The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Tuesday, the 29th day of Operation Protective Edge. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into force on Tuesday morning, and Hamas fired a salvo of rockets minutes before, and then fell quiet. Israeli military chiefs said they had delivered a “serious blow” to Hamas, including destroying all its known cross-border tunnels, and would restart military action if needed. Terror had returned to Jerusalem Monday, as two attacks left one man dead and several more injured. The IDF death toll stands at 64. Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,900. Israel says some 900 were armed operatives. (Wednesday’s liveblog is here.)
You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.
Day 29 of Operation Protective Edge
PREAMBLE: Israel’s operation to stop Hamas rocket fire, demolish its cross-border tunnels and restore sustained quiet enters its fifth week.
Late Monday, Egypt announced that Hamas had accepted its proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire from Tuesday morning, and informed Israel of the terms. Israel, which accepted an Egyptian proposal for an unconditional ceasefire three weeks ago, said it accepted the proposal this time as well.
Of course, we’ve been down this road before, including on Friday morning, when Hamas broke a UN- and US-brokered truce after barely an hour, with an attack on troops in Rafah in which three Israeli soldiers were killed.
Terror returns to Jerusalem
Twice on Monday, terror struck in Jerusalem. A Jerusalemite was killed when a Palestinian excavator driver run him over en route to smashing into a bus in the city center, flipping it over. Mercifully, the bus was almost empty. Soon after, a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire on a soldier on Mount Scopus, seriously injuring him.
The excavator attack brought back dark memories, as ToI’s Melanie Lidman reports:
For Jerusalem residents, the attack marked the return of an all-too-familiar terror method.
Monday’s incident, caught on a series of mobile-phone videos, was reminiscent of a similar attack in downtown Jerusalem six years earlier, when a bulldozer driver rampaged down Jaffa Road before being shot by a bystander with a gun who hopped onto the cab.
The phenomenon of using bulldozers to carry out terror attacks started with a July 2008 incident, the deadliest of the bunch.
Man killed in tractor terror attack yesterday laid to rest
Avraham Walz, the 29-year-old killed yesterday in the tractor attack in Jerusalem is laid to rest in the city’s Mount of Olives cemetery.
Walz was run over by the tractor as it headed toward a bus and was killed. The tractor driver, East Jerusalem resident Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, 23, turned the bus over onto its side during the attack, making several efforts to do so before he succeeded.
The bus driver as well as five others were lightly hurt.
Hamas, Hezbollah and the tunnels
ToI’s Elhanan Miller has penned a piece looking at the new concern that Hezbollah has been tunneling under the northern border, in the same way that Hamas dug 30-plus tunnels under the southern border.
He writes: Residents of Israeli communities on the Lebanese border, such as Kibbutz Gesher Haziv and the town of Kiryat Shmona, have in the past reported hearing muffled sounds underground, which they believe indicate Hezbollah tunnel digging. Now, though, such reports are gaining new resonance. Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malka sent Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon an urgent appeal last week to investigate the matter. Apparently, the Israeli security establishment is taking the concerns extremely seriously.
Officially, the IDF told ToI: “As of now, in every case in which suspicions regarding a tunnel existed, specially trained forces were deployed and did not identify any tunnels or access shafts. These efforts are combined with technological solutions in order to ensure that no tunnels exist. Future force building plans also include further technological advances for tunnel detection.”
But, as Miller’s piece makes plain, there’s no room whatsoever for complacency. Last month, he notes, Hamas official Osama Hamdan said that the exchange of knowledge between Hamas and Hezbollah on Israel is ongoing.
Thousands pray at Western Wall for Tisha B’av, hours after terror attacks
Thousands of people are praying at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar, a day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Both temples were destroyed, first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and later by the Romans in 70 CE, on Tisha B’av some 655 years apart.
Police increased their presence at the site and around Jerusalem, hours after two separate terror attacks in the city killed one person and injured several.
Sirens sound in Ashkelon, after 3-hour pause in rocket fire
Obama signs off on additional $225 million for Iron Dome
US President Barack Obama signs a bill granting an additional $225 million in US taxpayer dollars for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
President Obama puts down his pen after signing "The Iron Dome bill" in the Oval Office. pic.twitter.com/5E2hFNPE0w
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) August 4, 2014
The defense system has been highly effective in the current round of violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, allowing the Israeli military to shoot down incoming rockets headed toward major population centers in Israel. Officials say it has a success rate as high as 90 percent.
The US has provided hundreds of millions of dollars for Iron Dome in the past. The new package is intended to replenish Israel’s capabilities.
Congress approved the money last week before lawmakers left for their annual summer break. Obama signed the bill in the Oval Office with a handful of photographers present.
– AP contributed
US says burden is on Hamas to keep Gaza ceasefire
The United States welcomes the declaration of a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and warns that the onus is on the Palestinian terror group to maintain the truce.
“This is a real opportunity. We strongly support the initiative,” Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken tells CNN, when asked about the Egyptian proposal for the pause in hostilities.
Separately, both Hamas and Israel accepted the Egyptian initiative, under which both sides are supposed to halt offensive activity in and around Gaza from 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Tuesday.
