Israel stops activist boat, Gaza teen dies from Israeli fire

Dr. Majed Khraishi with Emilia Nacher who piloted the boat Al-Awda in Lisbon

Dr. Majed Khraishi with Emilia Nacher who piloted the boat Al-Awda in Lisbon

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 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Over forty fires broke out in southern Israel over the weekend sparked by incendiary balloons launched over the border from the Gaza Strip, according to reports in the Hebrew-language media. Meetings began Thursday and will continue through Saturday, Hamad said.

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

Over the years, truce deals have proven fragile, and it was not clear if the current efforts would succeed.

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

Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008. Power is on for just a few hours a day, unemployment has sky-rocketed and poverty is widening.

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"The ship was monitored and was intercepted in accordance with global law", the army said in a statement, before the vessel, named Freedom for Gaza and carrying 12 people, was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

It said a tank struck a Hamas post in response. The military said its soldiers sustained no casualties in the incident.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent the Islamic militant group from bringing in weapons.

The coalition said Friday that the Swedish-flagged vessel, Freedom, was almost 60 miles (95 kilometers) off the coast.

There has been violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip since late March in which at least 156 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire.

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

The vessel was the second of four ships from the "Freedom Flotilla" that have set sail from Scandinavia in an attempt to break the blockade on Gaza.

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