This liveblog, covering developments on Monday afternoon and night, is now closed. Our current liveblog, updating events as Operation Pillar of Defense goes into its seventh day, is here.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani releases a statement after consultations with Italian PM Mario Monti in Cairo, Al Jazeera reports. In it, he promises that “we won’t send weapons” to Gaza if borders are opened as a result of a cease-fire agreement.
Al-Thani says that the focus should be on “humanitarian aid and reconstruction” for the 1.7 million Gazans who don’t have basic supplies and are “under siege.”
He says that “violence should stop from both sides. They cannot continue the attacks and then expect the other side to negotiate, violence should stop.”
On the sixth day of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel upped the frequency of its airstrikes at the Gaza Strip, targeting smuggling tunnels, rocket launching squads, weapons and ammunition caches (including one located under Gaza City’s main soccer stadium), and terror groups’ field commanders. The death toll in Gaza stands at 84, roughly two thirds of which are combatants.
Meanwhile, terror organizations in Gaza continue to launch rockets on southern Israel, hitting an Ashkelon school, which fortunately was empty of students and staff. Iron Dome intercepted 35 rockets in the past 24 hours. Since the beginning of the operation, on Wednesday, 540 rockets were fired on Israel, most of them falling harmlessly in unpopulated areas.
In Cairo, Hamas and Islamic Jihad heads are convening with Egyptian military and intelligence officials in an attempt to reach a ceasefire agreement. An Israeli representative is also in Cairo to debate with the Egyptians. So far the sides have failed to find common ground.
40,000 reserve soldiers, belonging primarily to infantry and tank units, have been called up and are making final preparations to enter Gaza if so ordered.
The Labor Party doesn’t plan to delay its primary elections, scheduled for November 27, because of Operation Pillar of Defense, Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich tells Channel 2.
She says the Israeli offensive was being conducted “rationally,” with clear objectives, and talks about the economic impact of the operation, especially in the communities within rocket range where normal patterns of work, purchasing and school have ground to a halt.
Reports of five Ashkelon-bound rockets intercepted by Iron Dome in the last few minutes. Sirens continuing in Ofakim, Ashkelon and Eshkol.
President Shimon Peres meets with Middle East Quartet envoy and former British prime minister Tony Blair in Jerusalem to discuss the conflict with Gaza.
At a joint press conference Peres said that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is fulfilling an important function, and it is therefore strange that Hamas doesn’t hold Morsi in any esteem, whereas Israel does.
Peres thanks Blair for his support of Israel’s positon. Peres added that Iran is supplying Hamas with weapons, funds, and training and isn’t interested in ending the dispute.
Blair says the United States, Egypt, the United Nations and the Quartet are working together to try arrange a ceasefire.
Two rockets hit Ashkelon. One explodes between apartment buildings, no reports of injuries.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad calls for Palestinian unity, including a reconciliation between Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in the face of the Gaza hostilities.
He also asserts that the “vast majority” of Palestinian casualties from Operation Pillar of Defense are women and children, and calls on the international community to take steps to stop ”Israeli aggression.”
“The Prime Minister calls on international powers to move, without delay, and intervene to stop the Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip, which has killed and injured hundreds of citizens, the vast majority of who are women and children,” reads a post on the Facebook profile of the Palestinian Government Media Center. “Dr. Fayad considers that the true test of the international community is its ability to assume its legal, political and moral responsibilities in stopping this grave escalation that threatens the region with further instability.”
Palestinian news agencies have so far reported on 84 Palestinian death since the offensive started, saying that about half were non-combatants, and up to 700 wounded.
According to the Palestinian Media Center, Fayyad also is calling for a “high-level leadership” meeting of all Palestinian factions, including the PLO Executive Committee, Hamas and “Islamic Jihad movements.”
An official close to PM Netanyahu says Israel is ready for a ground assault on Gaza, but prefers to come to a ceasefire agreement, according to a brief Reuters report.
“We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel’s population in the south,” the official says. “But if diplomacy fails, we may well have no alternative but to send in ground forces.”
Six more rockets intercepted by Iron Dome near Ashkelon.
Hamas military wing says it is responsible for the last volley of 10 rockets toward Ashkelon.
Palestinian sources report the IAF recently destroyed several tunnels along the Gaza-Egyptian border in three separate attacks.
Israel under attack:
Five Palestinians have been injured during clashes with Israeli security forces during a demonstration near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, Ma’an News reports.
Iron Dome intercepts a rocket heading toward Beersheba.
A barrage of rockets, in the space of a few minutes, rains down on southern communities including Beersheba, Ashkelon, and Eshkol region. Iron Domes intercepts several rockets, some fall in open spaces, no reports of injuries.
In Egyptian-moderated ceasefire efforts, Egyptian sources have leaked some or all of the purported Israeli and Hamas truce demands — three from each side — which form an ostensible working paper.
Hamas wants: 1) all border crossings to and from Gaza opened 24 hours a day; 2) an end to Israeli targeted strikes on its personnel; 3) to keep its arms and have the rest of Gaza’s armed groups remain armed too.
Israel wants: 1) All terror groups disarmed; 2) a guaranteed halt to rocket attacks on Israel; 3) a guaranteed long-term ceasefire.
All this, according to Channel 2, being reported as alarms sound over Beersheba.
Udi Segal, the channel’s diplomatic correspondent, says Israel certainly wants a long-term ceasefire, and to create a wider buffer zone on the Gaza border.
There have been 11 million efforts to crash Peres’s website, his spokeswoman tells Channel 2.
Earlier in the channel’s all-day news coverage, Yossi Beilin, former Labor minister, says “Hamas will emerge stronger” from this conflict, which has put it “front and center” internationally, boosting its legitimacy. Beilin says Israel has nothing to achieve longterm with Hamas, but does have a partner in Mahmoud Abbas.
A former spokesman for Ariel Sharon, the bushy-eyebrowed, bulldog-spirited Raanan Gissin speaks sadly about Israel’s fading international legitimacy, in this conflict and generally. As they say in English, he laments, “it’s slip-sliding away.”
Over 500 journalists and television crew members have arrived in Israel since the outbreak of hostilities last week, the Government Press Office reports. The GPO has been working extra hours to provide press credentials, enabling access to conflict areas, to the new arrivals. They join the already 1,400-strong members of the foreign press registered in the country.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat gamely dashes for cover in the entrance of an apartment building in Ashkelon after a missile alert sounds just as she is about to give a television interview in the rocket-targeted town. Livnat, who is touring communities in a show of support, reiterates that the goal of Operation Pillar of Defense is to bring quiet to Israel’s south.
Fatah and Hamas reportedly agree to put aside their substantial differences and enter a unity agreement in light of the current hostilities, Al-Arabiya reports.
At a rally in Ramallah attended by top Fatah officials and the Hamas West Bank leadership, Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub announces that “we are ending the division” while the crowd chants “hit, hit Tel Aviv,” according to the report.
@IronDomeCount announces interceptions within the last few minutes of two rockets headed to Ashdod and one rocket headed to Beersheba.
IDF says that over the past five days a total of 877 rockets were fired by terrorists in Gaza at Israel. Iron Dome succeeded in intercepting 307 missiles.
Israel is a “terrorist state,” says Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish media reports.
“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdoğan tells the Eurasian Islamic Council at a meeting in Istanbul, according to Todays Zaman.
“For this reason,” he continues, “I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is to visit Gaza tomorrow, along with a delegation from the Arab League.
Reports say Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Liberman held a six-hour meeting yesterday, until four in the morning, to discuss the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire proposal.
In the meeting, Netanyahu, Barak and Liberman decided to give more time for a diplomatic solution before starting a ground operation.
Reuters reports ongoing negotiations in Cairo as Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil says “we are close…[but] it is difficult to predict.”
Channel 2′s Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are sharply divided on whether or not to agree to a prolonged ceasefire. Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran, is against such an agreement.
The British Guardian puts up an interactive map showing the verified incidents on both sides of the border since Operation Pillar of Defense was launched on Wednesday.
Readers can also write in and report events that aren’t on the map so they can be added.
The Guardian reports on Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers in the West Bank as part of a protest against Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Israel responds by firing tear gas and making arrests.
Ynet News reports three rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome over Ashdod.
According to the IDF Spokesperson, the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel was dropping. On Saturday there were 230 rockets launched, on Sunday there were 156, and as of now only 42 were fired on Monday.
Earlier, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai told reporters the Hamas’s rocket-firing capabilities were hurt, and the number of launches at Israel was getting smaller.
The Egyptian government releases an official statement in which it denies Iranian reports of Egyptian reserves being called up. Egypt says Iran fabricated the announcement.
Three rockets strike open areas in the Eshkol region. No injuries or damage reported.
Al Arabiya tweets that Hamas aims for “immediate ceasefire,” while Israel prefers a two-stage truce.
Reports coming now of an IAF strike on the offices of Hamas media arm al-Aqsa TV in Gaza. The multistory building houses offices of other media outlets. Al Jazeera describes smoke billowing out of the side of the building, confirmed by images broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2.
Moments ago, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who is now in Gaza, tweeted that he saw a building hit by multiple rockets in its lower floors and described an ambulance at the scene treating a severely burned man. Not clear if he is describing the same media building.
Khaled Mashaal in Cairo press conference: morale in Gaza is high, unlike in Israel, which has failed in its strategy.
Mashaal: today Netanyahu wanted to achieve three goals, but did not succeed. He wanted to reestablish his deterrence and failed; tried to destroy missile launchers, and failed; and finally, tried to show that he had complete control over the initiative. All these failures have strengthened our resolve.
Mashal: Netanyahu may have a powerful army, but he does not have the resolve, because he is a usurper of land. We do not maintain a balance of power with Israel, but we have managed to uphold deterrence through our resolve.
“We didn’t attack anyone. Whoever attacks Palestine will be buried” in its ground, Khaled Mashaal tells reporters in Cairo during a long press conference.
The Political leader of Hamas mourns the killing of Ahmed Jabari by Israel, says “it’s a great loss” but he “is survived by many heroes.”
Mashaal: the enemy is capable of launching a ground offensive, but [Netanyahu] knows that an incursion will be costly for Israel and make him lose the elections. He wants to negotiate with us through fire.
Netanyahu is the one who requested a ceasefire, turning to the international community and to Egypt. It was not Gaza which requested the ceasefire. Gaza demands implementation of its legitimate demands: stopping assassinations and ending the siege.
Mashaal: we do not seek escalation. Those who started the attack must hold their fire, and we will hold ours, under our conditions.
All fighting forces in Gaza are coordinated, and work in tandem and harmony with society in Gaza. The West Bank is also with us. Fatah and Hamas are not enemies; Israel is the common enemy. Confrontation with the enemy is our moment of truth. We must end the political divide and unite around common institutions and around resistance to Israel.
Our enemy cannot be treated with words, but only by force. No concessions should be made with Israel, given the new atmosphere in the Arab world.
Channel 2 columnist Ehud Ya’ari, analyzing Mashaal’s speech, says it essentially amounts to a denial that there is a ceasefire.
Al Arabiya is the only news organization reporting that Hamas and Israel have managed to come together.
Rockets have continued to be fired at the Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev regions in the past several minutes, indicating that an end to hostilities has not yet been reached.
Meanwhile, the IDF has just struck an Islamic Jihad cell in Gaza, Channel 2 reports
It should be noted that ceasefires are often proceeded by an increase in hostilities, as both sides attempt to get in their last shots before laying down their arms.
The IAF conducts an airstrike in the Gaza Strip against Islamic Jihad operatives, Channel 2 reports. Maan News reports two killed in the Nuseirat refugee camp, but it is not clear if the two incidents are related.
Ynet reports that four members of the terror group were killed in the IDF’s strike on the Gaza media center a short while ago.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal: we will only cease fire after our demands our met. If Israel wants to halt its fire, it’s welcome to do so. The murderer is the one who must stop the killing and initiate, not the victim.
“Hamas, which is taking serious hits from the IDF at this very hour, is looking for a ladder to climb down off the tree. The statements of [Hamas politburo chief Khaled] Mashaal that Israel is requesting a ceasefire are as accurate as the Hamas statements that they downed an F-16 and hit the Knesset,” a source in Jerusalem says.
Rocket fired from Gaza Strip hits town near Sderot, Channel 2 reports. There were no injuries or damage reported.
Islamic Jihad says the Israeli strike on a Gaza media center has killed one of its top militant leaders.
AP reports that the terror group sent a text message to reporters saying that Ramez Harb was killed in the strike Monday. Harb is a leading figure in their militant wing, the Al Quds Brigades.
It’s the second strike on the building in two days. The Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, is located on the top floor.
BBC reporter Paul Danahar tweeted a picture of the building shortly after the blast, showing the second and third floors blown out and a fire raging.
Two rockets are shot down by Iron Dome over Beersheba. The rocket defense system has intercepted over 300 missiles since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday last week.
Pro-Palestinian hackers hijack the Israel Groupon site “on the behalf of all Pakistani and all Muslims.”
“Your war on Gaza will make you cry blood and let the next few days prove that to you!” they write.
“We Muslims are people who love to drink bloods. And we learn that the taste of your blood is delicious!!” the hackers post on the site. “We swear by ALLAH, we will come to you like hungry lions, cut your bodies, roast your Asses, and rip what remaining of you. But who fall in our hands of your soldiers, we will throw him to our children to play him as a hungry cat.”
The Lebanese Army discovers two rockets in southern Lebanon on Monday that had been prepped for launch southwards at Israel, the Lebanese National News Agency reports.
Lebanese Army sappers have defused two Grad rockets armed and ready near the village of al-Mari, four kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the Lebanon-Israel border, according to the report.
According to the Associated Press, the rockets were Katyushas found in the neighboring village of Halta, and were equipped with timers.
A 63-year-old man is lightly injured after a rocket explodes in the Bnei Shimon region of southern Israel. Another rocket fired from Gaza explodes near a chicken coop in the Shaar Hanegev border region, causing damage to the building.
Channel 2 reporter denies report moments earlier by his own station of sirens going off in Ashkelon and surrounding area. “I didn’t hear any sirens,” he says, grinning.
At least 19 rockets have been fired at Ashkelon thus far on Monday.
Iron Dome intercepts five rockets shot toward Beersheba.
Hamas launched at least 10 anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli planes since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, Walla News reports.
The army believes the group revealed those weapons in an attempt to down an Israeli plane, which would be a first for the terror organization.
Moments after air raid sirens sound in Ashkelon and the surrounding area, Iron Dome shoots down at least one rocket over the city.
Four rockets are reported shot down by Iron Dome over Ashkelon, with one landing in an open area outside the city.
This brings the number of rockets fired at the southern coastal city to over 20, with the majority of them being shot down.
Earlier in the day, a rocket hit an empty school in the city, causing damage but no injuries.
The European Union is calling for an “urgent deescalation” of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, clearly placing its support behind Jerusalem’s effort to defend its citizens but calling on both parties to “act proportionately.”
“All attacks must end immediately as they cause unjustifiable suffering of innocent civilians,” the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council states in a resolution adopted in Brussels Monday evening. “It therefore calls for an urgent deescalation and cessation of hostilities. It supports the efforts of Egypt and other actors to mediate for a rapid ceasefire and welcomes the mission of the United Nations Secretary General to the region.”
The Council resolution further states that the EU “strongly condemns” the rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza and called upon Hamas and other groups to cease them immediately. “There can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians. Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks; in doing so it must act proportionately and ensure the protection of civilians at all times.”
The death toll in the Gaza Strip has climbed to the 100th person, Hamas’s health ministry tells Reuters.
Just over 120 hours since Israel killed Ahmed Jabari and launched the current operation in Gaza, more than 1,350 targets were hit by the IDF, and some 1,000 rockets were fired at Israel; 640 landed in the south of the country — mostly in unpopulated areas, — while 350 were intercepted by the Iron Dome.
A rocket fired from Gaza has hit a school in Ashkelon. This is the second time on Monday that a school in the city was hit by a Hamas missile. No injuries were reported, though the school building was damaged.
In the Eshkol region, a woman was lightly injured by a falling mortar. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Rocket that hit a school in Ashkelon caves the roof in on a classroom on the top floor. Footage from Channel 2 shows the extent of the damage. The classroom is wrecked, with rubble and dust strewn across the ruined desks and chairs. The two or three-foot diameter hole in the crumbled ceiling exposes the jagged rebar of the reinforced concrete.
No injuries are reported. School in Ashkelon has been canceled for several days.
The IDF predicts rocket fire from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel to intensify in the wake of airstrikes targeting leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Channel 2 reports.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman are meeting to discuss a possible ceasefire, Israel Radio reports.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Cairo in an attempt to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Ban will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah on Tuesday, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel’s forum of nine — consisting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eight top ministers — is gathering in an hour, probably to determine the next stage of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Udi Segel from Channel 2 reports Egypt and the US have asked Israel not to launch a ground invasion during the next 24 hours, while officials in Jerusalem have stated Hamas must hold its fire before they’d consider a possible ceasefire.
In the middle of Channel 2′s evening news broadcast, Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV begins broadcasting Channel 2′s broadcast. Arab affairs commentator Ehud Yaari takes the opportunity to communicate with the al-Aqsa TV anchor. The Palestinian anchor asks Yaari what he thought the likelihood of a ceasefire (hudna) was.
Here’s the surreal video, in Hebrew only.
Amid growing reports of a ceasefire emerging to end Operation Pillar of Defense, some residents of southern Israel are skeptical of the efficacy of such a truce. Edward Beaman, a Briton residing in Ashdod, expresses his wariness via Twitter:
In the latest incident of unrest in the West Bank, shots were fired at an IDF base near Jenin.
No one was injured in the incident, and soldiers were looking for cars that fled the scene.
The White House says US President Barack Obama has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
According to a readout, Obama and Morsi “discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, and President Obama underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel.”
Obama also received an update from Netanyahu on the situation in Gaza and Israel.
The US president said he would stay in touch with both leaders.
The government’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss a request by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to call up more troops ahead of a possible ground invasion of Gaza. The ministry has already been green-lighted to call up 75,000 troops.
Some 30,000 to 40,000 troops have already been called up.
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hits a building in the Eshkol border region, no injuries are reported.
British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt has arrived in Israel for a three day visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, during which he is scheduled to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
After visiting rocket-struck Kiryat Malachi, Burt says, “I am gravely concerned about the current crisis, particularly the loss of civilian life on both sides.”
“Coming here has given me a sense of what life is like for people under attack, and the appalling devastation that rockets attacks bring. The people in villages, towns and cities across Israel have the right to live without the constant fear of rocket attacks.”
Burt adds that “The UK calls on Hamas, who bear principal responsibility for starting this round of violence, to stop the rocket attacks.”
“I’d like to express my appreciation for the support of the German foreign minister” and the European Union, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman tells his counterpart from Germany, Guido Westerwelle.
It’s a basic right for our citizens to live in peace, Liberman says at the joined press briefing. “We’ll continue to pressurize the terror organizations in Gaza until we bring peace.”
The goal is to avoid an escelation, “and see how a ceasefire can be reached,” Westerwelle says. “We call on all sides to act responsibly.”
Five rockets fired from Gaza land in open areas outside Beersheba. No injuries or damage are reported, according to Channel 2.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking to the top ministers as the forum of nine gathers to discuss the ongoing operation in Gaza.
There is a reported proposal for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and a phone call from US President Barack Obama to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi seems to strengthen that notion.
Israel is demanding 72 hours of quiet before discussing the terms of the long-term agreement, Udi Segal reports on Channel 2.
After those three days without fighting, Jerusalem will discuss the demands Hamas has set forth: Allowing products into Gaza and stopping the naval blockade, as well as stopping the targeted killings. Israel is asking for a safety strip along the Gazan side of the fence and an end to the military buildup of the Hamas.
Ehud Ya’ari says the Islamic Jihad is also on board the talks for a ceasefire.
Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in the US, launches a campaign on Twitter to #BanHamas, carrying a hashtag of the same name.
“Eretz Nehederet,” the local equivalent to “Saturday Night Live,” airs an episode poking fun at the new “situation” with Gaza. From painting the word “Stop” on their arms, a jibe at the Instagrammers who have been doing so for the last week, to admiring the furnishings in a bomb shelter during a siren and advertising personal Iron Dome battery, the comedians commented, “There’s a war and you have to make people laugh somehow.”
Despite the IDF’s efforts to place the blame for civilian collateral damage in Gaza on Hamas, whom the army says places its rocket launchers and military infrastructure among civilians, Reuters reports that Gazans don’t see the terror group as guilty.
“It’s not their fault, it’s Israel’s fault. It’s no crime to fight for our rights, and from where are they supposed to fire from anyway? This is Gaza, there’s no place that isn’t full of people,” one Gazan resident tells the news agency.
Palestinian sources report that a father, mother and their two children have been killed in an Israeli strike on Beit Lahiyeh in the northern Gaza Strip. Warplanes reportedly struck al-Qassam Brigades sites in the area. Four more people were reported injured in the strike.