Israel closes Gaza fishing zone due to fire balloons

Israel closed the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza in retaliation for the launch of incendiary balloons from the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Israel closes Gaza fishing zone due to fire balloons

  • Spokesman for Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza caused seven fires
  • Israel had only restored the fishing limit to 15 miles on June 4

GAZA: The Israeli government said late Wednesday that the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza had been closed, in retaliation for the launch of incendiary balloons from the Palestinian enclave.
"Due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, it has been decided tonight (Wednesday) not to allow access to Gaza's maritime space until further notice," a spokesperson for COGAT, a unit of Israel's defence ministry, said in a statement.
The move came after COGAT said on Tuesday it had reduced the extent of the fishing zone to six nautical miles offshore from 10 nautical miles, having downscaled it from 15 nautical miles a week ago.
A spokesman for the Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza caused seven fires just on Tuesday.
In the past year, Palestinians have succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland in southern Israel.
Israel had only restored the fishing limit to 15 miles on June 4, after a previous reduction in response to fire balloons.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, run by Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.


US sanctions target Iranians’ access to food, medicine: foreign minister

Updated 7 min 8 sec ago

US sanctions target Iranians’ access to food, medicine: foreign minister

  • The United States on Friday imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran
  • Unconfirmed reports on social media said a number of Iranian websites were under a cyberattack

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday denounced renewed US sanctions against its central bank as an attempt to deny ordinary Iranians access to food and medicine, and said the move was a sign of US desperation.
The United States on Friday imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran, some aimed at its central bank and sovereign wealth fund, following attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that Riyadh and US officials have blamed on Iran.
Iran denies involvement in the attacks, which initially halved oil output from Saudi Arabia. Responsibility was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement, an Iranian-aligned group fighting a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen’s civil war.
“This is a sign of US desperation ... When they repeatedly sanction the same institution, this means their attempt at bringing the Iranian nation to its knees under ‘maximum pressure’ has failed,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in remarks shown on state television.
“But this is dangerous and unacceptable as an attempt at blocking ... the Iranian people’s access to food and medicine,” Zarif said, speaking after arriving in New York for the annual UN General Assembly next week.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports on social media said a number of Iranian websites — including those of some petrochemical firms — were under a cyberattack. There was no immediate official comment, and the websites of the main state oil company NIOC appeared to be functioning normally. Residents said their Internet access was not affected.
The fresh sanctions target the Central Bank of Iran, which was already under other US sanctions, the National Development Fund of Iran — the country’s sovereign wealth fund — and an Iranian company that US officials say is used to conceal financial transfers for Iranian military purchases.
Zarif said he would meet on Wednesday with foreign ministers of the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear accord, which was agreed with Britain, France, Germany China and Russia as well as the United States.
“As we have said before, the United States can only attend if it returns to the (nuclear accord) ... and ends its economic war against Iran,” Zarif said.
The United States withdrew from the accord last year and re-imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.
“I hope the US government realizes that they are no longer the only economic superpower in the world and that there are many countries that want to benefit from the Iranian market,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to state media.