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Israel extends Gaza Strip coastal fishing zone

By Clyde Hughes
Israel extends Gaza Strip coastal fishing zone
Palestinian protesters clash at demonstrations near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, eastern Gaza Strip on Saturday. Israel announced that it was expanding the Gaza fishing zone off is coast 15 miles on Monday. Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE

April 1 (UPI) -- Israel allowed the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip coast to be expanded to 15 nautical miles Monday as it continued to relax restrictions after protests there and rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.

Kamil Abu-Rukun, coordinator of government activities in the territories, said it was making the change to "prevent deterioration" in humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.

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"This is a part of our policy, which distinguishes between terrorism and general population, of preventing the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip," Abu-Rukun said. "Any deviation from the extended zone will be handled accordingly by the security forces."

Israel said that it would ease restrictions after Hamas reined in a border protest on Saturday, under an informal cease-fire deal brokered by Egyptian mediators after a violent week.

Israel had shut down the fishing zone along with closing the Kerem Shalom and the Erez pedestrian crossings between Gaza and Israel March 25 after a rocket was fired from Gaza to the central Israeli village of Mishmeret, destroying a home and injuring seven people. It reopened the crossing Sunday.

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Israeli troops remained at the Gaza frontier in case violence erupted again.

Three Palestinians died and hundreds were injured as an estimated 40,000 Palestinians protested in Gaza to mark Land Day and the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests. Demonstrators threw stones at the security fence and lobbed explosive devices.

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