The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Friday, the 32nd day of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas rejected extending a 72-hour ceasefire and opened rocket fire on Israel soon after 8 a.m. Israel began hitting back almost three hours later, and the Israeli delegation left the ceasefire talks in Cairo, with Israel saying it will not negotiate under fire. (Saturday’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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Day 32 of the Israel-Hamas conflict

PREAMBLE: At 8 a.m., the 72-hour Israel-Hamas ceasefire is due to expire.

Israel has agreed to extend it, as talks on a long-term arrangement continue in Cairo, but Hamas has not. If Israel does not agree to lift the Gaza blockade, the Hamas military wing said on Thursday afternoon, attacks on Israel will resume at 8. Later, other Hamas sources said they would resume fire if Israel did not agree to the opening of a seaport in Gaza.

Israel says it takes the Hamas threats seriously. It also says it will hit back with heavy force if attacks resume.

At a rally in Gaza City, with some 2,000 people present — not a huge number — a Hamas spokesman claimed Hamas still has tunnels that extend into Israel to carry out attacks. An Al-Jazeera reporter filmed from inside one such tunnel, although there was no proof that it still exists.

Op strengthens right-wing parties — poll

A Channel 2 poll earlier showed that Operation Protective Edge has strengthened Israel’s right-wing parties.

The results of a survey of 500 people indicate that if elections were to be held today, Netanyahu’s Likud party would receive 23 seats (compared to the 20 it currently has), Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would receive 12 (up from its current 11), and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party would garner 15 seats (it presently holds 12).

Meanwhile, the centrist Yesh Atid party, headed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, would drop dramatically from its current 19 seats to 10, and the Sephardic, ultra-Orthodox Shas party would lose three seats (8). The center-left Labor party sees a small decrease, going from 15 to 14 seats.

Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, and the Arab parties would all receive the same number of seats they currently hold.

Nearly all Gaza rockets self-made — IDF

The vast majority of rockets fired by Hamas at Israel over the past month were made in Gaza using civilian materials, a senior Israeli military official said late Thursday.

“The vast majority of those launched were homemade, only a small minority were Fajr 5 made by Iran,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Gaza manufacturers of these rockets used “water pipes” of different diameters for the bodies of the rockets, filling them with explosives made from materials such as products used in agriculture, the official said.

Hamas had adapted to manufacturing its own weapons after Egypt had cracked down on smuggling through tunnels in the Rafah area into the Palestinian enclave, the official said.

Men from outside Gaza had in the past taught locals how to build the weapons, while some Gazans went to other countries in the region, including Syria and Iran, to acquire knowledge in the field, the Israeli official says, estimating some 150 people in Gaza were directly involved in producing projectiles.

AFP

31% of Israelis believe odds for peace up after op — poll

A Channel 2 survey showed that while 50% of Israeli respondents believe the likelihood of a future peace accord did not change in light of the Gaza campaign, 31% say the chances have actually increased.

‘I’m not sure the battle is over,’ PM tells US TV

Israel has “nothing against the people of Gaza” and wants to help them deal with the “tyranny” of Hamas rule, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News on Thursday.

“I’m not sure the battle is over,” he told the cable network’s “Hannity” program.

“I think we’ve degraded their (Hamas) capabilities significantly,” he said, adding there may still remain tunnels dug by Hamas under the Gaza-Israel border that have yet to be found.

“It really depends on whether they want to continue this battle. I think we have to find a peaceful solution, if we can,” he added.

The PM continued: “We have nothing against the people of Gaza. In fact, we want to help the people of Gaza who are suffering under this terror tyranny.”

On the high number of Palestinian civilian casualties, which has provoked international condemnation, Netanyahu described such deaths as inevitable in the heat of battle.

“Those casualties are cruel, but they’re unintentional,” he said.

“Israel acts that way. It attacks combatants and accidentally kills non-combatants — but in the case of the terrorists, it’s the exact opposite.”

Netanyahu also warned Americans that “the greatest danger we face” is terrorist groups or nations, backed by Iran, equipped with nuclear-tipped rockets and missiles.

“Look at the danger we face when they have rockets and missiles,” he said. “Now, imagine what kind of danger we’d have if they could put a nuclear warhead on top of these missiles. That’s the danger that is coming from Iran.”

AFP

4 Gaza militants killed in blast

Four Palestinian militants were killed while handling explosives in Gaza, Palestinian media reported late Thursday.

The explosion, which took place east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, was described by Israeli media as a “work accident,” a euphemism for when militants accidentally set off explosives.

Palestinian media didn’t immediately say which organization the men belonged to.

Hamas announces execution of ‘collaborators’

Hamas announced late Thursday that it executed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who collaborated with Israel. The terror group did not state how many people were executed.

Earlier, Palestinian daily al-Quds reported that Hamas official Ayman Taha was executed three days ago, following months of detention for allegedly maintaining contacts with intelligence services in Arab countries, and for involvement in shady financial dealings.

Taha was shot several times in the head and chest, and his body now lies in the Shifa Hospital, the report said. Hamas initially barred the incident from publication, it added, until today when Hamas released the information.

British MP under investigation for anti-Israel remarks

Bradford MP George Galloway is under investigation by the West Yorkshire police for declaring the city an “Israel-free zone,” the BBC reports.

Galloway, from the Respect Party, made his remarks during a party meeting in Leeds on Saturday.

George Galloway, a member of the minority Respect Party, speaks after winning the Bradford West seat in March 2012 (photo credit: AP/PA, Anna Gowthorpe)

George Galloway, a member of the minority Respect Party, speaks after winning the Bradford West seat in March 2012. (photo credit: AP/PA, Anna Gowthorpe)

“We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone,” he said. “We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college.

“We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel — and you have to do the same.”

A police spokesman says: “We have received two separate complaints about comments attributed to George Galloway, MP, during a speech he gave at a public meeting in Leeds on the 2nd of August, 2014. We are currently investigating the complaints.”

UN says 65,000 Gazans homeless

The UN says that 65,000 Gazans are homeless, Israel Radio reports.

James Rawley, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories, says that 10,000 housing units were destroyed in the recent fighting. He also calls for the blockade to be lifted on the Gaza Strip.

Soldier shot on Mt. Scopus improves

Chen Schwartz, the soldier shot in the stomach Monday at the Mount Scopus tunnels, continues to recover, after undergoing surgery at Hadassah-Mount Scopus Medical Center. He is now in moderate-serious condition, Israel Radio reports.

The shooting took place on Hanadiv Street, which separates the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz from the Hebrew University. The soldier, 20, was rushed to the nearby hospital, where he was listed in serious condition.

Security personnel at the scene where a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at a soldier near Jerusalem's Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, August 4, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Security personnel at the scene where a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire on a soldier near Jerusalem’s Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, August 4, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Security forces chased the gunman, who had reportedly escaped into Wadi al-Joz. A security guard opened fire on the gunman, police said.

Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente said the soldier was “shot at close range by a man dressed in black,” adding that the shooting was, with “very, very high likelihood,” a terror attack.

PM thanks worldwide Jewish leaders

Benjamin Netanyahu sends a letter thanking international Jewish leaders for their support during Operation Protective Edge.

“The Jewish people always comes together to face shared challenges,” writes the PM. “Today is no different.

“Over the past two months, beginning with the kidnapping and murder of our three teenagers, and continuing into Operation Protective Edge, the support of Jewish communities around the world has been a source of great strength for the people of Israel.”

He adds that “we in Israel will continue to stand by your side as you confront hatred and intolerance. Jews everywhere must be able to live proudly and without fear.”

