Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Israel seizes Swedish activist ship en route to Gaza

Israel seizes Swedish activist ship en route to Gaza

Saleh al Arouri, deputy leader of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, returned to Gaza on Thursday after eight years of exile. It marked the first time all members of the political bureau got together in Gaza, Hamas has said.

The officials, who travelled through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, are to discuss progress on forming a unity government with Fatah and other Palestinian factions and the end of the siege on Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly cancelled a planned visit to Columbia in order to be close to further possible developments in the truce negotiations.

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An agreement could allow worldwide donors to fund a series of programmes including electricity and water network upgrades in Gaza. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008, the last of them in 2014.

The breach comes amid another round of violent riots along the Israeli-Gaza border that have occurred nearly weekly for the past several months.

Eyewitnesses said Gaza protesters on Friday flew the largest ever arson kite with a burning tire into Israel, while Israeli soldiers stationed at the border area fired dozens of tear gas canisters at the demonstrators.

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Israel has lost tracts of farmland and forests to fires set by kites and helium balloons laden with incendiary material and flown over from Gaza.

On Friday, Israel said 8,000 Palestinians took part in five separate "March of Return" protests along the Gaza border.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) clarified to the ship's passengers that they are violating the legal naval blockade and that any humanitarian merchandise can be transferred to Gaza through the (Israeli) Port of Ashdod", an Israeli military statement said.

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Also in recent months the Gaza strip and its population suffered yet another blow to their livelihood as the United States government chose to pull millions of dollars in aid to the UNRWA, the U.N. agency in charge of providing several sorts of aid to Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories West Bank and Gaza. Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's 2 million people.

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