The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Wednesday, August 20, the 44th day of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas breached a truce on Tuesday afternoon with a rocket salvo at Beersheba, prompting Israel to quit the Cairo negotiations on a long-term ceasefire. Rocket fire and IDF counter-strikes intensified later Tuesday and into Wednesday. (Thursday’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 44 of Operation Protective Edge

PREAMBLE: Hamas breached a truce on Tuesday afternoon, firing a salvo of rockets into Beersheba and southern Israel.

Israel immediately recalled its negotiators from talks in a Cairo on a long-term ceasefire, and ordered the IDF to strike back at targets in Gaza.

Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip, on August 19, 2014. Israel ordered its negotiators back from talks in Cairo and Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza after Hamas broke a truce and resumed rocket fire on Israel. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip, on August 19, 2014. Israel ordered its negotiators back from talks in Cairo and Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza after Hamas broke a truce and resumed rocket fire on Israel. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

Rocket fire intensified through the evening, with over 30 rockets fired by Hamas, including at Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area. Iron Dome intercepted at least five rockets heading for residential areas. Israeli air strikes caused three fatalities, Gaza officials said.

US blames Hamas for ceasefire breakdown

Earlier Tuesday, the United States said it was “very concerned” about the violation of an extended ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, placing the blame for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on the shoulders of Hamas.

“We are very concerned about today’s development and condemn the renewed rocket fire,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing.

She noted that the US had confirmed that rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, and that “Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza.”

Harf reiterated that the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against terror attacks from Gaza.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (screen capture: Youtube)

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (screen capture: Youtube)

Rocket strike located near Beit Shemesh

A strike from a rocket is found in the Matteh Yehuda Regional Council in the area of Beit Shemesh, Ynet reports.

Rocket hits shopping center in southern Israel

One of the Hamas rockets hit a shopping center in the Ashkelon coastal region, causing damage but no injuries, Channel 2 reported late Tuesday.

IDF publishes video of strikes on Gaza targets

The IDF spokesperson’s unit published a video of its airstrikes on rocket and mortar launching sites in the Gaza Strip after the collapse of the ceasefire agreement late Tuesday.

Hamas blames Israel, says ‘no security’

Hamas late Tuesday took responsibility for the series of rocket salvoes, which included at least 8 rockets fired at the Tel Aviv area.

A senior Hamas official accused Israel for resuming the Gaza conflict and warned it will not be secure as long as Palestinians are not.

Shortly after the midnight truce deadline, senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq warned: “Israel will not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not, and it started it.”

– AFP

50 rockets fired at Israel Tuesday

Fifty rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the IDF said. Six were shot down.

PA blames Israel for collapse of talks

Speaking from Egypt, Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the PA delegation to the Cairo truce talks, blames Israel for the collapse of negotiations. He says that Netanyahu recalled the Israeli delegation at 4 p.m., which signaled the end of the efforts for a long-term ceasefire.

He notes that the Palestinians are still talking to Israel through Egypt.

Head of the Palestinian delegation Azzam al-Ahmed gives a press conference at a hotel in Cairo late on August 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP)

Head of the Palestinian delegation Azzam al-Ahmed gives a press conference at a hotel in Cairo late on August 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP)

Head of Southern Command tells south to prepare for massive fire

GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman tells heads of the regional councils and government bodies near Gaza to prepare for massive rocket fire tonight, according to Ynet.

Major General Sami Turgeman, second from left, in 2011 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Major General Sami Turgeman, second from left, in 2011 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Stunning photo of rockets fired at Israel

Fox News reporter Rick Leventhal tweets a dramatic photograph of three rockets being fired at Israel.

Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev tweets another:

Israel going back to all out-war, official says

Late Tuesday, a defense official told a Channel 10 correspondent that Israel is going back to all-out war.

“The IDF has been instructed to operate from the air in preparation for a ground operation,” he tweeted.

Report claims Israel tried to kill senior Hamas man

A Channel 10 reporter said late Tuesday that prior to the recent massive rocket barrage, Israel tried to assassinate a senior Hamas figure in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood.

Muhammad Deif

Muhammad Deif

Alon Ben-David tweeted that Israeli officials refused to comment on rumors that the target of the assassination attempt was the secretive Hamas military leader Muhammad Deif.

Deif, believed by some to be coordinating Hamas attacks on Israel in recent weeks, has survived several Israeli assassination attempts over the years.

Similarly, members of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo said Tuesday’s evening’s barrage of rocket fire by Hamas was launched in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike on a house in the Gaza Strip.

Channel 2 suggested the strike may have targeted the house of a senior Hamas member in the coastal enclave.

Home Front Command issues new directives

IDF’s Home Front Command issues orders forbidding gatherings of over 1000 people in light of the renewed rocket fire from Gaza.

56 rockets fired Tuesday

Channel 2 reports that 56 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel Tuesday. Iron Dome intercepted 10.

IDF orders shelters in Dan region opened

The Home Front Command issues directives for the shelters in the Dan region around Tel Aviv to be opened, after 56 rockets are fired from Gaza.

View of central Israel seen from Tel Aviv as an Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket from the Gaza Strip, Israel, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

View of central Israel seen from Tel Aviv as an Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket from the Gaza Strip, Israel, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Fighting between Palestinians youths and PA police near Hebron

There are violent clashes between Palestinian youths and PA security forces in Yatta, south of Hebron, Channel 2’s Ohad Hamo reports.

Earlier in the week, thousands of Hamas supporters on their way to the Jewish neighborhood of Hebron were met by hundreds of PA policemen, who were beaten and chased away by the pro-Hamas crowd.

Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets near Ashkelon

After warning sirens sound in the southern city of Ashkelon, Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

‘We have not pulled out of talks,’ says PA official

“We are leaving tomorrow, but we have not pulled out of negotiations,” Azzam al-Ahmad tells AFP, adding the Palestinians were waiting for Israel to respond to their truce proposal.

“We will not come back (to Cairo) until Israel responds,” he says.

Ahmad, an aide of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, heads the delegation that includes senior Hamas officials.