South Africa to prosecute citizens serving in IDF

South African authorities say they will prosecute citizens who serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

The warning earlier this week comes after a pro-Palestinian advocacy group opened a case against Dean Goodson of Cape Town, who reportedly is serving in the IDF.

Action Forum in Support of Palestine tells the South Africa Independent online that it plans to open cases against at least four other South Africans who, according to the group, are serving in the IDF.

South Africa’s Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act regulates the involvement of South Africans in armed conflicts beyond the country’s borders. Those found guilty could be sentenced to jail time.

The country’s defense minister, on the recommendation of the National Conventional Arms Control committee, can grant permission to serve in conflicts abroad.

The warning by South African officials also covers those serving in the military in Afghanistan and West Africa.

South Africa’s Defense Department tells the Independent that it has not granted permission to any South African to participate in the current Gaza conflict. The department said it was aware that some may be serving in the IDF without clearance.

— JTA

If Hamas attacks us again, ‘we’ll respond in kind,’ says PM

PM Netanyahu is vowing a tough reaction if Hamas renews hostilities, as it has threatened to do at 8 a.m.

“They might reject an extension. If they attack us, we’ll respond in kind, as any government would,” he tells Germany’s ZDF television.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives an interview in his office on August 7 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) gives an interview in his office, August 7, 2014. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

An Israeli defense official earlier said Israel would respond “forcefully,” and that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had instructed the military “to be ready for anything.”

Earlier, a text message from Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, warned there would be no extension of the ceasefire — set to expire in less than six hours — if there is no agreement to permanently lift the blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt since the terrorist group overran Gaza in 2007.

Abu Obeida, the al-Qassam spokesman, appeared on the group’s al-Aqsa TV station and says Hamas is “ready to go to war again… The resistance is capable of imposing its conditions.”

A security official in Egypt said Egyptian negotiators were struggling to bring the two sides closer together, with one official saying Hamas and other Gaza militants were refusing to compromise.

– Associated Press, Times of Israel staff

Some tales to warm your heart amid all the strife

For those disillusioned by a month of fighting, there are some positive stories to focus on. These include a selfless IDF officer, soldiers who sought out the kids who sent them messages of support, and civilians who went above and beyond to raise soldiers’ morale.

In addition, some politicians are calling for a new focus on the fiancees and girlfriends of soldiers, who should be treated, they say, as members of the family in many ways.

Read the full story here.

Islamic Jihad says agreement still possible

Negotiations in Cairo are continuing, says Islamic Jihad, and the door to an agreement hasn’t yet closed, Ynet reports.

British aid agencies launch Gaza appeal

British aid agencies launch an emergency appeal for people affected by the conflict in Gaza, with the BBC agreeing to show advertisements calling for donations — five years after it refused to participate in a similar drive.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which brings together 13 leading British charities at times of crisis, says half a million people in Gaza have been forced from their homes, and that up to 1.5 million have limited access to water, sanitation or medical care.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed says Gaza is “on the edge” and the humanitarian emergency is affecting virtually every resident.

He adds: “Many people are living in terribly overcrowded UN shelters, but they still need food and basic household items, which we take for granted. Many are in urgent need of medical care, but hospital supplies are almost finished.

“Even before the conflict began, the people of Gaza were close to breaking point. Now we are seeing a humanitarian emergency affecting virtually every man, woman and child in Gaza.”

The British government announces it will match public donations up to the first £2 million ($3.4 million, 2.5 million euros).

“For people wanting to help civilians in Gaza caught up in this crisis, giving now means that every pound they donate will buy twice as many food parcels, provide twice as many blankets and help twice as many people to get through this crisis,” international development secretary Justine Greening says.

Eleven of the 13 DEC agencies are working in Gaza, or planning to work there, and on Friday the charities announce efforts would be ramped up to take advantage of a three-day ceasefire.

Oxfam is delivering water to 175,000 people a day, the British Red Cross reaches 3,900 injured people, and Islamic Relief is helping 125,000 people with water, sanitation, food and child welfare, DEC says.

The publicly funded BBC said then it wanted to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.

The BBC says it had taken “three issues” into consideration after being asked to broadcast the current appeal — the scale of the crisis, the ability of the agencies to provide assistance and the likelihood that a public appeal would be successful.

It adds in a statement: “The humanitarian need in Gaza has been widely acknowledged, including by the Israeli government, and the DEC has given assurances that aid can reach those who need it.”

AFP

#lifegoesoninGaza shows Palestinians picking up the pieces

A Tumblr page called Life goes on in Gaza shows pictures of Palestinians coping with the damage in the Strip, as the ceasefire holds for a third day.

Gaza rocket launch toward Eshkol spotted

Sirens sound as a rocket is spotted being launched toward the Eshkol Regional Council, Ynet reports. There are initial indications of it hitting near a town, but officials are still investigating.

IDF says 2 rockets strike near Eshkol

According to the army, it appears 2 rockets have struck in open areas near the Eshkol Regional Council. If confirmed, this would be the first violation of the 72-hour ceasefire.

IDF confirms that 2 rockets strike near Eshkol

Palestinians still weighing ceasefire extension

Palestinian negotiators in Cairo are still mulling an extension of a ceasefire with Israel set to expire within hours on Friday, a member of the delegation says, as Israel said rockets from Gaza landed in its territory.

Egyptian mediators asked the Palestinians during a long overnight meeting to extend the 72-hour ceasefire, and they will reach a decision before it expires at 05:00 GMT, the delegation member tells AFP.

“Egypt asked us for a 72-hour extension, we will meet now to decide before 8:00 a.m. (05:00 GMT),” the official says.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 17, 2014 (photo credit: AP/MENA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2014. (photo credit: AP/MENA)

Delegation members in Cairo had accused Israel of stalling the negotiations on their demands for an end to the blockade of Gaza and the release of prisoners.

Israel had indicated it would be willing to extend the ceasefire.

— AFP

Two hours left in ceasefire

Still no final word from Hamas on extension of the three-day truce. Israel says it is ready to continue the quiet.

Hamas will not extend ceasefire

Two senior Hamas officials say the Palestinian militant movement will not extend a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza that expires at 05:00 GMT on Friday, accusing Israel of rejecting their demands for a truce.

A leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction in Gaza that is also present at the Cairo-mediated truce talks, confirms the factions decided not to extend the ceasefire.

— AFP

Hamas denies firing rockets

Hamas says that reports of rocket fire are lies, Ynet reports.

IDF expecting heavy barrage of Hamas rockets

As Hamas appears set to walk away from the ceasefire in the coming hour, IDF sources say if Hamas renews its rocket fire on Israel’s southern towns, it will likely be a heavy bombardment intended to send a message that Hamas is able to continue fighting.

“It’s important in the coming hours to be alert,” Col. Gili Shenhav says, warning Israelis not to stop taking the life-saving measures they have taken over the past month.

The IDF, meanwhile, is reportedly preparing a powerful aerial response against a new bank of Hamas targets in the event of renewed rocket fire, reports Carmela Menashe, Israel Radio’s veteran military affairs correspondent.

IDF still has 40,000 reservists deployed as ceasefire nears end

Some 40,000 reservists called up for Operation Protective Edge are still deployed throughout the IDF’s commands, suggesting that tens of thousands of active duty troops are still available to deploy to Gaza if the ceasefire ends.

The IDF mobilized approximately 82,000 reservists at the height of the conflict.

Hamas may continue ceasefire, Lebanese website says

Despite media reports that Hamas has decided not to renew the ceasefire, the group refuses to formally confirm or deny.

Now, the Lebanese al-Mayadeen website reports that Hamas may continue the de facto ceasefire without formally agreeing to its extension.

