May 23, 2019. Israel has again implemented a punitive reduction of the fishing zone it enforces in Gaza’s territorial waters. As of this morning, Israel is limiting the fishing zone to 10 nautical miles (nm), rather than the 12 nm that were being enforced since last Sunday. On Sunday, May 12, Israel had declared that it would enable Gaza fishermen to reach up to a distance of 15 nm in a section of the fishing zone, but Gaza fishermen told Gisha that the maximal distance being enforced was 12 nm.
This morning’s reduction was framed by Israel as a response to incendiary balloons being launched from Gaza, setting fire to fields in southern Israel.
On April 1, for the first time since Israel began implementing restrictions on fishing if Gaza’s shores in 1995, Israel expanded a section of the fishing zone to 15 nm. Since doing so, Israel has twice reduced access to the sea in Gaza as punitive measures: On April 30, it reduced the zone to only 6 nm; between May 5 and May 12, access to sea was banned altogether. Both instances and this morning’s reduction cause inordinate damage to fishermen and their families.
The recurrent reductions of the fishing zone in response to actions over which fishermen in Gaza have no control constitute blatant collective punishment, both illegal and immoral. Gisha calls on Israel to desist from these punitive measures and refrain from harming the livelihoods of fishermen in the Strip.