Israel eases Gaza restrictions with expanded fishing zone

Israel has expanded the fishing zone off the Gaza coast to allow Palestinian fishermen to sail out further.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body that handles civilian issues with the Palestinians, announced the new limits Thursday saying they would stay in effect for the coming two months to coincide with the fishing season. The new maritime perimeter expands the fishing zone off parts of Gaza by three more nautical miles to nine.

Israel set a limit in 2007 after Hamas seized Gaza from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in bloody street battles.

It has since extended the zone several times to ease the lives of Gaza fishermen.

Israel noted the measure is contingent on the fisherman respecting the agreement and not abusing it with smuggling or infiltration attempts.