An editor of the Palestinian Ma’an news agency also says Egypt has put enormous pressure on Hamas, including in late-night meetings Thursday, to extend the ceasefire for three more days in order to continue discussions on a more permanent arrangement.

Ceasefire formally ends amid uncertainty over Hamas intentions

The 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ends now, while conflicting media reports suggest Hamas may be planning to renew hostilities.

Israel has offered to extend the ceasefire “indefinitely,” and Egypt is pressuring Hamas to extend the ceasefire by three days.

Sirens sound in Ashkelon

The ceasefire has ended, and within moments rockets are fired at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Iron Dome shoots down two rockets over Ashkelon

Two rockets are shot down over Ashkelon. Sirens sound in Zikim and Kibbutz Carmia near the Gaza border.

Knesset defense chair demands ‘sharp, powerful’ response

The chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee calls for a “sharp and powerful” response to renewed Hamas rocket fire.

“It looks as though Hamas hasn’t taken a sufficient beating,” says MK Ze’ev Elkin. “Most Israelis agree that you can’t surrender to this sort of blackmail,” he adds, a reference to Hamas’s refusal to agree to a ceasefire that doesn’t include opening a seaport in Gaza.

“Lifting the siege on Gaza would simply mean more rockets, larger rockets, more precise rockets, so they must not be able to achieve that goal by more rocket violence,” he adds.

MK Zee'v Elkin (Likud), chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in  the Knesset, May 12, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in the Knesset, May 12, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

Sirens sound in Nir Yitzhak, Sufa

Sirens are sounding in Nir Yitzhak and Sufa as Gaza rocket barrage gets underway.

Sirens sound in Yad Mordechai

Rockets are fired at the Negev town of Yad Mordechai as a half-dozen barrages are fired from Gaza in the first 10 minutes after the end of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire.

Hamas: Rocket fire to continue during ceasefire talks

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas’s official Gaza spokesman, offers the first statement from the organization as the ceasefire brokered by Egypt collapses and rocket fire from Gaza begins in earnest.

“The Palestinian groups in Cairo didn’t agree to extend the ceasefire, but are continuing to negotiate,” he says in a brief statement quoted in Arabic media.

According to Israel Radio Palestinian affairs reporter Gal Berger, if the quote is accurate, it shows that Hamas wants to achieve its original goal of negotiating the ceasefire while continuing to fire rockets. Egypt and Israel have demanded that rocket fire ends before ceasefire talks begin, and Hamas now appears to be trying to reverse that.

Palestinian official: Hamas refuses Egyptian ceasefire

The head of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmad, tells The Times of Israel that there is no agreement to continue the truce for another three days, or for less time.

Al-Ahmad says in a phone conversation from Cairo that Egypt has offered both sides another three-day truce, but that Hamas refused.

He adds that the Palestinian delegation, including Hamas officials, will remain in Cairo and will decide in the coming day whether to continue the negotiations.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas’s spokesperson in Gaza, says there’s no agreement over a ceasefire, but that negotiations will continue.

– Avi Issacharoff

Siren sounds in Hof Ashkelon

Sirens are sounding in Hof Ashkelon as the rocket barrage continues from Gaza. Just a few minutes ago, the Iron Dome shot down two rockets over the area.

Hof Ashkelon mayor: ‘Let the IDF smash Hamas’

Hof Ashkelon Mayor Yair Farjoun slams the “boundless gall and stupidity of Hamas’s leaders.”

As his regional council is targeted by multiple rocket barrages this morning, Farjoun tells Israel Radio: “I expected the quiet to continue, but deep inside I was also concerned that these neighbors of ours have trouble doing business. I hope the government gives the army the space to go in and smash Hamas.”

The council is now opening its “war room” and “switching back to emergency footing,” he says.

Hof Ashkelon is adjacent to Gaza, so residents have only 15 seconds to reach shelters when sirens sound, Farjoun reminds Israeli listeners.

Sirens in Yad Mordechai and Netiv Ha’asara

Sirens are sounding in Yad Mordechai and Netiv Ha’asara in the latest of dozens of rocket launches since the 72-hour ceasefire ended some 30 minutes ago.

Still no response from Israel

Over 30 minutes into a concentrated rocket barrage from Gaza, which broke a 72-hour truce this morning, Israel has yet to say or do anything in response.

When it does come, the Israeli response is widely expected to be a strong one.

On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Israel is prepared to strike Hamas leaders when they emerge from hiding, and warned that the IDF would retaliate strongly if the terror organization resumes its attacks on Israel.

“Its commanders sit in their bunkers in hiding, and everywhere we can hit them, we will hit, if we want to. They will go outside when they please — if they do, they will see the extent of the damage to their fighters and the damage in the Gaza Strip, which, unfortunately, is Hamas’s fault. I hope this lesson will be internalized in the Gaza Strip, because we will not hesitate to continue to mobilize our forces as necessary to ensure the security of Israeli citizens,” he said.

“We aren’t done,” continued Gantz. “If there are incidents, we will respond to them.”

Rocket explodes near Eshkol village

A rocket from Gaza explodes near a village in the Eshkol Regional Council. There are no reports of injuries or damage.

Has IDF started returning fire on Gaza?

A foreign correspondent in Gaza reports in a tweeted photo that the IDF has fired on the Strip, but it is not clear if the photo shows the smoke from an IDF strike or a Hamas rocket launch. The IDF remains mum some 40 minutes into the Hamas rocket barrage that ended the 72-hour ceasefire at 8 a.m. local time, and military reporters in Israel say Israel is holding its fire for the moment, as Israeli leaders contemplate their response.

Hamas rocket lands inside Gaza

A Hamas rocket just landed inside Gaza, the IDF tweets.

According to IDF figures, the last six weeks of rocket fire (before today) saw 116 rockets from Gaza penetrate Iron Dome and land in urban areas in Israel. But a higher number, 119, fell inside Gaza, occasionally hurting or killing Palestinians.

Explosions heard in northern Gaza

Army Radio reports that Gazans in the northern part of the Strip are hearing explosions, in what appears to be the first IDF response to the past 45 minutes of Hamas rocket fire.

Islamic Jihad takes credit for latest rocket fire on Ashkelon

Islamic Jihad takes credit for firing three Grad rockets on Ashkelon over the past hour.

The group is part of the Palestinian delegation in the Cairo ceasefire talks.

Thousands of Palestinian flee eastern Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians are reported fleeing eastern Gaza as rocket fire on Israel continues and residents fear an impending IDF response.

Sirens sound in Ashkelon, Gaza periphery

Sirens are sounding in Ashkelon and several villages on the Gaza periphery.

Witnesses say thousands of Gazans fleeing border area

Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing their homes east of Gaza City on Friday in fear of Israeli attacks, after a 72-hour truce ended, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said.

Palestinian factions in Gaza refused to extend the ceasefire with Israel, which expired at 05:00 GMT (8 a.m. local time), and Palestinian groups in the enclave renewed rocket fire at the Jewish state which so far has not returned fire at Gaza, the correspondent and Israeli army said.

– AFP

Israeli officials say no response yet to rocket fire

Despite unconfirmed reports of explosions in northern Gaza, Israel says it has yet to respond to the continuing rocket barrage from Gaza that has been going on for over an hour.

Steinitz: Israel should consider retaking Gaza

“Israel will respond powerfully to Hamas fire, and we will have to consider seriously the option of retaking the Gaza Strip in its entirety,” says Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz.

Three rockets fall in Eshkol area, one inside a village

Three rockets fall in the Eshkol Regional Council, one of them inside a village. There are no reports of injuries.

