The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Wednesday, August 13, the 37th day of Operation Protective Edge. As a 72-hour truce wound down Wednesday night, rocket fire on Israel resumed. Hamas denied responsibility. And Palestinian and Egyptian officials announced a new five-day ceasefire. (Thursday’s liveblog is here.) You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.
Day 37 of Operation Protective Edge
PREAMBLE: Israel’s negotiating team is spending the night back home in Israel, before heading back to Cairo for talks on the third and final day of an agreed 72-hour truce.
Tuesday saw a succession of conflicting reports on whether there was significant progress being made in the indirect contacts between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations on a long-term arrangement to end the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, speaking at a navy base in Ashdod, said he didn’t know if a deal would be done, and that Hamas might resume attacks on Israel when the truce expires at midnight on Wednesday.
Remarks on Netanyahu were taken out of context, Schabas says
William Schabas, who has been appointed to head the United Nations Human Rights Council probe into Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip, said earlier Tuesday that past comments he has made concerning the Israeli leadership’s implication in crimes against humanity have been “exaggerated.”
Responding to allegations that he harbors a bias against Israel, Schabas said in an interview with Channel 2 this evening that he said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be his choice of a leader to send to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague has been taken out of context.
Schabas said he made the remark in a discussion about the ICC, in which South African rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the court had focused all its attention on African countries, and should show it also investigates Western countries by summoning leaders such as Tony Blair to appear before it.
Schabas said that in response to Tutu’s comment, he said he would prefer to bring Netanyahu before the court to exemplify an investigation into a Western state.
“I said my favorite was Netanyahu. I was echoing the Goldstone Report,” Schabas said, referring to the UN fact-finding mission on the 2008 Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip — which, Finance Minister Yair Lapid quickly pointed out, was compiled when former prime minister Ehud Olmert, and not Netanyahu, was serving as premier.
When pressed, the professor would not say if he considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization or reveal how the commission plans to investigate it.
“It would be inappropriate for me to say” if Hamas is a terrorist organization, Schabas said, stressing that the investigation must be opened “in as neutral a manner as possible.”
He added that it was “very important for Israel to cooperate” with the probe to ensure that it is not one-sided.
Addressing claims that the UN harbors a bias against Israel, Schabas noted that some would say the international body’s influential Security Council is actually biased in favor of Israel, as it usually “gets off lightly” there.
PM summons ministers for talk
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned some members of the security cabinet for one-on-one talks late Tuesday, possibly ahead of an agreement with the Palestinians over a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip — which is sure to require Israeli concessions some ministers, such as Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, are likely to oppose.
The prime minister spoke with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Bennett, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan for private meetings to update them on the latest developments in the talks.
Earlier, Netanyahu canceled a cabinet meeting after the Israeli negotiating team in Cairo reportedly informed him that no progress had been made in the talks.
Steinitz warns of additional Gaza ground op
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz warned late Tuesday that without a reasonable outcome to the talks, there could be another ground operation in Gaza.
“Either there will be a reasonable resolution of the situation in Gaza, or, if the fire resumes, we will have to consider … an expansion on the ground, overthrowing the Hamas authorities and the demilitarization of Gaza by ourselves,” Steinitz told Army Radio.
UK to cancel some arms sales to Israel if fighting restarts
British Business Secretary Vince Cable said late Tuesday that London will void 12 export licenses for arms to Israel if hostilities with Gaza resume.
“We welcome the current ceasefire in Gaza and hope that it will lead to a peaceful resolution. However, the UK government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met,” Cable said. “In light of that uncertainty, we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.”
The licenses cover components for radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks, according to British media reports.
The announcement from the Lib Dem minister has drawn some blowback from politicians and activists who had pushed for an arms embargo regardless of whether fighting resumed.
A Lib Dem spokesperson said the announcement was the result of negotiations with Conservatives, the Huffington Post reports.
Israeli delegation heads home from Cairo for night
The Israeli delegation negotiating a ceasefire in Cairo decided to return to Israel for the night.
The group will return to Cairo in the morning to continue talks for a third day, in an effort to reach a deal before the 72-hour truce expires.
Egypt thwarts rocket fire directed at Israel
Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai peninsula found three rockets, mounted on rocket launchers, that were intended to be launched into Israeli territory, Egyptian media reported late Tuesday.
A senior security official said the rockets were smuggled into Sinai from the Gaza Strip via a tunnel operating near the Rafah border crossing, Ynet reported.
Egypt presents proposal to end Israel-Hamas conflict
CAIRO — Egypt presented a proposed ceasefire to Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the monthlong war, Palestinian officials say after negotiators huddled for a second day of Egyptian-mediated talks aimed at ending the crisis and bringing relief to the embattled Gaza Strip.
After more than 10 hours of talks yesterday, Palestinian officials tell The Associated Press that Egypt’s proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing some relief to the territory. But it leaves the key areas of disagreement, including Hamas’s demand for a full lifting of the blockade and Israeli calls for Hamas to disarm, to later negotiations.
