Five days after the launch of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s effort to put a halt to Hamas rocket fire, some 600 rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israel. Rockets fired throughout Saturday targeted communities near the Gaza Strip as well as Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Rehovot and Rishon Lezion. Hamas launched a major assault on central Israel in late evening. An American tourist died of a heart attack after sirens wailed in Jerusalem. Palestinian reports say at least 150 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes, including more than 15 in a strike late Saturday aimed at Hamas’s Gaza police chief. The Times of Israel liveblogged events throughout the day. (Sunday’s liveblog is here.)
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, says strong diplomatic support from Israel’s international partners will be conducive to reaching a cease-fire in Gaza.
Speaking minutes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that no amount of world pressure would deter Israel from hitting Hamas to stop the rocket fire, Dermer emphasizes that the opposite is also true – that in cases in which world powers support Israel’s right to defend its citizens, it facilitates de-escalation.
Dermer says President Barack Obama has not wavered from the strong support that the US provided Israel during its last round of airstrikes against terror groups in Gaza in 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense.
“In eight days in 2012, the president and the prime minister spoke four times and there was very strong support of the president of Israel’s right to defend itself,” Dermer tells reporters during a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project. “There is no indication that this time is different.”
Six said killed in 2 Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
Separate Israeli air strikes early Saturday kill four people in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, and two further south in Deir el-Balah, Palestinian emergency services say, revising an earlier report of three fatalities in the Jabaliya strike.
The strikes on the fifth day of the Israeli campaign to put a stop to Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza into Israel bring the number of Palestinians killed so far to 110.
IDF confirms reports of new Gaza airstrikes
The IDF confirms Palestinian reports of new airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip.
“Moments ago we targeted several terrorists conspiring to launch rockets from Gaza,” tweets the IDF Spokesperson.
We continue to defend Israel. Moments ago we targeted several terrorists conspiring to launch rockets from #Gaza
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 11, 2014
Palestinian sources report that five people, among them an 80-year-old man, were killed in two separate strikes.
Kuwait calls for urgent meeting on Gaza crisis
CAIRO — Kuwait requests an urgent Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss “the deteriorating situation” in the Gaza Strip, its Arab League representative says.
The Arab foreign ministers’ meeting is expected to take place on Monday, an Arab League official tells AFP.
Kuwait, the current rotating president of the Arab League summit, requests the meeting “to discuss the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip,” its permanent representative to the Pan-Arab organisation, Aziz Rahim Al-Daihani, tells AFP.
The move comes as the United States says it is ready to leverage its relationships in the Middle East to try to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement ruling Gaza.
IDF says 140 rockets fired on 4th day of Gaza op
The IDF says 140 rockets were fired at Israel on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge.
Of these, 107 hit Israel, and 27 are intercepted by Iron Dome.
Meanwhile, the Israel Air Force strikes 235 terror-related targets in the Gaza Strip.
Daily recap: the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge pic.twitter.com/L1ADa2Eyio
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 11, 2014
Teen reported dead as Gaza campaign enters 5th day
As Operation Protective Edge enters its fifth day, Palestinians say a 17-year-old is killed in an Israeli raid on Gaza City.
Since midnight, seven Palestinians have been killed in three separate airstrikes, raising the death toll in five days of violence to 112, according to Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.
Qudra says four people died in Jebaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, and two others further south in Deir el Balah. He says the 17-year-old was killed shortly afterwards.
Palestinian sources say Grads seized after firefight
Amid reports that Egypt security forces this morning thwarted an attempt to smuggle 20 rockets from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai region, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency says the munitions were seized after a firefight between terrorists in the town of Rafah and Egyptian security forces.
At the end of the shootout, the Egyptian authorities seized the projectiles, Ma’an reports.
The projectiles were apparently meant to be used in attacks against Israel from the peninsula.
Hagel reiterates US support for Israel to Ya’alon
US defense secretary Chuck Hagel speaks with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, telling him he is concerned about the possibility of a further escalation in Gaza but voicing US support for Israel in protecting its civilians.
Ya’alon updates Hagel on the situation in Israel, while the defense secretary reiterates the US administration’s condemnation of the rocket fire from Gaza and its support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
Hagel says both sides to make every every to protect civilians and restore calm in the area.
Roger Waters urges Neil Young to nix Israel gig
English musician and singer Roger Waters posts a letter on his official Facebook page, asking singer-songwriter Neil Young to cancel his upcoming performance in Tel Aviv, set to take place this Thursday.
Waters reveals that he had written and sent the letter to Young in January, but after receiving no reply, is posting it on Facebook “in light of the appalling recent events in Israel and Gaza” and the Pink Floyd frontman’s “dismay at the the lack of any response from our governments.”