One of the Hamas officials, Ezzat al-Rishq, warns that Israel “will not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not.”

— AFP

Hamas claims Israel tried to kill Muhammad Deif

Senior Hamas member Moussa Abu Marzouk, based in Cairo, claims Israel tried to kill Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif overnight, but only managed to kill civilians.

Deif has survived several Israeli assassination attempts in the past, suffering serious injuries but managing to escape.

3 killed in Israeli strike, possibly targeting Deif

Three people — two women and a 2-year-old girl — were killed in an airstrike on a house in Gaza City, Palestinian medical official Ashraf al-Kidra says. The target of the airstrike isn’t immediately known.

However, in Cairo, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader, says the dead included the wife and a child of Muhammad Deif, the Islamic militant group’s elusive military chief, who has escaped numerous Israeli assassination attempts in the past. There is no immediate confirmation from Hamas leaders in Gaza.

— AP

Home Front Command instructions released

The IDF’s Home Front Command releases extended instructions for civilians as rocket fire from Gaza is renewed.

For communities from 0-7 kilometers from the Gaza border, summer camps and educational institutions can only meet in protected areas. Shopping centers and businesses can stay open, but no gatherings of over 300 people are allowed.

For communities from 7-40 kilometers from Gaza, which includes Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beersheba, summer camps and educational institutions can meet as usual, as long as they are near shelters. Gatherings of over 500 people are not allowed, and stores and businesses can remain open.

Gatherings of over 1000 people are forbidden in communities from 40-80 kilometers from the border. There are no limits on the rest of the country.

The instructions are in effect until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday.

A lull in rocket fire early Wednesday

After intense rocket fire on Israel Tuesday evening and night, no rockets are launched from Gaza for almost two hours.

UN’s Ban expresses ‘disappointment’ in truce collapse

The office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon releases a statement on the collapse of the ceasefire talks in Cairo. He does not assign blame for the breach of the truce.

“The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the breach of the Egyptian brokered humanitarian ceasefire which was to expire at midnight local time. He is gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities.

“The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their responsibility not to let the situation escalate. The hopes of the people in Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people in Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo. The Secretary-General calls on the delegations to live up to this expectation and urges the parties to reach an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri (unseen) and in Cairo on July 21, 2014 (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri (unseen) and in Cairo on July 21, 2014 (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI)

Break in rocket fire continues

More than three hours go by without rocket fire from Gaza, after Hamas and other groups launch more than 50 on Tuesday and early Wednesday.

IAF attacking in Gaza

Israeli jets are attacking in Deir el-Balah, Rafah, and Zeitoun, Channel 2 reports.

Sirens in Eshkol

Two rockets strike open area in Eshkol

Four-and-a-half hours of quiet end with the launch of two rockets at Israel Wednesday morning.

Identity of third person killed in strike on Deif house still unknown

As Hamas claims Israel struck the home of Hamas military chief Muhammad Deif, killing his wife and daughter, the identity of a third individual killed in the strike remains a mystery. Channel 2 does not want to speculate on whether or not that individual is Deif himself.

Izz ad-Dine al-Qassam Brigades's chief Mohammed Deif delivering a recorded address after a Hamas terrorist infiltration into Israel, July 30, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Gal Berger)

Izz ad-Dine al-Qassam Brigades’s chief Mohammed Deif delivering a recorded address after a Hamas terrorist infiltration into Israel, July 30, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Gal Berger)

Palestinians claim 7 killed in Gaza strike

Palestinian health officials say seven people were killed in an IAF strike this morning, Ynet reports.

Sirens in Kerem Shalom

Rockets hit Eshkol, Sdot Negev regions

Three rockets hit southern Israel after sirens are heard across communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

One rocket explodes outside a town in the Sdot Negev region, while two rockets explode outside a town in the Eshkol region.

No casualties are reported in either incident.

At least 11 dead in overnight strikes — Hamas

At least 11 Palestinians are dead and dozens are injured in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip last night, Hamas says.

According to the organization, this brings the total Gazan death toll from Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to 2,018.

Israel disputes the Hamas figures, and says many of the dead are armed fighters engaged in combat, as well as civilians deliberately used as human shields to deter Israel from striking terrorist sites.

Sirens sound over Hof Ashkelon

Sirens sound in Yad Mordechai and Nativ Ha’asara, in the Hof Ashkelon region.

Earlier this morning, three rockets hit southern Israel.

Qatar has threatened to expel Mashaal — report

A high-ranking Fatah official says Qatar has threatened to expel Mashaal if he agrees to the Egyptian framework for a ceasefire in its current format, according to a report by al-Hayat.

The official also says Hamas has requested that Egypt allow Qatar to play a role in ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip and that a Qatari representative be invited to Cairo to help facilitate a permanent truce.

According to the newspaper, Egypt says it will acquiesce to the demand only if Qatar apologizes for its policy toward Egypt since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Sirens sound in Ashdod, Ashkelon

Sirens blare in communities bordering Gaza Strip

Iron Dome shoots down rocket over Ashkelon

IDF to call up 2,000 reservists after Gaza fighting renewed

The IDF is set to call up 2,000 reservists, after truce talks broke down last night, and Hamas renewed its rocket fire on Israeli cities.

At the height of Operation Protective Edge last month which included a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, the IDF had called up some 86,000 reservists.

Most have already been released or were set to be released soon.

Israeli official confirms attempt on Mohammed Deif’s life

A senior Israeli official confirms to Israeli media outlets that the IDF attempted to assassinate Muhammad Deif, the elusive Hamas military wing commander, early this morning.

According to Gaza medical officials, Deif’s wife and 2-year-old daughter were killed in the IDF airstrike on the house in the Sheikh Redwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

It is not yet clear whether Deif was also killed in the attack. An unidentified man was found in the rubble, according to reports.

Security cabinet to convene following renewed Hamas rocket fire

The security cabinet is set to convene later today to discuss Hamas’s renewed rocket fire after truce talks in Cairo broke down last night.

