Israel closes Gaza fishing zone following rocket fire

Middle East Eye  /  April 26, 2021

A third night of rockets were launched from the besieged enclave as unrest continues in Jerusalem.

Israel has closed Gaza’s fishing zone citing rockets launched from the besieged enclave, as unrest continues over the closure of areas of Jerusalem and far-right marches.

Five rockets were launched into Israel on Sunday night for the third night in a row.

The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon said four people from the southern Israeli town of Sderot had been injured after running for shelter.

In response, the Israeli government said Gaza’ fishing zone would be closed until further notice. Over the weekend Israel struck targets in Gaza, destroying what the army said was underground infrastructure and rocket launchers belonging to Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip.

“The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip would be completely closed until further notice,” said COGAT, the Israeli military body that administers civilian affairs in Palestinian territories including the occupied West Bank.

The measure was “due to the continuation of the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards the State of Israel during the night”, it said in a statement.

The move comes as Palestinians gathered in celebration outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Sunday night after barriers put up by Israeli police were removed, allowing them access to a square that became the focus of nightly Ramadan clashes.

Thousands filled the East Jerusalem plaza late on Sunday, some waving Palestinian flags, after police permitted them access to the tiered entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City that is a popular night-time meeting place during the Muslim holy month.

Scuffles broke out, however, as Israeli police waded into the crowd to confiscate the flags.

Amid the celebratory scenes that went on into Monday morning, Ahmad Tibi, a lawmaker from Israel’s Palestinian minority, criticised what he called the “mistaken” decision to put the metal barricades up in the first place.

“The decision to reopen is right,” he told Reuters outside Damascus Gate.

“It is a good decision in the right direction, but they should stop attacking Palestinians.”

Violence peaked on Thursday when Palestinian medics said 100 people were injured as Israeli police arrested more than 50 protesters, even as hundreds of ultra-nationalist Israelis marched through central Jerusalem towards Damascus Gate chanting: “Death to Arabs”.