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Israel eases fishing restrictions on Gaza amid protests against blockade

Israel said it would expand Gaza's fishing zone and increase water supply to the besieged territory
Israel says it will provide the enclave with an additional five million cubic metres of water and allow 5,000 more Palestinian traders to work in Israeli cities (AFP)

Israel announced plans on Wednesday to expand the Gaza Strip's fishing zone and increase the water supply to the besieged territory amidst ongoing protests calling for an end to the blockade. 

A statement from COGAT, the Israeli body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian Territories, confirmed the move and said it would allow more goods and equipment to enter Gaza. 

"It has been decided to expand the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip to 15 nautical miles, as well as to completely open the Kerem Shalom crossing for the passage of equipment and goods," said COGAT.

"In addition, the water supply to the Gaza Strip will be increased by additional five million cubic meters."

COGAT added that 5,000 Palestinian traders would also be granted entry permits to Israel from Gaza, increasing it from 2,000 to 7,000.  

Since 2007, Israel has maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip that has suffocated the territory. 

However, the easing of restrictions comes after weeks of protests by Palestinians in Gaza on the border with Israel, which have been met with sniper fire from Israeli forces, causing deaths and injuries. 

The Israeli army on Tuesday fired live rounds after hundreds of people gathered at the border and threw "explosive devices and burning tyres", according to the Israeli army.

Images posted online showed protestors gathered in Khan Younis on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip calling for an end to the blockade. 

In late August, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy and 32-year-old Palestinian man died after Israeli forces shot them during protests. 

An Israeli sniper also died after being shot by a protestor and later succumbing to his wounds in hospital.