‘Work accident’ explosion kills five in Gaza — report

Initial reports from Gaza suggest five Palestinians were killed in an apparent work accident as they handled an explosive device intended to be used against IDF troops.

IDF drones are also being reported in Gaza’s skies, though Israel has yet to open fire after some 75 minutes of rocket fire from Gaza.

As rocket fire escalates, 92% of Gazans want truce

As rocket fire from Gaza escalates some 90 minutes after Hamas rejected the extension of the 72-hour truce, it’s worth noting that Hamas is not acting in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of Gazans.

An overwhelming 92 percent of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are in favor of a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and 72% hope their leaders will work to achieve a lasting peace agreement with the Jewish state, a new poll has found.

Asked who has won the fight thus far, a plurality (46%) said both sides had lost, 25% said Hamas had won, 14% said it was a draw and 8% said Israel had won.

Most (67%) said Israel, not Hamas, was responsible for the destruction in the Gaza Strip, and 68% said they would prefer the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip over the option of rearming the militant factions there.

MKs take to Facebook as ceasefire collapses

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni slams Hamas’s terrorist acts and says extremists need to be given “proper treatment.

“We will not have an ISIS Middle East!” Livni writers in a post.

“Whoever woke up this morning in our tough neighborhood, the Middle East, knows that a clear and global [moral] compass is required in the face of what comes out of Gaza and what is happening in Syria and Iraq. Extremist forces, terrorists and fanatics need treatment, and not the psychological kind, because there is no good reason for terror against civilians,” she concludes.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says that “Hamas understands only force.”

He adds Israel “must not negotiate under fire,” adding that, according to reports in the Strip, “thousands of Palestinians are fleeing their homes — they take us seriously.

“Now it’s our turn,” he concludes.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel asserts that “Israel cannot allow a terrorist organization to determine the rules of the game according to whatever suits them.”

Ariel says that “this reality must change immediately, and it will only happen by setting a clear target for security forces, which means the collapse of Hamas once and for all.”

Gaza group claims responsibility for rockets

The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, claims responsibility for the rocket attack on Ashkelon earlier today, Ynet reports.

Bennett urges harsh response to rocket fire

Minister of Economics and Trade Naftali Bennett urges the Israeli delegation to immediately return from Egypt, asserting that Hamas must not be allowed to “shoot at civilians as a means of pressure.” Bennett states that Israeli deterrence will be tested in the coming years, and the response to rocket fire must be heavy-handed, Israel Radio reports.

Israeli delegation leaves Cairo truce talks

The Israeli delegation to the ceasefire talks in Cairo has left the city, Channel 2’s Yaron Schneider reports.

It was the third visit of the Israeli delegation in less than a week.

On Friday morning, Hamas announced it would not extend the 72-hour ceasefire that ended earlier today. Dozens of rockets have fallen on Israeli towns since the ceasefire ended at 8 a.m. local time.

Israel has yet to respond to the fire, either with its own fire on Hamas targets, or even in statements from government spokespeople.

Sirens sound in Nahal Oz and Alumim

Rockets have been fired from Gaza toward the nearby communities of Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Alumim.

IDF issues guidelines for staying safe under rocket fire

With the return of rocket fire from Gaza, the IDF reissues guidelines for staying safe under rocket fire.

Those living at a distance of less than seven kilometers from Gaza must stay within a 15-second run from a bomb shelter or protected room.

Civilians are urged to avoid touring or hiking in the Gaza periphery area.

At distances of seven to 40 kilometers, the IDF’s Home Front Command has limited public gatherings to under 500 people.

At distances of up to 80 km, no gatherings of over 1,000 people are allowed in open spaces.

After rocket fire, PM orders IDF to resume Gaza strikes

After 2.5 hours of sustained rocket fire from Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issue orders to the IDF in the past few minutes to “respond with force.”

IDF strikes on Hamas and other Gaza groups is expected to begin imminently.

Rockets are fired in recent minutes at Sderot and other Gaza periphery towns.

Rocket intercepted over Sderot

The IDF reports:

IDF begins airstrikes on Gaza targets

The IDF has resumed airstrikes on Gaza targets after 75 hours of ceasefire and nearly three hours of rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli towns.

Smoke from at least one Israeli Air Force strike is visible over the Gaza City skyline.

Israel rejects release of Hamas prisoners for truce — report

Palestinian television says Israel has rejected Hamas’s demand in the Cairo ceasefire talks to release 54 Hamas prisoners who were released in the Shalit exchange in 2011 and rearrested in recent weeks in the wake of the murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June and the month-long fight in Gaza.

The Palestinian sources credit “Cairo sources” with the report.

IDF says it struck sites ‘across the Gaza Strip’

The IDF says it has “targeted terror sites across the Gaza Strip” in the wake of renewed rocket fire from Gaza.

An IDF press release reads:

The IDF remains alert and maintains a high level of preparedness with both defensive capabilities, and striking capabilities in order to address the renewed aggression. The IDF is determined to defend the civilians of the State of Israel.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: “The renewed rocket attacks by terrorists at Israel are unacceptable, intolerable and shortsighted. Hamas’ bad decision to breach the ceasefire will be pursued by the IDF, we will continue to strike Hamas, its infrastructure, its operatives and restore security for the State of Israel.”

IDF ships shelling north Gaza Strip

Islamic Jihad’s television station reports that IDF ships are shelling the city of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Israel Radio Palestinian affairs reporter Gal Berger.

Australia ambassador condemns Hamas

Australia’s Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma says his country “condemn[s] Hamas for violating the cease-fire.” He adds that Hamas puts its own interests ahead of the interests of the people of Gaza.

Former Shin Bet head urges Gaza demilitarization

Former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter calls to forcibly demilitarize the entire Gaza Strip.

“Today, 69 years ago exactly, the American leadership understood that there is no other way to end the bloody war against Japan, but with one action: dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima,” Dichter writes on his Facebook page.

No, there was no phone call made in advance to the residents of the city warning them about the imminent catastrophe,” he continues.

“Hamas is not the Japanese army and Israel is not the United States. Nevertheless, we should learn something from the process that the United States and Japan went through during that war… Hamas in the Gaza Strip is dragging its residents to the same depths the Japanese government dragged millions of its citizens. Unlike the United States, which fought far away from home, the IDF is fighting Hamas and Jihad terrorism in Gaza, as the fighting can be seen outside the windows of Nahal Oz and Nir Am. Our soldiers are fighting for our home as members of their family watch the battle. There is no war as just as our war with Hamas in Gaza these days.

“The ceasefire must yield, aside from quiet, a demilitarization of Gaza from weapons, as was agreed upon by Palestinians in a peace agreement signed in Washington and Cairo.”

Dichter says that expecting Hamas to agree to such measures is “delusional,” and so international forces must step in and enforce the demilitarization process themselves.

“Egypt is currently the country that has the most effective leverage on Hamas in Gaza; it has a key role in promoting Israeli demands to dismantle the terror infrastructure in Gaza,” continues Dichter.

The former Shin Bet head adds that all negotiations over the Palestinians’ fate must be conducted with the Palestinian Authority, and that Israel must prepare to provide evidence of Hamas activity within civilian areas.

“This cancerous Hamas growth must be taken out, whether by an Egyptian political surgeon or by an Israeli military analyst,” he concludes.

20 rockets fired at Israel since morning

Homes damaged by rocket fire

Several houses are damaged after being hit by shrapnel from a rocket explosion in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. Two more rockets fall in open fields outside Sdot Negev. No injuries reported in either case.

‘Israel does not negotiate under fire’

Diplomatic sources in Israel say the government will not negotiate with Hamas as long as rockets are being fired from the Gaza Strip.

