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

Majed Khraishi was part of the Freedom Flotilla last month

Some flew kites with burning rags attached - a tactic that has widened in recent weeks, with the aim of setting fires in Israel, and has drawn Israeli retaliation.

Despite renewed cease-fire efforts, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that, starting Thursday, he is halting shipments of fuel and natural gas to Gaza in response to incendiary balloons that have targeted southern Israel.

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.

At least 156 Palestinians have been killed since March 30, when Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began holding nearly daily protests near the buffer zone.

However, an Israeli official speaking to Israel's Channel 10 cautioned that the Netanyahu government would not agree to any deal unless Hamas returns three Israeli prisoners being held in Gaza.

"We want to break the siege on Gaza once and forever", said Hussam Badran, one of the visiting Hamas leaders.

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.

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According to sources, the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu chose to postpone the trip to South America to monitor the situation in Gaza.

Abdul-Latif Qanou, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement that the marches have become very close to achieving its goals. Others, among them armed Hamas militants, have been killed in attempted border attacks or in Israeli airstrikes.

Dozens others of the protesters also sustained suffocation due to teargas inhalation.

The organizer of the trip, the Swedish group Ship to Gaza, said the boat was carrying mainly medical supplies and maintained it was wrongly intercepted in worldwide waters.

A similar incident took place last Sunday, when the Israel Navy stopped a boat flying under a Norwegian flag.

Most of the Hamas leadership is based in Gaza but would be joined by exiled members of the group's political bureau, including Saleh Arouri, a founder of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank and a mastermind of violent attacks against Israelis in the past.

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