Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after rocket launch

Several thousand Gazans depend on fishing for their livelihoods but often changing Israeli restrictions have led to prolonged layoffs that mean many live below the poverty line (AFP Photo/MAHMUD HAMS)
Israel reduced the offshore fishing limit it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Tuesday following rocket fire from the territory by Palestinian militants, officials said.
Gaza fishermen will now be able to operate no more than six nautical miles into the Mediterranean, down from a limit of up to 15 nautical miles Israel had enforced since April 1.
The Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees civil matters in the Palestinian territories, said the new limit would be in force "until further notice."
A COGAT spokeswoman said the decision was taken in the light of a rocket launch from Gaza late on Monday.
A military spokeswoman said the rocket fell into the Mediterranean, a few kilometres (couple of miles) off the Israeli coast.
An army source said the rocket was fired by Gaza\’s second largest militant group, Islamic Jihad, an ally of the territory\’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
The source alleged that in recent weeks Islamic Jihad had been "taking steps to harm" efforts to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
But the source underlined that the evidence Islamic Jihad had fired the rocket would not affect Israel\’s longstanding policy of holding Hamas responsible as Gaza\’s de facto ruler.
"We still consider Hamas responsible for whatever happens in the (Gaza) Strip," the source said.
Israel had extended the fishing limit to 15 nautical miles in some areas from April 1 as part of a package of measures intended to calm a flare-up of violence with Hamas ahead of the April 9 Israeli general election.
The Gaza fishermen\’s union said the limit was then set at 15 nautical miles in the south near the Egyptian border, at 12 off central Gaza and at six in the north near the Israeli border.
Israel has fought three wars with Gaza militants since 2008 and has blockaded the territory for more than a decade.

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