In an appeal to Young’s “possible attachment to the rights of all human beings,” Waters writes, “Like some others, but not many, your songs have always been redolent of love and humanity and compassion for your fellow man and woman. I find it hard to believe that you would turn your back on the indigenous people of Palestine. That you would lend support to, and encourage and legitimize, with your presence, a colonial apartheid regime, largely settled from Europe, that seeks to confine the native people of the land, either in exile or in second class status in reservations and ghettos.”
Attaching an article about the demolition of the Bedouin village of al-Araqib, Waters promises, “If you are in doubt about any of this, I will go with you to Palestine, and Israel, if they’ll let me in, you will see what I have seen, and then let us figure out the right thing to do.”
In IDF video, pilot calls off strike to spare civilians
The IDF releases a video showing an area in Gaza that an Israel Air Force Pilot has been ordered to strike. When the pilot sees the area, he observes a large gathering of people on the ground and informs his headquarters. After a pause, he receives word that the army has decided to call off the strike.
Code Red sirens blare in Beersheba, Merhavim
Code Red sirens blare in the Beersheba and Merhavim areas at 4 a.m. this morning.
IDF confirms 2 hits, one interception in Beersheba
The IDF confirms that two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have fallen in the Beersheba area, while a third rocket has been intercepted by Iron Dome.
Confirmed: 2 rockets hit and 1 rocket intercepted in area of Beer Sheva
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 12, 2014
Earlier this morning, sirens were heard in the area.
IDF photo shows Hamas training compound by school
A photo declassified by the IDF this morning shows what the military says is a Hamas training compound used as training grounds, located right beside a school and adjacent to civilian homes.
The IDF says the Gaza City compound has “several entries to terror tunnels on-site.”
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 12, 2014
Code Red alert heard in Eshkol region
For the second time tonight, a Code Red siren sounds in the towns of the Eshkol regional council, less than two hours after at least two rockets hit the Beersheba area and exploded in open areas.
No normalization with ‘oppressive’ Israel, vows Erdogan
Turkish President Abdullah Gul calls on Israel to halt its offensive on the Gaza Strip and not to carry out a ground incursion, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says there can be no normalizing of Turkish-Israeli ties as long as Israel’s actions continue.
“I would like to remind Israel that (a ground operation) would lead to dangerous developments and sow the seeds of hatred,” Gul says on his way out of a mosque following Friday prayers.
“Such an escalation could lead to chaos in our region,” he said.
Erdogan, meanwhile, says a restoration of ties between Israel and Turkey cannot take place in the current state of affairs.”
“We cannot look positively at a process of normalization while bombs are raining on our (Palestinian) brothers,” Erdogan said at a meeting where he unveiled his policy aims if elected president. “We cannot be on the side of the oppressor.”
— The Associated Press
Palestinians say 5 killed in early-morning Gaza raids
Palestinian medics say at least five Palestinians are killed in two Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early this morning, raising the toll in the violence to 118.
Two are killed in a strike that hits a charitable association for the disabled in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, while three others die in a second strike in western Gaza City, local health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says.
UN doubts legality of Israeli air campaign
Israel’s air campaign in Gaza may violate international laws prohibiting the targeting of civilians, says the UN’s top human rights official.
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, says the IDF, which says it has hit more than 1,100 targets, most of them rocket-launching sites, and the Gaza terrorists who have fired more than 550 rockets against Israel, must abide by international law.
“We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes,” Pillay says. “Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
Pillay says she’s seen for herself in Gaza how traumatic the airstrikes and rocket attacks are for civilians, particularly children. Her office says civilians bear the brunt of the conflict now — and all sides must refrain from launching attacks or putting military weapons in densely populated areas.
“Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict,” Pillay said.
— The Associated Press
Palestinian UN resolution urges ceasefire, keeps mum on rockets
The Palestinians and their international supporters are discussing the text of a UN resolution that would condemn all violence against civilians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and call for “an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire.”
An initial draft of the proposed Security Council resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, expresses “grave concern” at the escalating violence and deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories due to Israeli military operations, particularly against the Gaza Strip, and at the heavy civilian casualties including children.
The draft doesn’t mention Hamas’ firing of rockets into Israel, which is likely unacceptable to the US.
The council is deeply divided and often paralyzed over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the United States defending close ally Israel and the majority of other council members firmly backing the Palestinians.
— The Associated Press
Israel bombs Gaza bank, Palestinians say
Israel bombs a branch of the National Islamic Bank in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Walla News reports, quoting Palestinian sources.
Witnesses say thick black smoke is rising above the building.
There are no reports of casualties at this time.
