Israeli troops kill Palestinian at Gaza border protest, ceasefire efforts continue

  • Israeli troops kill Palestinian at Gaza border protest, ceasefire efforts continue

Israeli troops kill Palestinian at Gaza border protest, ceasefire efforts continue

The leadership of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas is to convene late Friday for a rare meeting, officials said, amid speculation of a long-term truce between the Gaza Strip's rulers and Israel.

The health ministry said the Israeli army has killed 155 Palestinians and wounded more than 17,000 others in the eastern Gaza Strip since the start of rallies and protests on March 30.

They also demand an end to Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of basic commodities.

Background: Repeated attacks from the Gaza Strip using airborne incendiary devices prompted Israel to launch an attack, close border crossings and halt shipments of fuel and gas in the territory, causing concern that the two sides would slide toward a major war.

Speaking about the Hamas delegation's visit, Hamas political official Hussam Badran said: "We will achieve a national unity of the highest level in order to break (Israel's) blockade".

On Friday Ezzat al-Rishaq, a member of the Hamas political office, told protesters along the border they were "committed to calm". Power is on for just a few hours a day, unemployment has sky-rocketed and poverty is widening. Others, including Hamas militants, have been killed in other incidents, including Israeli airstrikes.

Last month, an Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to put off a trip to South America to keep an eye on the situation in Gaza, a government official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. It said a tank fired at a Hamas military post in Gaza after Palestinians briefly crossed the frontier and threw bombs.

In one area east of Gaza City, protesters burned tires, releasing thick plumes of black smoke.

A Swedish-flagged ship heading for besieged Gaza has been seized by the Israeli navy, activists said on Saturday, with the crew detained for questioning.

The 12 activists on-board the "Freedom for Gaza" boat were attempting to bring urgently needed medical supplies to Gaza, when the vessel was intercepted by the Israeli navy in worldwide waters.