As day broke on Monday, the 14th day of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas gunmen infiltrated Israel, killing four soldiers and injuring several more before being pushed back. Overnight, three other soldiers were killed in battles, bringing the army’s death toll in the ground operation to 25. A day after a deadly battle in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya that left 13 soldiers and some 70 Palestinian dead, according to Gazan health officials, ceasefire efforts in Qatar and Egypt ramped up, with visits by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon to the region planned to push for a stop in fighting.

The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded. (Tuesday’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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Kerry heads in, as Israel names its dead

Today, Monday, marks the 14th day of Operation Protective Edge.

It begins with news that Secretary of State John Kerry is heading this way on a ceasefire mission, and with the IDF firmly denying Hamas claims to have kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday, in heavy fighting that is still ongoing in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold close enough to the border to be the source of numerous Hamas tunnels, the Israeli army says, and the source of some 150 rockets fired at Israel these past two weeks. Palestinian officials say 60 Palestinians have died in the fighting there.

Earlier Sunday, the IDF confirmed the deaths of two other soldiers on Saturday, bringing the toll of the IDF dead to 18. Sending condolences to the families, Netanyahu said all of Israel felt their pain, and that they died in the “most just cause of all,” defending their very home.

We’ll keep you updated as Israel’s battle with Hamas continues through the day.

Sirens heard in southern Israel

Rocket sirens are heard in southern Israel, in the Sha’ar Henegev region.

There are no reports of rocket impacts as of yet.

More on that Kerry trip

The White House said Kerry will seek “an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” and stressed the need to protect civilian life both “in Gaza and in Israel.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting with John Kerry in Jerusalem on Monday, March 31, 2014. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/Flash90)

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting with John Kerry in Jerusalem on Monday, March 31, 2014. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/Flash90)

Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya’ari said shortly after the announcement of Kerry’s impending return to the Middle East that, as far as Israel is concerned, the secretary of state’s ceasefire trip is premature “and bad for Israel,” and that he should have left it to the Egyptians to lead the ceasefire effort. Ya’ari said many people, “including senior American officials,” tried to convey this to Kerry.

This marks the continuing trend of the Obama Administration “to give credit” to the Muslim Brotherhood, in this case Hamas, Ya’ari said, except that now it’s graver, because “we’re in a war.”

Read the full story here.

Several small riots reported in East Jerusalem

Riots are reported in several locations in East Jerusalem. Though not officially confirmed, the riots are likely a response to Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

Several dozen demonstrators are said to hurl rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, with some burning tires as well.

Police disperse the rioters using crowd-control weapons.

UN chief said to push new ceasefire initiative

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is spearheading a new ceasefire bid along with the European Union, Arab sources report, based on the Egyptian truce proposal which was refused last week by Hamas.

The new initiative will reportedly include guarantees for the opening of the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in the future in cooperation with Palestinian Authority security forces, as well as a significant easing of restrictions on the transfer of goods from Israel to Gaza.

Ban met on Sunday with PA President Mahmoud Abbas as well as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Tomorrow he will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ban is expected in Israel on Tuesday.

–Avi Issacharoff

4 rockets fired at Israel, 2 intercepted

Four rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since midnight.

Two explode in open areas in southern Israel (one near Sderot, one west of Beersheba) while the Iron Dome defense system intercepts two rockets north of Beersheba.

UN Security Council to meet on Gaza in coming hours

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting in the coming hours on the situation in Gaza, where Gaza officials say the Palestinian death toll passed 100 in a single day.

Diplomats say the meeting was requested by council member Jordan, following a call by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas said earlier that “what the occupation forces did today in Shejaiya is a crime against humanity,” referring to an hours-long Israeli assault near Gaza City that Gaza sources say has claimed 62 Palestinian lives and wounded another 250.

“Those who committed it will not go unpunished,” Abbas added.

The Israeli army says 13 soldiers were killed in Gaza fighting on Sunday.

–AFP

Bodies of 11 more Palestinians killed in Shejaiya are found

Gaza emergency services find the bodies of 11 Palestinians killed in Shejaiya between Gaza City and the Israeli border, spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says.

The latest fatalities raise the toll of the Palestinians killed Sunday in Shejaiya to 73, hiking the overall toll of Gazans killed since the start of the Israeli military campaign on July 8 to 449. The numbers are based on reports by Palestinian officials in Gaza.

–AFP

UN chief calls Israeli actions in Shejaiya ‘atrocious’

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel to “exercise maximum restraint” and spare civilian lives in its campaign in Gaza, where the reported Palestinian death toll on Sunday alone passed 100.

He also condemns the “atrocious action” of Israel in Shejaiya, near Gaza City, where a blistering assault that started at dawn killed 62 people and wounded at least 250.

The United Nations chief makes his remarks in Doha, Qatar at the start of a regional trip aimed at pushing for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children had been killed in Israeli military strikes in Shejaiya. I condemn this atrocious action,” he tells a news conference.

“Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians,” he says, adding that it also “must respect the humanitarian law” as it presses ahead with a deadly offensive that began on July 8.

“Too many innocent people are dying…(and) living in constant fear” in the narrow coastal strip controlled by Hamas, he says.

“Gaza is an open wound. We must stop the bleeding now,” says Ban, adding that beyond a ceasefire the “root causes of the conflict” must be addressed.

–AFP

 

UN Security Council now meeting on Gaza

The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting at this time on the worsening situation in Gaza.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud tweets that the meeting is being held at the request of council member Jordan.

A Jordan-drafted resolution obtained by The Associated Press expresses “grave concern” at the high number of civilians killed in Gaza, including children, and it calls for an immediate cease-fire, “including the withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces from the Gaza Strip.”

–Associated Press

Gaza officials say death toll now at 469

Emergency services in the Gaza Strip announce the deaths of another 20 Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on Sunday.

The latest fatalities raise the Palestinian-reported toll of people killed since the start of a major Israeli military campaign in Gaza on July 8 to 469.

–AFP

Hundreds of Israel supporters rally in Times Square

Hundreds of Israel supporters rally in New York City’s Times Square on Sunday, chanting in support of Israel’s right to self-defense.

Participants tell CBS News the rally is not only intended as a show of solidarity with Israel but as a call for peace in the region.

Israeli supporters rally in Times Square on July 20, 2014 in New York City (Photo credit: Yana Paskova/Getty Images/AFP)

Israeli supporters rally in Times Square on July 20, 2014 in New York City (Photo credit: Yana Paskova/Getty Images/AFP)

14 rockets launched at Israel since midnight

At least 14 rockets are launched at Israel from Gaza on Monday between midnight and 5 a.m., Ynet reports.

Most of the rockets hit open fields in southern Israel. At least two are intercepted by Iron Dome near Beersheba.

Palestinians to seek ‘justice’ against Israel — UN envoy

The Palestinian Authority’s representative to the UN says Palestinians will take Israel to task over its actions in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya on Sunday, in which over 70 Palestinians were said to have been killed, many of them civilians. 13 Israeli soldiers were also killed in the fighting.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of justice,” Ynet quoted Riyad Mansour as saying in a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Asked if the PA was considering appealing to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Mansour said that option was under consideration.

Mansour added that the only way to ensure a lasting peace in Gaza was to remove the siege on the coastal territory and eliminate restrictions on its residents.

