As part of Wednesday’s Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which put an end to the latest Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip,  Gaza’s fishermen have been permitted to venture further from the coast.
Because of Israel’s ongoing naval blockade, part of a broader blockade that began in 2006, fishermen were only allowed to take their boats a distance of three nautical miles from the coast of the Gaza Strip. Due to the terms of the ceasefire agreement, Israel is now obligated to permit boats to go out at least six nautical miles.
In the past, if boats exceeded the three mile limit, Israeli naval ships would pound fishermen with powerful water guns, or in other cases fire live ammunition.
Gaza’s economy is heavily reliant on fish and other resources from the sea, but it had been badly crippled once Israel first stationed warships off the coast in 2008 and put in place tight restrictions on nautical movement.
American, Israeli, and Egyptian officials are scheduled to meet again in the upcoming week to discuss building on the present ceasefire.
Many are skeptical, however, of the already tenuous ceasefire and see renewed violence in the near future.
On Friday, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative,  Mustafa Barghouti, accused Israel of violating the ceasefire three times since it went into effect, referring to Israeli forces firing on Palestinian civilians near the Gaza border fence.
“This is a very serious violation of the ceasefire,” Barghouti told Palestinian media outlets.
While trying to place a Hamas flag on the border fence, a 20-year-old Palestinian man was killed when a soldier shot him in the head, and an additional 23 were injured by live ammunition, said PNN.
Palestinian negotiators aim to secure a guaranteed minimum area of 20 nautical miles for fishermen, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.
By Patrick O. Strickland
Do you think the ceasefire will last? Or will the new freedom for Gaza's fishermen be short-lived? Leave us your comments below!