If the sides accept the proposal it would have a significant impact on Palestinians in Gaza as it would improve the movement of individuals and merchandise to the West Bank. Gaza businesses have been hit hard by restrictions imposed on the territory by Israel and Egypt after Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007.
One of the Palestinian officials who spoke to AP said that according to the Egyptian proposal the blockade would be gradually lifted over time.
He says it would stipulate that Israel would end airstrikes on militants, and a 500-meter (547-yard) buffer zone next to the Gaza and Israel frontier would be reduced over time, he said.
The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams retired after 10 hours of discussions and will resume the talks later today, about 12 hours before the current ceasefire is set to expire at midnight, the officials say.
It was not immediately clear if either side would accept the deal.
A waterway for Gaza — through Cyprus?
Hamas sources say the Palestinian delegation in Cairo is waiting for Israel’s response to a European proposal for a waterway between Gaza and Cyprus, Ynet reports.
Goods headed for the Gaza Strip would undergo checks in Larnaca by international inspectors agreed to by both sides before making their way to their final destination.
The route would operate temporarily while a seaport in Gaza would be built, the report says.
According to Walla, citing a Hamas paper, the proposal for such a route was submitted by the Americans.
US sends 130 more military advisors to Iraq
The United States has sent 130 more military advisors to northern Iraq to assess the scope of the humanitarian mission there, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says.
“I recommended to the president and the president has authorized me to go ahead and send about 130 new assessment team members up to northern Iraq in the Irbil area to take a closer look and give more in-depth assessment of where we can continue to help,” says Hagel.
Photos of slain Israeli soldiers appear in Germany’s largest daily paper
BERLIN — Germany’s most widely read daily newspaper, Bild Zeitung, publishes the faces of the 64 Israeli soldiers killed in the current conflict in Gaza.
Together with short biographies of a few soldiers, the images appeared in the Monday edition of the paper under the headline “Israel’s War Against the Hamas Terrorists: Faces of the fallen.”
Bild, which has a circulation of at least 3.5 million, is published by the Axel-Springer company, which has a strong pro-Israel editorial stand.
Evangelical leaders plan solidarity trip to Israel
NEW YORK — Several prominent American evangelical Christian leaders will travel to Israel to demonstrate their support.
The Aug. 17-22 trip, called “Christians in Solidarity with Israel,” was organized by the National Religious Broadcasters.
In an NRB news release, the group’s president and CEO, Jerry Johnson, said the tour will be “visiting the land, the people, and the leadership of Israel to stand in support of the nation’s right to defend itself from those who would deny their right to exist.”
“Countering rising anti-Semitism in the international press and on the streets, this friendship visit will communicate to Israel and to the Palestinians who stand in opposition to Hamas that we, leaders who represent the Christian community, stand with them,” he says. “It will also show the world that Christians in general support the Jewish people and their right to security.”
Israel’s annihilation has begun, says Palestinian envoy to Iran
The annihilation of the state of Israel has begun, says Palestinian ambassador to Iran Salah al-Zawawi.
“The US and the western countries have created a fake regime in Palestine to get rid of it and have supplied it with the most advanced weapons and are seeking to create an Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates,” Zawawi is quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency Fars.
“Israel’s annihilation has begun and the new generation in Iran will certainly witness our victory over Israel,” he said during a gathering in Tehran in support of Gaza on Tuesday.
The Hamas representative in Iran, Khaled al-Kadoumi said that the resistance must go on and that he hopes its weapons will become more advanced with the help of the Iranians.
“The only mechanism for liberating Palestine is resistance and we have no option other than supporting the resistance,” he said on Monday, according to Fars.
“We hope to be able to make our missiles more advanced with the help of the knowledgeable Iranians,” he went on at an event in support of Gaza.
IDF nabs Hamas activist in West Bank; police arrest 57 overnight
An elite IDF unit arrested a Hamas operative near Hebron Tuesday afternoon who was allegedly plotting a terrorist attack against Israeli soldiers and civilians. According to Walla news’ military correspondent, the man was arrested in the village of Samua, in the far south of the West Bank.
The suspect was taken in for investigation, the IDF says in a tweet.
The IDF spokesperson says that overnight, Israeli forces arrested 12 suspects in the West Bank overnight and took them in for interrogation. The Israel Police says it arrested 57 individuals from East Jerusalem overnight suspected of involvement in rioting in recent days. To this date, the police have arrested 549 suspected rioters and served 184 indictments.
Palestinians tell Egypt they won’t renew ceasefire
A Palestinian source tells Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinians conveyed to the Egyptians that they won’t renew the ceasefire once again.
“There is slow progress [toward a long-term ceasefire deal], but no big breakthrough,” sources informed about the negotiations in Cairo tell the paper.
