International activists plan to challenge Israel's Gaza blockade

Hamas-IsraelGaza City - Palestinians and international activists plan to challenge Israeli's blockade of the Gaza Strip by navigating a small sailing ship into the Israeli-controlled waters off the Gaza Strip, organizers said Monday.

The vessel is to set sail for Gaza from Cyprus on August 5, according to a statement by the US-based Free Gaza Movement, which is organizing the action along with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the US-based Free Gaza Movement.

The activists expect to confront Israeli naval patrol boats when they reach Gaza waters.

Hamas: Tony Blair to visit Gaza

Tony BlairGaza  - Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip Monday said former British prime minister Tony Blair would visit the enclave the following day but would not meet with members of the Islamic movement.

Ismail Radwan and Ahmed Yousef, two senior members of Hamas, said Blair, who is currently the representative of the Mideast Quartet - made up of the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nation - would be provided security by the police forces of their movement.

Hamas took over Gaza last summer, ousting forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah party.

Hamas leaders heading for Yemen

HamasGaza - A Hamas delegation was due to head for Yemen on Saturday to discuss proposals for Palestinian reconciliation put forward by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Hamas spokesman said.

Saleh's initiative calls on Hamas to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip, which the militant movement seized after routing the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007.

The delegation comprises Hamas' politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouq, and a former Hamas interior minister, Said Siam.

Senior Hamas official: prisoner talks with Israel broken off

Israel, Hamas,  Gaza CityDamascus  - A senior official with the radical Palestinian group Hamas said in an interview Friday that the group had temporarily broken off talks with Israel on a prisoner exchange involving captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Mussa Abu Marsuk, deputy politburo chief of Hamas, told the London-based pan-Arab paper Al Hayat that the move was taken after Israel had on several times closed the border crossing with the Gaza Strip in violation of the two sides' ceasefire agreement.

Hamas had now called off a round of negotiations which was to have taken place next week in Egypt, he added.