Rafah Crossing closes | Gaza’s power plant shuts down | Fishing zone temporarily expanded

Fishermen in Gaza. Photo by Gisha.

Fishermen in Gaza. Photo by Gisha.

April 15, 2018. Rafah Crossing, between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, closed last night after being open for three days for movement of people in both directions. During this time, 2,593 people exited Gaza to Egypt, and 441 entered the Strip. Egyptian authorities denied exit of 213 Palestinians from Gaza, without explanation. Since the beginning of 2018, Rafah Crossing has only been open for travel out of Gaza on eight days, during which a total of 5,490 people left the Strip; entrance was allowed on 13 days, during which a total of 2,645 people entered Gaza from Egypt.

Gaza’s only power plant was shut down on Thursday afternoon due to fuel shortages, resulting in further cuts to the electricity supply, with only four hours of power followed by between 14 and 16 hours of outages. The Egyptian power lines, Gaza’s third source of electricity, in addition to Israel and the power station, have been shut down since mid-February.

Starting April 10, Gaza’s fishing zone, which is restricted by Israel, has been temporarily expanded to nine nautical miles offshore for a period of three months. Israel usually restricts the fishing zone to only six nautical miles off the Gaza coast. The maritime closure imposed by Israel has debilitated the sector, and made fishing an extremely dangerous occupation: the Israeli navy arrests fishermen and confiscates boats, often opening fire at fishing boats deemed to have exceeded the fishing zone.

Based on past extensions of the fishing zone, the temporary expansion is expected to have a limited effect on fishermen’s earnings. According to the chair of the Gaza Strip Fishermen’s Association, Nizar Ayash, the three-mile expansion is not sufficient to meet the needs of Gaza’s fishing community. Fishermen in the Strip demand that the fishing zone be expanded to 20 nautical miles, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.