Gaza fishermen test their new freedom after ceasefire deal eases restrictions


Gaza fisherman test their new freedom after cease-fire allows them to set sail up to six miles from shore.


Christopher Furlong

Gaza fishermen are testing their newfound freedom after the Israel-Hamas cease-fire on Wednesday.

On Sunday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that Egypt had told them that Israel will allow Gazans to fish up to six miles versus three miles before the conflict.

The new limit may signal that Israel is easing its economic blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza strip.

Fishermen in Gaza told Reuters that they had tested the new limit this weekend.

"The Israeli army naval boat which used to fire and torch Palestinian boats that sailed beyond a 3-mile distance watched without doing anything to prevent them," Murad Al-Issi, a member of a fishermen's group, told Reuters.

Palestinians living in Gaza say the Israeli restrictions have severely interrupted their ability to fish in the past.

The Financial Times reported that under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Palestinians were allowed to fish up to 20 miles offshore but that limit was later reduced unilaterally by Israel due to security concerns.

The blockade by Israel has massively interrupted economic life in Gaza where one in three is out of work.

Most commodities are smuggled into Gaza via tunnels from Egypt.

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