Israel compelled to restrict Gaza fishing zone in wake of arson attacks

Two weeks after allowing the zone to reopen, and a day after expanding it, the IDF again restricted it due to a rash of fires caused by balloons launched from Gaza.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF decided to restrict the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone once again Wednesday, after a firefighters spent the day battling blazes in Israel’s south caused by Palestinian terrorists.

“A decision was made tonight to restrict the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) until further notice. The decision was made subsequent to the dispatch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip toward Israel,” Israel’s COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) Unit said in a statement.

The move was made only one day after Israel decided to expand the fishing zone from 12 to 15 nautical miles. That decision had been taken in response to the comparative quiet along the border for the last two weeks and “to prevent a deterioration in the humanitarian situation” in the Gaza Strip, COGAT said.

The reduced of violence had been attributed to a reported cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and the U.N. earlier this month after Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched 700 missiles at Israel that killed four and wounded over 200 on May 4-5.

In response to the two-day barrage, COGAT had completely shut down the fishing zone for a week, only opening it on May 10, the first Friday of Ramadan.

Gazan fishing zones are often closed as a result of Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel along with border crossings.

The 13 fires ignited in Israel by airborne devices originating in the Gaza Strip yesterday showed that Hamas wasn’t taking seriously its part of the ceasefire to refrain from such arson attacks.

In one blaze alone, a Sedot Negev spokespersons said that 50 dunam (12 acres) of wheat fields went up in smoke. Both cropland and grassland were burned before teams from the fire department, Jewish National Fund, the Parks Authority and security officers from surrounding communities managed to put out the fires.