Israel intercepts second Gaza-bound activist boat

Israeli ships at military port of Ashdod. — AFP

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said that Fatah called on Hamas to respond to national unity efforts and not to accept any truce with Israel in exchange for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Yoav Galant's assessment appeared to fall short of what officials from the Islamic militant group Hamas have described as Egyptian efforts to broker a comprehensive agreement, including a significant easing of an 11-year-old border blockade and United Nations -led reconstruction of Gaza.

Israel should not pursue any deals with Hamas in Gaza without the return of Israeli captives and the bodies of IDF soldiers, Transportation Minister Israel Katz said.

In addition, Hamas is believed to be holding two Israeli civilians who scaled a border fence and entered Gaza.

Freedom was the second boat of the "Freedom Flotilla" to be intercepted en route to "break the blockade" on Gaza, organizers said.

Israel's Defence Ministry described the barrier as "an impenetrable breakwater".

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As part of the negotiations, several exiled Hamas leaders have entered Gaza for high-level internal consultations. "I will support any plan that includes establishing Egyptian infrastructure on land and sea for Gaza - under global supervision".

The Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has denounced the talks.

Reports in the Lebanese news paper Al-Akhbar earlier on Friday said 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 ballons, border crossing operations and setting fire to border posts".

The Egyptian official said Cairo would not let its facilities or territory in the Sinai desert, bordering Gaza, be used to relieve Israel of keeping the Palestinian economy alive.

Israel's Defence Ministry released first images of the barrier it has built along the border with the Gaza Strip that stretches into the sea, and which it began constructing two months ago. It is 50 metres wide and a six-metre high steel fence is placed next to it facing the Gaza side which will have surveillance devices placed on it.

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