Lift the restrictions on the Gaza fishing range

Reduction of the fishing range in the Gaza Strip in response to missile fire on southern Israel constitutes collective punishment and severely damages the livelihood of Gaza fishermen.

This past Thursday (21 March 2013) the IDF spokesperson announced that the Israeli military will once again reduce the permitted fishing range in the Gaza Strip from six nautical miles to three (approximately 5.5km). This is in response to missile fire by armed Palestinian groups towards the south of Israel on Thursday morning. In doing so, the military reinstated the harsh restrictions imposed on Gaza's fishermen prior to Operation Pillar of Defense. Earlier, the military announced it will close the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel in response to the shooting.

This past Thursday (21.03.2013) the IDF spokesperson announced that the Israeli military will once again reduce the permitted fishing range in the Gaza Strip from six nautical miles to three (approximately 5.5km). This is in response to missile fire by armed Palestinian groups towards the south of Israel on Thursday morning. In doing so, the military reinstated the harsh restrictions imposed on Gaza's fishermen prior to Operation Pillar of Defense. Earlier, the military announced it will close the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel in response to the shooting.

Under the Oslo Agreements, the fishing range was 20 nautical miles (approximately 37 km). However, over the years, the Israeli military gradually reduced this range, severely damaging the livelihood of thousands of families and the availability of this basic and inexpensive food in the markets, which had served as a significant nutritional source.

Following Operation Pillar of Defense, Israeli expanded the range from three to six miles, which somewhat improved the situation. The decision to once again reduce the fishing range in response to missile fire by armed groups constitutes collective punishment imposed on fishermen for the actions of others. Article 33 in the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids collective punishment and states that a person must not be punished for an act that he or she did not commit. It is Israel's duty to protect its borders and its citizens and to act to neutralize a threat when it arises, but this cannot justify the harsh damage to fishermen who have done nothing wrong.

B'Tselem calls on the military to rescind its latest decision and the restrictions imposed on fishermen in the Gaza Strip in the past years, and to permit fishing in the 20 miles range, as was set under the Oslo Agreements.