Israel removes sweeping ban on access to “fishing zone” it enforces in Gaza’s sea space

Fish stand in Gaza. Photo by Gisha

A fish stall in Gaza. Photo by Gisha

June 18, 2019. This morning Israel notified Gaza fishermen that it would remove the full maritime closure it implemented in Gaza’s territorial waters five days earlier, on June 13. This is the 16th change Israel has made to the demarcation of Gaza’s fishing zone since the beginning of 2019, and the 9th change in less than a month. Israel regularly enforces its access restrictions at sea using live fire, by seizing boats and valuable fishing equipment and by detaining fishermen.

Fishermen were told that as of 10 A.M. this morning (Tuesday), access to the sea would be permitted up to a distance of 6 nautical miles to the north of Wadi Gaza, and up to 10 nautical miles in a southern section of the zone.

Israel presents its reductions of the zone as a response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, though there is no connection between these incidents and the fishing sector in the Strip. Israel’s frequent changes to the demarcation of the fishing zone lead to even greater uncertainty for the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on access to the sea, and harm Gaza’s already frail economy. We call on Israel to refrain from enacting illegal collective punishment against Gaza’s civilian population.