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UPDATE: Activists send new boat to challenge Gaza blockade

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By The Staff

JERUSALEM (AP) — Pro-Palestinian activists sent another boat to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and Egypt declared it was temporarily opening a crossing into the Palestinian territory after a raid on an aid flotilla that ended with Israeli soldiers killing nine activists.

The raid provoked ferocious international condemnation of Israel, raised questions at home, and appeared likely to increase pressure to end the blockade that has deepened the poverty of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the strip.

Turkey, which unofficially supported the flotilla, has led the criticism, calling the Israeli raid a "bloody massacre" and demanding that Washington condemn the raid. The White House has reacted cautiously, calling for disclosure of all the facts.

Amid the increasing tensions, the Israeli military said it carried out an airstrike in Gaza on Tuesday, and an Islamic militant group said three of its members were killed after firing rockets into southern Israel. Israeli authorities say the rockets landed in open areas and caused no injuries.

Two militants infiltrating into Israel from Gaza were killed in a separate incident Tuesday, the military said.


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