IDF rocket figures show drop in launches on Sunday

The IDF says 87 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza on Sunday, the lowest number of rocket attacks in a day since fighting began two weeks ago.

Rocket numbers have generally revolved around 130 missiles per day for most of the duration of the operation.

 

Israel’s UN ambassador says no soldier kidnapped

Israel’s UN ambassador denies that an Israeli soldier has been abducted by Hamas operatives.

“Those rumors are untrue,” says Ambassador Ron Prosor when asked about the kidnapping.

The armed wing of Hamas claimed late Sunday that it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City.

The IDF later denied that a kidnapping had occured, though rumors persisted.

–AFP

Jewish community mourns death of Texas soldier

The Jewish community of South Padre Island, Texas, is mourning the death of IDF Sgt. Sean Carmeli who was killed on Sunday in the Gaza Strip.

Carmeli was born in Texas to Israeli expats and lived there for much of his life.

“Sean was a gentle kind boy,” says local Chabad Rabbi Asher Hecht, adding that he “was a sweet and kind example to everyone else.”

Hecht says Sean was exempt from going to the front in Gaza due to a foot wound, but insisted on joining his comrades in combat.

UN Security Council calls for Gaza ceasefire

UN Security Council concerned over growing Gaza casualties

The UN Security Council expresses concern for the growing number of casualties in Gaza and issues a fresh appeal for an immediate ceasefire.

“The members of the Security Council express serious concern about the growing numbers of casualties,” says Rwandan Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana, whose country chairs the 15-member council.

“The members of the Security Council call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

–AFP

Southern highway closed due to security incident

The Gvaram highway south of Ashkelon is closed, and shots are heard nearby. Unconfirmed reports say that Palestinians have infiltrated from Gaza and are involved in a shootout with Israeli soldiers.

Gaza death toll said to top 500

A family of nine Palestinians, including seven children, were killed overnight by an Israeli airstrike on their home in Gaza, says emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.

Gaza medics say the bodies of 16 Palestinians killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house in the south of the Gaza Strip are also found Monday, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 501.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says they were killed in a strike on Sunday in southern Khan Yunis.

AFP

Slain soldiers’ families hear the news on Whatsapp

Hours before the IDF notified the families of the 13 soldiers killed in Gaza early Sunday that their relatives had been slain, rumors of the killings spread on the Whatsapp messaging app, which is how two of the bereaved families first heard of their loved one’s deaths.

A relative of one of the victims tells Ynet that the victim’s brother, also an IDF soldier, was stationed outside Gaza when numerous people confronted him with the rumor that his brother had been killed. Only later did the army inform him officially and send him home, the report says.

“The circulation of these rumors is cruel, outrageous, and there must be an investigation into who’s spreading it,” he says.

Similarly, a second family received the news from WhatsApp, and was only formally notified hours later. One of the soldier’s best friends heard the tragic news via a text message as well, Channel 2 reports.

In other cases, the names of the soldiers circulated on WhatsApp turned out to be false, causing needless worry to various families.

One IDF soldier was said to be killed in Gaza, and his family plunged into mourning before learning that he was still alive, although he had been hospitalized in serious condition.

In other cases, Channel 2 reports, friends showed up at the doorstep of the parents of a Golani soldier, announcing that their son had been killed and comforting them ahead of receiving the dreaded IDF call, but the call never came, as the rumors turned out to be unsubstantiated.

Southern Israelis told to stay indoors

Residents of the Shaar HaNegev, Sdot Negev, and Eshkol regions are told by police to remain in their homes, in light of a reported infiltration from Gaza.

6 soldiers hurt overnight in Gaza

Six IDF soldiers are wounded overnight and evacuated to the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

Two are in serious condition, one is moderately injured, and three are lightly wounded.

California native among slain Golani troops

Max Steinberg, 24, a lone soldier from California, was one of the 13 soldiers killed early Sunday, the army says, confirming earlier reports in American media.

IDF discovers tunnel in kibbutz dining hall

The IDF finds the opening of a tunnel, dug from the Gaza Strip, in the dining hall of the Kissufim kibbutz, near the border, leading to a wide-scale search in the area, Channel 2 reports.

The army destroys the tunnel entrance.

20 soldiers hurt overnight

Five wounded IDF soldiers are taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment overnight. Two are discharged hours later.

An additional five troops are lightly hurt and sent to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Four others, also lightly wounded, are brought to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.

As reported earlier, six soldiers are evacuated to the Sheba Medical Center for treatment overnight.

Rocket hits house in Shaar HaNegev

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip strikes a house in the Shaar HaNegev regional council, causing damage.

There are no immediate reports of injuries.

Several other missiles land in open areas.

Canada reiterates support for Gaza op

As international pressure on Israel mounts to end Operation Protective Edge, Canada reiterates its full backing for the campaign.

“Canada condemns in the strongest terms Hamas’s shameful decision to continue its cowardly and indiscriminate violence that has today cost the lives of 13 soldiers. Yet another breach of a ceasefire by Hamas in Shejaiya confirms that it has no interest in peace,” Foreign Minister John Baird says in a statement.

“Hamas’s continued aggression, combined with cowardly tactics that endanger civilians, has resulted in the tragic deaths of approximately another 87 Palestinians. Innocent civilians living in Gaza deserve far better than the reckless actions of this terrorist organization.”

Ottawa continues to believe that Egypt is the best-placed country in the region to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Baird says.

Raphael Ahren

IDF kills at least 10 Gaza infiltrators

A preliminary IDF report says that in separate incidents, “two terror squads were detected infiltrating through two tunnels from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel.”

The Israel Air Force targeted one, and “a hit was confirmed,” it says.

“Soldiers who were called to the scene engaged and killed 10 terrorists from the other squad,” it says.

The IDF is combing the area.

Injured troops want op to ‘go all the way’

Members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee knew how difficult the sort of fighting Israeli troops would encounter in Gaza was, and therefore were not surprised to learn that 13 soldiers were killed Sunday in the Shejaiya neighborhood, MK Ze’ev Elkin says.

“This is war of no-choice to save Israeli lives,” he says at a meeting of the committee, which he heads. “It is possible that we will be required to continue paying high prices, but this is a war for our home.”

Elkin visited injured soldiers in the hospital yesterday and says they all asked to pass on the message that they wish that Operation Protective Edge not be concluded “without going all the way,” he says.

Raphael Ahren

No plan to reoccupy Gaza, IDF says

IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz stresses that the purpose of the operation in Gaza is to destroy the Hamas tunnels that are being used to launch attack on Israelis, and that reoccupation of the Strip is not on the table, Ynet reports.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has called for the re-occupation of Gaza in order to oust Hamas from power there.

More troops could be called up, Ya’alon says

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon meets with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday morning.

He says that since Iron Dome has “almost entirely neutralized” the threat of rockets, the “main effort” is currently focused on finding and demolishing tunnels.

He adds that a total of 2,700 targets have already been struck and that “if the need arises we will draft more combat forces from the reserves until we are able to bring quiet from the Gaza Strip.”

Mitch Ginsburg

French online forums overflow with hate comments

Operation Protective Edge has let loose an unprecedented wave of hate on media websites and social networks in France that moderators say they are struggling to contain.

