GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel’s collection of goodwill gestures to the Palestinians within the Gaza Strip Sept. 1 embrace the enlargement of the fishing space, a rise within the quantity of water offered to Gaza and a rise of labor permits in addition to the entry of extra items and gear into the besieged enclave via the Kerem Shalom border crossing.
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem advised Al-Monitor, “Agreements among mediators and Israel are in place to relieve the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. Israel has tried to avoid [easing the siege] after the latest escalation in May, but the Palestinian factions in Gaza have insisted.”
Qassem mentioned, “What we are demanding is a greater range than these measures, like guaranteeing citizens’ freedom to move through the crossings and beginning the reconstruction process.” He added, “If the Israeli occupation does not take real steps to lift the blockade, popular pressure will continue and more escalation might happen.”
Zakaria Bakr, head of the local fishermen union in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “Fishermen do not welcome the decision to expand the fishing area since there are no guarantees the decision will last. Any friction on the land border between the Gaza Strip and Israel will negatively affect fishermen and fishing areas.”
He accused Israel of tightening maritime restrictions to harm the fishing sector, which suffered great losses during the 18-day closure during the May escalation. Bakr explain the decision to expand the fishing area will remain meaningless as long as Israel prevents the entry of fishing equipment and material to build ships.
He called for measures to ease fishermen’s living conditions, saying, fishermen must be protected from the Israeli attacks and fishing equipment must be allowed to enter to the Gaza Strip.
He said, “Announcing the expansion of fishing areas is just Israeli propaganda to improve Israel’s reputation in the international media.”
The current situation is leaving more than 4,000 Gaza fishermen unable to work. Bakr explained that Gaza’s northern coast has plentiful fishing, however Israel has restricted the fishing zone to solely six miles there.
In 2016, Israel divided Gaza’s maritime areas into three zones: six nautical miles out from the northern border to Gaza City, six to 9 miles out from Gaza City to central Gaza and 12 to 15 miles out from central to south Gaza.
Bakr believes that this coverage is meant to cease Palestinian fishermen from offering for the residents of Gaza and pressure them to import meals from Israel, a violation of worldwide regulation and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Khalid al-Hbeel, a 55-year-old fisherman, advised Al-Monitor that increasing the fishing zone doesn’t profit the fishermen, saying the following fishing season would not even begin till the tip of September and Israel might return on the choice earlier than then. He mentioned if the choice does maintain, the fishing sector would possibly get well some.
Hbeel added that though he owns a big boat, he has not but sailed out the utmost distance given the shortage of fish right now of yr.
Hbeel continued, “The cost to sail for 15 miles could exceed $1,200, so fishermen think carefully before sailing for that distance. No boat has sailed this distance since the Israeli announcement about expanding the fishing area.”
He added, “Around 95% of fishing boats are worn out because of lack of maintenance and lack of spare parts. Fishermen sometimes have to remove parts from old trucks and recycle them to fit their boats.”
Asked about incidents of fishermen being shot at by Israeli forces, he mentioned that robust currents may cause boats to float additional than supposed. “What is the benefit of expanding the maritime areas if fishermen are threatened by Israeli boats that puts their lives and boats at risk?”
He believes Israel desires to pressure Palestinian fishermen out of the ocean though they aren’t a direct risk to Israel’s safety. Fishermen solely wish to feed their households, he careworn.
Hussam al-Dujni, a professor of political science at Umma University in Gaza, advised Al-Monitor, “Israel’s goodwill measures at this time are triggered by the US administration’s efforts to make changes in the Middle East, the public pressure on the eastern border with the Gaza Strip, the use of new resistance techniques and the Israeli government’s concern about the disastrous deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza which could implode and drag the region into escalation.”
He went on, “The new Israeli measures are not in line with the needs of the Gaza Strip. The expansion of the fishing zones without allowing the entry of the needed equipment will not help the fishing sector. Israel wrongfully exploits the dual-use issue to justify the ban on the entry of certain equipment. Over the past 16 years, the Palestinian resistance has managed to smuggle only the equipment it needs for its own purposes.”
He added, “Banning the import of material will only affect the drained residents of Gaza.”