Disagreements remain on the issue of a seaport, airport, a land bridge between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the return of Israeli soldiers’ remains, the report says.
Rafah crossing open, but slow in letting Palestinians out
A Palestinian border official in the Gaza Strip tells Asharq Al-Awsat that the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip is open, but entry to Egypt is slow and limited.
Department of Crossings director Maher Abu Sabha tells the Arabic paper that thousands of Gazans are waiting to register to travel across the border, but that the Palestinian side is only operative four hours per day. Those who cross are not always guaranteed entry into Egypt, and some are turned back.
He says approximately 550 Palestinians have crossed into Egypt daily since the border reopened last week.
“The crossing is somehow open, as you can see, but it is akin to being closed. Movement is very slow,” Sabha says.
Knesset panel to discuss Jewish visits to Temple Mount on High Holidays
A Knesset committee on Wednesday will hold a meeting to hear a police assessment of the feasibility of opening the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors during the upcoming High Holidays. Among those attending are representatives of the Public Security Ministry, Tourism Ministry, Justice Ministry, Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality.
A later meeting will discuss the security situation for the residents of Beit Yonatan, a Jewish-owned building in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
Turkish cargo plane flies to Israel to airlift injured Palestinians
A Turkish C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft gets set to fly to Ben Gurion International airport to ferry injured Palestinians to Turkish hospitals for treatment as part of Ankara’s aid mission.
A photo of the air force plane on the tarmac is posted on Twitter by Walla news’ Uriah Canaff.
זה ההרקולס הטורקי שיצא הבוקר לנתב"ג כדי לאסוף פצועים מעזה לטיפול רפואי pic.twitter.com/pVAke9UXy1
— Uriah Canaff (@uriahc) August 13, 2014
IDF officer fought 3 weeks in Gaza with bullet in leg
An IDF combat officer fought in combat in the Gaza Strip for three weeks but, unbeknownst to him, the pain he was experiencing was a bullet lodged in his leg.
Cpt. M., 26 of Jerusalem, tells Walla news that he was in a firefight in the northern Gaza Strip several weeks ago, and was injured in battle. A medic examined his injury, but there was no exit wound. In spite of the regular pain, he pressed on. Only once the ceasefire took effect did he bother to seek medical attention at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
“The medical staff were in shock that I survived three weeks,” he tells the paper. “Even if I had known, I wouldn’t have let myself be evacuated. The responsibility on my shoulders was too great.”
After its discovery, M. underwent surgery to have the bullet removed, with no lasting deleterious effects.
Liberman says Israel shouldn’t cooperate with UNHRC
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is speaking to local leaders in southern Israel and says no one should be surprised if Israel doesn’t cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council.
The hard-line minister says Professor William Schabas, who was appointed the head of the body’s investigation into the Gaza campaign, shouldn’t be let into Israel.
Liberman adds that Israel won’t accept any deal in which the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin aren’t returned by Hamas.
“If the bodies aren’t returned, the bodies of [Al-Qassam Brigades leader] Mohammed Deif and [Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip] Ismail Haniyeh will be returned to them,” he says.
Palestinians might ask for different mediator, Hamas says
A Hamas official tells Israeli army radio the Palestinians might demand another round of negotiations with a different mediator, instead of Egypt.
“If Israel continues this way, it will once again be embroiled in a fierce conflict,” the source says.
Navy fires warning shots at Gaza fishermen
Israeli Navy ships fired warning shots at Gaza fisherman whose boats encroached on the no-go zone offshore. No injuries are reported.
A similar incident took place on Tuesday, and Hamas’s Al-Aqsa radio proclaimed it was a breach of the ceasefire.
Hamas radio reports Israeli strike on northern Gaza kills 2
Hamas’s Al-Aqsa radio reports two killed in what it says is an Israeli missile strike on the northern Gaza Strip, in what it calls a breach of the ceasefire.
Yesterday the same radio station reported the IDF breaching the ceasefire by firing on the southern city of Rafah. The IDF said it fired warning shots at a fishing boat that violated the cordon.
There is no independent confirmation of the incident. The IDF had no immediate comment.
Palestinians said to weigh Egyptian ceasefire proposal
Speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to discuss negotiations with the press, a member of the Palestinian delegation to truce talks in Cairo said negotiators are considering an Egyptian proposal tabled Tuesday.
The proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing relief to the territory. But it leaves the most contentious issues — including a full lifting of the closure — for later talks.
At least 5 said dead in Gaza blast
A Palestinian doctor in the Gaza Strip says that six Gaza residents died when unexploded ordnance went off in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.
A while ago, an undetonated residual bomb from the Israeli attacks exploded and killed 6 Palestinians.
— Belal Dabour – Gaza (@Belalmd12) August 13, 2014
A Hamas Health Ministry official confirms that five bodies were taken to Kemal Adwan Hospital in Gaza City and several others were injured.
A previous report from Hamas’s Al Aqsa radio said that Israel violated the ceasefire and bombed the northern Gaza town.
Gaza blast occurred when bomb squad tried to defuse dud munitions
Palestinian journalist Dalia Hatuqa cites medical sources saying five died in Gaza when a bomb squad tried to defuse unexploded ordnance.
At least 5 have been killed in #Gaza as a bomb squad tried to diffuse some unexploded munitions: medical sources.
— Dalia Hatuqa (@DaliaHatuqa) August 13, 2014
Undetonated Israeli bomb exploded in Gaza
Israel Radio reports that the undetonated bomb that exploded, killing five, in the Gaza Strip was an Israeli missile launched during Operation Protective Edge. Palestinian sappers were trying to disarm the weapon when it went off.
The IDF spokesperson said it wasn’t familiar with preliminary reports by Hamas radio of an Israeli violation of the ceasefire, which turned out to be the unexploded bomb going off.
Journalist said to be among 5 dead in Gaza blast
Gaza medics report that a foreign journalist is among those killed when an undetonated bomb exploded in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip.
A Channel 1 reporter says the journalist is Italian, and the head of the Gaza bomb squad was killed in the blast as well.
Hamas names dead journalist as Simone Camilli
Hamas Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra names the Italian journalist killed in an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip as Simone Camilli.
An Italian AP video producer of that name has done extensive work in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The AP would not comment as to whether the two individuals are the same.
Hamas official removes name of foreign journalist
Hamas Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra edits his Facebook post listing the five people killed when a dud Israeli bomb exploded in the Gaza Strip. He removes the name Simone Camilli from the list, amending it to just “foreign journalist.”
UN investigator has Jewish roots
William A. Schabas, the chair of the UN Human Rights Council investigation into the Gaza operation, has Jewish roots.
His father Ezra Schabas, 90, is a well-known Canadian-Jewish musician, Israeli analyst Ronen Solomon reports after probing into the Schabas family history. Born in New York in 1924, the elder Schabas was the director of Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, one of country’s most prestigious musical institutions. In 2000, he became a Member of the Order of Canada for being a “major influence on music in Canada.”
On April 14, one day after his 90th birthday, his son William posted a congratulatory message on his Facebook page. “Mazel tov, Dad. Many more happy and fulfilling years,” wrote Schabas junior.
William Schabas’s mother, Ann Schabas, is Catholic, Solomon notes. While not Jewish according to traditional Jewish law, Schabas would qualify for Israeli citizenship.
Officials in Israel have criticized William Schabas’s appointment to lead the UN investigation into Operation Protective Edge because of his alleged anti-Israel bias. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, called it “an utter farce,” saying that the only inquiry needed should look into “how a vehemently anti-Israel chair was selected to lead a UN commission investigating Israel.”
Schabas senior also appears to be critical of Israel, Solomon notes. In a letter he sent to the editor of The Toronto Star in December 2009, Ezra Schabas denounced the Canadian media for failing to stress the “long-standing grievances of Palestinians – the 1948 land seizures, the war of 1967, the Israeli settlements, and reducing the West Bank and Gaza, at best, to colonial status.” In the letter, he also denounced “Jews and non-Jews who believe that one way or another criticizing Israel has anti-Semitism at its roots.”
— Raphael Ahren
Peres pleads for peace in BBC interview
Miss him? Ex-president Shimon Peres gets back on the peace soapbox, saying Israel should not reoccupy the Gaza Strip if peace efforts fail. He speaks at length to the BBC — video here.
Comptroller to launch probe of Gaza op
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira announces he will launch an investigation into the military and political leadership’s handling and decision-making in Operation Protective Edge.
According to a statement from his office, Shapira’s decision was triggered by claims that Israel violated international law in the month-long campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Shapira also decides to expand investigation of the terror tunnels near the Gaza Strip to include home front preparedness, the Home Front Command’s activities during the campaign, treatment of the population in conflict zones, and public diplomacy.
Two journalists killed in Gaza blast — report
A Danish journalist reports that of the five killed people in an explosion in the Gaza Strip a short while ago, two were reporters. Another reporter was seriously injured, he says.
Just confirmed by Gaza sources: 2 journalists killed and one seriously wounded when un-diffused bomb explodes. in Gaza
— Allan Sørensen (@allansorensen72) August 13, 2014
Egypt seeks 3-day extension to truce
A senior Hamas official says that Egypt is making great efforts to extend the truce by another three days, Ynet reports. The current truce is slated to expire at midnight tonight.
According to the official, the Palestinian delegation refuses to extend the truce without receiving guarantees from Cairo that Israel will accept the Palestinians’ demands.
Italy, AP confirm journalist Simone Camilli killed in Gaza
AP confirms that one of its video journalists was killed in Gaza and Italy confirms his identity as Simone Camilli.
He was among at least five people killed in northern Gaza on Wednesday as Palestinian experts were dismantling a leftover Israeli missile, medics and officials said.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said five people had been killed and several more seriously wounded.
