GAZA Nov 24 Israel eased restrictions on Gaza
fishermen on Saturday, further implementing a three-day-old
truce brokered by Egypt after a week of fierce fighting,
Palestinian officials said.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children headed back to
school for the first time in 10 days, in another indication
normal life was returning after cross-border violence in which
166 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.
A statement from the office of Hamas Islamist Prime Minister
Ismail Haniyeh said Egypt had notified them that "Israel has
allowed Palestinian fishermen to fish in Gaza's waters at a
distance of six miles (6.9 km), up from three miles (4.8 km)".
Israel had no immediate comment.
A text of the truce deal agreed on Wednesday calls on Israel
to ease curbs on the coastal Gaza territory, which it has
largely blockaded since Hamas, which rejects the Jewish state's
right to exist, took power there in 2007.
The sides had disagreed on exactly when and how the
restrictions would actually be lifted.
Israel had formally barred Gaza fishermen from heading more
than three miles out into the Mediterranean Sea for about three
years, its gunboats often enforcing the rule. It said its
blockade was a measure to prevent weapons smuggling.
Murad Al-Issi, a member of a local fishermens' group, told
Reuters his colleagues had already ventured out to the six-mile
limit on Saturday, undisturbed by Israel.
"The Israeli army naval boat which used to fire and torch
Palestinian boats that sailed beyond a three-mile distance
watched without doing anything to prevent them," Issi said.
Palestinians say the Israeli restrictions had hampered the
amount and variety of fish they could catch.
"This is a good step," Issi said, adding it would be best to
be permitted double the distance.
In another apparent Israeli step to ease restrictions,
Palestinian farmers tended land along the testy frontier with
the Jewish state without incident, a day after Israeli troops
killed a Palestinian man at a border fence.
Palestinians denounced the shooting as a violation of the
ceasefire and Egypt intervened to restore calm.
On Saturday, a Reuters photographer saw farmers in the Khan
Younis area working close to the Israeli frontier fence.
Hamas security officials were on patrol and Israeli soldiers
looked on without interfering, but for a brief verbal exchange
between one soldier and a Hamas guard, witnesses said.
The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Israel had barred Palestinians from coming within 300 metres
of the border since 2009, citing security concerns.