Israel stops activist vessel, detains passengers; Gaza teen dies from Israeli fire

Hugh Fox
August 7, 2018

The Israeli navy seized a Swedish-flagged sailboat attempting to breach a blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip Saturday, the military said.

The paper reported on Friday the deal stipulated that Hamas must commit to "the end of the provocations along the border, or in other words, the phenomena of the flaming kites and balloons, border crossing operations and setting fire to border posts".

The Hamas website Safa said Friday this marks the first time all members of the political bureau have come together in Gaza.

According to the IDF, a number "of suspects infiltrated Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, hurled firebombs and an explosive device in the border fence area, and then returned into the Gaza Strip". "We want to break the siege on Gaza once and forever", said Hussam Badran, one of the visiting Hamas leaders.

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It was flying a group of 14 Swiss nationals and a three-member family from Austria on a sightseeing tour for the company JU-AIR. According to German-language newspaper Blick , the plane was full for the flight, suggesting that up to 20 people may be dead.

Israeli forces also opened live fire at Palestinians gathered at the return camps of eastern Khuzaa in eastern Khan Younis of the southern Gaza Strip.

The vessel was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod, while the crew were detained for "further enquiry".

Al-Suri and Yaghi's death bring the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since "The Great March of Return" protests began on March 30th to 157.

According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman took the decision in ostensible retaliation for ongoing incendiary balloon attacks by Palestinian activists in Gaza.

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Global experts and aid organizations including the United Nations have repeatedly called the Israeli policy a collective punishment against Gazans for what Israel perceives as a threat by the Islamic Resistance group Hamas.

Should the truce hold, a seaport and airport serving Gaza would be constructed on Egyptian territory in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as a power plant.

Netanyahu will convene his security cabinet on Sunday to discuss an emerging deal, brokered by the United Nations and Egypt, for long-term peace in Gaza, a second Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The SY Freedom for Gaza was carrying mainly medical supplies and two of its passengers were journalists, said an organizer from a group named Ship to Gaza which organized the trip.

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Hamas officials had no immediate comment on the ship's seizure.

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