“A number of explosives experts were killed while dismantling an (Israeli) missile in Beit Lahiya,” interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzam told AFP.
Camilli was killed while covering the work to dismantle the unexploded missile, although there was no official word on the victim’s identity.
At least one other local journalist was badly wounded, an AFP correspondent said.
— AFP contributed to this report.
If ceasefire expires, quiet to be met with quiet, minister says
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz says that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen at midnight, when the 72-hour ceasefire expires.
“Quiet will be answered with quiet. But if Hamas shoots, our counterstrike will be very strong,” he warns at press conference in Jerusalem.
“Demilitarization of Gaza is not just a precondition for any serious real relief for Israelis and Gazans, it’s also precondition for any peace settlement in the future.” Those who still have hope for two-state solution should push for the demilitarization of Gaza, he says.
— Raphael Ahren
Simone Camilli, Italian journalist, dies in Gaza blast
An Associated Press video journalist has been killed in an ordnance explosion in the Gaza Strip, together with a Palestinian translator and three members of the Gaza police.
Simone Camilli, 35, died Wednesday when Gaza police engineers were neutralizing unexploded ordnance in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants.
Camilli and a translator working with the AP, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, were accompanying the ordnance team on assignment when the explosion occurred. The police said four other people were seriously injured, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa.
Camilli, an Italian national, had worked for The Associated Press since 2005.
Camilli is the first foreign journalist killed in the Gaza conflict, which took more than 1,900 Palestinian lives and 67 on the Israeli side.
Journalist posts pic of Gaza blast site
Washington Post reporter William Booth posts a photo on Twitter showing what he says is the site of the blast which killed five people earlier today, including an AP reporter.
Ordnance dump in Beit Lahia where AP journalist Simone Camilli was killed by explosion. pic.twitter.com/CaN8lUYdKF
— William Booth (@BoothWilliam) August 13, 2014
Journalists pay tribute to slain colleagues
Reporters for The Associated Press and other agencies pay tribute to AP video journalist Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash, who were killed in an ordnance explosion earlier today while working on an assignment about the aftermath of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.
Sarah El Deeb, AP’s correspondent in Cairo, tweets, “Simone Camilli was the coolest VJ @AP has had working in Gaza.Always kept a cool head in most tense times.It was an honor working with u.”
She adds, “Hatem Moussa, @AP photographer in Gaza, the most courageous, was seriously injured. Prayers for you ‘bulldozer’!”
On Facebook, Guardian journalist Khaled Diab writes, “Can’t believe it! Simone Camilli died today in Gaza. He was a dedicated journalist, a warm and humane person, an idealist, and a great father and husband. May he rest in peace and may his family be able to endure their loss, especially his daughter who will never know first-hand just how great her father was. RIP, friend.”
Along with Simone Camilli, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, translater for @AP was also killed. Rest in peace Ali, great loss.
— Sarah El Deeb (@seldeeb) August 13, 2014
Palestinian youth held for heckling Jews on Temple Mount
A Palestinian male is arrested by police on the Temple Mount after he verbally assaults a group of Jewish visitors, Israel Radio reports.
NY governor leads solidarity trip to Israel
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo leads a delegation of NY state legislative leaders on a trip to Israel aimed at showing solidarity with the Jewish state.
He makes his way from Ben Gurion Airport to the residence of newly-elected President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. Later this afternoon, he will hit downtown Jerusalem to meet students from New York at a local pizzeria aptly named Big Apple.
This evening, Cuomo and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate coalition co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey D. Klein will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall.
Egypt said to present final ceasefire draft
Egypt presents a revised draft for a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which would implement the agreement in two stages by early 2015, Palestinian media reports.
But the arrangement was rejected by Hamas, it reports.
Under the new outline, the negotiations for a port and airport, as well as the exchange of the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin and the release of Palestinian prisoners would be pushed off by a month.
Meanwhile, Israel would open its crossings and gradually withdraw its troops from the buffer zone in the Gaza Strip, to be replaced by PA forces.
No truce extension unless there is ‘real progress’ — Hamas
Hamas warns it will not extend the current truce, set to expire at midnight, unless there is a breakthrough in the Egypt-mediated negotiations, Ynet reports.
The terror organization adds that “all options are open right now,” in an apparent threat to renew rocket fire at Israel if the talks crumble.
“We will not agree to extend the ceasefire if no real progress has been made in the negotiations in Cairo,” it says.
Majority of ministers oppose cooperation with Gaza probe — poll
At least 14 of the Israeli government’s 22 ministers are opposed to cooperation with the UN probe of Operation Protective Edge, a Channel 2 survey shows.
The ministers who recommend that Israel snub the international investigation include Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Bennett calls the committee “an anti-Semitic circus,” while Livni says the establishment of the committee “encourages terror.” Lapid calls the probe “ridiculous” and “a disgrace to the UN.”