As soon as you talk about Israel, it crystallizes all passions, with up to 20,000 or 30,000 comments sometimes after an article, of which we will only let five to 10 percent through,” says David Corchia, head of Concileo, a firm of moderators that counts the dailies Le Figaro and Liberation as clients.

Helped by software that automatically reports suspect keywords, online moderators can filter comments in accordance with special legal requirements in France as well as client requests. Those laws ban racist, anti-Semitic or discriminatory messages among others, as well as calls for violence.

The moderators have little time to decide whether to let a remark through, and generally block 25 to 40 percent of comments.

But on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the rejection rate can reach 95 percent.

“There are three times as many comments than normal, all linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” says Jeremie Mani, head of Netino, which looks after the websites of the Le Monde daily, Europe 1 radio and major French television channels.

Netino’s 250 moderators, most of them based in Madagascar, deal with tens of millions of comments every month.

“We see racist or anti-Semitic messages, very violent, that also take aim at politicians and the media, sometimes by giving journalists’ contact details,” Mani said.

“This sickening content is peculiar to this conflict. The war in Syria does not trigger these kinds of comments.

“On the pro-Palestinian side, identical messages are posted on dozens of sites. On the pro-Israeli side, there are fewer messages but they are better organised,” he says.

“But it’s a dialogue of the deaf. Neutral netizens… are really annoyed to see their space for dialogue monopolized by this issue.”

The vitriolic messages about the conflict come up not only after content about the conflict itself — but can be found under any subject.

“On an article about the Tour de France, after four comments it’s about Gaza,” says Mani.

“On one story about salmon fishing, I saw a comment saying: ‘Stop talking about this, the problem is there are too many Jews’.

AFP

IDF casualties in thwarted tunnel attack

There are reports of Israeli casualties in shootouts this morning with infiltrators from Gaza.

Channel 2 reports that Palestinian gunmen emerged from one tunnel and fired at an Israeli armored personnel carrier, inflicting casualties.

At least 10 operatives were killed in the ensuing firefight and in another incident involving a second tunnel.

The army has announced that the incidents are over.

Sirens sound in Sderot, Gaza border region

Security warning lifted for southern residents

Following the foiled attack from Gaza, the police say southern residents may now leave their homes.

92 soldiers hospitalized since ground op began

Since the ground offensive was launched on Thursday, 92 IDF soldiers have been hospitalized in medical centers throughout the country, Channel 2 reports.

Rocket falls outside Sderot house, sparks fire

A missile lands close to a residence in the southern city of Sderot in the latest barrage, starting a fire.

Police and the fire department are at the scene.

There are no immediate reports of injuries.

Kibbutz Nir Am residents still on lockdown

Residents of Kibbutz Nir Am are still in lockdown.

“We’re still in our homes,” Nir Am resident Ofer Liberman tells Army Radio.

“We’re very lucky that the tunnels are being exposed now, when there are lots of IDF soldiers in the area.”

More details on the tunnel infiltrations

A clearer picture of the infiltration attempts emerges.

In open ground near Erez five terrorists come out of a tunnel shortly after six in the morning. They surface near the security fence and only a few hundred yards from the nearest community. An IAF aircraft intercepts them, killing all five, with no Israelis wounded.

“My understanding is that the Shin Bet provided an alert,” says Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. The gunmen were then spotted by surveillance soldiers and aircraft were quickly summoned to the area, he says.

Near Kibbutz Nir Am, a second group of terrorists surface on the Israeli side of the border.

It is not clear if they emerge from a different tunnel or a branch of the one that served the other squad, nor is the number of gunmen confirmed. The sizable squad is able to surprise a passing army jeep, ambushing it with an anti-tank missile and inflicting Israeli casualties. But with the help of Nahal troops the force is able to kill the operatives and thwart an infiltration to civilian areas or an abduction attempt.

Mitch Ginsburg

IDF reportedly attacks Sudan warehouse

The London-based Al-Arab newspaper reports Israel has struck a warehouse in Sudan that held rockets on behalf of Hamas.

Sudan has not revealed information about the strike for fear of exposing its ties to the Gazan terror organization, sources in Khartoum say.

Identity of slain Golani soldier published

Moshe Malko, 20, is one of the 13 Golani Brigade soldiers killed early Sunday, the army says.

The Jerusalem resident is survived by eight siblings, and is promoted posthumously to Staff Sergeant.

He is to be laid to rest at 4 p.m. at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in the capital.

IDF kills 10 terrorists in Gaza

In intense fighting on Sunday night and Monday morning in the Hamas stronghold of Shajaiya, a neighborhood of Gaza City, forces from the Egoz unit engage and kill 10 Hamas operatives, including one who detonates a suicide vest.

There are conflicting reports about the sex of the suicide bomber.

In depicting the intensity of the battles in Shajaiya, where dozens of Palestinians were killed along with 13 soldiers on Sunday, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says that the combat is “reminiscent of Black Hawk Down,” the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

Mitch Ginsburg

French minister slams ‘anti-Semitic’ Gaza protests

France’s interior minister slams “intolerable” acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence, pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses.

“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,” Bernard Cazeneuve tells reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.

Protesters clash with riot police in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, during a demonstration to denounce Israel's military campaign in Gaza and show their support for the Palestinian people. (photo credit: AFP/Omar Bouyacoub)

Protesters clash with riot police in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, during a demonstration to denounce Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and show their support for the Palestinian people. (photo credit: AFP/Omar Bouyacoub)

In the Paris suburb sometimes nicknamed “little Jerusalem” for its large community of Sephardic Jews, the rally on Sunday descended into chaos when dozens of youth — some masked — set fire to bins and lit firecrackers and smoke bombs.

Eighteen people were arrested after looters wrecked shops, including a kosher foodstore and a funeral home as protesters shouted: “Fuck Israel!”

“We have never seen such an outpouring of hatred and violence in Sarcelles,” says the mayor Francois Pupponi. “This morning people are stunned, and the Jewish community is afraid.”

AFP

Watch: IDF thwarts tunnel attack

The IDF releases footage of one of two attempted infiltrations earlier today that were successfully foiled by Israeli forces.

Fighting resumes in Shejaiya

The Israel Air Force and Golani unit strike targets in Shejaiya, as heavy combat continues, the Walla news website reports.

Gaza death toll hits 509, Palestinian sources say

The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports that some 509 Gazans have been killed during Operation Protective Edge, and 3,050 injured.

The most recent victims were killed in Zeitoun and Beit Hanoun, it reports.

Sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Yavne

Sirens in Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Shfela region

Sirens in Beit Shemesh, Lod

Iron Dome downs 4 rockets over Tel Aviv, Ashdod

The Iron Dome intercepts two missiles over Tel Aviv, and two over Ashdod.

Israeli Arabs go on strike against Gaza op

The Israeli-Arab community launches a nationwide strike and day of mourning, and a large-scale demonstration in Nazareth is scheduled for this afternoon at 4 p.m. against Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman calls on citizens to boycott those Israeli-Arab businesses participating in this general strike against the ongoing Israeli ground offensive.

Hezbollah backs Hamas’s ‘rightful demands’

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on the phone Sunday night, and reassures him that “Hezbollah and the Lebanese resistance will stand by the Palestinian people’s uprising and resistance in our heart, willpower, hope and destiny,” according to the Daily Star.

The Hezbollah leader backs the terror organization’s “rightful demands to end the current battle.”

Mashaal replies that Hamas “will remain steadfast and make a second victory in July, God willing,” in an apparent reference to the start of the 2006 Second Lebanon War fought by Hezbollah against Israel.

Sirens in Ashdod, Hof Ashkelon region

Destruction of tunnels exceeds expectations — PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the Israel Defense Forces “advance in the field as planned” and that Operation Protective Edge is going to continue and be expanded until its objective is met: restoring quiet to Israeli citizens for a long time.

“The achievements in the fighting on the ground are significant,” Netanyahu says during security consultations in the south attended by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Southern Command head Sami Turgeman.

“I’m impressed with the activity to destroy tunnels, they achieve results beyond what we anticipated,” the prime minister says. Not commenting directly on the reported casualties IDF troops incurred this morning, he merely says a military campaign is “a complex thing” that includes painful moments.

“I am sure that together, with joined forces, we will reach the goal.”

Raphael Ahren

101 Israeli soldiers hospitalized

101 IDF soldiers are currently hospitalized for injuries sustained during Operation Protective Edge, Channel 2 reports.

Lapid okays NIS 30m. for Ashkelon hospital

In a visit to Ashkelon’s Barzilai hospital, Finance Minister Yair Lapid announces he will transfer NIS 30 million ($8.7 million) to the medical center immediately to fortify the hospital walls.

He also pledges to compensate southern residents, saying “We will not forsake the residents of the south.”

Health Minister Yael German accompanies Lapid on the tour.

Iron Dome intercepts 3 rockets over Hof Ashkelon

Sirens in Ashkelon

Peres consoles families of slain troops

President Shimon Peres meets with bereaved families of the slain IDF soldiers in their homes.

In the Greenberg household, the president turns to the young son the late Amotz Greenberg, 45, and praises his eulogy for his father.

“I saw and heard you yesterday at your father’s funeral,” he tells 12-year-old Uri. “From your throat, your father spoke — with the same enthusiasm, love, and dedication — these are the values that hold the state of Israel together. As a president I have the authority to speak on behalf of the nation and to tell you children that the entire nation salutes your father and thanks him for risking his life to save the people.”

President Shimon Peres at the home of slain IDF soldier Amotz Greenberg (photo credit: Courtesy)

President Shimon Peres at the home of slain IDF soldier Amotz Greenberg (photo credit: Courtesy)

Visiting the family of Bnaya Rubel, 20, of Holon, the slain soldier’s parents say: “Bnaya in the Bible was one of King David’s heroes. We wanted him to be a hero, but not this way.”

David Barak, the father of Eitan Barak, the first IDF casualty, describes his son as someone who “connected with everyone, loved everyone. He was modest and sensitive.”

“I’ve always wanted to meet you, Mr. President, but I never dreamed it would be in this situation,” he adds.

After battle, Hebrew papers show tunnel vision

A day after the fiercest fight of Operation Protective Edge, and perhaps of all of Israel’s battles with Gaza over the last decade — which left 13 Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade dead and dozens more wounded, not to mention the scores of Palestinians killed and injured — Israel’s three major dailies wear their true faces on their front pages in wondering where to go from here.

Looking at the three side by side reveals a microcosm of the rainbow of Israeli thought, from the right-wing Israel Hayom to the populist Yedioth Ahronoth to left-wing Haaretz.

Click here to read the full Hebrew media review.

Joshua Davidovich

Michael Oren speaks out against Kerry visit

Michael Oren, who until recently served as Israel’s ambassador to the US, says Kerry is coming to the region despite not being invited.

In outspoken comments to Channel 2, Oren cites Kerry’s “long history” of unsuccessful diplomacy in the region, the Obama administration’s tense relations with Egypt, and the “tension” in ties between the Obama administration and Israel.

He says Kerry and the Obama administration have close ties with Qatar and Turkey, “who are not on the best terms with Egypt right now.”

Oren stresses that Kerry, as evidenced by his on-camera slip yesterday, was “not invited” to come out here. He decided that that’s what he wanted to do.

Oren’s comments follow remarks yesterday by Channel 2′s veteran Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari, who said flatly that Kerry’s trip was “bad for Israel” and that the US should be leaving it to Egypt to handle ceasefire efforts.

Kuwait appeals to UN chief to end Israeli ‘aggression’

Kuwait calls on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday to urge the international community to put an end to the Israeli “aggression” in Gaza which has claimed over 500 lives in a determined bid to halt rocket fire from the Strip and attempted tunnel infiltrations into Israel’s south.

The call comes in a meeting between Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah and Ban, who arrives in Kuwait in the second leg of a regional tour aimed at pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The UN chief is separately received by Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the official KUNA news agency reports.

The foreign minister “renewed Kuwait’s support for the Palestinian people and condemned all Israeli acts of aggression,” KUNA says following the meeting.

“He called on the UN Secretary General to urge the international community to shoulder responsibility to put an end to this dangerous aggression,” it says.

The foreign minister also reiterates Kuwait’s support for the Egyptian truce proposal, which was rejected by Hamas for failing to meet its conditions.

AFP

3 slain IDF soldiers laid to rest

Thousands flock to the Haifa cemetery for the funeral of Capt. Tzvika Kaplan, 28, who leaves behind a wife and two small boys.

“My Tzvika, you were a man of truth, humility, and faith,” his wife, Adi eulogizes, according to the Walla news site.

Capt. Tsvi Kaplan, 28, of Kibbutz Meirav, a Golani officer killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Capt. Tsvi Kaplan, 28, of Kibbutz Meirav, a Golani officer killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

“The angels are waiting for you with open arms. Rest in peace, quietly and calmly, and we’ll be okay.”

Earlier, Maj. Tsafrir Baror of Holon was buried in his hometown. Baror leaves behind a wife, 8 months pregnant, and a year-old daughter.

Maj. Tsafrir Baror, 32, of Holon, a Golani officer killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Maj. Tsafrir Baror, 32, of Holon, a Golani officer killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

His childhood friend Moshe Maman says: “Tzif, you are my hero, our hero. You are Israel’s hero.”

In the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv, Sgt. Gilad Yacoby, 21, of Kiryat Ono is buried earlier this morning.

Sgt. Gilad Yacoby, 21, of Kiryat Ono, a Golani soldier killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Sgt. Gilad Yacoby, 21, of Kiryat Ono, a Golani soldier killed in the Gaza Strip on July 20 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

He was described by his family as a sports and music lover who was highly motivated to serve in the IDF. He leaves behind his parents and two sisters.

Livni says conflict could renew peace process

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says the fighting in Gaza “might create the circumstances” for a renewal of the peace process.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt are on the same side, she says, and things might change in Gaza.

“But it won’t happen tomorrow morning,” Livni warns.

Tzipi Livni meets with PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in London, Thursday, June 12. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Tzipi Livni meets with PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in London, Thursday, June 12. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Old City shops shut by strike against Gaza op

Stores in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City are shuttered Monday afternoon as part of the Israeli-Arab community’s nationwide strike and day of mourning against Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

A large-scale demonstration in Nazareth is scheduled for this afternoon at 4 p.m.

Shops in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City are shuttered as part of a general strike protesting Operation Protective Edge in Gaza (photo credit: Sarah Tuttle-Singer/Times of Israel)

Shops in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City are shuttered as part of a general strike protesting Operation Protective Edge in Gaza (photo credit: Sarah Tuttle-Singer/Times of Israel)

More bodies found in Gaza rubble, Hamas says

The death toll in Gaza rises to 509 on Monday following the bloodiest day in six years in the Palestinian enclave where Israel is pressing its military operation against Hamas rocket fire and attack tunnels.

According to figures released by Hamas emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, some 15 people are killed in several strikes across Gaza on Monday and 45 bodies are pulled from the rubble in areas hit by heavy fighting a day earlier.

Separately, the Israeli army says it killed more than 10 attackers who infiltrated southern Israel through two cross-border tunnels.

Fighters killed inside Israel are not included in Qudra’s Gaza toll.

Among those killed on Monday are a family of nine who died in an Israeli strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah, he says. Seven of the victims are children.

Images of destruction have come out the Shejaiya neighborhood after heavy fighting there (Screen capture: Reuters)

Images of destruction have come out the Shejaiya neighborhood after heavy fighting there (Screen capture: Reuters)

Four more people are killed in various strikes to the south and east of Gaza City, while another dies in the northern town of Beit Hanun. There is also one other casualty in Rafah, he says.

Of the 45 bodies recovered on Monday, 11 are from Shejaiya, hiking the death toll from a blistering Sunday attack to 72 dead, he says.

Qudra has said 80 percent of the victims in Shejaiya were women, children and elderly people, with around 400 people wounded. Israel urged Shejaiya residents to evacuate the area prior to its strike, but most ignored the warning.

Another 23 of the bodies are pulled from a three-story house belonging to the Abu Jamaa family in the southern city of Khan Yunis which was hit on Sunday, raising the overall death toll from a single strike to 28, Qudra says.

In a separate development, the Israeli army says it had killed “more than 10″ militants early Monday who had infiltrated southern Israel through two cross-border tunnels.

So far, Palestinian figures show 509 Gazans have been killed and more than 3,150 wounded since the start of the Israeli campaign to stamp out cross-border rocket fire on July 8.

On the Israeli side, 20 people have died, including two civilians killed by rocket fire and 18 soldiers who were killed since the start of a ground operation late on July 17.

Army figures say 53 soldiers were injured on Sunday alone, five of them severely and 13 moderately, while military radio put the overall injury toll at more than 90 soldiers since the ground assault began.

Since the start of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in response to rocket fire from Gaza, Palestinian militants have fired 1,465 mortars and rockets that hit Israel, with the Iron Dome air defense system intercepting another 387, the army said.

Approximately 40 struck Israel on Monday, one of them in the greater Tel Aviv area, while another 11 were shot down, the army said.

– AFP

UNHRC to hold emergency Gaza meeting

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Gaza, Reuters reports.

The decision is made in response to a request from Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and Pakistan.

Egypt makes the request on behalf of the Arab League, while Pakistan does so for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, plans to address the UN on the ongoing crisis in Syria. (photo credit: Wissam Nassar flash90)

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/ Flash90)

Soldier to be buried in Jerusalem

Moshe Malko, one of 13 Golani soldiers killed in fighting early Sunday, will be laid to rest at 4 at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery.

Malko, a 20-year-old Jerusalem resident, is survived by eight siblings.

He was promoted posthumously to staff sergeant.

Sgt. Oz Mendelovich, 21, will be buried at 6 p.m. in Misgav.  He was promoted posthumously to the rank of staff sergeant. 

Man who ran for shelter gets NIS 250 parking ticket

A Ramat Gan man tells Army Radio he got a 250 shekel parking ticket when left his car to dash for shelter during a rocket alarm.

“I was only gone for eight minutes,” he says. The city agreed to cancel the fine and instead issue him a warning.

Gazans say hospital hit by shells

A Gazan health official and a doctor report Israeli tank shells have struck a hospital in central Gaza. The health official says the shells killed at least four people and wounded 60, including 30 medical staff.

The Israeli military says it is looking into the report.

Health official Ashraf al-Qidra says 12 shells hit the Al Aqsa hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah. He says the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department.

Footage on Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV station shows wounded being moved on gurneys into the emergency department.

A doctor at the hospital, Fayez Zidane, tells the station that shells hit the third and fourth floor as well as the reception area.

“There is still shelling against the hospital,” he says. He says he found bits of a rocket, presumably from one of the projectiles.

– AP

20 Hamas gunmen killed exiting tunnels

The IDF has killed 20 Hamas gunmen emerging from the mouths of tunnels inside Gaza residential areas over the past two days, Channel 2 reports, citing military sources.

There have been five such incidents. In one case, 10 Hamas gunmen emerged from a tunnel opening inside a mosque. All were killed.

In all, the IDF has uncovered and destroyed 18 full-scale “attack tunnels,” and found another 45 tunnel openings.

The IDF has killed 160 Hamas gunmen since the ground operation began, the military sources say.

Tunnel opening discovered by IDF in Gaza,  July 20, 2014 (photo credit: IDF)

Tunnel opening discovered by IDF in Gaza, July 20, 2014 (photo credit: IDF)

Israeli media disputes hospital attack claim

Palestinians claim four people were killed when an Israel tank shell hits a hospital. Israel’s Channel 2, reviewing footage from the hospital, says it sees no signs of damage.

We’re proud of the army, Netanyahu says

During a visit to southern Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz address the cameras about the current situation in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu: We are prepared to do whatever is necessary in Gaza, and more, to protect the people of Israel. “We are proud of the army,” he says, and of the motivation of those who have taken the place of soldiers who have fallen.

Ya’alon: To our sorrow, soldiers and commanders have fallen…. We’ll continue to work in the coming days to counter this [Hamas] threat.

Gantz: The Southern Command and the rest of the army are making progress hour by hour. There are sometimes casualties. Every colleague of those who fell wants us to carry on.

As op hits 2-week mark: 18 tunnels destroyed, over 1,930 rockets fired

The IDF says that over 82 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel on Monday, of which 14 were successfully intercepted by Iron Dome. Since the commencement of Operation Protective Edge, around 1,930 have been fired at Israel, and 387 intercepted.

The IDF says it’s struck around 2,800 terror targets in the Gaza Strip in the two-week-long operation against Hamas, destroyed 18 tunnels and found 45 others. Since ground troops entered the Gaza Strip Thursday night, the Israeli military has hit over 587 Hamas targets and killed 150 terror operatives, Channel 2 reports.

Eighteen Israeli soldiers have been killed and 92 are reported injured.

According to Hamas’s Health Ministry, Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip has left at least 509 dead and 3,150 injured. According to UNRWA, the United Nation’s refugee agency for Palestinians, at least 83,000 Gazans are taking refuge in the organization’s schools.

Female suicide bomber killed by troops

A special forces unit operating in the Gaza Strip engaged and killed a female suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt on Monday morning, the army says.

Rocket hits Ashkelon neighborhood

A rocket strikes a residential neighborhood in Ashkelon, causing damage to a house. Several Israelis are being treated for shock.

Multiple rockets are reported intercepted in the latest barrage.

