The Israeli move came as Palestinian resistance group Hamas and Israel are reportedly holding a meeting to discuss a five-year gradual truce to end the 11-year Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza.
Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza. (Reuters Archive)

Israeli naval forces seized a ship bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip overnight, the Israeli military said on Saturday.

In a statement, the army said the ship was sailing from Europe to Gaza with the intention of breaking a naval siege imposed on the Palestinian territory.

The ship, which was carrying humanitarian aid, was taken to the Ashdod Harbour, the statement added.

Last week, Israeli forces intercepted an aid ship approaching Gaza shores as part of a two-ship flotilla organised by Freedom Flotilla Coalition to break an 11-year Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.

By the end of 2016, nearly two million Gazans were depending on international aid in order to survive while nearly half of the families in Gaza lacked access to secure food supplies, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Every year, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been launching a new campaign to challenge the Israeli siege, which has gutted the Gaza economy and deprived its population of many basic commodities.

Palestinian teen dies of wounds

Palestinian teen Muadh al Suri, 15 died of his wounds on Saturday, just a day after he was shot in the stomach by Israeli forces during clashes on the Gaza border, the territory's Hamas-run health ministry said.

On Friday, the ministry said a 25-year-old youth was martyred and  at least 220 others were wounded by Israeli troops at the Friday protests on Gaza's fence.

It was the latest in a series of protests along Gaza's perimeter fence with Israel, aimed in part at trying to break an 11-year-old border blockade. Israel and Egypt sealed Gaza in 2007, after Palestinian resistance group, Hamas overran the territory.

Hamas-Israel truce

Meanwhile, talks have been reportedly underway for a five-year gradual truce between Palestinian resistance group Hamas and Israel, a Lebanese newspaper reported on Saturday.

Al Akhbar daily, citing sources close to Hamas, said the talks were being conducted through a third party.

According to the newspaper, the first phase of the proposed truce will be applied in one week by halting the launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in return for Israel reopening the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s sole commercial access point.
The balloons are being fired by Palestinian activists as part of ongoing anti-occupation rallies being held along Gaza border.

The second phase of the plan, according to the sources, includes the total lifting of the 11-year Israeli blockade on Gaza and improving living standards.

The third phase of the plan includes implementing UN pledges on carrying out a host of humanitarian projects as building a seaport in Egypt’s canal city of Ismailiyah, a power station in Sinai and the rebuilding of the Gaza, the sources said.

According to the Lebanese newspaper, Hamas has initially agreed to an Egyptian and international roadmap for de-escalation in Gaza. However, a final decision will be taken by the resistance group after a meeting of Hamas political bureau.

A prisoners swap between Israel and Hamas is also expected to be discussed in light of the truce talks, the sources said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies