The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded on Tuesday, day 15 of Operation Protective Edge. Two Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday afternoon in battles with Hamas in Gaza, the IDF said overnight, and another was killed on Tuesday morning, bringing the IDF death toll to 27. US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are in the region, but a ceasefire does not appear close. Many foreign airlines suspended flights to Israel after a rocket hit a home in the Tel Aviv area. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the operation will continue until sustained quiet is achieved for Israel and Hamas’s terrorist capabilities greatly degraded. IDF-Hamas fighting in Gaza remains intensive, Hamas is still trying to carry out attacks in Israel through tunnels, and rockets are still being fired. (Wednesday’s liveblog is here.)

You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.

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Tens of thousands attend funeral of American-Israeli lone soldier

Tens of thousands of people attend the funeral of American-Israeli lone soldier First Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli who died Sunday morning in Gaza along with 12 others from the Golani Brigade.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that some 18,000 people were there while Army Radio put the figure at over 20,000.

Earlier today, the Facebook page of the Maccabi Haifa team published a post asking people to attend the slain soldier’s funeral in the city’s military cemetery tonight. Carmeli was a fan of the team.

“Sean Carmeli,” reads the post, “was a lone soldier and we don’t want his funeral to be empty.” The post invites people “to come give final honors to a hero who was killed so that we can live.

“That’s the least we can do for him and for our people,” the Maccabi Haifa post says.

Palestinian youth shot dead north of Jerusalem; circumstances unclear

A Palestinian youth is reported to have been shot by Israeli security forces in an area north of Jerusalem, but the circumstances of the incident are unclear.

According to AFP which cites a Palestinian security source, the Palestinian was shot by an Israeli civilian after having thrown stones at his car between Ar-Ram and the Hizma checkpoint near Ramallah in the West Bank..

The Palestinian security source named the fatality as Mahmud Shawamreh, 21, of Ar-Ram.

Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the IDF told AFP: “The incident in which the Palestinian was killed during a violent riot near Ramallah is being investigated by the military police.”

Police disperse protesters in east Jerusalem

Police and Border Police forces disperse masked demonstrators who threw firebombs and firecrackers in east Jerusalem neighborhoods including Abu Tor, Silwan and Issawiya.

Possible security incident in southern Israel

A possible security incident closes sections of Route 232 near Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Residents in the area have been told to stay indoors.

This is the third time today that a main road has been shut following reports of a security incident.

 

Kerry promises $47 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza

The United States is to provide $47 million in humanitarian aid to help Palestinians hit by Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip, US Secretary of State John Kerry pledges.

“We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel’s appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself,” Kerry said in Cairo as he met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry address reporters on the Gaza situation, July 21, 2014 (photo credit: US Department of State)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry address reporters on the Gaza situation, July 21, 2014 (photo credit: US Department of State)

“But always, in any conflict, there is concern about civilians — about children, women, communities that are caught in it,” Kerry said.

The US will provide $15 million to UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency, to meet part of its $60 million appeal for assistance due to the budget crisis, while the remaining $32 million will come from USAID, the State Department says.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Arab League chief urges Hamas to accept Egypt’s truce plan

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby urges Hamas to accept an Egyptian proposal to end the fighting with Israel.

“The Egyptian proposal clearly calls for a ceasefire. We hope Hamas accepts it,” he tells reporters after meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Cairo, where US Secretary of State John Kerry also arrived to push for a truce.

Arab foreign ministers at an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo on the Gaza conflict on July 15, 2014 (Photo credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP)

Arab foreign ministers at an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo on the Gaza conflict on July 15, 2014 (Photo credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP)

Israel accepted the Egyptian proposal last week but Hamas rejected it, demanding a guarantee that the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza be lifted.

Elaraby referred to a clause in the Egyptian initiative that proposes border crossings into Gaza be opened once the security situation allows.

“Everything must be simultaneous: ending the [Israeli] aggression and ending the siege,” a Hamas source tells AFP.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

US issues travel warning to Israel, Gaza

The US State Department issues a new travel warning for US citizens in Israel and the Gaza Strip. While taking into consideration increased risks from rocket fire and infiltrations from the Gaza Strip, the government reiterates that it was not evacuating Americans from Israel.

The warning emphasizes that the US has had a longstanding warning against travel to the Gaza Strip, but also registers a number of changes to earlier warnings, reflecting the deteriorating security situation in Israel.

The Department of State recommends that US citizens “consider the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank and reaffirms the longstanding strong warning to US citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip,” describing the security environment as “complex.”

The warning confirms that because of the security situation, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and its annexes are currently operating at reduced staffing and the Consular Section of the Embassy is providing only emergency consular services, although the US Consulate General in Jerusalem is currently maintaining normal operations.

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Reports of a 5-hour humanitarian truce starting at 10 am

A Palestinian TV station affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group reports that a five-hour humanitarian truce has been agreed to with Israel, starting at 10:00am, according to Ynet.

Israel has yet to confirm the report.

Israeli man shot in the West Bank, in serious condition

A 25-year-old Israeli man is in serious condition after being shot in the West Bank by one or more Palestinian gunmen.

The IDF says the man was standing near Rehelim Junction, south west of Tapuah Junction, when he was fired upon from a vehicle.

He was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for treatment.

IDF forces are searching for the perpetrators.

Four Gazans taken to Israeli hospital for treatment

Four Gazan civilians are taken to Tel Hashomer Hospital near Tel Aviv for treatment.

A husband and wife in moderate condition, a 14-year-old boy also in moderate condition and a six-year-old girl with light injuries were being treated at the hospital.

Threat of possible security incident in south lifted

The threat of a possible security incident in southern Israel is lifted and Route 232 is reopened to traffic.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Beersheba

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts a rocket over Beersheba as three other projectiles explode in open terrain.

Securing ceasefire harder now than in previous Gaza op, says US official

State Department officials traveling with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Mideast say reaching a ceasefire palatable to both Israel and Hamas is more difficult this time than during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

“Our goal is to achieve a cessation of hostilities as soon as possible,” Reuters quotes one senior State Department official as telling reporters. “We don’t expect it will be easy, though. This is a very complicated dynamic.””

“The effort to reach a cease-fire this time around is going to be in some ways more complicated than it was in 2012,” a second US official says. “The region is more divided now.”

Contrary to earlier reports, no Hamas-Israel truce agreement yet

There is no agreement on a Hamas-Israel ceasefire, Arab sources tell The Times of Israel.

Contrary to earlier reports, the sides have yet to reach agreement on a truce after Egypt stood by its rejection to include Hamas’s amendments to the proposal.

According to the sources, the list of demands presented by Hamas is longer than what has so far been reported in the media.

– Avi Issacharoff

Two more soldiers killed in Gaza, bringing military death toll to 27

Two more IDF soldiers were killed during clashes in Gaza on Monday afternoon, the military says, bringing the death toll of military personnel to 27 since Israel launched a ground incursion into the Strip last Thursday.

The IDF says one of the soldiers, Sgt. First Class Oded Ben-Sira, 22, from Nir Etzion in northern Israel, who served in the Nahal Brigade will be laid to rest at 5pm today at the military cemetery in the moshav.

He was killed by sniper fire in Gaza. The name of the second soldier has yet to be released.

Three soldiers were seriously wounded overnight, while four sustained light injuries in battles with Hamas, the IDF says

2 of 7 soldiers killed early Monday to be laid to rest today

Two of the seven soldiers killed overnight Sunday-Monday and early Monday battling Hamas in Gaza and on the Israeli side of the border will be laid to rest later today

Sec. Lt. Yuval Haiman, 21 from Efrat will be laid to rest at 11am Tuesday at Mount Herzl’s military section while the funeral for Baynesain Kasahun, 39 from Netivot is set for 1:00pm at the military cemetery in Netivot.

SSgt. Yuval Dagan, 22, from Kfar Sava was laid to rest Monday night.

The funerals for the remaining four — Lt. Col. Dolev Kedar, 38 from Modi’in; SS. Tal Yifrach, 21, from Rishon Lezion; Sgt. Nadav Goldmacher, 23, from Beersheba; SFC; and SS Jordan Ben-Simon, 22 from Ashkelon — are yet to be announced.

Four of the soldiers were killed during a pre-dawn tunnel infiltration into southern Israel in which Hamas terrorists planned to attack Kibbutz Nir Am, according to military sources.

The three others were killed in Shejaiya in Gaza City. Two were hit by an anti-tank missile fired into a building. Like the 13 IDF soldiers killed there overnight Saturday-Sunday, they were members of the Golani Brigade. The third may have been killed by IDF forces in error.

Sirens blare in communities near Gaza Strip

Sirens sound in communities in the Gaza perimeter including Sha’ar Hanegev and Kissufim.

IDF says over 100 targets struck overnight, 20 Hamas men killed

The IDF says troops killed 20 Hamas gunmen overnight Monday-Tuesday and over 100 targets were struck in the Hamas stronghold of Shejaiya.

Troops uncover 23 tunnels since the launch of the ground offensive into Gaza last Thursday night, the IDF says.

‘Tyrant’ showrunner explains decision to relocate

Production of FX’s series “Tyrant” has relocated from Tel Aviv to Istanbul due to missile attacks, showrunner Howard Gordon tells a TV Critics’ panel.

“Tel Aviv was under missile fire and people were running into bomb shelters. I don’t think anybody felt physically threatened, but it was not conducive to shooting,” he says.

“Tyrant” stars Adam Rayner as the second son of a dictator in a fictional Mideast country who returns with his family after making a life in America.

FX says the show moved last week and season one’s remaining two episodes will be shot in Turkey.

“Tyrant” is not the only show that has reconsidered filming in Israel. Last week, “Homeland” showrunner Alex Gansa told writers, “We spent about two weeks seriously considering the possibility of setting the show in Israel this season. And all I can tell you is I’m very happy that we didn’t.”

The show is now shooting in Cape Town, South Africa.

– AP

Israel stops arms traffickers in the Dead Sea

Israeli security forces stop a weapons smuggling attempt through the Dead Sea.

Military and police forces capture a boat as it makes its way from Jordan to Israel in the north of the saltwater lake, arresting three East Jerusalem residents and two Jericho residents on board.

In their possession authorities find 7 shotguns, 6 handguns and an unspecified amount of marijuana.

The suspects are being interrogated.

Troops uncovered 23 tunnels, killed 183 Hamas operatives, IDF says

Israel has uncovered 23 cross-border tunnels so far in its ground operations in the Gaza Strip, with 66 different access shafts to those tunnels, the military says.

Tunnel entrances have been found in houses and mosques, according to the army.

“They’re all interconnected, like a huge network of nerves and arteries,” says spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

The IDF believes there are dozens more tunnels near the border, in various stages of readiness, which are intended for attacks against Israel.

The army says 183 Hamas gunmen have been killed by IDF troops operating on the ground in Gaza, and 470 injured. Twenty-eight operatives have been captured by troops and interrogated.

The military says a lot of the fighting on the ground has been focused around tunnel entrances, as Palestinian gunmen know the IDF is searching for the tunnels and concentrate their forces and ambush attempts in those areas.

In the past 24 hours the military says it struck 100 terror targets in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, including two mosques that served as Hamas compounds and weapons storage sites. Other targets included “rocket launching facilities” and command centers.

All told, 2,050 rockets have been fired at Israel since Operation Protective Edge began. One thousand six hundred have hit the ground, mostly in open areas. The Iron Dome defense system has fired at 450, with a 90 percent success rate, the army says.

–Mitch Ginsburg and Itamar Sharon

Israeli air strikes kill 7 people in Gaza, medics say

A series of Israeli air strikes kill seven people in Gaza, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says.

The deaths hike the total death toll reported by Palestinians in Gaza to 583 since the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 after escalating rocket fire from the Strip.

– AFP

Minister says no ceasefire before tunnels dealt with

Israel will not agree to a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza “before we (take care of) the tunnel issue,” Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, a former Shin Bet chief, tells Ynet.

Peri notes that, despite the many attack tunnels already uncovered and destroyed by troops along the border, Hamas is using still others to infiltrate Israel to “attempt to carry out a significant attack.”

8 rockets fired; 1 falls near Ashdod school

Eight rockets are launched from Gaza at the Ashdod region.

Seven are intercepted by Iron Dome, while one rocket explodes near a school, causing slight damage but no casualties, Channel 10 reports.

PM says there’s hope for ceasefire

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says “there’s hope” for a ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but that he doesn’t know if it will happen under the current conditions, blaming the terror group for “the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen.”

Netanyahu tells Fox News that Israel has already accepted an Egyptian ceasefire offer but “in the Middle East it takes two to tango.”

“There’s one side that is clearly bent on escalation and there’s one side, Israel, that is defending its people as any country would under similar circumstances,” he says.

Asked about the rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties, which reportedly is in the hundreds, Netanyahu says any operation dealing with terrorists who operate from within a civilian population will cause civilian casualties.

“There are some in the West who tell us, we support Israel’s right to defend itself… as long as you don’t exercise that right,” the premier laments. “Well what else could we do, what would you do… if 80 percent of your people were in bomb shelters?”

“While we try to avoid Palestinian civilian [deaths], Hamas wants Palestinian civilian [deaths]; the more the better, so they can give you telegenic fodder,” he says.

“This is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen,” Netanyahu says. “Not only does Hamas target civilians, ours, and hide behind civilians, theirs, it actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible.”

Israeli official says no agreement on humanitarian truce

As 10 a.m. approaches, an Israeli official tells Walla News there is no agreement on a humanitarian truce that was reported earlier to be planned between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“At this stage there’s no ceasefire on the table — not a general one and not a humanitarian one,” the unnamed official says. “The second…came up in various channels, but there is no agreement.”

IDF says it doesn’t have body of soldier presumed killed in Gaza

Two days after a Hamas announcement that it abducted an IDF soldier, the IDF says that the body of one of the seven soldiers who were in an armored personnel carrier that was destroyed in an attack early Sunday has not been identified among the remains recovered from the scene.

The bodies of the other six soldiers have been identified, and the seventh, whose name has not been released for publication, is presumed to have been killed in the attack.

The IDF stresses that there is little chance that the soldier survived the attack.

Hamas and other terror groups have been known to snatch remains of IDF soldiers and trade them for live prisoners.

Rockets fired at central Israel

Warning sirens sound in Tel Aviv and central Israel.

Media reports indicate a rocket or rockets have been intercepted by Iron Dome and some debris has fallen in urban areas.

No casualties are reported.

Army says efforts to identify missing soldier’s body ‘ongoing’

Following is a statement from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit:

In the early hours of Sunday, July 20, 2014, an armored vehicle carrying seven soldiers of the Golani Brigade was severely damaged in battle.

Last night, the seven families of soldiers who were involved in the incident were briefed on the circumstances of the attack.

The identification process of six of the soldiers killed has been completed and confirmed. The efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined.

Kerry says Gaza ceasefire should address ‘underlying issues’

A long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip must address “underlying” issues, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

“We will work to see if there is some way to not only arrive at a ceasefire of some kind but to get to a discussion about the underlying issues,” he says in Cairo. “Nothing will be resolved by any ceasefire, temporary or long, without really getting to those issues at some point, and that’s what we need to do.”

Rocket causes damage to Yehud home

A rocket or debris from an intercepted rocket falls on a house in Yehud just east of Tel Aviv, causing extensive damage to a structure.

There are reports of two people lightly injured, though according to other accounts they were not physically hurt but were rather treated for anxiety.

IDF gives names of 6 soldiers killed in APC attack

The IDF releases the names of six Golani soldiers killed on Sunday when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile. They are:

-       Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24, from Beersheba.

-       Staff Sgt. Shachar Tase, 20, from Pardesiya.

-       Staff Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz, 20, from Kfar Azar.

-       Sgt. Shon Mondshine, 19, from Tel Aviv.

-       Sgt. Ben Oanounou, 19, from Ashdod.

-       Staff Sgt. Oren Noach, 22, from Hoshaya.

The military says the body of a seventh soldier presumed killed in the attack has not yet been identified, though it stresses that there is little chance that the soldier survived the attack.

Hamas claimed on Sunday to have abducted an IDF soldier, though there has been no verification of this assertion.

UN chief to land in Israel at 2 p.m.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is currently in Cairo trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, is scheduled to land in Tel Aviv today at 2 p.m. He will drive directly to the Defense Ministry’s headquarters for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

In the afternoon, Ban will travel to Ramallah for meetings with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

Tomorrow morning, he is scheduled to visit outgoing President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, followed by meetings with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

– Raphael Ahren

9 treated for shock, light injuries in central Israel

Magen David Adom teams in Petah Tikva and Yehud, east of Tel Aviv, are treating four people who injured themselves while running to shelters as rocket sirens blared in the city earlier.

Medics are also treating five people who suffered from shock.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashkelon

The Iron Dome defense system intercepts a rocket above Ashkelon.

The interception comes several minutes after warning sirens are heard throughout the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

2 soldiers seriously hurt in grenade accident

The IDF says two soldiers were seriously wounded in a hand grenade explosion outside the Gaza Strip early Tuesday.

The army says the incident near the Magen junction was apparently an accident. The two were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

Al-Jazeera claims IDF fires upon Gaza offices

After two IDF warning shots are allegedly fired upon their Gaza City offices, Al-Jazeera reporters are evacuating the building.

Yehud home sustains direct hit by Gaza rocket

A rocket falls on house Yehud just east of Tel Aviv, causing extensive damage to a structure. Earlier reports were unclear as to whether it was just debris that had struck the house.

There are reports of two people lightly injured, though according to other accounts they were not physically hurt but were rather treated for anxiety.

Maldives annuls 3 bilateral pacts with Israel

The Maldives cancels three bilateral agreements with Israel and calls for a boycott of Israeli products in protest over Operation Protective Edge.

The Maldivian delegation to the United Nations in New York informs Israeli diplomats that they were instructed to suspend agreements on education and science, medicine, and tourism, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official tells The Times of Israel. No explanation has been given for the move, the official says, but it seems clear that anti-Israel demonstrations have prodded the tiny island nation’s government to take what appears to be an entirely symbolic step.

“President [Abdulla] Yameen and the Maldivian citizens are with the Palestinian people,” Maumoon tells reporters. “I do not think Maldivians want any help from Israel or want to keep up relations with Israel. So from now on, the agreements have been annulled.”

According to local media reports, the government in Malé is also boycotting the import of Israeli goods, but acknowledges that this step, too, is largely “symbolic.”

“Even though what we give is small or symbolic, the way it is received is important. The message we want to give is we are with the Palestinian people,” Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon says.

The Republic of Maldives, a tiny Muslim island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, yet until a few years ago bilateral ties were growing increasingly cordial. In February 2012, the government in Malé was deposed in what observers called a political coup. Mohamed Nasheed — the country’s first democratically elected president, known for his pro-Israel stance — was ousted and replaced by Islamist hardliners.

Raphael Ahren

IDF reveals name of 2nd soldier killed Monday afternoon

The IDF announces the name of the second soldier killed in action yesterday afternoon as Master Sergeant Ohad Shemesh, 27, from Beit Elazari near Rehovot.

The first soldier was named earlier as Oded Ben-Sira, 22, from the northern community of Nir Etzion.

Shemesh’s funeral will take place Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 pm at the military cemetery in Mazkeret Batya.

Three soldiers were seriously wounded overnight, while four sustained light injuries in battles with Hamas, the IDF says.

Golani commander returns to Gaza after injury

Golani Brigade Commander Lt. Col. Ghassan Alian, who was injured in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, has been released from Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

Alian, who was injured in the face during a firefight with Palestinian gunmen, says he intends to return to his unit to command his soldiers’ continued battle against Hamas in Gaza.

Rocket sirens heard in western Negev towns

Warning sirens are heard in the Ramat Negev region which includes the towns of Yeruham and Mitzpe Ramon

The number of rockets launched is not yet clear.

Herzog praises tunnel finds, says ceasefire close

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says cross-border tunnels dug by Hamas were built to carry out “terror attacks of unimaginable dimensions” and their destruction “removes the threat over tens of thousands of Israeli citizens.”

Twenty-three such tunnels have been uncovered by IDF troops operating in the Gaza Strip over the past few days.

Herzog tells Channel 10 that Israel should dictate the terms of a ceasefire with Hamas, adding that he believes a truce is close at hand in light of the intense international efforts to restore quiet.

“We will need to demilitarize Gaza and then help Abu Mazen rebuild it,” Herzog adds, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Labor party head says he is in regular contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calls the government’s conduct in Operation Protective Edge so far “reasonable, sound.”

Lod psychologist fired for joyful post on soldier deaths

An Arab worker at the Lod municipality has been fired for a Facebook post in which she expressed joy at the deaths of Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reports.

The woman, a psychologist who worked in the municipality’s education branch, responded to a post on the deaths of 13 soldiers in fighting Sunday, writing: “LOL, 13. May there be many more, amen.”

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo says he decided to fire the worker because the post crossed a red line.

Revivo says he understands Israeli Arabs’ feelings of kinship with residents of Gaza, “but when an Israeli citizen is glad for the deaths of our martyred soldiers, who gave their lives to protect the country and to prevent rockets from flying on Jews and Arabs alike – that we cannot accept.”

Child and 3 women killed in Gaza strikes, medics say

A child and three women, one of them pregnant, are killed in two separate Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, Gazan medics say.

Two women are killed in airstrikes in the eastern Gaza City district of Zaitun, along with a pregnant woman and a child killed in a second strike in northern Beit Hanun, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says.

–AFP

Berlin bans anti-Semitic slogan at Gaza protests 

Berlin authorities say they’ve banned pro-Gaza protesters from chanting an anti-Semitic slogan and are investigating a sermon by a radical imam who called on Muslims to kill Jews.

Since the outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza, participants at anti-Israel demonstrations across Germany have frequently used anti-Semitic slogans and also called for Jews to be gassed. Jewish groups have expressed shock and disgust about the growing anti-Semitism.

Police spokeswoman Cosima Pauluhn says protesters have been banned from using the rallying cry they’ve been using until now.

She adds that Jewish groups and several individuals have pressed charges against the sermon by a radical imam calling on worshipers at Berlin’s Al-Nur mosque last week to murder Jews. She says police are investigating the incident.

– AP

IDF names missing Golani soldier as Oron Shaul, 21

The IDF says the missing soldier who is believed to have died in the Gaza Strip on Sunday but whose body has not yet been identified is 21-year-old Oron Shaul from Poria.

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed dead in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed dead in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

Shaul and six other soldiers were in an armored personnel carrier which was hit by an anti-tank missile on Sunday, but while the others have been identified among the remains recovered from the scene, Shaul has not.

Hamas claimed on Sunday to have kidnapped Shaul, even publishing his name, but Israeli officials say gunmen may have simply retrieved some identifying items from the scene after the attack.

The army’s investigation is ongoing.

Number of dead in Gaza said to pass 600

The number of Palestinians killed in Israel’s operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has passed 600, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry says.

According to Ashraf al-Qudra, 604 people have died in the 15 days since Operation Protective Edge began, with 46 killed today.

He adds that 3,700 have been injured.

Family of missing soldier: He’s not dead till there’s proof

A representative of the family of Oron Shaul, the soldier missing in Gaza since Sunday, says the family does not consider Oron to be dead as long as the IDF does not possess conclusive evidence that he was killed.

Shaul and six other soldiers were in an armored personnel carrier which was hit by an anti-tank missile on Sunday, but while the others have been identified among the remains recovered from the scene, Shaul has not.

“As far as we are concerned, as long as the examinations are not completed, as long as the IDF is still working and there are no conclusive findings on the issue – as far as the family is concerned Oren is not dead,” Rachel Gazit tells reporters. “It’s important for us to say that.”

Gazit’s statement comes shortly after the family was visited by the head of the IDF’s Manpower Division Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, who updated the family on the efforts to identify Shaul’s body and emphasized to them that it is highly unlikely that he is alive.

Germany, France, Italy condemn anti-Semitic rallies

The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy are condemning the rise in anti-Semitic protests and violence in their countries over the conflict in Gaza, saying they will do everything possible to combat it.

“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France’s Laurent Fabius and Italy’s Federica Mogherini say in a joint statement issued in Brussels.

The three say that while they respect demonstrators’ freedom of speech and right to assemble, they will also do everything possible to fight “acts and statements that cross the line to anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.”

– AP

Rocket sirens heard in Beersheba

Warning sirens are heard in the Negev city of Beersheba.

One was shot down by Iron Dome, two fell in open spaces. There are no reported injuries.

Tel Aviv beaches reportedly shut down

Beaches in Tel Aviv are reportedly closing due to hazards posed by falling rocket debris.

Troops kill gunman who opened fire in north Gaza

The IDF Spokesperson says that a terrorist opened fire at troops in in the northern Gaza Strip. The forces returned fire and killed the attacker.

Senior Hamas leader says group has Oron Shaul

Husam Badran, a senior Hamas leader, shares in Hebrew in a video clip aired on Israeli TV that missing Israeli soldier Oron Shaul has been captured by the terror organization.

“To the entire Israeli people,” Badran said. “Your government is responsible for the blood of these soldiers. Shaul Oron is in our hands.”

According to the IDF, Shaul and six other soldiers were in an armored personnel carrier which was hit by an anti-tank missile in Gaza on Sunday, but while the others have been identified among the remains recovered from the scene, Shaul has not.

Hamas claimed on Sunday to have kidnapped Shaul, even publishing his name, but Israeli officials say gunmen may have simply retrieved some identifying items from the scene after the attack.

The army’s investigation is ongoing.

Father of Adi Avitan visits Oron Shaul’s family

Yaakov Avitan, the father of Adi Avitan, who was taken hostage in a Hezbollah ambush while serving on the Lebanese border in 2000, visits the Shaul family to offer his support, NRG reports.

Adi Avitan was killed either during or shortly after his abduction.

Adi Avitan’s body was eventually returned along with those of two other IDF soldiers, plus Israeli civilian captive Elhanan Tannenbaum who was returned alive, in exchange for 400 Palestinian prisoners and some 30 Lebanese prisoners.

2 soldiers from Gaza op hospitalized

IDF evacuates two soldiers from Gaza to Ramat Gan’s Sheba Medical Center, Walla reported.

The two soldiers were wounded in battle in Gaza. One is in moderate condition, while the other suffered light injuries.

5 soldiers taken to Beersheba hospital

IDF evacuates five soldiers to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, Walla reports.

Three are in serious condition and transferred to the orthopedic surgery department. The other two sustained minor injuries.

There are now 54 soldiers currently being treated at Soroka Hospital, two of whom are in the ICU.

Sirens in Beersheba, Negev

Rocket sirens ring out in Beersheba and the surrounding area as an apparent volley of missiles is shot from Gaza.

Netanyahu, Ban Ki-Moon hold press conference

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who landed in Israel today at 2 p.m., and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are holding a joint press conference at 4 p.m. in Tel Aviv.

Ban is trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

In the afternoon, Ban will travel to Ramallah for meetings with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

Tomorrow morning, he is scheduled to visit outgoing President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, followed by meetings with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

Israeli soldier killed in Gaza fighting

The IDF has released the name of a soldier killed in Gaza fighting this morning: Staff Sergeant Avitar Moshe Torjamin, 20, from Beit She’an.

Torjamin is the 27th Israeli military fatality since fighting began over two weeks ago, plus missing soldier Oron Shaul thought to have been killed in action. Torjamin the 29th overall Israeli fatality.

Kerry calls for immediate ceasefire

US Secretary of State John Kerry calls for an immediate ceasefire after meeting with Egypt’s president and other high-level officials in Cairo.

Kerry stopped short of advocating a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Still, he said his discussions in Cairo were designed to “hopefully find not only a way to a ceasefire, but a way to deal with the underlying issues, which are very complicated.”

The US and Israel back Egypt’s proposed ceasefire plan but Hamas rejects it. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri says Tuesday’s talks are focused “to not only resolve this issue, but also to set in motion once again the peace process that Secretary Kerry has been so actively involved in so as to end this ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pool)

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pool)

In a separate meeting with Kerry, Arab league President Nabil Elaraby calls the Gaza bloodshed a “massacre.” More than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed since the new war began July 8.

“People are dying in the streets in large numbers,” Elaraby tells Kerry. “And what is needed is for all hostile acts should end as soon as possible. Just like someone is bleeding, and you need a Band-Aid, but that is not enough. You need more to be able to survive.”

Two rockets fired at Beersheba

After sirens sound in the southern city of Beersheba, Iron Dome intercepts one rocket, while another strikes an open area near the city.

Netanyahu visits wounded soldiers

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells foreign diplomats stationed in Israel that he expects from them not only support but also that they take an “ethical stand against a terrorist organization attacking us.”

“Every democracy would do what Israel is doing,” he tells tens of foreign ambassadors during a visit to the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon.

During the morning, the prime minister speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, telling them that the international community needs to work toward the demilitarization of Gaza.

At the hospital, Netanyahu visits soldiers and civilians who were wounded in Operation Protective Edge. “You were hurt while carrying out the most important mission imaginable – protecting our home.”

Later this afternoon, Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. At the beginning of the meeting, the two leaders will hold a joint press conference.

– Raphael Ahren

‘The IDF needs 1-2 more weeks’

The IDF needs 1-2 more weeks to finish its work in Gaza, a senior military official tells Channel 2. The comments comes as international efforts to broker a ceasefire intensify.

On Sunday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon promised that most of the tunnels used by Hamas would be “destroyed in the next two or three days.”

IDF Artillery Corps seen firing shells to Gaza, near the border in Southern Israel on July 21, 2014, on the fourth day of the Israeli ground invasion into Gaza Strip in order to destroy the Hamas' terror tunnels infrastructure, and the 14th day of Operation Protective Edge. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

IDF Artillery Corps seen firing shells to Gaza, near the border in Southern Israel on July 21, 2014, on the fourth day of the Israeli ground invasion into Gaza Strip in order to destroy the Hamas’ terror tunnels infrastructure, and the 14th day of Operation Protective Edge. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

‘We will act decisively to end the threat’ — Netanyahu

Israel will “act decisively to end the threat to its citizens,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a joint press conference in Tel Aviv.

“Hamas builds terrorist tunnels under hospitals, mosques, and schools,” Netanyahu emphasizes.

Netanyahu underscored the fact that Hamas rejected ceasefire offers before Israel began its military reponse to Hamas rockets, as well as during the fighting.

Ban Ki-moon, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Ban Ki-moon, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

“The international community must take a clear stance” and hold Hamas accountable, says Netanyahu, for rejecting ceasefires and initiating the hostilities.

“They are committing a double war crime. They want more civilian casualties, whereas we want no civilian casualties.”

Netanyahu added that the people of Gaza are “the victims of the brutal Hamas regime, they are holding them hostage.”

Continuing to focus on Hamas violations, Netanyahu said Hamas is preventing civilians of Gaza from going to the field hospital Israel built for Gazan civilians. “I believe that you understand this, it is the right of every state to defend itself, and Israel will do what it needs to do to defend ourselves.”

“This is not only our right, this is our duty.”

 

Ban says no country would accept rockets

“I am standing with a very heavy heart,” says Ban Ki-moon. “As we speak there are rockets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued to be fired in Israel.”

“We condemn strongly the rocket attacks. These must stop immediately. We condemn the use of civilians sites, schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities for military purposes. No country would accept the rockets raining down on its territory. All countries and parties have an obligation to protect its citizens.”

In fact, there was a rocket alert in the south as Ban spoke in Tel Aviv.

‘Stop fighting, start talking,’ says UN’s Ban

“Too many Palestinians and Israeli mothers are burying their children,” continues Ban Ki-moon in his joint press conference with Netanyahu. “We owe it to them to intensify our efforts to find a solution.”

“My message is the same. Stop fighting, start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict so we are not at the same situation in another six months or a year. We must address these underlying issues, including occupation… so people do not feel they have to resort to violence.”

“Military actions will not increase Israel’s stability in the longer term.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry address reporters on the Gaza situations, July 21, 2014. (Photo credit: US Department of State)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry address reporters on the Gaza situation, July 21, 2014. (Photo credit: US Department of State)

Hamas is like al-Qaeda, says Netanyahu

“There is no viable alternative to a two-state solution,” emphasizes Ban Ki-moon. “No barrier can separate Israel and Palestinians from a fundamental truth. You share a common future.”

“You spoke about the regional developments,” responds Netanyahu at their joint press conference in Tel Aviv. “What we are seeing here with Hamas is another instance of Islamist extremist that has no resolvable grievance. Hamas is like ISIS, like al-Qaeda, like Hezbollah, like Boko Haram.”

“What grievance can we solve for Hamas? Their grievance is that we exist.”

Netanyahu adds that “Israel has no option but to defend ourselves …and we will do what we need to do to defend ourselves.”

‘MIA soldier does not change army plans’

The strategic plans of the Israeli army will not change in light of the discovery that Israel has a soldier missing in action, says the former head of the POW and MIA unit in the army, but the next 24 hours will likely be significantly affected.

Col. (res) Lior Lotan likens the situation to the predicament Israel found itself in after a team of Naval Commandos was ambushed deep in Lebanon in September 1997. The team lost 12 men, and the rescue squad, operating under fire, was forced to leave one body and several body parts behind. The body of Staff Sgt. Itamar Iliya and the other remains were only returned to Israel in June 1998, in exchange for the body of Hadi Nasrallah, the son of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed killed in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed killed in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

Lotan says that the only way to shift a soldier’s status from MIA to KIA, or from missing to dead, is by providing “tangible, solid evidence.”

Although troops will be operating in a hostile environment Lotan says that Special Forces will surely be combing the area in order to obtain the necessary evidence. “Even in a war zone,” he says, even at considerable risk, “it will be done.”

 Mitch Ginsburg

‘We found most of the tunnels in our sector’

The commander of the Nahal Brigade, Col. Uri Gordon, tells Ynet that “we have located most of the tunnels in our sector, and we will destroy them.”

Gordon adds that Hamas terrorists tried to kidnap soldiers, but did not succeed.

“The Nahal Brigade has been fighting Hamas for a week, and has struck a large amount of terror infrastructure,” he says.

A Nahal Brigade beret march en route to Massada (photo credit: Alexi Rosenfeld/ IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

A Nahal Brigade beret march en route to Masada (photo credit: Alexi Rosenfeld/ IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Steinberg funeral set for 11 a.m. tomorrow in Jerusalem

The funeral of slain Golani infantryman Max Steinberg of Beersheba will take place at the Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Steinberg, 24, was a US citizen who was volunteering for service in the IDF. He was killed early Sunday morning when his APC was struck by a Hamas anti-tank rocket.