Maccabi Haifa fans: Don’t let lone soldier be buried alone

A Maccabi Haifa fan page on Facebook calls on its followers to do “a big mitzva,” or good deed, and attend the funeral of fallen American-Israeli soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli in Haifa on Monday.

Carmeli, a Texas native who moved to Israel, was reportedly a fan of the team. He was among 13 Golani Brigade soldiers killed in combat on Sunday morning in the Gaza Strip.

“Sean Carmeli,” reads the post, “was a lone soldier and we don’t want his funeral to be empty.” The post informs Facebook users that Carmeli will be laid to rest at 11 p.m. at the military cemetery in Haifa’s Neve David neighborhood and invites people “to come give final honors to a hero who was killed so that we can live.

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

As of the time of this post, nearly 20,000 people had liked the Maccabi Haifa page’s comment and it had been shared over 7,000 times.

Roads closed in south for ‘security incident’

Police have closed roads near the Gaza Strip because of an unspecified “security incident.”

Routes 232 and 34, both of which run along Gaza, are closed for the length of the Strip.

Over the last several days, there have been a number of infiltration attempts by Gazan terrorists in the area, as well as several scares that turn out to be false alarms, with police closing roads in the area.

Arab Israelis in Nazareth protest Gaza op

Thousands of Arab Israelis in the northern city of Nazareth are protesting against Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

Several protesters reportedly hurl stones at police officers during the rally, while others attempt to block roads at the scene. Police respond with stun grenades and tear gas, according to Ynet.

Six demonstrators are arrested.

Obama voices ‘serious concerns’ about rising Gaza death toll

US President Barack Obama says Washington has “serious concerns” about the rising death toll among the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

We have serious concerns about rising number of Palestinian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives,” the president says, largely reiterating comments made to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone conversation a day before. “We need a ceasefire.”

“I’ve asked John [Kerry] to do everything he can to reach a cessation in hostilities. We don’t want to see any more civilians killed,” he says.

Also, French President Francois Hollande calls for urgent measures to stop the suffering in Gaza after a phone conversation with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

“Everything must be done to put an immediate end to the suffering of the civil population in Gaza,” a statement from Hollande’s office says.

– AFP contributed

Hamas won’t back down, Haniyeh says

Leader of Hamas in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh gives a fiery taped television address in which he calls on Palestinians not to yield in the face of Israel’s military campaign.

Haniyeh says Gaza will fight Israel with its blood and that the group will not back down from its demands for a ceasefire.

“The massacres committed against innocent Palestinians make us want our freedom more, and we will stand by our demands,” he says.

Security warning near Gaza is lifted

The security warning in communities near the Gaza Strip has been lifted and roads have been reopened to traffic, Channel 2 reports.

Sirens across central Israel

Warnings sound in central cities of Ashdod, Modiin, Rehovot, Nes Tziona, and Rishon Lezion.

Two interceptions are reported over the greater Tel Aviv area.

More sirens in central Israel, Tel Aviv area

Air-raid warnings sound in Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv suburbs Holon and Bat Yam.

There are no immediate reports of interceptions.

New ceasefire proposal floated in Cairo

Head of Palestinian intelligence Majed Faraj turns up unexpectedly in Cairo just after the end of a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha, Qatar.

According to the al-Mayadeen news station, Faraj brings with him to Cairo a draft for a ceasefire that is acceptable to Hamas. The deal is based on the proposal by UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon for a long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire along with guarantees for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

Ban’s proposal is also based on the Egyptian mediation for a ceasefire — which first calls for an end to the fighting and afterwards consideration of further steps. According to the agreement between Mashaal and senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian national unity government will be the one to guarantee the removal of the blockade on Gaza together with the US government.

According to reports from Reuters, Egypt agrees to make changes to its ceasefire proposal to meet demands from Hamas.

Among other things it is agreed that in the future the opening of the Rafah crossing is to be reviewed, the wages of officials will be transferred, and there will be an easing on the transfer of goods from Israel to the Gaza Strip. According to the plan, Abbas, Kerry, and Ban are to give a press conference tomorrow in Cairo and announce the ceasefire.

– Avi Issacharoff

Two rockets intercepted over central Israel

The Iron Dome missile defense system takes down two rockets headed toward the Greater Tel Aviv area moments ago. According to Ynet, the interception took place over the central city of Ramle.

Cameron defends Israel’s right to self-defense, urges restraint

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas missiles, but expresses “grave concern” over the “very disturbing” number of civilian casualties, calling on Israel to exercise restraint.

“This crisis was triggered by Hamas raining hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities, indiscriminately targeting civilians in contravention of all humanitarian law and norms,” Cameron says in the House of Commons. “This unprecedented barrage continues to this moment, with Hamas rejecting all proposals for a ceasefire.”

Hamas needs to enter serious negotiations to end this crisis, Cameron says, urging the group to “to engage with” the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which it had previously rejected.

Cameron says that he has been clear throughout Operation Protective Edge that Israel has the right to defend itself. “Those criticizing Israel’s response must ask themselves how they would expect their own government to react if hundreds of rockets were raining down on British cities today,” he says. However, Cameron says that he shares the “grave concern” many in the international community have about the “heavy toll” of civilian casualties. “The figures are very disturbing,” he says.

Recalling his phone calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday evening, he says he reiterated London’s recognition of Israel’s right to take “proportionate action” to defend itself, and repeated its condemnation of Hamas’s refusal to end their rocket fire, despite international efforts to broker a ceasefire.

“But I urged him to do everything to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint and to help find ways to bring this situation to an end,” Cameron says.

After the situation calms down, London wishes to see the Palestinian Authority back in Gaza, he says.

Raphael Ahren

Slain Hamas gunmen wore IDF uniforms

The 10 Hamas fighters killed in a shootout with the IDF this morning after emerging from a tunnel were disguised in full Israeli military gear, down to the requisite rubber bands around the cuffs of their trousers, Ynet reports.

The killed Hamas fighters wore IDF-issue vests, boots, helmets, as well as camouflage nets similar to those used by the Israeli military.

MK says Mashaal, Abbas hold key to ceasefire

Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), a former senior Shin Bet official, says the key to resolving this conflict lies not with Kerry but, in order, with Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal, Mahmoud Abbas and Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Netanyahu says Hamas is Palestinians’ foe

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues his media blitz on foreign television channels, giving interviews to Sky News Arabic, Fox News and NBC’s Nightly News. While he has held two short press conferences since Operation Protective Edge started, he has not given any interviews to Israeli media outlets.

“Hamas is the enemy of the Palestinians — it takes the money designated for the residents of Gaza and instead of building them kindergartens, they dig tunnels that are supposed to explode in [Israeli] kindergartens,” he tells Sky News. “Hamas hides missiles in hospitals, but prohibits the residents of Gaza from coming to the hospital we opened for them.”

Israel accepted several offers of ceasefires, but Hamas rejected and violated them, the prime minister adds. “Hamas is responsible for any damage done to the residents of Gaza.”

– Raphael Ahren

Ex-security adviser explains why we didn’t hit tunnels last year

Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, responds to criticism of the government’s failure to tackle the attack tunnels in Gaza earlier.

“We could have attacked them [the tunnels] a year ago, but the price would have been missiles on Tel Aviv.”