Sirens blare in communities bordering Gaza

Deif like Bin Laden, Israel must seize opportunity to kill him — Gideon Sa’ar

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar says Hamas military wing commander Muhammad Deif is “like [Osama] Bin Laden. He’s an arch-murderer. If an opportunity to liquidate him presents itself, it should be taken.”

Speaking to Army Radio, Sa’ar says Israel’s IDF operation in Gaza must be renewed.

“You can achieve quiet through a war of attrition, or through a ground operation into Gaza City,” he says.

The goal must be to break Hamas, he says.

Hamas official: Israel imposed war on us again

Hamas official and member of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, Izzat al-Rishq blames Israel for the breakdown in truce talks.

“Israel imposed war on us again,” he tweets, promising to face Israel head on and “overcome” it.

‘IDF wouldn’t have targeted Deif home without intelligence he was there’

Israel would not have targeted the home of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Muhammad Deif had it not received intelligence that he was in the building, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry says.

Perry, a former Shin Bet head who sits in security cabinet meetings but doesn’t have a vote, tells Army Radio that says he has no knowledge about whether the elusive Deif was killed overnight, and that Deif “is a target and is not immune.”

But he remarks that “if there had been intelligence that Muhammad Deif was not in that house, we would not have blown it up.”

Perry adds that talks to secure a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas kept failing in Cairo mainly because political chief Khaled Mashaal keeps asking for “more than we’re prepared to give.” Perry says Israel is not prepared to discuss opening a seaport at this stage, because there’s no mechanism for international supervision.

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)

Asked about the international response to more civilian deaths in Gaza, including members of Deif’s family, Perry says “we never get compliments … we have to do what we have to do, it is justified.”

He says this round of violence “could take a great deal longer” and “requires a lot of patience … it’s a very difficult period, especially for residents of the south and all the residents of Israel.”

Perry says he disagrees with cabinet colleague Tzipi Livni, who argues that Israel should not be directly negotiating with Hamas and should only be talking with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, because “Abbas cannot determine what will happen in Gaza in the coming days, months and years.”

He stresses that he supports Abbas’s return to Gaza but that the only way to resolve this conflict is through the indirect talks in Cairo.

Finally, he says Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett’s demand for a massive ground offensive to smash Hamas in Gaza at this stage “is not acceptable to me… We may be dragged into a major ground offensive,” he says, “but that’s not my preferred option. I’m not saying it won’t be necessary.”

Tzipi Livni says she fully backs attempted hit on Muhammad Deif

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni tells Ynet that she supports Israel’s attempted assassination of Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif last night in Gaza.

“Every person who commits terror, his liquidation is not just legitimate but desirable, in my opinion,” she says.

Livni adds that she generally supports targeted assassinations of terror leaders and reiterates her belief that there is no negotiating with Hamas.

Deif’s house was struck by the IDF last night, killing his wife and daughter, according Gaza health officials.

It is not yet clear if Deif was hit.

Rocket explodes in open terrain in Eshkol Regional Council

IDF says it targeted 60 ‘terror sites’ in Gaza; 70 rockets fired on Israel

The IDF says it targeted 60 “terror sites” across the Gaza Strip overnight, after 70 rockets were fired on Israeli cities since last night, when indirect truce talks between Israel and Hamas broke down in Cairo.

Palestinians report IDF strikes near Rafah crossing in southern Gaza

Gaza residents are reporting that the IDF has struck near the Rafah crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Siren blares in Eshkol Regional Council

Sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev

Security cabinet to convene at 2 p.m.

The security cabinet is set to meet at 2 p.m. local time to discuss the renewed fighting in Gaza and Hamas rocket fire on Israel.

Sirens sound in communities surrounding Gaza Strip

Sirens sound in Ashkelon, Ashdod

Hamas TV reports strikes in Khan Younis

Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV channel is reporting that the IDF is striking in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Egypt urges both sides to resume truce talks

Egypt calls on the Israeli and Palestinian delegations to resume permanent ceasefire negotiations in Cairo, which broke down yesterday.

Egypt expresses its “profound regret at the breach of the ceasefire in Gaza,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry says in a statement.

Shortly before talks were halted, Hamas launched a barrage of rockets into southern and central Israel, and the IDF resumed its airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, including on the home of Hamas commander Muhammad Deif.

Deif’s wife and child were killed, Gaza health officials say. It is unclear whether Deif was hit.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Strike on Deif’s home kills infant son, not daughter

The IDF strike on the home of Hamas commander Muhammad Deif last night killed his wife and infant son, not his wife and young daughter, as previously reported.

Israel Radio’s Gal Berger tweets a death notice from Shifa hospital in Gaza bearing the names of Wedad Deif, 28, and Ali Deif, seven months.

80 rockets fired from Gaza since truce broke down, IDF says

The IDF says more than 80 rockets have been fired into Israel since yesterday afternoon, when Hamas fired a salvo at Beersheba and indirect truce talks between Israel and Hamas broke down.

Thirty projectiles were fired since midnight, the military says.

Fatah armed wing claims rocket fire on Ashkelon

The Abdul Qader Husseini Brigades, an armed wing of the Fatah movement to which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, claims responsibility for firing two rockets at Ashkelon this morning.

‘You’ll see the results’ of attempted Deif hit, says minister

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch tells reporters that they will “certainly see the results” of the attempted assassination of Hamas commander Muhammad Deif, Israel Radio reports.

Aharonovitch says that Israel will continue to strike heads of terror organizations wherever they may be. They are not immune, he says.

Aharonovitch is a member of the security cabinet which is set to convene in two hours to discuss the ongoing situation in Gaza.

Hamas urges Gazans to attend funerals of Deif’s wife, son

Hamas urges Palestinians to attend the funerals of the wife and son of Hamas commander Muhammad Deif, who were killed in last night’s IDF strike on their home in Gaza.

Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied that Deif was also killed in the strike. The body of an unidentified man was found in the rubble, Channel 2 reported.

At least 45 others were injured in the attack, say emergency officials in the Hamas-run enclave.

Appointed head of Hamas’s armed wing in 2002 after his predecessor Salah Shehade was assassinated, Deif has already escaped five previous assassination attempts by Israel.