US carriers suspend some Israel flights

A Delta Airlines flight that was supposed to fly into Ben Gurion Airport headed to Paris instead, after fragments of an intercepted rocket fell in a backyard in the town of Yehud just north of the airport earlier today.

A US Airways flight is currently sitting on the tarmac at Ben Gurion as it waits for a decision on whether it may take off.

Mark Feldman, who runs the Ziontours travel agency, says that it is unclear whether United Airlines will also suspend any flights, and that he is rebooking his clients on El Al flights.

Illustrative photo of an El Al aircraft on the runway (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Illustrative photo of an El Al aircraft on the runway (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

16-year-old terrorist in Israeli hospital

A 16-year-old Palestinian terrorist is being treated in an Israeli hospital after being captured during a pre-dawn Monday terror attack on southern Israel when he emerged from one of Hamas’s cross-border tunnels.

The 16-year-old Hamas assailant is being treated in Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital and is described as being in moderate condition, Israel Radio reports on Tuesday afternoon.

He was unconscious when hospitalized, the report says.

Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayovr/Flash90)

Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayovr/Flash90)

The teenager was captured after emerging from a tunnel dug from Gaza into southern Israel along with several other terrorists. In the pre-dawn attack, two groups of Hamas terrorists emerged from two tunnel exits, one inside the Israeli border near Kibbutz Nir Am, and the other near Erez, also on Israeli territory, several kilometers northeast of the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun.

It is unclear which squad the teen belonged to.

A second Hamas terrorist is also in an Israeli hospital, Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, the report says.

The report adds that IDF soldiers being treated in Israeli hospitals for injuries sustained while fighting in Gaza said they encountered 13- and 14-year-old Palestinian children running at them wearing explosives-laden suicide-bomber belts.

BBC Arabic journalist attacked in Israel

A BBC Arabic journalist, reporting from Tel Aviv, is knocked off his feet by a Jewish-Israeli attacker while on air.

Firas al-Khatib is seen standing with a bulletproof vest with the word “Press” on it, reporting on the ongoing violence, when a black-shirted man pushes him to the ground.

The assailant wrestles with another man wearing a “Press” vest, but the rest of the incident occurs off-camera.

Al-Khatib resumes his reporting moments later.

Israel will have to pay for a picture of captive soldier, Hamas says

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Misri says that Israel will have to pay a price to even see a picture of the soldier the group claims to have abducted.

Hamas claimed on Sunday to have seized a soldier named Shaul Aron, but Israeli officials say gunmen may have simply retrieved some identifying items from the scene after the attack on the APC that killed six Golani soldiers and may have also killed a soldier named Oron Shaul.

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed killed in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed killed in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

According to the IDF, Shaul and six other soldiers were in an armored personnel carrier which was hit by an anti-tank missile in Gaza on Sunday, but while the others have been identified among the remains recovered from the scene, Shaul has not.

The army’s investigation is ongoing.

Ceasefire resolution said sent to UN Security Council

The Palestinian UN envoy says a draft UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will be formally circulated to the Security Council.

Riyad Mansour tells reporters before the Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Mideast on Tuesday that the resolution would be given to all 15 council members later Tuesday. It was endorsed by the Palestinians’ supporters last week.

A draft dated July 18 and obtained by The Associated Press calls for “an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, including the withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces from the Gaza Strip.”

It also calls for “all necessary measures to ensure the protection of civilians, including the immediate cessation of military reprisals, collective punishment and excessive use of force against the Palestinian civilian population.”

– AP

Call for mourners to attend lone soldier’s funeral

After posts on Facebook and word of mouth succeeded in bringing 20,000 mourners to the funeral of lone soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli, concerned Israelis are trying to ensure that fellow lone soldier Max Steinberg of Beersheba will have large crowds at his funeral as well.

Steinberg does not have family living in Israel.

Max Steinberg, 24, originally from Southern California's San Fernando Valley, who was killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Courtesy of Stuart Steinberg)

Max Steinberg, 24, from Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, who was killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Courtesy of Stuart Steinberg)

The funeral will take place at the Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Steinberg, 24, was a US citizen who was volunteering for service in the IDF. He was killed early Sunday morning when his APC was struck by a Hamas anti-tank rocket.

A Facebook event page for the funeral has 609 guests who responded that they were planning to attend.

US woman immigrates month before wedding as fiance fights in Gaza

Ilana Barta, who immigrated today from Teaneck, New Jersey, is set to be married in a month. While she is going about preparations for the wedding, and getting accustomed to Israel, her fiance Akiva, an officer in the IDF paratroopers, is fighting in the Gaza Strip.

When she climbed on to the plane to bring her to Israel, wedding dress in hand, she had not heard from her fiance in a week.

Ilana Barta, on her way to Israel a month before her wedding (photo credit: Courtesy)

Ilana Barta, on her way to Israel a month before her wedding (photo credit: Courtesy)

Ilana plans on studying medicine at the Technion in Haifa in October. In interviews with Israeli media, Ilana made clear she was not only moving to Israel for Akiva, but also because of a deep love of Israel and the Jewish people.

The two met as counselors at a Bnei Akiva camp in the United States.

Minister calls on airlines to rethink decision

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz calls on two major American airlines to rethink their decision to suspend service to and from Israel. These are “proper and normal” routes, Katz says.

“Ben Gurion Airport is safe — takeoffs and landings — and there is absolutely no need to be concerned about the security of planes and passengers,” he says. “There’s absolutely no reason why American airlines in particular should stop their flights and thus hand a prize to terrorism.”

Earlier Tuesday, US Airways and Delta Airlines had decided to cancel their flights to and from Israel in the wake of security concerns regarding rocket fire from Gaza. Fragments of an intercepted rocket had fallen in a backyard in the town of Yehud just north of the airport earlier today.

Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The airlines made their decision “of their own accord,” a spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority tells The Times of Israel, adding that it was not prodded by a decision by American aviation authorities. Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority is currently trying to explain to these companies that Ben Gurion remains a safe destination, the spokesperson says.

Delta and US Airways aren’t the first airlines to cancel their flights to and from Israel in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. Last week, Korean Airlines and a Norwegian shuttle took that step out of security concerns.

– Raphael Ahren

‘A ceasefire would abandon southern Israel’ — Dichter

“The heart is torn over every soldier’s death,” says Avi Dichter, a former MK and minister who headed the Shin Bet during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. “But let’s keep this in proportion. In a single suicide bombing in March 2002, we lost 30 people and we launched Operation Defensive Shield” to tackle Hamas’s suicide bombing bases in the West Bank.

“To agree to a ceasefire now is to abandon the residents of southern Israel,” says Dichter on Channel 2.

Israelis are ready for the military action needed to strategically harm Hamas, he says, and the army is certainly ready.

FAA suspends flights to Israel

The US Federal Aviation Administration bars flights to Israel Tuesday evening for 24 hours, citing security concerns.

The notice comes after US carrier Delta said it was indefinitely suspending flights between the United States and Israel.