There would have been less understanding inside Israel and internationally for such an operation, he tells Channel 2. The IDF had the intelligence on the tunnels a year ago. Accepting the Egyptian ceasefire offer last Tuesday gave Israel the time and international forbearance necessary for this operation.

Kerry heading to Israel tonight

The American secretary of state will be coming to Israel tonight, after visiting Cairo and meeting with Egyptian and Palestinian leaders.

Seven IDF soldiers killed since last night

Four of the seven soldiers were killed overnight in the early-morning ambush carried out by Hamas near the Gaza Strip, when an antitank missile hit their jeep near Kibbutz Nir Am. Then other IDF troops killed 10 Hamas gunmen.

The three others were killed in Shejaiya, one of them possibly by IDF forces in error.

The latest deaths bring the toll to 25 fallen IDF soldiers in Operation Protective Edge.

At least 30 IDF soldiers injured in combat, 3 seriously

The IDF also reports that, in the past day, three soldiers have been seriously injured, eight moderately injured, and 19 slightly injured in combat in the Gaza Strip.

IDF names one of seven fallen soldiers

The IDF names one of the soldiers killed this morning as Staff Sergeant Yuval Dagan, 22, of Kfar Saba. He will be laid to rest at 8 p.m. tonight in his hometown’s military cemetery.

Some of 13 soldiers killed Sunday not yet ID’d

Some of the bodies of the seven IDF soldiers killed when an APC went over a land mine in Shejaiya early Sunday morning have still not been identified, military sources said. That’s why not all the names of the 13 soldiers killed have been released.

To date, seven soldiers have been named.

IDF says antitank missiles stored next to shelled hospital

The IDF says in a statement that initial investigations of reports of tank shells hitting a Gaza hospital found “that a cache of antitank missiles was stored in the immediate vicinity of the al-Aqsa Hospital.”

“This cache was successfully targeted by IDF forces,” the spokesperson says in a statement. “Civilian casualties are a tragic inevitability of the brutal and systematic exploitation of homes, hospitals and mosques in Gaza. While the IDF takes every possible measure to minimize civilian casualties, Hamas and its deliberate tactic of embedding terrorist activities within the urban environment is ultimately responsible.”

Earlier in the day, a Gazan health official and a doctor reported that Israeli tank shells struck a hospital in central Gaza. The health official said the shells killed at least four people and wounded 60, including 30 medical staff.

Health official Ashraf al-Kidra said 12 shells hit the al-Aqsa Hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah. He said the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department.

 

One IDF soldier killed by friendly fire

One of the seven soldiers killed in Gaza in the past day died by friendly fire, and two were killed in Shejaiya when an antitank missile was fired into the building in which they took cover at around 4:30 a.m.

The other four died in a Hamas ambush on IDF troops near Kibbutz Nir Am shortly afterwards. The Hamas gunmen fired an antitank missile at the jeep they were riding in and all four were killed.

The names of six of the seven fatalities haven’t yet been released. Yuval Dagan, the one named fatality, was laid to rest in Kfar Saba Monday night.

Liberman said to call for Mashaal’s assassination in Qatar

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel should take the fight against Hamas to Qatar, both in working to ban the emirate’s news channel, al-Jazeera, in Israel, and by assassinating Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, who resides there.

According to Channel 2′s Udi Segal, Liberman said in closed-door meetings that Israel should bump off Mashaal on Qatari soil in the same way that the US assassinated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

Liberman said in a meeting earlier today with the visiting Rwandan foreign minister that “Qatar is also a central figure in the conflict we’re waging now against Hamas in Gaza, as among other things it finances Hamas and gives asylum to Khaled Mashaal.”

“The al-Jazeera network, which is also of course financed by Qatar, is the central pillar of Hamas’s media relations and propaganda,” Liberman says. “We already began examining the activities and standing of al-Jazeera with the intention of not allowing it to operate in Israel anymore.”

IDF releases names of 7 fallen soldiers

The IDF releases the full list of the seven soldiers killed earlier on Sunday in combat in the Gaza Strip

  • Lt. Col. Dolev Keidar, 38, of Modi’in
  • SSgt. Tal Ifrach, 21, of Rishon Lezion
  • SSgt. Yuval Dagan, 22, of Kfar Sava
  • Sgt. Nadav Goldmacher, 23, of Beersheba
  • SFC Baynesain Kasahun, 39, of Netivot
  • Sec. Lt. Yuval Haiman, 21, of Efrat
  • SSgt. Jordan Bensemhoun, 22, of Ashkelon

Rocket hits near kindergarten in Sha’ar Hanegev

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip strikes close to a kindergarten in the Sha’ar Hanegev southern community.

The rocket causes some damage to the building, which was empty at the time. There are no reports of injuries from the incident.

Airstrike reportedly causes collapse of Gaza building, kills 11

Gaza news reports say an Israeli airstrike caused the collapse of four floors of a residential building in Gaza City. Eleven people are reported killed in the airstrike, including at least five children.

UN chief calls for immediate halt to Gaza violence

UN chief Ban Ki-moon demands an immediate end to the raging conflict in Gaza and Israel on Monday, during a visit to Cairo to push for a ceasefire.

The “violence must stop, it must stop now,” he says at a news conference.

– AFP

German Jews decry anti-Semitic ‘explosion’ in Gaza demos

Germany’s Jewish community has condemned an “explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews” at a recent string of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country.

Protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs of late leader Yasser Arafat have in recent days openly shouted angry anti-Semitic slogans at rallies against Israel’s Gaza offensive, according to German media.

Exclaiming “Allahu akbar” (God is great), crowds in Berlin have reportedly yelled “Death to Israel” and chanted “Zionists are fascists, killing children and civilians.”

An anti-Israel rally in Berlin's Adenauerplatz on Friday July 18, 2014 (Micki Weinberg/The Times of Israel)

An anti-Israel rally in Berlin’s Adenauerplatz on Friday July 18, 2014 (Micki Weinberg/The Times of Israel)

A Berlin imam has openly prayed for the annihilation of Zionist Jews, asking Allah to “kill them to the very last one,” according to a video published online by Israel’s Haaretz daily.

“We are currently experiencing in this country an explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews, which shocks and dismays all of us,” says Dieter Graumann, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, in a statement.

“We would never in our lives have thought it possible anymore that anti-Semitic views of the nastiest and most primitive kind can be chanted on German streets.”

He demands “clear and loud condemnations from politicians, the media and civil society” against the hatred in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust.

“Jews are once again openly threatened in Germany and sometimes attacked, synagogues are being defaced and declared as targets,” he says.

AFP

Sirens southeast of Tel Aviv

Sirens heard in the Judean lowlands, southeast of Tel Aviv. Sirens also sound in the Sharon area, Petah Tikva, and Rosh Ha’ayin.

No injuries reported.

Heavy fighting in Gaza Strip

IDF soldiers are engaged in heavy clashes all across the Gaza Strip, Channel 2 reports. Further details to be reported.

Gazan death toll up to 572

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 572, Gaza’s health ministry says.

Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra says air strikes and shelling killed 55 people across the enclave on Monday, and another 68 bodies were pulled from the rubble in areas hit by heavy fighting a day earlier.

The army also says its troops killed “more than 10 terrorists” who had infiltrated southern Israel through two tunnels, sparking a firefight that reportedly wounded several soldiers.