– Raphael Ahren

Sirens sound in Kibbutz Alumim, Kfar Aza

Rockets are fired at several Gaza periphery communities, including Kibbutz Alumim, Kibbutz Kfar Aza and Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

IDF strikes Gaza’s southern border

Palestinian sources say the IDF has struck the Philadelphi Corridor on the Gaza-Egypt border, Israel Radio reporter Gal Berger reports. There is no immediate report on casualties or the identity of the target.

2 wounded, one seriously, in rocket fire on Sha’ar Hanegev

Two Israelis are wounded, one seriously, from shrapnel sustained when a rocket fell on the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

Since the end of the 72-hour truce four hours ago, 35 rockets were fired at Israel. Two were shot down by Iron Dome over Sderot and one over Ashkelon. Rockets have fallen throughout the Sdot Negev, Eshkol and Hof Ashkelon regional councils.

Six wounded in IDF targeting of Gaza groups

IDF forces are reportedly targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad installations in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza and the Philadelphi Corridor in Gaza’s southern end.

Six people are wounded in the fire, according to Palestinian sources.

There are reports that the fire is coming from a coordinated effort by air, naval and artillery units.

10-year-old boy said killed in Gaza City strike

Palestinian sources report a 10-year-old boy was killed in an IDF strike that hit a mosque in the Sheikh Adwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

Palestinians report multiple strikes on Gaza City and Beit Lahiya in the northern part of the Strip, and in the south in the area between Khuza’a and Rafah.

Boy killed in northern Gaza identified

The boy killed in an IDF strike on northern Gaza, confirmed by the Hamas-run Health Ministry, is identified by journalist Dalia Hatuqa as 10-year-old Ibrahim al-Dawawseh.

The IDF strikes continue as Israel responds to hours of rocket fire from Gaza that began Friday morning.

Radical British MP investigated for Israel comments

The BBC reports:

Calls by George Galloway for Bradford to be “declared an Israel-free zone” are being investigated by West Yorkshire Police.

Officers said two complaints had been made about a speech he made urging the city to reject all Israeli goods, services, academics and even tourists.

A spokesman for the Bradford West MP said he stood by his remarks.

Mr Galloway’s comments, made at a packed meeting of Respect activists in Leeds on Saturday, were posted on YouTube and prompted a storm of comment on Twitter.

Nigel Grizzard of Bradford Synagogue described Mr Galloway’s comments as “very extreme”.

“Israelis come to Bradford – people from Bradford go to Israel – there are many people I know in Bradford who have relatives in Israel,” he told BBC Radio Leeds.

“And I think Mr Galloway’s comments are completely off the wall and nothing to do with the reality of today’s life in Bradford.”

Jonathan Arkush, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, described the remarks as “odious”.

“What about an Israeli who is a supporter of the Palestinian cause? He doesn’t differentiate between an Israeli who supports the Israeli government or an Israeli who doesn’t,” he said.

“He doesn’t differentiate between an adult or child – most people are apolitical. This man is so intolerant he can’t bear to have someone with an opposing view in his town – how ridiculous is this.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “We have received two separate complaints about comments attributed to George Galloway MP during a speech he gave at a public meeting in Leeds on 2nd August 2014. We are currently investigating the complaints.”

Galloway has said Israel does not have the right to exist. He was expelled from the Labor party 10 years ago over extreme comments he made at the start of the Iraq war.

Hamas footage of its gunmen, weapons, tunnels

On Wednesday, an al-Jazeera reporter broadcast footage of Hamas gunmen, which he said was filmed during the 72-hour truce, showing armed fighters, weaponry, and tunnels said to still be intact.

On Thursday, Hamas leaders also claimed that, while Israel says it demolished more than 30 major terror tunnels, others remained operational.

Here’s MEMRI’s translated al-Jazeera report.

And here are some stills from the footage:

Still from Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas's breach of the truce on August 8 (MEMRI screenshot)

A selection of stills from al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas’s breach of the truce on August 8, 2014. (photo credit: MEMRI screenshot)

Rocket containers shown in Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

Rocket containers shown in Al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

Still from Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas's breach of the truce on August 8 (MEMRI screenshot)

A Hamas anti-tank missile system shown in Al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

Still from Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas's breach of the truce on August 8 (MEMRI screenshot)

From Al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

Still from Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas's breach of the truce on August 8 (MEMRI screenshot)

Hamas fighters holding mortar shells in Al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

Still from Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas's breach of the truce on August 8 (MEMRI screenshot)

Hamas fighters in a tunnel in Al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

Still from Al-Jazeera's footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, showing Hamas gunmen, weapons and tunnels in place ahead of Hamas's breach of the truce on August 8 (MEMRI screenshot)

An apparently intact Hamas tunnel in Al-Jazeera’s footage, broadcast on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (MEMRI screenshot)

BBC, too, questions conclusion that Israel targets civilians

A growing number of international media outlets, including The New York Times and the BBC, have started to question civilian casualty figures from Gaza that purport to show that Israel is targeting civilians in the Strip, an act that would constitute a war crime under both international and Israeli law.

The BBC’s head of statistics Anthony Reuben cites figures published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which found the number of civilian men killed in the fighting (725) outnumbered the number of women (214) by a factor of nearly 3.5:1. When the 216 confirmed “members of armed groups” are included, the disparity grows even larger.

“If the Israeli attacks have been ‘indiscriminate,’ as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women,” Reuben notes.

The question echoes a New York Times analysis earlier this week that “shows that the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll: They are 9 percent of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34 percent of those killed whose ages were provided. At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71 percent of the population and 33 percent of the known-age casualties.”

These analyses do not mean large numbers of Gazan civilians haven’t suffered and died in the fighting, of course. But they do suggest, in Reuben’s words, “that some of the conclusions being drawn [from death-toll figures] may be premature.”

The death-toll statistics may constitute decisive evidence that, contrary to the claims of organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, and others, civilians are not the targets of Israel’s strikes.

89 UN schools host 171,240 displaced Gazans — UNRWA

As fighting resumes between Israel and Hamas following the end of a 72-hour ceasefire this morning, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweets that over 170,000 displaced Gazans are sheltering in 89 UN schools throughout the Gaza Strip.

Siren sounds in Eshkol

Rockets are launched from Gaza at the Eshkol Regional Council.

College director identified as wounded Sha’ar Hanegev resident

The Sha’ar Hanegev resident badly wounded in a rocket fall earlier today has been identified as Dr. Nachmi Paz, the director-general of Sderot’s Sapir College.

Paz was wounded when a rocket fell near his home. The explosion left shrapnel shards in his leg. His condition was initially described as serious, but has been downgraded to moderate over the past hour. He was evacuated by Magen David Adom to Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital.

IDF strikes on Gaza said to be few and far between

Several Palestinian sources suggest that the IDF has conducted only limited and relatively few strikes on Gazan targets today, at least relative to previous rounds of fighting over the past month.

Israeli strikes also appear to be focused on rural areas in the Strip.

The strikes, which started at around 10:30 a.m. — after 2.5 hours of rocket fire from Gaza beginning at 8 a.m. — reportedly left one 10-year-old child dead and 11 others wounded.

40 rockets fired into Israel since 8 a.m.

Forty rockets have been fired at Israel since the end of the ceasefire at 8 a.m. local time.

Three Israelis were wounded from rocket and mortar fire today, and one home in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council sustained a direct hit.

Beersheba reopens bomb shelters

Ahead of the Sabbath, which begins this evening, the Beersheba municipality has opened all municipal bomb shelters. This will allow residents to reach safety quickly in the case of rocket fire from Gaza on the southern city.

