Israel restricts Gaza Strip fishing as punishment for ‘fire balloons’

Israel on Sunday cut in half the zone in which fishing is allowed off the Gaza Strip. The measure follows the launching of balloons containing incendiary bombs from the Palestinian territory that caused fires in Israeli territory just outside the enclave.

In reducing the fishing zone from 12 to 6 nautical miles, Israel says it is responding to the “violation of Israeli sovereignty” by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Israeli firefighters put out fires Sunday that they say were caused by the fire balloons.

Just two weeks ago, Israel widened the fishing zone, saying it had remained calm following the ceasefire that ended an 11-day battle in May between Hamas and Israel.

It also allowed more imports of goods into the Palestinian territory at that time.

Israel uses these economic sanctions to punish or reward Hamas. Before the last conflict, the fishing zone near Gaza was 15 nautical miles wide.

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