Terrorists killed inside Israel are not included in Kidra’s Gaza toll.

The latest deaths included six people killed in two artillery strikes, three of whom died in the southern city of Rafah and another three in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

Of the 55 people killed on Monday, around one-third of them were children, Kidra said.

Seven children were among nine dead in an air raid on a house in Rafah, and another four children were killed in another strike on a house in Gaza City that killed nine people.

A nighttime airstrike on a residential tower block in Gaza City killed 11 people, including five children, Kidra said, and a simultaneous strike in the central Strip killed another.

An Israeli tank shell slammed into a hospital in Deir al-Balah, killing four people, among them doctors, Kidra said, indicating at least 70 people were wounded.

The army said it targeted a stockpile of antitank missiles stored next to the hospital and regretted civilian deaths, but blamed Hamas for placing military assets amid civilian infrastructure.

The death toll in Israel is 27, including 25 soldiers.

– AFP and Times of Israel staff

UN agency says refugees in Gaza spike to over 100k

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says that the number of people seeking refuge with it in Gaza has soared to more than 100,000, two weeks into an Israeli offensive on the coastal enclave.

“This is a watershed moment for UNRWA, now that the number of people seeking refuge with us is more than double the figure we saw in the 2009 Gaza conflict,” the agency’s spokesman Christopher Gunness says in a statement.

AFP

Rocket explodes near Rosh Ha’ayin

A rocket explodes in an open area near the town of Rosh Ha’ayin — roughly 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip — alongside Route 5, a major east-west highway. No injuries or damage are reported.

Sirens in Beersheba

Cairo expresses flexibility in truce terms, Israel seeks Kerry pressure

Cairo might be flexible in its Gaza truce initiative, Egyptian officials tell Reuters. An Israeli official in Washington tells the news agency that he wanted US Secretary of State John Kerry to get to Egypt and apply pressure on Hamas.

Kerry landed in Egypt in the past hour.

“The secretary has to try to strengthen the Egyptian proposal,” the Israeli official is quoted as saying. “I think Egypt has a considerable amount of leverage with Hamas, because they are the ones that have the choke hold” on the Gaza economy.

Road closed over security fear

Officials have once again closed Route 232 near Gaza, citing a possible “security incident.”

This is the third time today the road has been closed over security fears.

Hamas terrorists have made several attempts to infiltrate into Israel, raising jitters in communities near the Gaza Strip.

‘Long-term humanitarian ceasefire’ in the works, says Hamas

Reports swirling about the media this evening, attributable to Hamas, indicate that international efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas may yield a “long-term humanitarian ceasefire” in the coming hours.

Ceasefire deal could take days

Despite press reports that a ceasefire could be signed as soon as Tuesday morning, others are taking a more cautious approach.

ABC News correspondent Alexander Marquardt quotes a senior State Department official saying the sides may take several days to work out the kinks.

Lone Soldier Center mourns Jordan Bensemhoun

The Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center expresses its condolences on Facebook on Jordan Bensemhoun, who was killed in the Gaza fighting early Monday.

Bensemhoun, 22, immigrated to Israel from Lyon, France.

“Jordan came here alone, to do his part to defend all of us and keep all Israeli safe and free,” the center writes.

Bensemhoun is the third lone soldier killed in the last two days of fighting. On Sunday, Nissim Sean Carmelli and Max Steinberg, both originally from the US, were killed during fighting in the Strip.

The Lone Soldier Center, in Ra’anana, is named for Michael Levin, a lone soldier from the US killed in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

PA, Egypt representatives discuss changes to ceasefire proposal

In the past few hours in Cairo, representatives of the Palestinian Authority headed by intel chief Majed Faraj and Egyptian representatives have met to discuss amendments to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

Faraj, who was present at the meeting in Qatar between Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, left Doha shortly thereafter in haste for Cairo.

According to various Palestinian sources, Mashaal agreed to the Egyptian proposal of an immediate ceasefire but demanded the inclusion of various changes, foremost of which is a call to remove the blockade of Gaza. Mashaal even demanded guarantees for the removal of the blockade not just from Egypt, but from the PA and the United States, but didn’t insist on inclusion of Hamas’s other demands for the past two weeks, namely the opening of the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt, freedom for prisoners released in the Shalit deal who were recently taken back into Israeli custody, establishment of an international port and others.

If this version of the deal is accepted, it means that Hamas withdrew its demand for a ceasefire on its terms.

Until now no official Hamas position has been expressed on the issue, but sources in the PA claim that the organization agrees to the version agreed upon by Mashaal and Abbas.

Abbas is expected to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tomorrow in Cairo, and an announcement of a long-term humanitarian truce along these lines is planned.

– Avi Issacharoff

Over 12,000 people at lone soldier’s funeral in Haifa

More than 12,000 people show up at the military cemetery in Haifa’s Neve David neighborhood for the funeral of slain lone soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli.

Earlier on Monday, fans of the Maccabi Haifa team posted on Facebook calling for people to attend Carmeli’s funeral.

UAE pledges $41 million for Gaza reconstruction

The United Arab Emirates says it will offer nearly $41 million in aid for the reconstruction of Gaza homes hit by Israel’s military offensive against rocket-firing terrorists.

Of that figure, 150 million dirhams ($40 million) is part of an agreement between Abu Dhabi and the Emirati Red Crescent and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, according to the Red Crescent.

The initiative is aimed at reconstructing “damaged homes and rehabilitating hospitals, education and services” hit by Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip, the organization’s president, Sheikh Hamdan Ben Zayed al-Nahyan, is quoted as saying in a statement.

The UAE government already pledged $52 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the coastal enclave in the early stages of the Israeli military offensive.

– AFP

Residents told to stay in homes over attack fears

Roads between Kibbutz Sa’ad and Gavim junction near the Gaza Strip are still closed, as official investigate a possible “security incident.”

Residents in the area have been asked to stay in their homes for the last hour.

Kerry announces $47m in US aid for Gaza

US Secretary of State John Kerry announces that Washington will provide $47 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza through UNRWA and USAID.

Hamas denies ceasefire deal reached

A member of Hamas’s political leadership, Izzat al-Rishq, denies to Arabic media that Hamas has agreed to a long-term humanitarian truce with Israel. He clarifies that “the information to that effect is not correct and Hamas is still committed to its public demands in order to reach a ceasefire.”

Al-Rishq was present earlier on Monday at the meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar.

Meanwhile, the head of the Islamic Jihad also says the terms of a ceasefire haven’t been reached.

Commander of elite unit seriously injured

The commander of the elite Egoz unit in the IDF was seriously injured in pre-dawn fighting in Gaza Monday, Ynet reports, after the information was cleared for publication.

Egoz is part of the Golani Brigade, which has taken heavy losses in fierce Gaza fighting over the last two days.

Into the third week

Operation Protective Edge is now entering its third week after a day of bitter fighting that raised the IDF death toll to 25. Rockets are still hitting Israel, although in slightly lower numbers. John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon are in the region, amid conflicting reports of progress toward a ceasefire — a ceasefire that it is by no means clear Hamas wants, or that Israel could be satisfied with.

We’ll wish you good night from Jerusalem. Our colleague Ricky Ben-David is starting Tuesday’s live blog here.