Blinken welcomes both sides’ commitment, but makes it clear that Washington feels the burden is on the Hamas administration in Gaza to keep the guns silent, after previous ceasefires collapsed.
“Israel has achieved its core objectives in Gaza. It’s dealt with the tunnels. It’s able to deal with the rockets outside Gaza if it has to,” Blinken says, referring to tunnels used by Hamas to infiltrate Israel.
“The burden is on Hamas, I think, to demonstrate it will live up to the ceasefire,” he continues. “Then there’s an opportunity to get to a more durable ceasefire and deal with some of the underlying issues.”
“It has to start with Israel’s security, dealing much more definitively with the rockets, with the tunnels over time, but also with the development of Gaza, so that people can live under different conditions.”
– AFP contributed
Google removes ‘Bomb Gaza’ game from Play store
Google removes the ‘Bomb Gaza’ game from its Play Store, the app market for Android users, after it garnered widespread condemnation on social media.
According to the game’s description, its goal was to “drop bombs and avoid killing civilians.” Users gained points by controlling “Israeli” aircraft and dropping bombs on Hamas gunmen.
— Kate Benyon-Tinker (@katebt3000) August 4, 2014
— Ricky Ghai (@ShoutMumbai) August 4, 2014
The game was made available on July 29 and was downloaded over 1,000 times.
Google said in response that it “remove[s] apps from Google Play that violate our policies.”
Close to 1,800 Palestinians in Gaza have died over the course of Operation Protective Edge, which began July 8, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Israel says that hundreds of them are gunmen.
Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians including a foreign national.
Tennis event in Israel canceled over conflict
The ATP Tour’s planned inaugural Negev Israel Open in Tel Aviv next month will not take place because of security concerns due to conflict in the region, officials say.
The tournament, moved from the Russian venue of St. Petersburg, was set to become the first ATP event in Israel since 1996.
“We regret the ATP World Tour event in Tel Aviv, Israel, will not take place this year,” ATP president Chris Kermode says. “Sadly, we do not feel we can proceed as planned given the situation in the region.
“Ensuring the security of our players, fans and all those involved in organizing a world-class event is our number one priority. We hope to be back in Tel Aviv next year.
“In the meantime, and much more importantly, we hope for a swift return to peace in the region.”
Asaf Tochmeir, the Israeli Tennis Association (ITA) chairman, is unhappy with the ATP’s decision, according to a statement posted on the tour’s website announcing the cancellation of this year’s event.
“We regret the ATP’s decision,” Tochmeir says. “We at the ITA have done everything to ensure a successful ATP event takes place in Israel. We have raised sufficient funding and have taken care of all organizational requirements.
“On this occasion, I would like to express our most heartfelt concern for the soldiers as well as our condolences for the civilian casualties. We hope to see a swift resolution to the current situation.”
– AFP contributed
State Department expresses support for Gaza ceasefire
The United States is expressing strong support for a proposed 72-hour cease-fire in the month-long war between Israel and Hamas.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urges both parties to respect a break in hostilities that have killed nearly 2,000 people.
Israel and Hamas accepted the ceasefire that is set to begin in less than three hours, at 8 a.m..
Psaki says the United States has been steadfast in demanding an end to rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and an end to the suffering of the people of Gaza.
She commends the government of Egypt for its role in trying to end the violence.
Psaki says the United States will continue to work with other countries to try to produce a durable solution for the long term.
– AP contirbuted
UN praises ceasefire, urges durable truce
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he urged the parties to begin talks as soon as possible in Cairo on a durable ceasefire “and the underlying issues.”
The United Nations is prepared to support these efforts, Ban says in the statement, according to the spokesman.
– AP contributed
Calm night ahead of 72-hour ceasefire
No rockets were fired at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip overnight, since about 1:00 a.m. when the Iron Dome system shot down two projectiles over Ashkelon.
Residents in Gaza report the most quiet night since Operation Protective Edge began, Israel Radio says.
IDF says destruction of tunnels complete
A senior military source says the army has completed overnight the mission of destroying Hamas’s attack tunnels in the Gaza Strip that cross over into Israeli territory.
There were 32 tunnels in total, the source says.
IDF says 900 operatives killed in Gaza
According to a senior military source, around 900 operatives have been killed in Gaza fighting during Operation Protective Edge.
He also says that Israel has hit 4,800 targets in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry puts the number of Gaza dead at 1,900, and says the majority were civilians.
Sirens in Sha’ar Hanegev
Ban Ki-moon urges ‘utmost restraint’
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges “utmost restraint” after Israel and Hamas agree to begin a new, 72-hour truce Tuesday.
Ban urges both sides to “commence, as soon as possible, talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and the underlying issues,” his office says hours after the announcement was made.
“In this regard, he welcomes the proactive engagement of the Palestinian delegation under the leadership of President Abbas.”
Talks between the two sides are “the only way to sustainably stop the violence, which has cost far too many lives,” Ban says, promising the UN’s “full support.”
Envoys from all of the world body’s 193 member countries are due to meet in a full UN General Assembly on Wednesday to hear top officials report on the crisis.
Sirens in Beersheba, 10 mins before truce
Sirens in Ashdod, Maaleh Adumim just before ceasefire
Spain temporarily halts arms sales to Israel
Spanish daily El Pais reports that Madrid has “provisionally suspended” arms sales to Israel in the wake of Operation Protective Edge.
The move will be reviewed in September, and is largely symbolic. Spain sold Israel 4.9 million Euros of arms in 2013.
Israel received vehicle parts, ATVs, grenade fuses, and optical systems from Spain.
Spain also suspended arms sales to Egypt, Ukraine, and Venezuela in the past year.
IDF says all troops will be out by 8 a.m.
The Israeli military says all its ground troops will have pulled out of the Gaza Strip by the start of the cease-fire agreed to by both sides in the war.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says the withdrawal will be completed by 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Lerner says the withdrawal is going forward after Israel completed the destruction of 32 cross-border tunnels meant to allow Islamic militants to carry out attacks against Israel.
Sirens in Ashdod, central region before truce
Israel fires artillery at Gaza targets
As Hamas fires a heavy barrage of rockets into Israel minutes before the ceasefire goes into effect at 8 a.m., the IDF responds with artillery fire into the Gaza Strip.
72-hour ceasefire goes into effect
2 rockets intercepted over central region
Following a heavy barrage of rockets from Gaza minutes before a ceasefire goes into effect, Iron Dome intercepts one rocket over Rishon Lezion and another over Ashdod.
Two other rockets strike open areas in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, causing no injuries or damage.
Australia welcomes ceasefire, pans UN school strike
Australia welcomes the announcement of a “72-hour humanitarian ceasefire,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says.
“The violence must stop as soon as possible,” she says. “Israel and Hamas must fully commit to and implement this humanitarian pause. Then the priority must be to reach a permanent ceasefire agreement that brings an end to the killing and recrimination. All efforts must be directed at these objectives.”
Canberra notes “with deep concern the unfolding tragedy in Gaza,” Bishop says, while at the same reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself. “No country should have to tolerate arbitrary and indiscriminate attacks upon its civilian population by rocket fire and infiltration through tunnels. However, in exercising its right to self-defense, Israel must take all necessary steps to prevent civilian casualties.”
The foreign minister, known to be a close friend of Israel, says she was deeply troubled by Palestinian civilians’ suffering, lamenting that “hundreds of innocent people have been killed, including women and children.”
There have been a number of “shocking incidents,” she says “including the indefensible shelling of three UN schools, all of which were sheltering civilians. Australia supports calls for a full investigation into these incidents. Both sides must respect international humanitarian law.”
— Raphael Ahren
Rocket shrapnel falls on major Jerusalem street
According to Israel Police, pieces of rocket fall on Jerusalem’s Hebron Road, a major thoroughfare in southern Jerusalem, near the Mar Elias Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking Bethlehem. A boom was heard over the capital minutes before, likely from the interception of the rocket.
No sirens were heard in the area.
In the same barrage, a rocket strikes inside a community in Gush Etzion, and while another rocket falls near Bethlehem.
Six homes on Gaza border damaged
A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip lightly damages 6 homes in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council next to the Gaza border.
Ex-Navy head doubts if deterrence achieved
Speaking on Army Radio, former Navy commander General (Res.) Eli Marom says, “I am not at all optimistic, I’m not sure deterrence has been achieved.”
Rocket hits Palestinian home in West Bank
One of the rockets fired from Gaza in the minutes before the ceasefire took effect strikes a home in the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem.
The structure is damaged.
103 soldiers in Israeli hospitals
As of Tuesday, there are 103 IDF soldiers in Israeli hospitals, Israel Radio reports.
Nine of the soldiers are in serious condition, the others moderately or lightly injured.
‘Israeli intelligence delegation in Cairo’
An Egyptian source claims a delegation from Israeli intelligence has been in Cairo for the past few days, as Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators work to hammer out a long-term ceasefire, Ynet reports.
Stones thrown at police on Temple Mount
As police open up the Temple Mount to visitors this morning, several masked men throw stones at the officers, Israel Police says.
Police push the rioters back into the Al-Aqsa Mosque. There are no injuries.
Photo of Palestinian home hit by Gaza rocket
The 0404 news site shares a picture of the Beit Sahour house hit by a Gaza rocket as a ceasefire went into effect.
Molotov cocktails used on Temple Mount
In addition to rocks thrown at police by protesters on the Temple Mount, several rioters throw Molotov cocktails at security forces.
Hamas TV says mystery rocket hits Palestinian home
Suhib el-Asa, reporter for Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV, says from Hebron that “a rocket whose origin is unknown fell in Beit Sahour,” minutes after a barrage is launched from Gaza toward Jerusalem, Israel Radio’s Gal Berger reports.
The rocket struck and damaged a house in the village.
Wednesday’s TA Megadeth concert cancelled
Megadeth cancels its Tel Aviv concert, scheduled for Wednesday night.
A message on the band’s website reads: “Due to an inability to confirm the guaranteed passage of the band and their gear into Tel Aviv in time for the show, the upcoming Megadeth concert, scheduled for Wednesday, August 6, 2014, has been cancelled. The band was looking forward to this concert and is disappointed they will not be able to put on the show for their fans, but expects to return to Tel Aviv on their next international tour. Ticket holders should contact their point of purchase to handle refunds. Check back tomorrow for further specific instruction on refunds.”
This is what it looked like in 2007:
300 trucks to cross from Israel into Gaza
Three hundred trucks are set to pass from Israel into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, Ynet reports.
Ten of the trucks carry medical equipment.
BBC pushes back against Twitter rumors
The BBC denies a rumor spreading on Twitter that it pulled a top reporter from Gaza under Israeli pressure for saying he saw no evidence of Hamas using human shields.
Bowen, BBC’s Middle East editor, had indeed written in the New Statesman that he had seen “no evidence” of Hamas using human shields in Gaza.
Bowen himself tweeted on Friday that he had left because he was on vacation. Jonathan Munro, BBC’s head of newsgathering, tweeted: “Nonsense that @BowenBBC left Gaza under Israeli pressure. After Syria, Iraq, Israel & Gaza he’s on holiday.”
— i100 (@thei100) August 4, 2014
Minister seeks to revoke terrorist’s citizenship
Interior minister Gideon Sa’ar asks Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to revoke the citizenship of Muhammad Mafarji, convicted of a 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing that left 28 wounded.
Mafarji, previously a resident of the West Bank, moved to Israel and was granted Israeli citizenship after applying for it on grounds of family reunification. His wife is from Taibe.
“Revoking the citizenship of convicted terrorists is a significant act of a democracy defending itself against a civilian acting to murder Israeli civilians,” says Sa’ar.
Mafarji confessed to the Shin Bet security service that he placed an explosive device on Dan bus No. 142 on November 21, 2012, during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense against Gaza rocket fire. The bomb detonated near the Israeli military’s headquarters in the center of Tel Aviv.
Israel ready to go to Cairo, looking to stop rearmament
As the 72-hour truce appears to hold, Israeli officials are set to head to Cairo for negotiations seeking to consolidate the ceasefire and permanently cease the hostilities between Israel and Hamas. “Israel will bring to these discussions our top priority, which is preventing Hamas from rearming,” a senior Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.
“Their military machine has been largely dismantled, their network of tunnels destroyed and their arsenal of rockets greatly depleted.” But Israel’s challenge now is to figure out how to demilitarize the Gaza Strip and prevent Hamas from rearming, the senior official says. “We believe that both regional and international cooperation can be effective in preventing Hamas from rearming.”
At this point Jerusalem’s exact demands are unclear, but it appears that the Israeli delegation in Cairo will highlight the “rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization” formula. “Obviously, regional actors have a major role,” the senior official said, hinting that either Egypt or the Palestinian Authority, or both, should be put in charge of Gaza border crossings to make sure that no arms are smuggled into the strip.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to ease its blockade on Gaza in return for sustained quiet, the senior official says. “These restrictions are a function of the hostility and the violence. If the hostility and the violence were to cease it would give Israel room to move on the restrictions that are primarily there for security reasons.”
According to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, “Crossings shall be opened and the passage of persons and goods through border crossings shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.”
— Raphael Ahren
Residents of Kfar Aza, emptied of children, speak
Kfar Aza, a kibbutz on the frontline of cross-border tunnels, was emptied of all its children during Israel’s war on Hamas militants in Gaza.
Its 250 children were evacuated along with many families, leaving behind a few dozen adults in the collective farming village which usually boasts a population of 750 inhabitants.
Homes were shuttered, playgrounds left empty and silent, with the only noise coming from Israeli bombardment of Gaza and rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory.
“We were used to rockets and shells, but these tunnels, from which terrorists can emerge, really frighten us,” says kibbutz spokesman Noam Stahl.
During a walk in the empty streets, Stahl points out the damage caused by 12 mortar rounds that struck his community, including one which hit a reinforced wall around the local kindergarten.
“We demand that the government protect us. We are very disappointed that after so many years Israel has not found a solution,” says Stahl.
Another diehard local who refused to leave his home during the four-week conflict is 77-year-old Israel Degany, a founder of Kfar Azar and resident of 57 years.
“This is my house and I have no intention to leave but I am afraid for the children. How can parents live with such a danger that can rise from the earth at any time,” he says.
Degany says that for the past 14 years, mortar rounds have often struck the kibbutz.
“But now it is different. I would like this to be the last military operation but I don’t believe it will be.”
Doron says he is realistic about the ceasefire. “I would like to be optimistic but it’s difficult now to believe we’re going to find the way to peace again,” he says.
“The Palestinians used to come work here and we shopped there. I don’t think things can go back to what they were but at least we can stop killing each other.”
PA to seek war crimes charges against Israel
PA foreign minister Riad al-Malki will visit the International Criminal Court in the Hague on Tuesday to press for war crimes charges against Israel, Reuters reports.
Israel is not an ICC member, so the court has no jurisdiction.
British minister resigns over Gaza op
A British minister who was the first Muslim woman to sit in the Cabinet resigns over the British government’s policy on Gaza, she says Tuesday.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a minister at the Foreign Office and minister for faith and communities, writes on Twitter: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”
Warsi’s parents were Pakistani immigrants and she was made a member of the House of Lords in 2007.
She was appointed to Cameron’s Cabinet when his coalition government took power in 2010 and while she initially had a high media profile, her star had dimmed in recent years.
She was shuffled out of the full Cabinet, the powerful inner circle of government ministers, in 2012.
Cameron’s coalition government has drawn criticism, including from the opposition Labour party, for not taking a tougher line against Israel over operations in Gaza.
He said on Monday that the UN was “right” to condemn the shelling of a UN school in Gaza which killed 10 people on Sunday but declined to say whether he thought it breached international law.
PM praises IDF, Shin Bet for tunnel destruction
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises the army and the Shin Bet for completing their work neutralizing “terror tunnels” in the Gaza Strip.
“This is a complicated operation performed by brave soldiers in difficult combat conditions,” says a statement released by the PMO. “I want to praise the Chief of Staff, OC Southern Commander, the soldiers and Shin Bet members, all of them full of combat spirit that brought about most impressive results.”
“The operation damaged the strategic array into which Hamas invested a massive efforts for years. The ability that Hamas prepared in digging these tunnels enabled it to kidnap and murder many civilians and IDF soldiers by a simultaneous attack from the many tunnels penetrating our territory.”
Netanyahu added that there is no such thing as a 100 percent success rate.
“We have to help rehabilitate Gaza’ — Gantz
Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says that Israel must help Gaza recover from the recent fighting there.
“Now we must help rehabilitate Gaza,” he says, according to Channel 10. “We are doing everything we can to send them food. There is a combination of military necessity on the one hand, and the broad effort to refrain from harming, and helping as much as possible. We are entering a difficult period of aid and rehabilitation; we will help not out of any strategic considerations, but from humanitarian ones.”
EU welcomes ceasefire
The EU’s delegation to Israel welcomes the ceasefire, offering its services in crafting a lasting solution.
“We warmly welcome the announcement of a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and call on all parties to respect its terms,” says a statement released by the office of the High Representative. “There must be an immediate end to the loss of civilian lives. The firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip must stop.”
“We commend all efforts, particularly those of Egypt, to broker this deal and hope that this can be extended into a lasting ceasefire.”
“We call on the parties not to miss this opportunity.”
“We reiterate that the European Union stands ready to contribute to a comprehensive and sustainable solution meeting the legitimate security, humanitarian and socio-economic needs of the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
Channel 2 returns to normal programming
With the ceasefire holding up, Israel’s Channel 2 halts the almost non-stop war coverage it’s been broadcasting for the past 29 days, while Channel 10 shows analysts and reporters discussing the operation and the prospects of a long-term ceasefire.
Stabbing attack near Ma’ale Adumim
A guard working at the checkpoint at the entrance to Ma’ale Adumim was stabbed by an attacker who fled into a nearby Arab village.
The guard is in moderate condition at Hadassah-Mount Scopus Hospital.
PA say Gaza donors to meet in September
Mohammed Mustafa, the West Bank-based deputy prime minister of the technocrat government, tells The Associated Press that efforts are under way to arrange a pledging conference of donor countries in Norway at the beginning of September in order to rebuild the Gaza Strip.
One of the Palestinian ceasefire demands calls for internationally funded reconstruction that would be overseen by an Abbas-led government that was formed in a unity deal with Hamas before the war.
International Mideast envoy Tony Blair is part of efforts to arrange that gathering in Norway, Blair’s office says.
No rocket fire during truce
Despite a barrage just before the ceasefire went into effect at 8 a.m., to this point during the truce there have been no rockets or mortars fired from Gaza.
Helicopters searching for West Bank stabber
More details come out regarding the stabbing attack at the entrance to Ma’ale Adumim.
There were three private security guards at the checkpoint where the incident occurred. According to one of the guards, they noticed the Palestinian man loitering at the junction, looking ill at ease, before he decided to approach. The guards asked him to present an ID, at which point the attacker pulled out a knife and stabbed one of guards, named Avi, in his torso. The victim, in his 60s, was fully conscious when he was brought to the hospital.
The other two guards opened fire, but failed to hit the perpetrator, who fled into Azaria, and adjacent village.
Helicopters and ground forces are searching for the attacker in the area.
Indictment filed over anti-Arab FB page
An indictment is filed in Beersheba Magistrate’s Court against an Arad resident who ran a Facebook page calling for death to Arabs and left-wing activists, Channel 10 reports.
The suspect created a page called “The al-Yahud Gang,” in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June.
The pages called for attacks on Arabs in Israel, and expressed approval of the murder of Jerusalem resident Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
The page was shut down by Facebook, but the suspect opened another one.
Three arrested in connection with stabbing
Three men from an Arab village near Ma’ale Adumim are arrested on suspicion of being involved in the stabbing of an Israeli man in his 60s at the entrance to the West Bank city, Ynet reports.
One of the men reportedly matches the description given by the injured man, who was brought to Hadassah-Mount Scopus Hospital in moderate condition earlier today.
Security cabinet to meet at 5:30
The security cabinet will convene at 5:30 this afternoon to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reports.
Temple Mount closed to Jews
Police close the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors amid fears of rioting by Arabs at the site.
The site is closed after Arabs hurl Molotov cocktails at Jews from within the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
More rockets hit Gaza than Israeli towns — IDF
According to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s unit, more rockets fell inside the Gaza Strip than hit Israeli towns and cities during Operation Protective Edge.
The army estimates that 119 rockets fired by Palestinian factions exploded in Gaza, while 116 hit urban areas in Israel.
Over 3,000 rockets in total were fired from Gaza toward Israel, with the bulk falling in unpopulated areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.
We dealt ‘a heavy blow’ to Hamas, Southern Command chief says
GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman briefs the press and says that despite the withdrawal of troops from the Gaza Strip, “Operation Protective Edge isn’t over; the troops are ready and prepared on the border of the Strip.”
“If Hamas violates the ceasefire later on, it will make a grave error,” he says.
Summing up the nearly month-long operation in the Gaza Strip, Turgeman says the IDF “dealt a heavy blow to Hamas” and other terror groups, that Israel has “harmed Hamas’s rocket firing capability” and that the IDF successfully “located and destroyed all the tunnels entering Israel.” According to IDF figures, its soldiers destroyed 32 tunnels running beneath the border.
“We’ve demonstrated the ability [to destroy tunnels] and will be able to do so in the future,” he says.
Turgeman says residents of communities in southern Israel can return home in safety.
Indian news outlet films Hamas prepping, firing rocket
An Indian news outlet publishes a report about Hamas’s method of assembling and launching rockets; its reporter witnessed its fighters throw up a tent and build a launching site a day before the ceasefire. It then films the launch moments before the ceasefire took effect this morning.
“NDTV witnessed one such rocket silo being created under a tent right next to the hotel where our team was staying,” the report says. “Minutes later, we saw the rocket being fired, just before the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect.”
Footage of Hamas military activities during Operation Protective Edge was rarely published by foreign reporters in the Gaza Strip.
The full video report can be watched here.
At least 97 soldiers still hospitalized
Channel 2 says that 97 soldiers remain hospitalized: 10 are in serious condition, including the soldier shot in Jerusalem yesterday; and 33 are in moderate condition.
The Walla news website reports that 99 soldiers are still receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals, nine of whom are in serious condition, 34 in moderate, and 56 receiving treatment for minor injuries.
Italian plane with Gaza aid lands in Israel
An Italian plane with aid for Gaza landed at Ben Gurion Airport this afternoon, carrying 30 tons of emergency supplies including tents, water purifiers, blankets, generators and hygiene products, Israel Radio reports. According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, the aid was sent as a message of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
An American plane bearing aid for the Palestinians in Gaza is also expected to land, Channel 2 reports.
‘Hamas lost,’ Channel 2 reporter says; IDF says 900 Hamas fighters killed
Udi Segal, Channel 2’s diplomatic correspondent, declares: “It has to be said. Hamas lost.”
The group accepted the same unilateral ceasefire it rejected three weeks ago, when it still had its tunnel infrastructure, there were 200 dead in Gaza, and it had a certain political legitimacy with the US as part of the unity government. Today, it has none of that, he notes.
According to official statistics published by Channel 2, 3,356 rockets were launched at Israel during Operation Protective Edge, 578 of which were intercepted by Iron Dome. The IDF hit 4,762 terror targets during the operation and killed approximately 900 fighters, roughly half of the number the Hamas Health Ministry says died during the offensive.
Israel lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians in the nearly month-long war.
Cuba’s Castro rails against ‘Gaza Holocaust’
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro writes an op-ed in the country’s official Communist Party newspaper, Granma, entitled “The Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza.”
He writes of a “new and repugnant form of fascism” in terms of the “genocide being committed against the Palestinians.
“The genocide of the Nazis against the Jews garnered the odium of all the people of the world,” writes Castro. “Why does the government of this country believe that the world will be insensitive to this macabre genocide that is now being committed against the Palestinian people?”
The full text in Spanish can be found here.
PA organizing donor conference in Norway
Efforts are under way to arrange a pledging conference of donor countries in Norway at the beginning of September, Mohammad Mustafa, the West Bank-based deputy prime minister of the technocrat government, told The Associated Press.
However, Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq suggested that, although the group is willing to let Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas handle the fund-raising at the conference, it will seek a role in reconstruction.
“We know that we have a national unity government that can handle the donors’ conference and the rebuilding, but implementing it on the ground requires national cooperation,” he told AP.
— The Associated Press
Schools, kindergartens near Gaza allowed to reopen
The Home Front Command permits schools and kindergartens from seven to 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip to reopen, provided they have adequate shelters for children on site.
Despite ceasefire, Hamas says finger still on trigger
Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, says in a statement that the conflict with Israel won’t end until its demands are met. The remarks were the first by Hamas since the commencement of the ceasefire this morning at 8 a.m.
“Our finger is on the trigger,” it writes. “The enemy’s moves will determine the aftermath of the battle.”
Tank truck stuck on Route 1, road jammed
Route 1, the main artery connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is backed up with heavy traffic because an army truck for transporting tanks is stuck and blocking one of the lanes.
As an unintended consequence of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the truck is stalled on the highway and traffic police are working to move it and get it off the road. The police are asking drivers to take alternate routes.
It’s not clear whether the truck has a tank on it or not.
Home Front eases restrictions for southern residents
The IDF’s Home Front Command says that Israeli civilians living between seven and 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip — an area that includes the major cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba — are allowed to gather in larger numbers than during Operation Protective Edge and to reopen schools and kindergartens.
In a move to ease restrictions for residents of southern Israel, the Home Front Command permits the gathering of up to 500 persons — up from 300 during the conflict — and the opening of colleges, schools, summer day care and special education, so long as the requisite air-raid shelters are in place.
The restrictions in force for towns within seven kilometers (four miles) from the Gaza Strip remain in place.
Hamas allies criticize Islamist group’s tactics
Channel 2’s Ehud Ya’ari says criticism of Hamas is growing even amongst its supporters.
Officials in Iran are asking why Hamas didn’t put Gaza’s citizens into its underground bunkers. Others are asking why it didn’t accept these same ceasefire terms two weeks ago, when most of its tunnels were intact.
Italy expels imam who delivered anti-Semitic speech
The Italian Interior Ministry has expelled a Muslim preacher for an anti-Semitic sermon. Sheikh Abd al-Barr al-Rawdhi said in a sermon delivered in San Dona’ di Piave that God should “kill [the Jews] to the very last one.”
The ministry says in a statement that the decision was made to deport al-Rawdhi on the basis of “grave disturbance of the public order, endangering national security and discrimination based on religious motives.”
“It’s unacceptable to deliver a speech of clear anti-Semitic tenor, containing explicit incitement to religious violence and hate,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano writes in a communique. “For this reason, I have ordered his immediate expulsion from [Italian] national territory. My decision serves as a warning to all those who think that Italy is a place to preach hatred.”
Israeli Embassy in London ‘regrets’ UK minister’s resignation over Gaza
The Israeli Embassy in London releases a response to the resignation of a senior British minister over the “morally indefensible” position of the UK government on Gaza.
“Israel regrets the resignation of Baroness Warsi from a UK government that understands the challenges of a changing Middle East,” the embassy says in a statement.
“The current conflict has highlighted the fact, recognized by the majority of the Arab world and the international community at large, that Hamas today is the key obstacle to a positive future for Gaza.”
“Only by defeating the terror perpetrated by such radical groups, be it in Gaza, Syria or Iraq, can there be a real chance for peace, security and progress,” continues the communique.
Givati officer gives Goldin’s family slain soldier’s personal effects
Lt. Eitan, the Givati officer who chased Hamas fighters into a tunnel in an attempt to save Lt. Hadar Goldin, visits the slain soldier’s grieving family and gives them the officer’s personal effects — his prayer book and phylacteries.
ICC says it has ‘no jurisdiction’ in Gaza
The International Criminal Court says in a statement concerning the Gaza Strip that “the ICC has no jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on the territory of Palestine.”
ICC statement on Gaza: "The ICC has no jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on the territory of Palestine."
— Julian Borger (@julianborger) August 5, 2014
According to The Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent, the ICC hasn’t “received any official document from Palestine indicating acceptance of ICC jurisdiction.”
64 soldiers killed, 463 wounded in Protective Edge
According to stats published by Channel 2, 463 IDF soldiers were injured in Operation Protective Edge and 64 were killed. Of those wounded in Gaza, all but about 100 have been released from the hospital.
Hamas leaders in Gaza launch ‘putsch’ against Mashaal for ceasefire
According to Channel 2’s Ehud Yaari, the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip overruled politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and pushed for a ceasefire with Israel against the will of the Qatar-based leader.
The Arab world analyst calls the decision by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and the Gaza-based leadership a “semi-putsch” against the Islamist movement’s leaders in the Gulf.
Channel 2 poll shows high approval for PM, but most think Israel wasn’t victor
A Channel 2 poll finds that 63 percent of Israeli respondents are satisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of Operation Protective Edge, whereas 31% express dissatisfaction with his performance.
A slim majority of 44% believe Israel wasn’t victorious, and 42% say that it was. Thirty percent are of the opinion that Israel’s security increased, whereas 27% say that it didn’t.
Israeli delegates arrive in Cairo for ceasefire talks
The Israeli delegation for the ceasefire negotiations has reportedly arrived in Cairo, Ynet says. The envoys will not be holding direct negotiations with the Palestinian factions.
IDF offers cabinet grim assessment of Gaza reoccupation
The IDF presented its assessment of a possible reoccupation of the Gaza Strip to the security cabinet this evening, saying that the cost of reestablishing Israeli control over the entire territory would be hundreds of soldiers’ lives, endangering peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and tens of billions of shekels per year, Channel 2 reports.
According to diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal, the cost in Palestinian lives would spike into the thousands, and the clearing of the territory of terrorist threats would take no less than five years, the IDF says.
“We would long for [the days of Israel’s occupation of] southern Lebanon,” an IDF official said.
None of the ministers present voiced approval, the channel says.
