Israel Mum on Gaza Ceasefire Decision After Cabinet Meeting

Israeli ships at military port of Ashdod. — AFP

Israeli ships at military port of Ashdod. — AFP

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 Israel-Gaza border.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said that Moath Ziad al-Sory, 15, from al-Nusseirat in the central Gaza Strip, was injured after he was shot in the stomach by Israeli soldiers during Gaza border protests last Friday.

On Sunday an Israeli diplomatic source said: "There will be no long-term agreement with Hamas that excludes a solution to the issue of the return of our fallen soldiers held in the Gaza Strip".

Hamas has led weekly border protests partially aimed at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The protests have also seen Palestinians fly airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages.

On Saturday, the Israeli army said an aircraft had fired at "a terrorist squad" launching "arson balloons" at Israel.

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.

Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

The 12 passengers are mostly from Sweden but also from Germany, Britain, Spain, France and Canada.

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

"Ship to Gaza demands that those who have been taken prisoner and the ship and its cargo are returned to the location where the ship was boarded and are allowed to continue their journey in global and Palestinian waters unmolested, in accordance with worldwide law", the group said in a statement.

Husam Badran, a member of the "Hamas" politburo, offered Sunday assurances that the movement would not agree to establish a state in Gaza and would not reach any political arrangement without Palestinian national consensus.

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