The remaining eight ministers — including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, and Science and Technology Minister Ya’akov Peri — refuse to comment.
Questions raised on ceasefire deal, as Cairo talks continue
With hours until the deadline of the 72-hour ceasefire, the Egyptians continue to shuttle between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Cairo in an effort to broker both a temporary truce extension and a long-term deal.
However, Israel is bracing itself for the resumption of rocket fire, Channel 2 reports, and the Palestinians have yet to respond to the proposal to extend the ceasefire for an additional 72-hours.
Channel 2’s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal says that if there is a deal that works to the benefit of PA President Abbas, Israel’s 8-strong inner cabinet might be split 4-4 and that Netanyahu does not have a double vote in that forum. (The four backing a deal would be Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Livni and Lapid. The four who would oppose are Liberman, Bennett, probably Aharonovitch and possibly Erdan.)
How could Netanyahu break the tie? He could add another minister to the forum. Or, notes Segal, he could fire a minister.
Weighing in on a reported ceasefire draft, under which the PA would deploy forces along the Gaza Strip border by January 2015, replacing the IDF, Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya’ari says the goal is to keep Hamas under the PA’s watchful eye, and surrounded on all sides.
However, he adds, Abbas would have to draft a significant number of troops to man the buffer zone, and questions whether the PA is up to the task.
IDF boosts military presence on Gaza border
The IDF deploys additional troops on the Gaza border ahead of the midnight ceasefire deadline, in anticipation of the possible renewal of fighting, Ynet reports.
Father of slain soldier says son died in vain
The father of slain IDF soldier Dor Dery, 18. who was killed in the infiltration incident in Nahal Oz, denounces the IDF for deploying his son there without the appropriate combat training and experience.
“I spoke with the heads of the Central Command and Southern Command, I told them my son was not trained enough, and he didn’t need to go there. Not him, not his friend. Someone made a mistake here along the way, a serious snafu,” David Dery tells Channel 2.
Dor, along with four other soldiers, were killed on July 28 when terrorists infiltrated Israel from Gaza through a tunnel. The Jerusalem resident, who was drafted eight months earlier, was still in the midst of a squad commander course.
“These are children. What do you expect from a child,” Dery adds. “The bottom line — my son fell in vain.”
Dery says in retrospect, he’s thankful that his son was killed, and that his body was not abducted, as the Hamas operatives had intended.
The parents of Sgt. Daniel Kedmi, 18, who was killed in the same incident, chime in that in the aftermath of the attack, remarks by Southern Command head Sami Turgeman seemed to cast blame on the soldiers for not responding appropriately.
“Before even seeing the investigation [results], he made us feel that they were sleeping and did nothing,” Tami Kedmi says. Her husband, Boaz adds: “It’s painful, the statement he made, before checking and drawing conclusions. We didn’t receive any statements, no one told us what happened there.”
In response, the IDF says that once the operation concludes, investigations will be launched and the results will be presented to the victims’ families.
Turgeman “said the incident should have ended differently, just like any incident in which soldiers are killed,” the army says. “His remarks did not cast aspersions on the troops’ performance, but rather explained that in any attack, we must aspire to have the upper hand.”
It stresses that the troops in the squadron course “were trained for the position, as they are the best troops from their units selected for the course, and were prepared for their mission.”
Iron Dome 90% successful, air force says
An official in the Israel Air Force says that during Operation Protective Edge, the Iron Dome successfully intercepted 90 percent of the rockets it targeted.
The official says the failed interceptions were due to technical failures or operational errors, but says the troops are learning from its mistakes.
He adds that the anti-missile defense system shot down 10 mortars, but emphasizes that the system is not equipped to deal with the shells that fall within 7 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
Overall, some 3,500 rockets are fired at Israel during the operation, the air force says, including some 250 long-range projectiles. The Iron Dome intercepted more than 600.
Hamas official says deal close
A Hamas official tells Palestinian TV that Egypt has revised the draft proposal, and that with the exception of certain details and tweaking various conditions, both sides are near a final deal.
He says: In a few hours’ time, we will be able to release a statement to the Palestinian people assuring them that the resistance has emerged victorious.
More details on Hamas statement on imminent deal
The official who releases the statement that a ceasefire deal may be close, Muhammad Abu Askar, is said by Channel 2 to be not a high-ranked Hamas official.
Abu Askar announces that a new document “with some changes” presented by Egypt is broadly acceptable to the Palestinian delegation.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says Hamas “must be weakened” and must be “tackled by force,” and does not confirm any imminent deal.
Israel UN envoy condemns Gaza probe head
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor calls an urgent meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and asks him to denounce the appointment of William Schabas as head of the Gaza probe.
In a blistering critique, Prosor says the choice of a staunch anti-Israel figure is an insult to the intelligence, and reflects the Human Rights Council’s moral bankruptcy. The choice is like asking ISIS to organize the religious tolerance week at the UN, he says.
Prosor says the UNHRC has set a new record for the anti-Israeli incitement which characterizes it.
PM pans UNHRC for legitimizing terror
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashes out at the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying it “grants legitimacy to murderous terrorist groups such as Hamas and ISIS.”
Rather than investigating potential Israeli crimes committed during Operation Protective Edge, the UNHRC should look into Hamas firing rockets at Israel and using Gaza’s civilian population as human shields, or Bashar Assad’s slaughter in Syria, or ISIS’s murder of Kurds in Iraq, Netanyahu fumes.
“The report of the UN commission has already been written,” the prime minister alleges. Its head, William Schabas, “has already decided that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, so he has nothing to look for here.”
— Raphael Ahren
Hamas warns of ‘heavy price’ if IDF resumes ground op
If the IDF launches a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip once again, it will “pay a heavy price,” a senior Hamas official says, according to Ynet.
He adds that if the group’s demands are not accepted, the delegation will withdraw from Cairo to consult with the Hamas leadership on its next step.
Mubarak says he refused to visit Israel due to occupation
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak describes his diplomatic ties with Israel as delicate, and says he did not visit the Jewish state due to political considerations. His remarks come as he stands trial.
“I ran relations with Israel like a tightrope walker,” he says.
“I refused to visit Israel so long as the occupation continued,” Mubarak adds.
Despite his statements to the contrary, Mubarak visited Israel to attend the funeral of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Hamas is feeling its mistake — Gantz
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says Hamas is feeling the weight of its recent actions, starting with the kidnapping-murder of Gilad Shaar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 on June 12.
“Hamas, which began this ordeal with the kidnapping of the teenagers, is feeling the size of its error,” he says.
Gantz adds that the operation may not be over just yet.
“We were forced to sacrifice 64 victims, and it’s possible that we will need [to sacrifice] more. It’s possible that the operation is not over; it’s possible it hasn’t been completed.”
Truce will come when blockade is lifted — Haniyeh
Former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh says a ceasefire will be reached when the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted.
“The threats of the enemy leaders only strengthen our commitment to the Palestinian demands, at the top of which is the lifting of the blockade,” he tells Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV. “A permanent ceasefire will be secured when the blockade is lifted.”
The Hamas leader adds that he’s “certain our delegation in Cairo will not give in to blackmail.”
Netanyahu, Obama discuss ceasefire
Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu speaks to US President Barack Obama on the phone to update the US leader on the progress of the ceasefire negotiations.
Defeat Hamas if it renews fire — Sderot mayor
Alon Davidi, mayor of the southern city of Sderot near the Gaza border, says that “we must understand that the mission has not yet been completed if Hamas renews its rocket fire. The government must instruct the IDF to defeat it,” according to Ynet.
Rocket fire unlikely to continue — analyst
Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya’ari predicts that the rocket fire will not be renewed at midnight. He says all indications, including the muting of threats and statements by Hamas members that a deal is close, point to a continued quiet.
He says that the Palestinian delegation is set to hold a press conference at 9:30 p.m.
The Israeli delegation has already left Cairo for the night.
Hamas official says deal for soldiers’ bodies will be ‘Gilad Shalit 2′
Hamas official Muhammad Abu Askar says Hamas’s demands to return the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul will resemble “Gilad Shalit 2.”
Speaking at a rally in the Gaza Strip, he turns to Israel and says “Are they dead or are they alive?”
Israel has declared both Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin as killed in action.
In 2011, Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. The exchange of the bodies of Shaul and Goldin was said to be discussed as part of the Cairo negotiations, but recent reports indicate that those terms, along with Hamas’s demands to build a port and airport, are likely to be discussed at a later date.
MDA goes on high alert as truce set to end
Magen David Adom raises its preparedness ahead of the ceasefire deadline at midnight in anticipation of further attacks, the Walla news website reports.
UK announcement on arms ‘exceedingly odd’ — Steinitz
In a somewhat backhanded way, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz slams the British government’s announcement to halt arms sales to Israel in case the fighting with Hamas resumes.
“I heard it, but although I have a PhD in philosophy, I didn’t understand it,” he says about UK Business Secretary Vince Cable’s announcement that, “in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities,” London will suspend 12 export licenses for equipment that could be used by the Israeli army in Gaza.
“If this is the message, this is exceedingly odd,” Steinitz says at a press conference in Jerusalem. “If Hamas will choose to resume the fighting, Britain will [place] some restrictions on defense cooperation with Israel? I hope this is not the message, because this might be very encouraging for Hamas to resume fire.”
Steinitz says he knows many British people and government officials and that most of them are extremely intelligent. “I don’t want to believe that this is the message. So I prefer to say that I misunderstood it.”
— Raphael Ahren
Turkey evacuates 18 more wounded Palestinians
A Turkish plane evacuates 18 more wounded Palestinians from Ben Gurion airport to Turkey, raising the number of Gazans being treated in Turkish hospitals to 22.
