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Israel begins work on Gaza sea barrier

Israel begins work on Gaza sea barrier

In parallel to United Nations mediation, Egypt has used its contacts with both Israel and the dominant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to discuss ways of calming a more than three-month-old surge in confrontations along the Gaza-Israel border. Yaghi and Suri were buried on Saturday.

The border protests continued this weekend with an estimated 8,000 demonstrators hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers and burning tires.

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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Israel has shut the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza's sole commercial access point, as a punitive measure over the launch of incendiary balloons by Palestinian activists from the seaside enclave into Israel, banning all deliveries except food and medicine.

In a statement, a military spokesperson said the airstrike targeted a squad "that was launching arson balloons from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel".

The decision to create an improved naval barrier was coordinated with the Israel Border Guard Police in cooperation with the Gaza Division of the IDF Southern Command, in response to lessons learned from the 2014 counter terror war with Hamas, Operation Protective Edge.

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The warning came amid unconfirmed reports that Israel and Hamas were close to reaching a long-term truce agreement.

"The demands of Ship to Gaza are that the ship with its crew and cargo will be returned to the site of the boarding, and that they will be allowed to go in peace through worldwide and Palestinian waters in accordance to global law", they said in a statement. The more than 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have suffered from a 10-year Israeli-imposed land, air, and sea blockade, which has plunged the small territory into poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

The official statement after the meeting declared the military to be ready for "any scenario", but provided no indication that Israel was either favoring the ceasefire deal or the alternative, with Transportation Minister Israel Katz said was war.

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