Israel loosens restrictions on Gaza fishermen as Egypt-brokered talks continue
Israel has loosened restrictions on fishermen off the blockaded Gaza Strip by allowing them to travel up to 15 nautical miles into the Mediterranean, the largest distance in years. The decision comes after Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, said it had been engaged in Egyptian-brokered talks with Israel on easing parts of the blockade in return for calm, AFP reports. Israel has not commented on the negotiations, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen as wanting to avoid a severe escalation in the Gaza Strip ahead of April 9 Israeli elections. The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip has been expanded to a maximum of 15 nautical miles (28 kilometers), the Israeli Defense Ministry unit that oversees such regulations, COGAT, said on Monday.