|Relative calm continues; fishing limits doubled
This week, the Israeli authorities extended, once again, the fishing areas permissible for Gaza fishermen to 6 Nautical Miles (NM) from the shore. This limit, which had been set in November 2012, as part of the ceasefire agreement, was reduced on 21 March 2013 to 3 NM, in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups. The erratic implementation of sea access restrictions in the recent period has left fishermen fearful that they will be unable to capitalize on investments made following the relaxation of restrictions in November. The currently accessible areas by sea makes up only 30 per cent of the fishing zones allocated to Palestinians under the Oslo Agreement of 1994 (20 NM). The expansion of these limits to over 12 NM is required to enable the revitalization of the fishing sector.
During the week, at least ten incidents of opening warning fire and using water cannons against fishermen were recorded in the proximity of the new 6 NM fishing limit. While none of these incidents resulted in injuries, at least one boat and some fishing equipment were damaged. In the context of similar restrictions on land near the fence between Israel and Gaza, on at least two occasions, Israeli forces fired warning shots towards people and conducted land leveling operations before withdrawing. No injuries were reported.
One killed in a tunnel-related incident
On 24 May, a 20 year-old worker was killed when a tunnel under the Gaza Strip-Egypt border collapsed while he was working, bringing the total number of those killed in tunnel-related incidents since the beginning of 2013 to 13. Eleven other workers have been injured so far in 2013. Tunnels, many of which are poorly built, remain the primary source for the transfer of construction materials into Gaza, for which entry via Israel remains restricted, and for fuel, which is cheaper to purchase from Egypt.
Another death sentence
On 23 May, a military court in Gaza sentenced a 43 year-old civilian man to death by hanging, after convicting him of “collaboration with a hostile element”. This is the third case of a death sentence since the beginning of the year, bringing the total number of these sentences issued since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 to 135. Of those, 108 sentences have been issued in Gaza and 27 in the West Bank. Of these sentences, 27 have been executed, including 25 in the Gaza Strip (14 without the required Palestinian presidential ratification) and two in the West Bank.