Palestinian arrested in connection with abduction, murder of three teens
Israeli security forces recently arrested a man thought to be the ringleader of the terror cell responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in mid-June, security officials tell The Times of Israel.
Hebron native Hussam Kawasme is thought to be the man called by the two kidnappers, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, after they abducted and murdered Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach on June 12.
Hussam Kawasme was arrested in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.
Officials also say others in the cell have been arrested.
The Times of Israel has learned that Hussam Kawasme has a brother active in Hamas who was freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap and deported to Gaza. It’s thought that the order to carry out the kidnapping came from there.
Those responsible work under the auspices of former Palestinian interior minister Fathi Hammad with another senior Hamas official in Ankara, Salah al-Arouri, who are responsible for planning dozens of attacks in the West Bank.
According to Palestinian security sources, there is little doubt that the group that carried out the kidnapping is linked to Hamas’s leadership abroad.
– Avi Issacharoff
Pro-Palestinian site hacked by ‘Israel Anonymous’
The pro-Palestinian website www.voicesofpalestine.org has been hacked by someone styling himself as “Israel Anonymous.” It calls for freeing the Gaza Strip from Hamas, and the website plays a choral rendering of the Israeli national anthem in the background.
Hamas leader touts victory over IDF, imminent removal of Gaza blockade
Hamas Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh says in a recording broadcast this evening that the past month’s conflict with Israel will bring the end of the siege on the Palestinian territory.
In his first public remarks since the ceasefire took effect this morning, Haniyeh says that “the military victory of the resistance and the legendary, strong resilience of our people will bring us the removal of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“The pictures of the destruction are great proof of the defeat of the IDF and its failure to contend with the brave resistance,” adds Haniyeh.
“We will be faithful to our people who were harmed by the brutal aggression,” he continues. “The blood of the slain and the injured that was spilled is the responsibility of the leadership; we will not neglect it.”
UN agency says 400 children killed in Gaza op
The head of UNICEF in the Gaza Strip tells Reuters that over 400 children were killed in Operation Protective Edge, and nearly 400,000 are traumatized and face an “extraordinarily bleak” future.
“How do we expect parents and caregivers to care for their children and to raise them in a positive and nurturing way when they, themselves, are barely functioning as humans? People have lost entire strands of their family in one blow,” Pernille Ironside tells the news agency.
State Dept. says US doesn’t back Palestinian ICC push
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki says that the US doesn’t support the Palestinian effort to try Israel at the International Criminal Court for war crimes, stating that Washington opposed unilateral steps by either side.
Psaki notes that this wasn’t the first time the issue has been raised by the Palestinian Authority, and comments that, for the time being, efforts should be focused on reaching a stable ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip.
For its part, the ICC says in a statement that “Palestine is not a State Party to the Rome Statute; neither has the Court received any official document from Palestine indicating acceptance of ICC jurisdiction or requesting the Prosecutor to open an investigation into any alleged crimes following the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution (67/19) on 29 November 2012, which accorded non-member observer State status to Palestine.”
The ICC says that it “has no jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on the territory of Palestine.”
The security cabinet meeting ends after 5.5 hours
The meeting of Israel’s top ministers ends after a five-and-a-half-hour marathon session to discuss Operation Protective Edge.
According to IDF sources quoted by Channel 2 after the meeting, they believe all the tunnels beneath the border were taken care of, but there’s no guarantee that 100% of them were found and destroyed.
Hezbollah took note during Protective Edge, minister says
Tourism Minister Uzi Landau says that Hezbollah has taken note of the fact that Israel did not succeed in bringing Hamas to its knees.
Hamas may have two or three tunnels into Israel, IDF says
According to Ynet, the IDF estimates that Hamas still has two or three tunnels that enter Israeli territory.
Cee Lo says ‘Forget You’ to Israel concert
R&B singer Cee Lo Green cancels his August concert in Jerusalem, Hollywood Reporter says.
According to the website, “local promoters confirmed that the Aug. 19 concert will not take place. Green’s inaugural visit to the Holy Land was supposed to include a performance in Jerusalem’s Independence Park as part of the capital city’s annual summer events.”
Cee Lo joins other artists, such as Neil Young and Crazy Horse and the Backstreet Boys, in backing out of concerts in Israel because of the conflict in Gaza.
“The artist and his crew really wanted to come, but unfortunately we were the ones who had to postpone it because this is not the right time to advertise and push a concert and also because Israel Defense Forces’ regional Home Front Command allows gathering of up to a thousand people only,” promoter Carmi D. Wurtman tells Hollywood Reporter. The producers are looking to reschedule the event to October or November.
US says ‘likely’ to take part in Gaza talks
The United States says it expects to participate in Cairo talks between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at securing a lasting ceasefire in Gaza.
“I think it is likely we will be participating in these talks,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tells reporters. “We are determining at what level and in what capacity and when.”
When asked if the two sides had sought a US presence at the negotiating table, Psaki says: “I think our effort and our engagement on this process from the beginning has been welcomed by the parties.”
“I think our engagement over the past 10 days has built and led to the point we reached last night,” Psaki says mentioning US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts on the issue, both in the region and from Washington.