IDF says it struck 60 Gaza terror sites overnight
The Israeli military says it has struck over 60 terror targets in the Gaza Strip throughout the night.
The army says 10 terrorists were killed in the strikes, including 6 who were directly involved in rocket attacks on Israel.
The IDF adds that it has attacked over 1160 terrorist targets since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on Tuesday.
3 Gaza policemen killed in IDF strike, medics say
Three Gaza policemen are killed in a new Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip, raising the toll in five days of violence to 121, medics say.
The men are killed in the Tufah neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City, according to a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry.
Cairo upbraids Israel for ‘irresponsible escalation’
Cairo is condemning “Israel’s irresponsible escalation in the Gaza Strip” and what it calls Jerusalem’s exaggerated and unjustified use of force, Israel Radio reports.
Egypt says it is holding Israel responsible for the safety of Gaza’s civilian population and calls on the international community to intervene in order to prevent further victims in the coastal strip.
On Friday demonstrators burned an Israeli flag outside the Palestinian embassy in Cairo and called on the government to expel Israel’s ambassador to the Arab nation.
Israel strikes Gaza mosque used as ‘weapon cache’
The IDF says it carried out an air strike on a mosque in Gaza overnight which was being used by terror groups to store weaponry.
“Overnight, the IDF targeted a weapon cache concealed within a mosque in the central Gaza Strip,” the army says.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner adds: “Hamas, a terror organization motivated by a radically interpreted religious ideology, abuses religious sites such as mosques to plot against Israeli civilians, as well as to conceal weaponry.
“Hamas terrorists systematically exploit and choose to put Palestinians in Gaza in harm’s way and continue to locate their positions among civilian areas and mosques, proving once more their disregard for human life and holy sites.”
Two rockets explode in the Eshkol region
Two rockets launched from Gaza have hit open fields outside a community in the Eshkol region. The impacts were preceded by warning sirens.
Officials say there are no reports of casualties.
Arab league to meet Monday on Gaza crisis
A senior Arab league official says Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday to discuss the continued Israeli offensive in Gaza and measures to urge the international community to pressure Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas requested the meeting, which was approved by several Arab foreign ministers in coordination with the Arab League. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists.
–The Associated Press
Condition of 2 men seriously injured by rockets improves
The conditions of a civilian and a soldier who were seriously injured by rocket-fire in two separate incidents are improving.
22-year-old Staff Sergeant Mordechai Yemin, who was seriously injured by a mortar shell that hit the Eshkol region on Thursday, is no longer in danger and has regained consciousness, Ynet reports.
Ilan Solomon, 61, who was seriously wounded on Friday when a rocket hit a gas station in Ashdod, is now considered to be in moderate-to-serious condition.
Heavy rocket barrages reported on central, southern Israel
A salvo of rockets is being fired at the Gaza periphery as well as the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Rehovot and Ness Ziona, with sirens wailing throughout the south as well as parts of central Israel.
Three rocket have reportedly fallen in the Eshkol region near Gaza with no casualties.
Rockets fired at cities further north have yet to be accounted for.
Defense minister: Israel preparing for ‘many days’ of combat
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says Israel is preparing for “many more days of combat” and has “amassed achievements” against Hamas and other terror groups.
Ya’alon is speaking after holding a situation report with military commanders.
At least 8 rockets fired at Israel in past hour
Continuing the previous report on rocket barrage: The total number of rockets fired in the past hour remains unclear, though at least 8 seem to have been confirmed.
Two rockets have apparently been shot down by Iron Dome above Rehovot and Rishon Lezion.
Six rockets have reportedly exploded in open fields in southern Israel, causing no damage or casualties.
Hamas says it fired a rocket at Ben-Gurion International Airport, though there has been no Israeli confirmation of this claim.
British foreign secretary ‘extremely concerned’ about Gaza deaths
British Foreign Secretary William Hague says he is “extremely concerned” about the loss of life in Gaza, where five days of Israeli air strikes have killed more than 120 Palestinians.
“Extremely concerned about humanitarian situation and loss of life in Gaza. Speaking to President Abbas today,” Hague says on Twitter.
The Foreign Office confirms the tweet and says a fuller statement will be issued later.
Hague’s statement represents a departure from the British government stance so far which has unequivocally backed Israel’s right to launch air strikes in response to rocket attacks by Hamas in Gaza.
300 Arabs, Jews protest Israeli-Palestinian violence
Around 300 Arabs and Jews are demonstrating outside the Arab town of Tira against Israeli and Palestinian violence — rocket fire by Hamas and Israeli air strikes, Ynet reports.
Protesters are holding placards with the slogan “Arab and Jews refuse to be enemies.”