Lapid: No one in Israel wanted renewed fighting

In a Facebook post, Finance Minister Yair Lapid says Israel “is once again attacking terrorists in Gaza.

“No one in Israel wanted this,” he adds, “but we won’t neglect the residents of the south. Anyone who shoots at them is taking their life into their own hands.”

Israel offered to ease Gaza blockade — report

Israeli delegates in Cairo’s truce talks offered to ease the Gaza blockade, but not to lift it, a Palestinian official tells a CNN reporter.

Earlier Friday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad refused to extend a 72-hour truce into the weekend, accusing Israel of rejecting “the Palestinian people’s demands” in Cairo.

EU suggests controlled ‘sea corridor’ for Gaza

In an effort to ease the blockade of Gaza without undermining Israel’s efforts to prevent the rearming of Hamas, European officials are reportedly suggesting the opening of a controlled sea corridor between Gaza and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Ships carrying goods to and from Gaza would only be allowed to do so through the Larnaca port, while European observers would oversee the shipments on both ends of the corridor, to ensure they did not include materials intended for rearming Gaza’s armed groups.

According to the Palestinian daily al-Ayyam, quoted by Israel Radio reporter Gal Berger, the corridor would also allow people to enter and leave Gaza.

Europe is searching for a comprehensive and permanent solution to Gaza, the paper reports, at least in part because Europe finds itself spending large sums of money to rebuild Gaza every two to three years. Some of the structures destroyed in the latest round of fighting were built not long ago with EU money, he notes.

Sirens sound in Nahal Oz

Sirens are sounding in the village of Nahal Oz near the Gaza border.

Rocket fire on Gaza periphery ends two-hour calm

Rockets are fired at the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils. The rocket fire of the past few minutes broke nearly two hours of calm from Gaza and a de facto suspension of IDF strikes on the Strip.

There are no immediate reports of damage or wounded from the latest rocket fire on Israeli towns. If the past is any guide, the IDF is likely to retaliate on Gaza targets imminently.

Rocket hits house in Sderot — report

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip has hit a house in the southern city of Sderot, Ynet reports.

Earlier, Code Red sirens sound in Sderot and Sha’ar Hanegev.

Egypt urges new truce in Gaza

Egypt, currently mediating talks to end the conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip, calls for an extension of a ceasefire that expired this morning, with the foreign ministry in Cairo saying progress has been made in the negotiations.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group in the Gaza Strip have rejected another 72-hour truce, accusing Israel of stalling. Representatives of the Palestinian factions are meeting in Cairo again to reassess that position.

— AFP

‘Palestinians committed to reaching Gaza truce’

The head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo indirectly negotiating a Gaza ceasefire says the Palestinians are committed to achieving a truce, after a temporary ceasefire expired and terrorists began firing rockets at Israel this morning.

“We told the Egyptians (mediators) we are sitting here to achieve a final agreement that restores the rights” of Palestinians, Azzam al-Ahmed tells reporters.

Rocket explodes in open space in Ashkelon

A rocket explodes in an open area in Ashkelon after a Code Red alert is heard over the city.

No casualties or damage are reported.

US strikes Islamist militants in Iraq

US fighters dropped bombs on Islamist militants in Iraq, the Pentagon says, carrying out US President Barack Obama’s promise of military force to counter the advancing militants and confront the threat they pose to Iraqi civilians and Americans still stationed there.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says that two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it. Kirby says the fighters had taken off from the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf to conduct the mission. He says it isn’t clear how many militants might have been killed in the strike.

The Pentagon says the militants were using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Irbil.

For the United States, it is a re-engagement in the long sectarian war from which American combat forces had been withdrawn — on President Barack Obama’s orders — in late 2011.

— AP

Most southern Israelis think operation is a war

Most Israelis who live in southern Israel, which has been hardest-hit by the escalated rocket fire in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, think Operation Protective Edge should be considered a war.

A poll conducted by the Israel Hayom daily and the New Wave Research Institute also shows that most Israelis, 63 percent, are satisfied with the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the clashes. A similar percentage expresses satisfaction with the IDF.

Meanwhile, around 80% of residents of southern Israel, as well as women, say the operation is actually a war, compared to 74 percent in the wider Israeli Jewish public.

In terms of the objectives achieved by the Israeli military during the fighting, 86% see the elimination of terror tunnels into Israel as a “significant achievement.” 70% say Hamas has been dealt a harsh blow, and 53% say the IDF has increased its deterrence.

However, just under half of those polled — 49% — believe neither Hamas nor Israel are victors. An overwhelming majority, nearly 90%, believe the fighting will be rekindled, and 70% say they don’t think the Cairo talks will result in a long-term solution.

82% also express concern about rising anti-Semitism around the world.

Hamas official says truce to resume shortly

A Hamas official says he expects the ceasefire will resume shortly, Channel 2 reports.

Meanwhile, reports say Mohammad Deif, the Hamas military chief in Gaza, will be giving a rare interview to Al-Jazeera tomorrow.

Hamas military chief to give rare TV interview

Mohammad Deif, the Hamas military chief in Gaza, will be giving a rare interview to Al-Jazeera tomorrow, Israel Radio’s Gal Berger reports, citing Hamas media outlets.

The interview will reportedly take place at 8 p.m.

Egypt presents new ceasefire proposal — report

Egypt has presented Israel and the Palestinians with a new ceasefire proposal which does not mention Hamas demands for a seaport, lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip or prisoner releases, Channel 2’s Ehud Ya’ari says.

Nonetheless, there is said to be a certain narrowing of differences between the Israeli and Palestinian positions.

MK Uri Ariel urges Gaza op to end rocket fire

Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) says that although an extended ground operation in the Gaza Strip will exact a heavy price from Israel, it is necessary in order to stop the rocket fire on Israeli towns and cities.

Ariel tells Channel 2 that he believes the rocket launchings can be stopped without reconquering the Gaza Strip completely, a possibility likely to cost the lives of many Palestinians and IDF soldiers.

He says “the United States in Iraq,” which is fighting the rising threat of Islamist militants, should aspire to be as moral as the Israeli army is.

Soldier lightly hurt in West Bank riots

An IDF soldier is lightly wounded in clashes with rioters in Nabi Salah, a village near Ramallah.

In Bethlehem, rioters hurl rocks at a procession of 400 people by Rachel’s Tomb, Israel Radio reports.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, riots also take place in Hebron, Qaddoum and Beytounia.

Lana Del Rey concert canceled

On the heels of cancellations of Tel Aviv shows by the Backstreet Boys and Neil Young, American songstress Lana Del Rey — until today, the only high-profile international act whose show was still set to take place as planned — nixes her August 20 performance in Israel amid continued violence in the region.

Del Rey, known for hits like ‘Summertime Sadness,’ was scheduled to perform at the Trade Fair & Convention Center (Ganei Hata’arucha) in Tel Aviv in what was to have been her Israeli concert debut.

The Israeli producers of the show say it will be rescheduled, and that “Lana apologizes from the bottom of her heart to the fans who purchased tickets for the show.”

Del Rey's August 20 performance in Israel has been canceled. (Courtesy Lana Del Rey - Israel Facebook page)

Del Rey’s August 20 performance in Israel has been canceled. (Courtesy Lana Del Rey – Israel Facebook page)

‘All Palestinian groups don’t want truce extended’

All the Palestinian factions whose representatives are currently in Cairo indirectly negotiating a ceasefire in Israel with Egyptian mediation don’t want to extend the 72-hour truce that expired this morning, Israel Radio quotes senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad as saying.