Israel sees Deif as “the brains” behind the campaign of suicide bombings that targeted buses and public places in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem until 2006.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Sirens sound in Ashdod

Iron Dome intercepts 4 rockets over Ashdod

1 dead in IDF strike in north Gaza, medics say

An Israeli airstrike killed one Palestinian north of Gaza City, medics in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave say.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra says the victim was a man but he had no other details on his identity and did not specify the location of the strike.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Rocket makes direct hit on a house in Hof Ashkelon

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip makes a direct hit on a house in Hof Ashkelon.

There were no immediate reports on injuries

Sirens sound in communities bordering Gaza

Sirens blare in Ashdod

2 Gazans targeted for firing rockets, IDF says

The IDF says it targeted two Palestinians in northern Gaza responsible for this morning’s rocket fire on Israel.

French president urges sides to resume talks

French President Francois Hollande calls on Israel and the Palestinians to return to truce talks and for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip in an interview with French daily Le Monde.

“We are at a critical point. France supports the Egyptian mediation,” Hollande says. “Gaza can no longer remain like it is. The objective must be a demilitarization and a lifting of the blockade.”

“Demilitarization can only be done under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. France with Europe can be useful in lifting the blockade at the Rafah crossing. Gaza must neither be an open prison or a military base,” Hollande adds.

French President Francois Hollande outside the Foreign Affairs ministry in Paris, Saturday, July 26, 2014, after meeting families of the victims of Air Algeria flight crash, that killed all 118 people onboard including 54 French citizens. (photo credit: AP/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

French President Francois Hollande outside the Foreign Affairs ministry in Paris, Saturday, July 26, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

‘Israel solely to blame for talks’ collapse’

The Palestinian Authority’s Dr. Saeb Erekat, a PLO executive committee member and head of the Negotiations Affairs Department, says Israel bears sole responsibility for the collapse of the truce talks in Cairo yesterday.

“The Israeli government are [sic] the only side responsible for the collapse,” he tells the Voice of Palestine in an interview, a transcript of which was sent out to the press.

“The Israeli delegation came to Cairo to blackmail us, not to reach ceasefire. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is sabotaging every effort as he did always,” he adds.

Erekat says the solution to the situation in Gaza requires an international effort.

“Gaza needs a joint international effort led by the Americans and the European providing aid and support to Gaza, in addition to international protection by the UN; this should be dealt with through the Security Council immediately…Strategically speaking we want an end to the occupation, so we are trying now to have an international effort through the UN to end the occupation, and establish a Palestinian sovereign state; this is the only way out of this conflict,” he says.

Two rockets downed by Iron Dome over south

Two rockets were just intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, one over the southern city of Kiryat Malachi and the other over the Hof Ashkelon region. A third rocket reportedly struck near a synagogue in the Hof Ashkelon region.

Sirens continue to go off across the Ashkelon area.

Police post pic of rocket-struck house

Police share a photo of officers at the scene where a rocket struck a house in the Hof Ashkelon area of southern Israel, near the northern border with the Gaza Strip.

The home was damaged, but nobody was hurt.

Sirens sound in Sderot, Sha’ar Hanegev

Israel failed to kill Deif, Hamas source says

A senior Hamas source tells Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera that Israel failed in its attempt to kill Hamas commander Muhammad Deif last night when the IDF struck his home in a Gaza City neighborhood, killing three, including Deif’s wife and son.

The identity of the third fatality has yet to be released.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over central Israel

The IDF says the Iron Dome system intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip over central Israel a short while ago.

4 decapitated bodies found in Sinai

The decapitated bodies of four men were found in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, security officials say, adding that they suspected jihadists had killed the victims in the belief they were supporting the army.

Egypt’s military has been carrying out a vast offensive against jihadist groups in the north of Sinai since militants stepped up attacks following the army’s ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year.

Residents in Sheikh Zuweid town, south of Rafah, discovered the bodies, two days after the men had been abducted, according to the security officials.

Read the full story here.

– AFP

Bless martyrdom of your wife, son — Hamas negotiator to Deif

Hamas official and member of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, Izzat al-Rishq, writes a tweet addressed to Hamas commander Muhammad Deif, who may or may not have been assassinated by Israel last night, blessing the killing of Deif’s wife and son in the IDF strike on their home.

The funeral for the two is being held in Gaza City at the moment.

“My brother, I salute you and your resistance and perseverance and the sweet blood you’ve shed. Blessed be the martyrdom of your wife and son. May they follow the convoy of martyrs fallen in battles past, present and future,” al-Rishq writes.

Netanyahu wasted chance for truce — Hamas

A Hamas spokesman says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasted an opportunity to reach a ceasefire, and promised to “strike Israel with all of [Hamas's] might,” Ynet reports

Sirens sound in Beersheba

Thousands mourn Deif’s wife, son in Gaza

Several thousand mourners join the funeral procession for the wife and baby son of Hamas’s military commander Muhammad Deif, angrily demanding revenge against Israel.

Firing Kalashnikovs into the air, they carry the bodies of 27-year-old Widad and her seven-month-old son Ali, who were killed in an airstrike on Gaza City last night.

The two bodies are wrapped in green Hamas flags as they are carried from the mosque to the cemetery in Jabaliya refugee camp. Mourners also carry the flag-wrapped bodies of two men killed in an airstrike earlier today on a motorcycle, both presumed Hamas militants.

“Revenge, revenge, revenge,” shouts the crowd as they walk toward the cemetery waving Hamas flags and denouncing the killing of the second wife and infant son of Deif, head of the Qassam Brigades.

“I’m like all the other people in the Gaza Strip. I am no different from the others who have lost children. This is like a tsunami,” says Widad’s angry father, Mustafa Harb Asfura, 56.

When his university-educated daughter married Deif seven years ago, her father feared it was a death sentence.

“My daughter knew she would die a martyr when she decided to marry Muhammad Deif. Every moment since then I’ve been expecting to hear that she has died,” he says.

Asfura says he had only seen his son-in-law once, when the couple married.