Turkey began transporting wounded Palestinians to Turkey on Sunday by airlifting four people out of Gaza.
On Wednesday a Turkish military plane lands at Ankara airport with 18 wounded Palestinians and their companions.
The wounded, including a pregnant woman and five children, are to be treated at a hospital in the capital.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay says Turkey was planning to airlift some 200 Palestinians wounded in the Gaza conflict.
Israel agrees to truce extension — official
An Israeli official says Jerusalem agrees to extend the current temporary ceasefire, expiring at midnight, to continue negotiations toward a long-term deal, AFP reports.
Hamas claims truce talks failed — report
Hamas sources tell Ynet that the negotiations for a ceasefire have failed.
Earlier reports indicated that the terror organization was headed toward extending the truce past midnight.
Hamas’s representative in Beirut, Ali Baraka, says the Palestinians are set to announce at a press conference that the Palestinian delegation will leave Cairo to consult with its leaders.
The press conference, which was set to begin at 9:30 p.m., may be delayed for some last-minute consultations, according to Israel Radio’s Gal Berger.
Sirens in southern Israel
Sirens sound in Ashkelon and the Gaza periphery, two hours before ceasefire ends.
Reservist confirms rockets fired at Israel
A reservist soldier stationed at the Gaza border confirms that rockets were fired at southern Israel a short while ago.
“At 9:47 I saw a couple of rockets shoot out towards Ashkelon,” he tells The Times of Israel.
Rocket explodes in open area in Hof Ashkelon
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip lands in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon region. There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Cairo talks reportedly collapse
Haaretz’s diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid tweets that the negotiations in Egypt have failed.
Cairo talks failed; Gaza ceasefire collapses. Great danger of serious escalation on the ground
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) August 13, 2014
Parties still working on truce extension
While Hamas and Israel have not reached an agreement on a long-term ceasefire deal, Egyptian officials are in talks with both sides in a last ditch attempt to broker an extension of the current 72-hour truce.
Earlier, an Israeli official told AFP that Jerusalem was willing to extend the truce for an additional 72 hours.
— Avi Issacharoff
Hamas denies firing rockets at Israel
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri rejects claims the terror organization fired missiles at southern Israel, Ynet reports.
Islamic Jihad slams Israeli ‘intransigence’
A representative of the Islamic Jihad in Cairo blames Israeli inflexibility for the talks deadlock.
“Until now there has been no breakthrough in the negotiations because of Israel’s intransigence,” Khaled Al-Batsh says.
Palestinians hear drone activity over Gaza
After rockets are fired at southern Israel, Palestinians say they hear increased drone activity over the Gaza Strip, AFP reports.
Teenager killed by rocket fire in Sinai
A 13-year-old girl is killed by rocket fire in the Sinai town of el-Mattallah, near the border with Gaza, Reuters reports.
Two other children are injured in the attack. The source of the fire remains unclear.
Palestinian press conference postponed
The press conference called for 9:30 p.m. by the Palestinian delegation in Cairo has been pushed off indefinitely, Israel Radio reports.
The Palestinians say they are waiting for answers from Israel.
Parties agree to extend Gaza truce — Egypt official
An Egyptian official tells AFP that the Israeli and the Palestinian delegations have agreed to extend the truce for another 72 hours.
The statement comes some 40 minutes before the 72-hour ceasefire is set to expire.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad TV confirm extension
Israel Radio’s Gal Berger writes on Twitter that both the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad television stations are reporting that the ceasefire has been extended for another three days.
Sirens in Gaza border towns
Rocket falls in Eshkol region
Channel 2 reports that a missile fired from the Gaza Strip lands in the Eshkol region.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Palestinian delegation head confirms five-day truce
The head of the Palestinian delegation, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed, tells AFP: “We have agreed to give more time for the negotiations.”
The lull will be extended by five days, he says.
He says the Palestinian delegation will return tomorrow to Ramallah to consult with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Al-Ahmed also condemns the Israeli operation in Gaza, citing the nearly two thousand dead, thousands injured, and damaged infrastructure.
More sirens in Ashkelon, Gaza border region
Rocket intercepted over Netivot
Hamas says it didn’t fire rockets
After at least three rockets are fired at Israel as a truce extension was being finalized, Hamas denies that its forces were responsible for the launches, Channel 2 reports.
Obama-Netanyahu speak about ceasefire, White House confirms
White House officials confirm Wednesday evening that President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone earlier in the day to discuss the ceasefire talks underway in Cairo. According to the White House, Obama “reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s mediation efforts and underscored the importance of achieving a sustainable outcome that ensures Israel’s security and addresses Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.”
The US has maintained a low profile during the Cairo talks, but State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday that the US delegation to the talks was just now beginning to discuss long-term plans for Gazan reconstruction.
— Rebecca Shimoni Stoil