Al-Ahmad says that though all the factions will remain in Cairo to continue negotiating an agreement with Egypt to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip, they are united in their decision not to extend the ceasefire with Israel.

He adds that though none of the factions want an escalation with Israel, they will not renege on their demands for a long-term truce.

These demands include lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, allowing goods to be transferred into and from it without delay, opening a seaport and airport in Gaza and re-releasing prisoners freed in the exchange to free Gilad Shalit.

Palestinians report unofficial truce till 8

An unofficial truce between Israel and the Gaza Strip will be in place until 8 p.m. this evening, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports, citing sources sources close to the talks in Egypt over a permanent ceasefire.

Ma’an quotes “well-placed sources in Cairo” as saying the truce will be in place as mediators continue to try to reach an agreement over an extended cessation of hostilities in the coastal enclave.

The sources say that with Egyptian mediation, the two sides have “agreed to almost all main points that need a solution,” adding that only “limited” disagreements remain.

Agreement has been reached “on the majority of the subjects concerning the Palestinians,” the sources say.

Hamas says Israel rejected demands overnight

The Palestinian delegation received an Egyptian memorandum of understanding last night showing that Israel had rejected its demands for a ceasefire, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says, according to Channel 2.

The Egyptian document indicates that Israel has refused Hamas’s demands for a seaport, airport, expanded fishing rights, prisoner releases, and the easing of supplies entering Gaza from Israel.

The Palestinian delegation is still in Cairo, and will reportedly meet with Egyptian mediators soon.

Glasgow city council flies Palestinian flag

The city council of Glasgow, Scotland, displays a Palestinian flag on its building in solidarity with casualties in the Gaza Strip.

The council raised the flag over the City Chambers today, the Jewish Chronicle of London reports, in support of “innocent people who are being hurt in Gaza,” the council says
.
In a letter to the mayor of Bethlehem, Glasgow’s lord provost, or mayor, Sadie Docherty, says the move is a gesture of “solidarity with Bethlehem and Palestine.”

Glasgow is twinned with Bethlehem, which is in the West Bank.

Jews in Glasgow have expressed anger at the move. In a statement, Paul Morron, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, says the decision has angered and hurt the city’s Jews.

“Flying the flag is the worst kind of gesture politics,” he says. “It does nothing to alleviate the suffering on either side of the conflict, nor does it bring peace closer by one single minute.”

— JTA

‘Minor terror groups firing rockets, not Hamas’

Channel 2’s Udi Segal says it is minor terror groups in Gaza that have been firing rockets at Israel today, not Hamas.

That is why Israel’s military response has been relatively limited, Segal reports.

Despite rockets, Beersheba couple ties the knot as planned

Despite the rockets still raining on southern Israel, and the sirens sounding over its cities, a couple — Sefi and Lucia — ties the not in Beersheba today as planned.

They have 250 guests, in keeping with the current Home Front Command orders forbidding gatherings of over 500 for fear of rocket strikes.

Israel’s deterrence being tested ‘for years to come’ — Bennett

After Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel urges an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip to end rocket firing, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, who also heads Ariel’s Jewish Home party, warns that Israel has to act “decisively” in the Gaza Strip, or else risk weakening its deterrence.

“Israel’s deterrence is being tested now for years to come” with Israeli targets still coming under rocket fire, Bennett tells Channel 2.

“Israel has to prevail decisively, whether or not [UN Secretary-General) Ban Ki-moon likes it,” he says.

IDF warns Gazans of continued clashes

The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, tweets that the Israeli military has made phone calls to residents of the Gaza Strip, warning them that Israel would continue its operations against terrorist elements in the coastal enclave.

“The leaders of Hamas have decided to continue their terrorist activities and to drag you along with them again. The IDF will continue to fight [them],” the message reads.

Gaza death toll rises to 2 as rocket fire continues

The death toll from Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip rises to two as terrorists continue to fird dozens of rockets into Israel after renewed hostilities ruptured a fledgling three-day truce.

The Gazan fatalities are a 10-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man, with at least 20 others wounded, Hamas says.

Egypt, which is mediating between Israelis and Palestinians, insists negotiations are making progress, but Israel has recalled its delegation and warned it will not negotiate under fire.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to retaliate “forcefully,” with the IDF carrying out 35 airstrikes across Gaza today.

Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorists have fired 35 rockets into Israel, injuring one civilian and a soldier, the army says.

–AFP

Sirens sound in Beersheba

Hamas rejects offer to return remains of two IDF soldiers — report

A Hezbollah-affiliated channel says Hamas rejected an Israeli offer to return the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin in exchange for 15 Palestinian security prisoners and the bodies of eight terrorists.

The Al-Maydeen TV report is unconfirmed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday with the head of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, to ask for help in returning the remains of the soldiers. Both were declared as killed in action whose places of burial are unknown.

Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, 20 years old, was a Golani Brigade soldier who was killed when his APC was hit in Shejaiya on July 20. Initially designated an MIA, his death was formally confirmed by the IDF’s chief rabbi on July 25. The family was told that he was designated a fallen soldier “whose place of death is not known.” He was from the northern town of Poriya.

Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose death in Gaza on July 20 was formally confirmed by the IDF on July 25 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose death in Gaza on July 20 was formally confirmed by the IDF on July 25 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

2nd.-Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, was an officer in the Givati Brigade. He was killed during a firefight in Southern Gaza on August 1 at a time that was supposed to be a ceasefire. He was formally declared a fallen soldier whose place of burial is unknown. Goldin was from Kfar Saba.

2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 from Kfar Saba, killed in Gaza on August 1 (photo credit: AP Photo/ YNet News)

2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 from Kfar Saba, killed in Gaza on August 1 (photo credit: AP Photo/ YNet News)

Palestinian sources report 5 dead in Gaza

Five Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports.

According to the report, the IDF struck al-Qarara, north of Khan Younis, during an unofficial ceasefire due to last until 8 p.m., killing three people from one family.

Suleiman Abu Haddaf, Ahmad Abu Haddaf, and Mahmoud Abu Haddaf.

2 rockets shot down over Beersheba

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip are shot down over Beersheba.

Earlier, Code Red sirens are heard in the city.

UN chief calls for return to Gaza truce

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon condemns the latest rocket attacks on Israel and calls for a return to a ceasefire in Gaza.

The secretary-general expresses his “deep disappointment” over the failure to extend the 72-hour truce that expired this morning and says peace talks in Cairo should continue.

Ban “condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable,” says a statement from his spokesman.

A rocket fired from Gaza Strip is shot down over Ashkelon by the Iron Dome missile defense system, Friday, August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

A rocket fired from Gaza Strip is shot down over Ashkelon by the Iron Dome missile defense system, Friday, August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

“The extension of the ceasefire is absolutely essential for talks to progress.”

Ban “firmly” calls on the Palestinians and Israel “not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian in Gaza.”

— AFP

2 rockets explode outside Eshkol town

As an “unofficial” ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Strip that was not upheld by either side ends, two rockets explode outside a town in the Eshkol region.

The rockets explode in open areas.

A man inspects the damage caused by a rocket that exploded near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

A man inspects the damage caused by a rocket that exploded near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

IDF ‘wounds dozens’ in W. Bank — Palestinians

Israeli troops wounded dozens of Palestinians protesting against the army’s Gaza campaign in the West Bank city of Hebron earlier today, Palestinian medical officials tell AFP.

They say that one man was seriously injured by a live shot to the chest, while another, aged 29, received lesser wounds from a mixture of live fire and rubber bullets.

The army says its soldiers were attacked by about 300 violent protesters.

