The Israeli cabinet has agreed to ease the blockade on Gaza and allow all foodstuffs and building materials into the Strip. At the same time, the naval blockade will stay in place and the IDF is preparing to stop further flotillas from reaching Gaza.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called the plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem “illegal”.
The homes, in the Silwan neighbourhood of the city, will be demolished to build an archaeological tourism park.
US President Barack Obama and Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak have also criticised the approval, granted by Jerusalem City Council.
The Israeli government has been accused of abandoning its fight to bring back kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit following the decision to ease the land blockade of Gaza.
The then teenager was captured during a border raid by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in June 2006, and four years later the campaign to bring him home is still strong.
But speaking in the Knesset, Gilad's father Noam said the government needed to do more to ensure his return.
Mr Shalit said: "We are asking where Gilad stands in this equation. We are asking where is Gilad, our son?".
Wildfires have flared up around central Israel as temperatures in the country reached more than 40 degrees Celsius – in the shade.
Firefighters have been called to blazes near Jerusalem and other wooded areas, while sun worshippers in Eilat have enjoyed Israel’s warmest weather in three years, with temperatures there climbing to a record 46 degrees.
The heatwave has also caused electricity consumption to shoot up, and a Beersheva pensioner has been found unconscious from heatstroke.
The unseasonably sunny weather is said to be because of an air mass from Egypt and Libya.
The Middle East Quartet peace mediators have called for Palestinian security personnel to operate the crossings from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
In a statement, the organisation said there should be a Palestinian Authority (PA) presence at the border as a way of reuniting the area with the West Bank and placing pressure on Hamas.
Following Israel’s move to ease the land blockade by allowing most civilian goods into Gaza, the Quartet, made up of representatives from the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN, said they are exploring “additional ways” to improve conditions.
Israel has lifted a ten-year ban on Jewish and Druze tour guides working in Bethlehem.
The IDF said the shift in policy wa s intended to “contribute to the Palestinian and Israeli economy and promote tourism”.
Israeli tour guides have been unable to work in the city since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000.
But the policy change means tour groups visiting from Israel, many of whom are Christian pilgrims visiting the biblical birthplace of Jesus, will no longer have to change guides as they enter the West Bank.