After that, he didn’t even know where his daughter was living, such is the secrecy that surrounds Deif in his determination to avoid detection by Israel.

Widad and Deif had two daughters and a son together. She also had two sons from a first marriage, the family says.

— AFP, Times of Israel staff

Over 130 rockets fired from Gaza in 24 hours

In the span of 24 hours since the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed, 137 rockets have been launched at Israel, IDF spokesman Peter Lerner says.

Lerner says 24 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system while the rest fell in Israeli territory, including one that struck a house in the Hof Ashkelon area.

Siren sounds in Ashkelon

Over 100 rockets fired at Israel since midnight

Of the 137 rockets — so far — launched into Israel since just before truce talks collapsed in Cairo yesterday afternoon, according to the IDF, at least 100 were fired starting at midnight.

 

Sirens sound in Eshkol region

Rocket explodes in open terrain in Sdot Negev

Deif still calling the shots, says Hamas

Hamas says military commander Muhammad Deif is alive and still calling the shots in the ongoing war with Israel in and around Gaza.

“The occupation will pay for its crimes against Palestinian civilians and those living around the Gaza border will not return home until Muhammad Deif decides,” says Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in a statement.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Arab League says Israel sabotaged talks

Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby accuses Israel of having prevented an agreement for a ceasefire by sabotaging indirect talks in Cairo.

“Israel is undermining any kind of agreement leading to a ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip, Al-Araby tells reporters in Cairo. “The Arab League seeks to achieve a permanent ceasefire as soon as possible.”

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Chicago man donates ambucycles in memory of slain teens

Jeff Aeder, a businessman from Chicago, donates three ambucycles to United Hatzalah in honor of the slain Israeli teenagers Gil-ad Shaar, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19 and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who were abducted and killed on June 12.

“We wanted to commemorate Naftali, Gilad and Eyal with a way of saving lives, and be diametrically opposed to the murderous ideology that ended their lives,” Aeder says in a statement.

The three kidnapped and murdered  teens, from left to right: Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach (photo credit: Courtesy)

The three kidnapped and murdered teens, from left to right: Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach (photo credit: Courtesy)

Rachelle Fraenkel, the mother of the late Naftali Fraenkel, calls it “a perfect memorial.”

“Three ambulances with two wheels, rushing to save lives, with the energy of youth. I can see Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali on each of these ambucyles. They would want to do good in the world and save lives,” she says.

Rocket explodes in Eshkol region

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip lands in an open area in Eshkol region.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

British MP questioned for anti-Israel remarks

British MP George Galloway, who called for an “Israel-free zone” in the city of Bradford, is questioned by police under caution, The Express reports.

The Crown Prosecution Service is set to decide whether the controversial lawmaker will be charged for his comments.

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)

Earlier this month, Galloway 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,” Galloway said.

“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.”

Sirens in Gaza border towns

Egypt sentences Israeli to life for spying

A Cairo court on Wednesday sentences an Israeli tried in absentia to life imprisonment and a Jordanian telecom engineer to 10 years in jail for espionage on behalf of Israel.

Bashar Ibrahim Abu Zeid from Jordan was arrested in April 2011 and accused of trying to recruit Egyptian engineers to help Israel intercept telephone calls in Egypt.

The Israeli, who is on the run, stands accused of working for the Jewish state’s spy agency Mossad.

Abu Zeid pleaded not guilty when the trial opened in October 2011 and charged the prosecution had tampered with the answers he gave during interrogation.

AFP

2 Gaza boys said killed in airstrike

Palestinian medics say an airstrike on a house in the central Gaza Strip killed two Palestinian boys aged 11 and 16.

According to emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, the attack happens close to Deir al-Balah in the center of the Palestinian enclave.

He identified the victims as Mohammed al-Abeet, 16, and his 11-year-old cousin Saher.

The Palestinian sources maintain at least 18 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Hamas launched a barrage of rockets on southern Israel yesterday, breaking the ceasefire, and F16 fighter jets launched retaliatory airstrikes.

According to the Gazan medics, the Palestinian death toll tops 2,030 since July 8. Israel maintains that hundreds of those killed are Hamas fighters.

AFP, Times of Israel staff

Rocket hits Sdot Negev; no injuries

Iran leader offers ‘aids’ to Palestinians

In an article on President Rouhani pledging support for the Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrian, Iran’s official Fars News Agency mistakenly writes in its headline that the Iranian leader is offering “Aids” to those affected by the regional violence.

Iran's official Fars News Agency offers "aids" to Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians (photo credit: Screenshot)

Iran’s official Fars News Agency offers “aids” to Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians (photo credit: Screenshot)

“Today the people of Iraq, Palestine, Syria and many other Muslim nations are waiting help from the Iranians and we should aid our brothers,” he says.

“The Israeli executioners pour barrage of bullets and bombs on the oppressed Palestinian nation which is not acceptable at all.”

Minister calls for another ground offensive

Housing Minister Uri Ariel calls for another ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to remove the rocket threat once and for all.

“The actions until now did not bring quiet — it’s clear there is no choice but a ground offensive,” he tells Channel 2. He says it should be done “soon, strongly, and quickly.”

With regard to the IDF targeting of the senior Hamas leader, he says: “I hope the reports that Muhammad Deif is no longer, are true.”

Cabinet convenes in Tel Aviv

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes a cabinet meeting with the government ministers in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The prime minister is expected to update the ministers on the security situation, and discuss Israel’s next move in response to the continued rocket fire.

Iron Domes downs 15 rockets since midnight

The Iron Dome has shot down 15 missiles since midnight, Channel 2 reports.

More than 60 rockets have been fired at southern Israel since this morning, it reports.

An Iron Dome missile defense battery set up near the southern Israeli town of Ashdod fires an intercepting missile on July 16, 2014 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

An Iron Dome missile defense battery set up near the southern Israeli town of Ashdod fires an intercepting missile on July 16, 2014 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Hamas ups threats against ‘collaborators’

Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya’ari says that in light of Israel’s targeting of Hamas leader Muhammad Deif, the Hamas leadership has issued threats to execute collaborators, after presumably some have tipped off Israel as to Deif’s location.