“They rolled burning tires and threw a firebomb and rocks,” a spokeswoman tells AFP in English.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces (unseen) following a demonstration in support of Gaza after Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Musa Al Shaer/AFP)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces (unseen) following a demonstration in support of Gaza after Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Musa Al Shaer/AFP)

“The soldiers responded by firing riot disposal means,” she adds, without elaborating.

Earlier, about 2,000 people, many waving green Hamas banners, marched through the city.

There were similar protests in Ramallah and outside the northern West Bank city of Nablus, while on the outskirts of Bethlehem the Israeli police said that “hundreds” of protesters — some masked, others carrying model rockets — threw stones and petrol bombs at border police, who dispersed them, also with “riot disposal means.”

There are no reports of serious injuries on either side.

– AFP

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-GAZA-CONFLICT-DEMO

Livni submits diplomatic plan to end Gaza conflict

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) says she presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a diplomatic proposal to end the fighting in Gaza while restarting peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Her plan would include a ceasefire; the immediate transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza; “steps” that would answer Israel’s security demands while also addressing Gazans’ economic needs; the recognition of the rule of the Palestinian Authority over Gaza with one set of armed forces; the establishment of a Palestinian Authority system that would ensure that funds and aid would reach civilians and not terror leaders; the opening of the crossings with Gaza and the simultaneous establishment of a system that would bar the transfer of raw materials, such as concrete, for the purposes of terror; and the renewal of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Tzipi Livni speaks at a meeting of her Hatnua party in the Knesset, on Monday, May 19, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Tzipi Livni speaks at a meeting of her Hatnua party in the Knesset, on Monday, May 19, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Livni tells Channel 2 she will submit the proposal to the security cabinet for approval.

“The steps we are seeking don’t require Hamas’s approval. If Hamas had wanted to have the blockade lifted since 2006, it would have stopped the violence, recognized the existing agreements [signed between Israel and the Palestinians] and recognized Israel as a Jewish state. It would have then become [a] legitimate [power].”

“Hamas does not really want to have the blockade lifted. It wants legitimacy as a terror organization that rules Gaza. And Israel will not agree to that,” she says.

Livni says Israel must continue operating militarily as long as Hamas fires on Israeli cities and doesn’t rule out sending ground forces back into the Gaza Strip.

“A peace agreement would not be with Hamas, but against it. Which is why what I propose presents a new [world] order, with Egypt, with Israel, with the Palestinian Authority and with other regional countries,” she says.

“We want to reach an agreement not with those who fire on us, but with those who don’t use violence and terror,” she adds.

The former chief negotiator with the Palestinian Authority says she is against negotiating with Hamas and does not think Israel should meet their grandiose demands for a seaport, an airport and a crossing between Gaza and the West Bank. These are things that a part of a permanent agreement, she says, and they should not be rewarded with them because they used force.

“Most cabinet members understand that if Hamas is the problem — and it is — then [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas and those who do not use terror against us, are part the solution,” she says.

“Instead of preoccupying ourselves in this bazaar of what to give Hamas so the quiet returns, let’s look for another opportunity, let’s think outside the box,” she says.

Israeli envoy to UN calls on Ban Ki-Moon, Security Council to condemn Hamas

WASHINGTON — Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called today on the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Security Council to condemn Hamas in light of its violation of yet another ceasefire and designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“It is time for the United Nations and its agencies to finally place the blame where it belongs – on Hamas,” Prosor writes in a letter that he delivered to Security Council officials and to the UN Secretary General earlier. “To be clear, Hamas started this conflict, Hamas is responsible for the humanitarian tragedy, and Hamas must be held accountable.”

Prosor calls on both Ban and the Security Council to “immediately and unequivocally” condemn Hamas “in the strongest possible terms for violating the ceasefire”; support Israel’s right to defend its citizens; demand the demilitarization of Gaza and designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Prosor reminded the UN officials that “Israel agreed to every cease-fire proposal in an effort to restore the calm and allow civilians on both sides to return to normal life” and says that Hamas’s violation of the ceasefire proved “once again that it has no regard for the well-being of the Palestinian people.”

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

White House: Not ‘appropriate’ of Hamas to renew rocket fire

WASHINGTON — White House Spokesman Josh Earnest sounded a cautious note today, saying that the White House “did not believe it was appropriate for Hamas to restore rocket fire” in a tempered response to the reescalation of violence between Israel and Gaza.

Earnest calls on “all sides” to cease violence, but also notes that while Israel had agreed to extend negotiations in Cairo, it was Hamas that had refused to extend the ceasefire without Israel meeting a series of conditions. Earnest emphasizes that “Hamas’s decision to restore rocket fire” did not just harm both Israeli and Palestinians alike, but is against the interests of the Palestinian Authority.

“It is our hope that both parties will agree to a continued ceasefire,” Earnest says, adding that the American delegation in Cairo was still involved in trying to renew negotiations toward a ceasefire.

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Teen killed in West Bank protests

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager today amid widespread protests across the West Bank against the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials say.

They say that Mohammed Qatri, 19, was one of a group who clashed with soldiers near Psagot, between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The army says it is looking into the report.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli border guards (background) following a demonstration in support of Gaza after Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Musa Al Shaer/AFP)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli border guards (background) following a demonstration in support of Gaza after Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on August 8, 2014. (photo credit: Musa Al Shaer/AFP)

— AFP

No progress on ceasefire — Islamic Jihad

In direct contrast to a statement released earlier today by the Egyptian foreign ministry, revealing that progress has been made in talks over a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in Cairo, an Islamic Jihad source says there has been no such progress.

The source, which is said to be close to the talks in Cairo, is quoted by Army Radio as saying that “there is no progress in the negotiations for a ceasefire.”

Sirens continue to sound in southern Israel

As Israel negotiates with the Palestinians for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, sirens continue to sound in southern Israel, signaling incoming rockets.

The Code Red alerts sound over the Hof Ashkelon region, as well as in other areas near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.

IDF says it struck 51 terror targets in Gaza

The IDF says it struck 51 terror targets in the Gaza Strip between 8 a.m., when a 72-hour truce between Israel and Gaza expired, and 8 p.m. today.

The military says that in that time, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired 57 rockets at Israel.

“In response, we struck 51 terror sites and targeted 3 terrorists in Gaza,” the IDF says.

Hamas decision to renew rocket fire puts Gazans at risk — State Department

WASHINGTON – The State Department condemns the renewal of Hamas rocket fire against Israel Friday afternoon while reasserting Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf tells reporters at the daily briefing that “we need to be very clear about what happened here,” explaining that “Israel was in a position in which it appeared ready to extend the cease fire” and Hamas chose to resume launching rockets.

Harf also criticized Hamas for making what she termed “maximalist demands” during the Cairo talks that tried to secure a continuation of the three-day-long ceasefire.

During the daily press briefing, Harf said that she was not familiar with reports that the Egyptians had placed the Hamas delegation under house arrest, but reiterated that the State Department holds Hamas responsible for the renewal of violence.

“What Hamas did today in its decision to resume rocket fire puts the citizens of Gaza under greater risk,” Harf warned.

Responding to questions regarding the US’s unusually understated role during the Cairo talks, Harf said that the US delegation has been “monitoring progress”. As she did yesterday, Harf attributed the limited American role to the fact that US officials will not negotiate with representatives of Hamas, a recognized terror organization.

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

US hopes for new Gaza truce in ‘coming hours’

The United States voices hope that Israel and Hamas will reach a new truce, shortly after Palestinian terrorists end a 72-hour ceasefire by shooting rockets into Israel.

“Our hope is that the parties will agree to an extension of the ceasefire in the coming hours,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf tells reporters.

— AFP

US strikes IS targets in Iraq with drone, jets — Pentagon