US Airways also announces it is suspending flights, but only until Thursday.

The moves were announced hours after shrapnel from a rocket damaged a home in the central Israeli town of Yehud, which abuts Israel’s main international airport.

Illustrative photo of a Delta flight (photo credit: AP/Michael Simon)

Illustrative photo of a Delta flight (photo credit: AP/Michael Simon)

‘You can be calm, we’re above you’

The IDF releases a video showing close coordination between ground forces in the Gaza Strip and the air force.

The clip shows a Gaza neighborhood as seen from a plane or drone, as a commander on the ground tells the air force operator that there are terrorists moving around on the ground, and that he needs help locating them.

The air force surveillance operator says that he has spotted the building from which terrorists are firing. The infantry commander says that his force is within that same building on the second floor.

“You’re on the second floor, and the terrorists are above you in the same house?” asks the airman.

The terrorists start running, and the air force tracks them, eventually reporting that they “destroyed them.”

“Then I can be calm,” says the infantryman, “since they were firing at us.”

“I know, you can be calm. We’re above you,” responds the air force operator.

28 Hamas gunmen captured

The IDF has taken 28 Hamas terrorists into custody during Operation Protective Edge, Channel 2 reports.

Forty-one rockets have been shot at Israel thus far today: 28 of which struck Israel, 11 of which were intercepted, and 2 of which fell short into Gaza.

FAA statement on US flights to and from Israel

The US Federal Aviation Administration bars flights to Israel Tuesday evening for 24 hours, citing security concerns. Here is the statement the FAA released:

At 12:15 EST on July 22, 2014, the FAA issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) informing U.S. airlines that they are prohibited from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours. The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22, 2014. The NOTAM applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.

The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a NOTAM.

“The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation. Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours from the time the NOTAM went into force.

– Raphael Ahren

Lufthansa, Air France suspend flights

Air France suspends all flights to Tel Aviv until further notice over safety concerns.

German carrier Lufthansa also cancels flights for the next 36 hours.

Abbas cancels Saudi trip

Mahmoud Abbas cancels his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, and will instead call an emergency meeting in his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah, Ynet reports.

Abbas has traveled around the region to push a ceasefire, holding meetings in Egypt and Qatar.

A handout picture released by the Palestinian Authority president's office shows Mahmoud Abbas (right) in a meeting with the head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, in Doha, on July 20, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/PPO/Thaer Ghanem)

A handout picture released by the Palestinian Authority president’s office shows Mahmoud Abbas (right) in a meeting with the head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, in Doha, on July 20, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/PPO/Thaer Ghanem)

State Dept. denies political motivation for FAA decision

The State Department quickly denies that a decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to suspend flights to Israel was political or driven by a motivation to apply additional pressure on Israel to accede to a ceasefire.

“It is in no way policy or politically related,” Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf says. “The FAA makes these decisions when they feel its warranted to protect US citizens.”

Harf says that in light of recent attacks around Ben Gurion Airport, the decision was understandable, but emphasized that it will be reassessed in the next 24 hours.

Harf confirms that the FAA had notified the State Department regarding the decision before it was announced, and that the State Department had, in fact, been in contact with Israeli authorities in advance of the Tuesday afternoon announcement.

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Sirens in Dan, Modiin regions

Sirens sound in central Israel, including in communities around the Ben Gurion Airport.

2 interceptions over Dan region

Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets over the Dan Region in central Israel. Emergency workers are searching to make sure there were no additional rockets that slipped through.

EU calls on Hamas, Islamic Jihad to disarm

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council releases a statement calling on all terrorist groups in Gaza to disarm, and condemns rocket fire on Israel.

“The EU strongly condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians. These are criminal and unjustifiable acts. The EU calls on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm. The EU strongly condemns calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields.”

An Al-Qassam Brigades gunman in Gaza, May 2014 photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

An Al-Qassam Brigades gunman in Gaza, May 2014 photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The statement also expresses concern over the loss of civilian lives in Gaza.

“The EU condemns the loss of hundreds of civilian lives, among them many women and children. While recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, the EU underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. The EU stresses the need for protection of civilians at all times. The EU is particularly appalled by the human cost of the Israeli military operation in Shuja’iyya, and is deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. All sides must meet their obligations and immediately allow safe and full humanitarian access in Gaza for the urgent distribution of assistance. The EU calls on all sides to implement in good faith an immediate cease fire.”

2 rockets fall inside communities in south

As Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets in central Israel, another 2 projectiles land in southern communities. No injuries or damage are reported.

More sirens in Ashdod, central region

1 rocket intercepted, 1 hits open area in Dan region

After sirens sounds in central Israel, Iron Dome intercepts one rocket, while another hits an open area in the Dan region. No damage or injuries are reported.

Air Canada cancels Israel flight

After US airlines temporarily suspend flights to and from Israel, Air Canada cancels an Israel flight.

Fears over the safety of Ben Gurion Airport grew after a rocket hit the yard of a house in Yehud, north of the airport.

KLM cancels Tel Aviv flight

After US carriers and Air Canada cancel Israel flights, Dutch airline KLM cancels Flight 461 from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv.

French FM says Gaza deaths ‘unacceptable’

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius denounces Palestinian deaths in Gaza fighting as “unacceptable,” AFP reports.

Over 600 Palestinians, civilians and combatants, have been killed since the conflict broke out 15 days ago, according to Gaza sources.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks to the press following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, prior to his departure from Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, on July 19, 2014.  (photo credit: AFP/GALI TIBBON)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks to the press following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, prior to his departure from Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, on July 19, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/GALI TIBBON)

Anti-Israel fake ‘Oron Shaul’ FB pages pop up

A number of Facebook pages bearing the name and picture of missing Israeli soldier Oron Shaul have emerged on Facebook.

The pages claim that Hamas is holding Shaul alive, and taunt Israel, saying IDF soldiers are afraid of Hamas fighters.

Other posts claim that Israel is intentionally murdering Palestinians in Gaza.

https://www.facebook.com/OronShaulGaza

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oron-Shaul/1515469718664706

Hamas claimed on Sunday to have seized a soldier named Shaul Aron, but Israeli officials say gunmen may have simply retrieved some identifying items from the scene after the attack on the APC that killed six Golani soldiers and may have also killed Oron Shaul.

According to the IDF, Shaul and six other soldiers were in an armored personnel carrier which was hit by an anti-tank missile in Gaza on Sunday, but while the others have been identified among the remains recovered from the scene, Shaul has not.

El Al, other airlines still flying into Israel

Despite a slew of international airlines canceling their Israel flights over security concerns in the wake of Operation Protective Edge, El Al will continue to fly as scheduled, to and from Israel, the airline’s deputy director of international Affairs, Stanley Morais, tells The Times of Israel. “El Al will do all to assist passengers of other air but will first and foremost give priority to customers who are holding El Al tickets. El Al customers are our first priority.”

Others international airlines, including Turkish, Alitalia, and British Airways are still flying into Israel.

No date yet for Kerry’s return to US

No date has yet been set for Secretary of State John Kerry’s return to the United States, State Department officials reveal Tuesday afternoon.

