A statement from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that the decision was made “to facilitate increased activity in Gaza Strip’s fishing sector, which is an [important] source of income”.
A similar measure to expand the fishing zone between April and June 2016 resulted in a 15% increase in the total output of fish, compared to the same period in 2015, according to COGAT.
The decision will go into effect on November 1 and expire approximately two months later.
Amjad al-Shrafi, the Secretary-General of the Gaza fisherman’s union, told The Jerusalem Post that he welcomed the expansion, but expressed his frustration that it will only last for two months: “We consider the expansion of the fishing zone an achievement of our rights as fishermen, but why will it only last for two months? We believe the Israeli authorities should make this change permanent”.
COGAT also said that it hopes to keep the zone open for the fishing season, but warned fishermen against taking advantage of the expansion: “We emphasise that the expansion is conditioned on the fishermen respecting the agreement [of nine nautical miles] and not exploiting it to smuggle or penetrate Israel’s territory”.
After the 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict in Gaza, Israel extended the fishing zone from three to six nautical miles. Prior to the Second Intifada, the zone measured 12 nautical miles.