Hamas hoping, again, to ease Gaza blockade



GAZA CITY: Officials from the Islamic Hamas group are travelling to Egypt in another attempt to negotiate the easing of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Hussam Badran, a politburo member of the group, said the delegation is arriving in Cairo in a few hours.

The officials, who he did not name, will work on “lifting the suffering on our people in Gaza as an urgent mission.”

The talks will focus on reaching a cease-fire deal that Hamas hopes will relax the blockade Israel and Egypt imposed when Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Earlier this week, a Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the Egyptian-sponsored efforts to broker a settlement with Israel to lift the closure had been disrupted.

Since March, Hamas has led protests along Gaza’s perimeter fence with Israel, accelerating them recently.

Thousands attended funerals for seven Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in deadliest day of protests aimed at Gaza’s border blockade in several months.

Among those killed near Gaza’s perimeter fence were two boys, ages 11 and 14. A Gaza rights group says the 11-year-old is the youngest to have been killed by Israeli fire in the protests.

The top U.N. humanitarian official in the region, Jamie McGoldrick, said Saturday he is “deeply saddened” by the loss of life. He said the sides must ensure children aren’t the target of violence or put at risk of violence.

In Friday’s protest, thousands rallied near the fence, with hundreds breaching it in one area. Amateur videos showed protesters kissing the ground on the Israeli side amid sound of repeated gunshots.