With regard to whether Deif is alive or dead, Ya’ari says: “We don’t know that he’s not dead.”

The Israeli airstrike and the use of bunker buster bombs is an indication that Israel had precise intelligence on Deif’s whereabouts, he says, and if he was home — though it remains unclear whether he was — it’s likely he didn’t survive.

The TV station’s military correspondent Roni Daniel stresses that Deif takes orders from Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas politburo head residing in Qatar who has been calling the shots throughout the Gaza campaign.

Hamas says it targeted offshore gas well

Hamas says it shot two rockets at the Noa gas installation off the coast of the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

However, Israel denies that any projectiles hit the Israeli gas well, which lies on a platform some 30 kilometers (18 miles) off the Gaza shore.

An aerial view of an Israeli offshore gas rig (photo credit: Albatross Aerial photography/Noble Energy/Flash90/File)

An aerial view of an Israeli offshore gas rig (photo credit: Albatross Aerial photography/Noble Energy/Flash90/File)

3 rockets hit Eshkol region

Three missiles land in the Eshkol region. Two fall inside southern communities, Ynet reports.

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

‘Cairo talks likely to resume soon’

A source close to Hamas insists that despite the current escalation, the Cairo ceasefire talks are likely to resume shortly, Ynet reports.

He says that the negotiations have not failed, and that the Palestinians agreed to the Egyptian proposal, but Israel backed out at the last minute.

The Palestinian source also says regarding the attempted assassination of Hamas leader Muhammad Deif that Netanyahu “found an opportunity to achieve a victory of morale in order to boost his popularity, which is waning.”

Sirens in Gaza periphery, Ashkelon

Iron Dome downs 2 rockets over Hof Ashkelon

The Iron Dome intercepts two missiles over the Hof Ashkelon region in the latest barrage, Ynet reports.

Sirens in Beersheba, Gaza periphery

Deif reportedly believed killed in strike

Fox News reports that Hamas leader Muhammad Deif is thought to have been killed in the Israeli airstrike that targeted his home overnight.

Quoting Israeli intelligence sources, it reports that the military head “is believed to have been killed” early Wednesday.

Hamas maintains that Deif is alive and well. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, tells the group’s TV station Al-Aqsa that Deif “wasn’t even in the location when they bombed it.” Five other people, including his wife and baby son, were killed in the strike.

AP contributed to this report

Rocket intercepted over Beersheba

A missile is shot down by the Iron Dome over the southern city of Beersheba.

Two others fall in open areas, causing no injuries or damage.

4 rockets explode in Eshkol region; no injuries

Sirens in Ashkelon, Beersheba, Gaza periphery

Sirens in Ashkelon

Cabinet meeting ends

After hours of discussions, the afternoon cabinet meeting adjourns, Haaretz reports.

Israeli delegation arrives in Cairo — report

Egyptian media reports that a five-person Israeli team has landed in Cairo to hold meetings with Egyptian officials to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas.

Sirens in central Israel

Sirens sound in the Dan and Shfela regions in central Israel.

Additional sirens sound in central Israel

Iron Dome intercepts several rockets

Two rockets are intercepted over Netivot, and two others are shot down over Ashkelon, according to the Ynet news website.

Channel 2 reports two additional interceptions over the skies of Tel Aviv.

No decisions at cabinet meeting

Channel 2 reports that today’s cabinet meeting was more of an update session than a decision-making event. Various ministers weighed in on what they think Israel should be doing, with Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz calling for a major ground offensive in Gaza. Earlier, Foreign Minister Liberman had reiterated his call for Israel to smash Hamas.

For now, though, the Israeli tactic seems to be to pressure Hamas and respond with major airstrikes to the ongoing rocket fire. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon heard out the various ministers,” Channel 2 reports, and then returned to running the conflict the way they want to.

Hamas military asserts that Deif still alive

In a televised statement, a spokesman for the Hamas military wing claims — without quite making explicit — that its commander Muhammad Deif is still alive.

The masked spokesman says Israel breached the ceasefire on Tuesday. (In fact, the truce was breached with rocket fire from Gaza.) “You Israel are one big lie,” he says.

He says Deif “has foiled your celebrations for 25 years” — a reference to Deif’s long terrorist career and Israel’s unsuccessful efforts to kill him.

He charts Deif’s course from stones to bombs to suicide bombings to rockets, and boasts that Hamas’s missile capacity “astounded you.” (Hamas has fired some 3,500 rockets at Israel since early July.)

“We promise you that Muhammad Deif will be the military commander of the army who will liberate al-Aqsa,” he declares.

As he speaks, sirens sound in the Gaza border towns.

Hamas tells airlines to avoid Ben Gurion airport

Hamas warns foreign airlines not to use Ben Gurion Airport from 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Its spokesman also says it will not be returning to ceasefire talks in Cairo.

Over 180 rockets since truce ended — IDF

The IDF says in a statement that more than 180 rockets are fired at Israel since the ceasefire was broken Tuesday afternoon. Of those, 131 hit Israel and the Iron Dome intercepts 34.

In the most recent barrage, a rocket was intercepted over Tel Aviv, two others are shot down over Ashkelon, and two missiles are downed over Beersheba, the army says.

A rocket is fired from Gaza City towards Israel, Saturday, August 9, 2014. (illustrative photo credit: AP/Dusan Vranic)

A rocket is fired from Gaza City towards Israel, Saturday, August 9, 2014. (illustrative photo credit: AP/Dusan Vranic)

Iron Dome downs rocket over Ashkelon

The Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Ashkelon, Channel 2 reports, moments after sirens sound in the area and in the Gaza border towns.

Sirens in Gaza border towns

Ministers told it’s unclear if Deif killed

Cabinet ministers were told today that Muhammad Deif’s fate was not clear, Channel 2 says.

The assessment was that he had been hit, it adds.

Minister says Cairo talks won’t resume

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz tells Channel 2 the Cairo negotiations to secure a ceasefire with Hamas will not resume.