Kerry flew overnight Sunday to the Middle East to hold marathon talks in an effort to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and has been holding a series of meetings in Cairo since his arrival. Kerry was slated to arrive in Israel to meet with Israeli officials later this week, but there is no timeline set for his arrival.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the capital Cairo on July 22, 2014. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/POOL)

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the capital Cairo on July 22, 2014. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/POOL)

Although reports had suggested that Kerry would be in Israel as early as Tuesday, Kerry is still in Egypt, while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned US flights into Ben Gurion International Airport due to rocket fire. The State Department denies that the ban has anything to do with Kerry’s travel schedule.

State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested Tuesday afternoon that Kerry would remain in the region indefinitely, until progress is made toward a ceasefire.

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Europe air safety agency to recommend airlines avoid Tel Aviv

Europe’s air safety watchdog says it would recommend that all European airlines avoid Tel Aviv after a rocket fired from Gaza struck near the city’s international airport.

The European Aviation Safety Agency tells AFP it would issue a “strong recommendation to avoid until further notice Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport.”

AFP

Once again, rockets found in UNRWA school

For the second time in less than a week, rockets are found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body says.

“Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip,” the organization says in a statement issued Tuesday. “As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.”

Palestinians at an UNRWA school after fleeing their homes following an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. (Photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians at an UNRWA school after fleeing their homes following an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. (Photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

As it did the last time around when missiles were found in a school it operates, UNRWA says it “strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.”

UNRWA, the UN agency charged with overseeing humanitarian efforts in Gaza, says it immediately “informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.” The organization again pledged to launch a “comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

Israeli officials reacted furiously to the discovery. “How many more schools will have to be abused by Hamas missile squads before the international community will intervene,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor tells The Times of Israel. “How many times can it turn its head the other way and pretend that it just doesn’t see?

– Raphael Ahren

2 terrorists killed in southern Gaza Strip

Givati troops in the southern Gaza Strip killed two gunmen, after they opened fire on the Israeli force.

No IDF soldiers were injured.

3 rockets intercepted over Beersheba

30 tunnels found by IDF to this point

Israeli forces have uncovered 30 tunnels and 66 entryways, and targeted over 1,800 sites in the Gaza Strip since ground forces moved into the Hamas-controlled territory Thursday, the army says in a statement.

On Tuesday, the IDF strikes 260 sites, including military posts, rocket launchers, weapons sites, and command center, says the statement.

Eighty-seven rockets were fired at Israel Tuesday, 18 of which were intercepted.

One of three tunnels that were discovered by soldiers from the Nahal Brigade in the Gaza Strip on July 19, 2014 Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

One of three tunnels that were discovered by soldiers from the Nahal Brigade in the Gaza Strip on July 19, 2014 Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

“This morning, militants fired anti-tank missiles from within a mosque at IDF soldiers in Khan-Yunis,” the IDF says. “In response, IAF aircraft targeted the mosque, identifying a hit. Staff Sergeant Avitar Moshe Torjamin was killed and several soldiers were wounded in this incident.”

“In a separate incident, terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers in Khan-Yunis. The soldiers responded with fire and killed 4 terrorists.”

Bibi’s Wikipedia page– a Palestinian flag

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Wikipedia page is changed to a Palestinian flag Tuesday night.

At 7:19 p.m., a user named TSKAero 1 changes the page to the flag image.

The same user was flagged Sunday for a cartoon he placed on the page for Operation Protective Edge.

Benjamin Netanyahu's Wikipedia page on Tuesday night (screen capture: Wikipedia)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Wikipedia page on Tuesday night (screen capture: Wikipedia)

Turkish Airlines cancels flights to Israel

Another international carrier cancels flights to Israel, as a Turkish Airlines flight to Tel Aviv turns back to Istanbul.

Turkish runs the most flights out of Israel after El Al.

A Turkish Airlines flight on the airstrip at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 03, 2013. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A Turkish Airlines flight on the airstrip at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 03, 2013. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Canada’s Baird “alarmed” by UNRWA rocket reports

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who has been outspoken in his supprot of Israel, says that he is “appalled” by reports  of rockets in a UNRWA school.

“Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, once Israeli officials discovered their location,” he says in a statement.

“Canada unequivocally calls on the United Nations to launch an immediate independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding these reports. Canada also calls on the United Nations to ensure that in the second case, no rockets are returned to Hamas. Anything less than an independent investigation would be absolutely unacceptable.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“If proven true, this would fly in the face of all that the United Nations should stand for as an institution committed to the peace and security of its members.

“Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations states that the UN’s purpose is to:
“…maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

PM asks Kerry to reverse US air ban

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, asking him to act in order to restore American air travel to and from Israel, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office say.

– Raphael Ahren

Israeli jets strike Hamas commander’s home

Israeli planes bomb the home of Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif in Khan Younis.

Deif has been in hiding for years, and no longer lives in the building.

Bound to a wheelchair after losing his arms and legs in a July 2006 Israeli Air Force strike on a Gaza home where he was hiding — and an eye in a helicopter strike on his car in September 2002 — Deif still officially commands Hamas’s military apparatus from his hiding spots. He is a top Israeli target.

Muhammad Deif

Muhammad Deif

Gaza officials say 633 dead

Gaza health officials say at least 633 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of Israel’s campaign on July 8, although the exact number of militants and civilians killed is not clear. The Israeli military says it has killed up to 180 militants.

The United Nations says over three-fourths of the dead are civilians.

A Palestinian family watch rescuers searching for bodies and survivors under the rubble of a homes which were destroyed by an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, Monday, July 21, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

A Palestinian family watch rescuers searching for bodies and survivors under the rubble of a homes which were destroyed by an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, Monday, July 21, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

– AP

Rocket hits yard in Rahat

Two rockets from Gaza strike the Bedouin city of Rahat near Beersheba.

One of the projectiles strikes the yard of a home. Eighteen residents are being treated for shock, but there are no bodily injuries reported.

easyJet cancels Israel flights

British carrier easyJet is the latest airline to cancel flights to Israel in light of the threat of rockets from the Gaza Strip.

American carriers, as well as Turkish, Lufthansa, KLM, and other airlines have also suspended flights.

British MP says he would ‘probably’ fire rocket at Israel

British Liberal Democrat MP David Ward tweets that he would “probably” fire a rocket into Israel if he lived in the Gaza Strip.

This is not the first time has been outspoken on Twitter in his criticism of Israel. In 2013, he was suspended by his party for tweeting, “At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”

He has also made statements about Jewish political power and Jews not learning the lessons of the Holocaust in their treatment of Palestinians.

Israel may redirect flights to Negev airport

An Army Radio report says that Israel may open its minor international airport at Ovda, located 60 kilometers north of Eilat in the Negev Desert and at least 150 km from the Gaza Strip, as an alternative point of entry for international flights to Israel.

A rocket hit near Ben Gurion International Airport earlier on Wednesday, prompting many international carriers to cease flights to Israel for the next 24 hours, and for the FAA to bar US flights to Israel as well.