at least 183 Palestinians since the demonstrations began on March 30.

Fishing zone restrictions

Under the Oslo Accords, fishermen are supposed to be allowed to operate up to 20 nautical miles off the coast.

However, Israel has restricted Palestinian fishing boats to a much smaller area since it imposed an economic blockade on Gaza in 2007.

Palestinian officials have accused Israeli forces of opening fire at fishermen off the Gaza coast based on claims they have violated the set fishing zone.

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli naval forces also detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza City.

Around 50,000 Gazans earn their living from fishing, according to Palestinian estimates.

After Israel’s devastating military offensive on Gaza in the summer of 2014, in which some 2,150 Palestinians were killed, Israel began allowing Palestinian fishermen to fish up to six nautical miles off the Gaza coast, up from the previous three nautical miles.

Last May, Israeli authorities increased the fishing area to nine nautical miles.

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