Earlier, Egyptian reports indicated an Israeli team had landed in Cairo for further diplomatic consultations with Egyptian leaders in a bid to broker a ceasefire.

Without going into detail, Katz calls for a military response to neutralize the rocket threat.

Port-o-shelters placed in fields to shield vulnerable farmers

Alongside the rows of tomatoes, alfalfa and other crops growing in Israel’s south, small, white igloo-esque buildings are beginning to pop up in rocket-battered fields near the border with Gaza.

The buildings, essentially super-reinforced modular units, are being placed in fields to protect farm laborers trying to work fields too far from standing shelters and left exposed to near-constant rocket fire out of Gaza.

Thai foreign workers standing in a mobile bomb shelter at Moshav Beit HaGadi in the Southern Israel on August 20, 2014. (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

Thai foreign workers standing in a mobile bomb shelter at Moshav Beit HaGadi in the Southern Israel on August 20, 2014. (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

The 119 shelters, which cost NIS 30,000 ($8,500) each, have taken on new importance since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, as farm workers, most of them Thai nationals, have struggled to work while being regularly bombarded by rocket and mortar fire.

Justin Jalil

Read the full story here.

Netanyahu, Ya’alon to address public

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon are set to speak shortly.

Deif’s residence said to be close to UNRWA facility

The house where Hamas military leader Muhammad Deif was hiding out was adjacent to an UNRWA facility in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City, Channel 10 reports.

The residence was owned by the al-Dalo family, and is described by the TV station as a Hamas stronghold. The al-Dalo’s son Jamal Muhammed Yassin oversees Hamas’s rocket launches, while another son, Noor runs the terror group’s Al-Aqsa radio station.

“Close to the building, at the time of the airstrike, there is a parking lot and in it, UN SUVs, and it’s possible that the apartment was chosen due to its proximity to the UNRWA assistance facility,” Channel 10 reports.

The operation is not over — PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is using all of its efforts to “complete the campaign” against Hamas, and restore quiet in the south and throughout Israel. “We will continue until the goal is reached,” he says.

The best interest of the people is Israel is the only thing that guides my decisions, he says.

Netanyahu thanks the citizens of Israel, particularly those in their south, for their resilience, and offers condolences to the bereaved families.

He says the operation has not ended, “not for a moment,” and reiterates that it is a long process.

Indeed, he says, Israel’s struggle against terrorism “has been going on for years.”

He stresses that Hamas is part of the wider network of Islamist terror groups that also includes Hezbollah, Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad.

‘Op hit Hamas with the strongest blow they’ve ever received’

Netanyahu says that Israel has struck a significant blow to Hamas’s military infrastructure, and has thwarted all of its efforts to attack Israel, from the air, the sea, and the ground.

He says this is the strongest blow to Hamas since its inception.

Israel has thwarted its rockets. “We killed hundreds of terrorists, we dismantled its offensive tunnels, we thwarted all its efforts to attack us,” he says.

He says that if Hamas seeks a war of attrition against Israel, its attempts at attrition will be met with “a pounding,” against targets including “its commanders” — a possible reference to Mohammad Deif.

“If they fire, they’ll be hit back seven times as hard,” he says. “And if Hamas doesn’t understand this today, it will tomorrow. And if it doesn’t understand it tomorrow, it will the day after.”

In the Middle East, one needs patience as well as strength, he says.

PM does not address Deif assassination

In his prepared remarks, the prime minister does not address the hit on Muhammad Deif.

He does, however say that there are very “dramatic” regional changes afoot, and says he aims to achieve a “new political horizon for the state of Israel.”

Defense minister — We hit targets, struck leaders

Defense Minister Ya’alon echoes the prime minister, and stresses the extent of the damage Hamas has incurred.

He says the operation will continue until the quiet is restored, but urges patience.

The defense minister says: “We attacked more than 100 targets in the past day, we hit Hamas senior [officials],” in an apparent reference to the strike on Deif’s house.

“Hamas is responsible for every civilian who is harmed in Gaza,” Ya’alon says, “and for every building that is brought down.”

Ya’alon also says “all options are open… including a renewed ground operation.”

Hamas leaders are ‘legitimate target’ — PM

In response to a question about the strike on Mohammad Deif’s home, Netanyahu says: “The commanders of terror organizations are a legitimate target, of the highest priority… No one is immune.”

He refuses to elaborate.

Asked about the military long-term goals, Netanyahu says: “Who says we gave up on the option of toppling Hamas?”

He says there are lots of options and lots of considerations. When considering how to handle Gaza, he says, one has to consider “who would take control of the territory?”

He says he doesn’t know if the goal of long-term calm can be reached via a diplomatic arrangement. “I don’t recommend giving up on that option” of a more dramatic military offensive against Hamas.

PM tells talkative ministers to ‘speak less’

Netanyahu now takes aim at unnamed cabinet ministers with their public criticisms and “empty slogans.”

He tells them to do what he said he did in the past, as opposition leader or cabinet minister, which is: give backing to the government. “Give support and speak less,” he urges.

Ya’alon weighs in on the same issue, slamming unacceptable public criticism “while we are burying our dead.”

The PM says ministers have had every opportunity to speak at 27 cabinet meetings since the start of the operation, but should not broadcast criticism in public.

Netanyahu says that most of the Arab world is opposed to Hamas, and that it is far most isolated than it seems.

“Who supports Hamas? Qatar, Turkey, Iran. Who else? Qatar, Turkey, Iran,” he repeats. “The Arab world is against it.”

Asked about his talk of a new “political horizon,” Netanyahu says the Hamas threat underlines his insistence on a demilitarized West Bank — something he says he has stressed to the US. Otherwise, he says, “who is going to prevent them manufacturing rockets in Nablus?”

He says Islamic State is only half as strong as Hamas, but “look at what it can do” in terms of terrorism. “This was not understood” previously.

Two things have changed, he says: “It is much easier for us to explain our security considerations.” And there is “change in the regional constellation that may create new possibilities.”

Netanyahu denies US-Israel ties chilly

The prime minister says diplomatic relations with the US are strong, despite reports to the contrary. Asked if there’s a crisis, he replies: “No, truly not.”

