Israel Increases Water Quota For Gaza

Israel is enlarging the water quota for besieged Gaza and expanding the Palestinian enclaves’ fishing zone, the Israeli army said. Israel plans to increase Gaza’s water quota by five million cubic metres from September 1.

As a result of security assessments, it was also decided to expand the Gaza fishing zone to 15 nautical miles and open the Kerem Shalom/Karam Abu Salem for Palestinians crossing for entry of equipment and goods, Israeli army’s spokesperson Avichay Adraee said. Moreover, the quota of Palestinian merchants in Gaza to pass through the Erez crossing will also be increased by an additional 5,000 merchants, he added.

Tactical measures

Historically, the Israeli army has reduced the Gaza fishing zone during rising tensions. Most recently, the latest and biggest conflict between them happened during the 11-day siege by Israel on the Gaza Strip in May. Back then, Hamas and other groups acted after Israeli forces violently stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque several times and against the backdrop of an Israeli court verdict to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

At least 260 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed and there was $479m worth of direct damage. The fighting came to a halt under an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on May 21.

Therefore, Israel limits the zone to Gaza’s fishermen as a punitive measure in response to protests or Hamas policies, severely affecting the livelihoods of some 4,000 fishermen and 1,500 more people involved in the industry, as per news reports.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel is obligated to allow fishing up to 20 nautical miles (37km), but this has never been implemented. It has allowed fishing up to 12 nautical miles (22km) until 2006, then the fishing zone was reduced to six and later to three.

On the other hand, on August 31 dozens of truckloads of construction materials were allowed into the Gaza Strip. This slightly eases a crippling 14-year-old blockade on the enclave caused by Israeli and Egyptian blockades and foreign aid cuts by the United States. Director of the Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing, Bassam Ghabin specified that 30 truckloads of cement, 120 trucks of gravel and 15 trucks of steel entered Gaza on Tuesday.

According to Al Jazeera, the imports came days after hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza protested along the border fence with Israel to pressure it into lifting its siege, allowing the reconstruction of Gaza and after Palestinians’ incendiary balloons sparked fires in Israel’s south. COGAT, an Israeli military unit responsible for civilian matters in the occupied territories, has allowed more goods into Gaza since they consider that the security situation has stabilised.

These measures are crucial, but insufficient because of the great scope of the damage in Gaza. It is a humanitarian crisis produced by the Israeli occupation. For the situation to be resolved what is needed is a much more expansive opening of the strip, a political process, and the final withdrawal of the Israeli occupation forces.

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