COGAT Postpones Expanded Fishing Zone Off Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli military authorities announced on Sunday that the expansion of the fishing zone off the Gaza coast, planned to begin November 1, has been postponed due to Palestinian failure to honor the terms of the agreement, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“It has unfortunately become clear that the Palestinian side did not implement what was agreed to in order to allow the decision [to expand the fishing zone] to go into effect,” Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordecai, the head of COGAT (Coordinator for Government Affairs in the Territories), stated. Specifically, the Palestinian side did not “place a boat to monitor” compliance with the fishing boundaries. The temporary expansion was to be from the current six nautical miles to nine.

However, PA Civil Affairs Ministry spokesman Muhammed al-Maqadma told The Jerusalem Post that the PA has fulfilled all of its commitments.

“The agreement does not talk about a monitoring boat; Israel only set that condition in the past few days,” said Maqadma, who works for the PA ministry responsible for all civil coordination with Israel.

COGAT rejected Maqadma’s statement, insisting that a boat was necessary “to ensure that there are no infractions in the enlarged fishing zone, and to maintain order between the fishermen.”

When Israel announced the arrangement on October 26, it stipulated that it could only be implemented as long as the Palestinians cooperated and did not exploit it for illicit activities such as smuggling.

There are an estimated 4000 fishermen in Gaza, who rely on the fish they catch to make ends meet.