After Balloon Attacks, Gaza Fishing Range Again Reduced

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Israeli Navy vessel seen patrolling off the coast of Gaza. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

The IDF on Wednesday once again decreased the range Gaza fishing vessels could ply. The range as of Wednesday morning was 10 nautical miles off the coast. The reduction was in response to the dispatch of incendiary balloons by Gaza terrorists on Tuesday, the IDF’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, Kamil Abu Rukun said. The fishing range has now been changed four times in the past two weeks.

On Tuesday, two forest fires broke out in the Gaza border area, both in the Be’eri Forest. No one was injured, but forest officials attributed the fires to Gaza-dispatched terror balloons.

Israel had agreed to increase the range fishing vessels could ply to 15 nautical miles as part of the understandings negotiated by UN and Egyptian mediators that led to the end of Gaza rocket attacks against southern Israel several weeks ago. The range for fishing vessels had been reduced to as little as six miles. Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired some 700 rockets at southern Israel during those attacks. Part of those understandings entailed an end to incendiary balloon attacks.

Channel 12 reported this week that among the other commitments by Hamas were a reduction in the number of people at the weekly riots at the Gaza border, and keeping rioters 300 meters away from the fence. Besides increasing the fishing range to 15 nautical miles, Israel committed to allowing Qatari money into Gaza without interference, and to discuss improving infrastructure. Israel, however, has conditioned fulfilling its obligations on Gaza terror groups doing likewise – and in the past several weeks, the fishing range “gesture” had been reduced three times in response to balloon terror attacks.

However, in the previous two instances, the range was restored to 15 nautical miles just a day or two after being reduced. The range was restored, the IDF said in those instances, as “part of our policy to prevent a humanitarian crisis among the civilian population, as we separate between civilians who are not involved in the dispute and terrorist forces.”

Overnight Tuesday, security officials said they arrested 3 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.