He says he had a very good conversation with Secretary of State John Kerry today, and has spoken with Kerry yesterday and the day before, and with Obama four times during the conflict..

Netanyahu praises the Obama administration for its support, which he says is better than the backing received from a different US administration during the 2002 Defensive Shield campaign. The prime minister thanks the US for its funding of the Iron Dome.

The US backs Israel’s demand for a demilitarized Gaza, he says.

Our ties with the US are strengthened by the regional developments, including the present conflict with ISIS in Iraq, he says.

On Abbas’s future role, he says, “I look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror” and to the recognition of previous agreements — presumably not a joint Fatah-Hamas government, that is.

Twittersphere reacts to Netanyahu presser

The tweeting nabobs of Twitter are abuzz with takeaways from Netanyahu’s speech and all-too-rare question and answer session, though everyone and their mother seems to have a different opinion of its significance and how Netanyahu did.

Channels shift coverage amid lull

Aside from a couple of stray rockets right before and during Netanyahu’s speech, the skies have been quiet for the last hour and a half.

Using the apparent break in rocket attacks, Israel’s Channel 2, which has been offering near non-stop coverage of the conflict, switches to the always exciting “Big Brother,” while Channel 10 runs an investigate report about unionized dockworkers.

Hamas official in Turkey claims responsibility for killing of 3 teens

Israel’s Channel 2 broadcasts footage of what it says is Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri taking credit for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June.

The recording, apparently made at a conference in Turkey, represents the strongest link yet between the attack and Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades armed wing.

“I praise the brave action that the al-Qassam Brigades carried out, the kidnapping of the three settlers to Hebron,” he says, adding that some say it was done on behalf of Palestinian inmates hunger striking in Israeli prisons.

Israel quickly accused Hamas of involvement fgollowing the abduction of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach, but the terror group has denied it.

Rocket explodes near Ashdod; sirens didn’t sound

A missile lands in an open area near Ashdod, causing no injuries or damage.

The Code Red sirens were not triggered by the incoming rocket.

Airlines ignore Hamas threats

Despite Hamas’s warning, foreign and Israeli airlines will not alter or suspend their flight routes from Ben Gurion airport tomorrow, Haaretz reports.

At most, the carriers are expected to ground their flights for up to an hour should rocket fire be directed at the airport.

PM is more preoccupied with cabinet than citizens — Herzog

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) strongly criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, arguing the latter “is more preoccupied with the shaky relationship with his cabinet, than with providing solutions for the Israeli public.”

Herzog’s comments come shortly after the prime minister publicly reprimands his ministers during a press conference, saying he expected them to “behave responsibly.”

Israel Labor party Leader Isaac Herzog speaks during a Labor party meeting in the Israeli parliament on July 28, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Israel Labor party Leader Isaac Herzog speaks during a Labor party meeting in the Israeli parliament on July 28, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

“In the cabinet, everything can be discussed, and I certainly permit raising any issue,” Netanyahu says.

“But outside — you have to provide support and talk less.”

In response, Herzog says: “The public received a bleak picture of a government which is incapable of acting with a joint responsibility, even during wartime and this [constitutes] strategic damage to the security of the state of Israel.”

The opposition leader says there is “no hope for a deal” in the prime minister’s words, and “nothing new.”

“This is the same government which failed in its talks with the PA,” he says, and calls for an internationally-backed diplomatic resolution that would “choke Hamas and its supporters.”

Pro-Palestinians rally in Paris

Leftist and pro-Palestinian activists rally in Paris to urge Israel to end its airstrikes in Gaza, after talks toward a lasting truce collapse after Hamas renewed rocket fire at southern Israel.

About 300 protesters gather Wednesday near Napoleon’s tomb in central Paris, waving Palestinian flags, photos of people killed in airstrikes. Some banners read “No to the massacre in Gaza.”

Police watch carefully and the protest winds down peacefully, unlike several demonstrations last month in France that unleashed the worst tensions between France’s Muslim and Jewish communities in years. France has more Muslim and Jewish citizens than any other country in western Europe.

France’s government has urged a truce. It called on the Israeli military to use restraint and expressed concern about Palestinian civilian casualties, but says Israel has a right to its security.

AP

Rocket lands in open area in Eshkol Regional Council; no damage reported

IDF says it hit rocket launching terrorist

The army says in a statement that it struck a terrorist in the north of the Gaza Strip responsible for rocket fire on Israel earlier in the evening.

The IDF says it confirmed a hit.

Rocket sirens sound in Sderot, Ashdod and Gaza periphery

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashdod

The Iron Dome intercepts a rocket launched from Gaza over the skies of Ashdod. A second missile is reported to have landed in an open area in Sderot.

Rocket lands near a community in Eshkol Regional Council; no damage reported

Rocket barrage from Gaza continues

Sirens sounding in Sderot, Keren Shalom, Ashdod and Ashkelon area.

Two Palestinians reported killed in northern Gaza Strip

Two Palestinian men, ages 21 and 35, have been killed as a result of recent IAF airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reports.

According to Palestinian sources in the strip, another 33 people were injured. Since hostilities resumed yesterday more than 20 Palestinians have been killed and more than 120 injured, according to Gazan medical sources cited in the report.

More sirens in Gaza periphery; rocket intercepted over Ashdod

The Iron Dome intercepts another rocket over Ashdod as rocket fire from Gaza continues.

Additional rockets are reported to have landed in an open area in Sderot and next to Ashdod.

Sirens sounding in Ashdod, Sderot and Sha’ar Hanegev.

Israeli ship unloads cargo in California despite protests

Officials say an Israeli-owned commercial ship has unloaded its cargo at a port in California after being delayed for days by a group of pro-Palestinian protesters.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said about 30 workers unloaded cargo from the Piraeus at the Port of Oakland starting Tuesday night despite the presence of a small number of protesters.

According to Sargent, workers had refused to unload the ship after it arrived on Saturday because of safety concerns raised by the presence of protesters and police.

The protesters were demonstrating in response to recent Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip.

– AP