Sirens in Dimona, rockets near Netivot
Sirens are being heard in Dimona and Yeruham, south of Beersheba, as well as in communities in the Eshkol region, near Gaza, and the Bnei Shimon region near Netivot.
At least 3 rockets have fallen in the Gaza periphery in the past hour. One rocket hit a greenhouse in a community near the town of Netivot, causing a small fire at the scene. There are no casualties.
Around 20 rockets have been launched into Israel since this morning.
IDF says air campaign to go on for at least another day
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz says he expects the air campaign to continue at least throughout the coming day, as there are still “many targets to attack.”
“In parallel, we are preparing the next parts of the operation, readying the forces to enter on the ground,” he tells Israel Radio.
Protests against Israel held in London, Paris and Oslo
Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators call for an end to “Israeli aggression” in London, Paris and Oslo.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail website, protesters jam the British capital’s Kensington High Street, and some of the demonstrators stand on one of the city’s red double-decker buses.
Signs held aloft by those gathered in protest read: “Gaza: End the Siege” and “Freedom for Palestine,” and one of the more than dozen protesters atop the bus holds a sign which says, “Judaism rejects the Zionist state and condemns its criminal siege and occupation.”
Rocket hits home in Netivot, 3 people suffer shock
A rocket from Gaza hits a home in the town of Netivot, causing damage to the building. Three residents are being treated for shock, officials say.
At least 4 rockets have been fired into southern Israel in the past hour, with 3 confirmed to have fallen in open areas in the Eshkol region east of the Strip.
US moves embassy staff out of rocket-hit Beersheba
As rockets continue to rain down on southern Israel, the US Embassy announces it has relocated embassy staff working in Beersheba to the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya.
“The Embassy and its annexes continue to operate at minimal staffing. The Consular Section will continue to provide only emergency services. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel south of greater Tel Aviv without prior approval,” the embassy said in a statement. “Embassy families living in Tel Aviv and greater Tel Aviv, such as Herzliya, are being advised to remain in close communication with one another.”
Hamas music video aims to ‘shake Israel’s security’
A new Hamas music video, sung entirely in broken Hebrew, aims to frighten Israelis but may achieve the opposite.
The music video opens with Palestinian Hamas fighters in fatigues building, transporting and then firing rockets at Israel.
“We prepare a generation of warriors who cling to death like the enemy clings to life,” the words run, with Arabic subtitles.
“A (nation) state of weakness and illusion can’t hold out during wars,” it continues, referring to Israel. “They fall apart like spider webs when they meet knights.”
Despite the song’s intended goal, the singers’ poor command of Hebrew as well as their heavy accents are likely to elicit an amused response from Hebrew-speaking listeners.
Similar songs have in the past proved rather popular on Israeli social media — though more as objects of ridicule than as a threat which should be taken seriously, probably not the effect Hamas had in mind.
–AFP and Times of Israel Staff
IDF strike kills 5 Palestinians in Gaza City
Five Palestinians are killed in an Israeli air strike in the west of Gaza City, bringing the death toll for day five of the bombardment to 21, officials say.
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says the five were killed in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood, but has no immediate details about their identities.
Five Gaza rockets hit Gaza periphery
At least five rockets launched from the Gaza Strip in the past half hour have exploded in Israeli territory, causing no damage.
Since noon today warning sirens are being heard several times an hour in communities near the Gaza Strip, sending residents into rocket shelters.
Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Beersheba
Sirens wail in Tel Aviv and in Beersheba as a fresh volley of rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’s Haniyeh says Israeli strike targets his sister’s house, kills two sons
Former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh says two of his nephews were among six people killed in an Israeli air strike on his sister’s house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City earlier.
Haniyeh wrote the update of the attack on his Facebook and Twitter pages, according to Ynet.
He and other senior Hamas officials have gone into hiding since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge early Tuesday.
Haniyeh stepped down as prime minister when the Palestinian unity government was sworn in last month.
MKs say Israel not interested in ceasefire
Hamas cannot dictate to Israel the terms of a ceasefire, Ofir Akunis, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, says in an interview on Israel Radio, adding that Israel will continue to target Hamas leaders and terrorist infrastructure.
Addressing increasing international calls of concern regarding the loss of civilian life in Gaza, Akunis says that Israel does not want to harm innocent Palestinians, but Hamas is hiding rockets in schools and private homes.
MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) echoes Akunis in saying he does not support a one-sided cease-fire, citing that the foremost goal of the operation is to restore quiet to Israeli citizens, while the second goal is to dismantle Hamas’ rocket infrastructure.
Hoffman, who serves on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also praises the courage of Israeli citizens.
“The courage and fortitude of the [Israeli] citizens is no less significant than military pressure,” he says at an event in Givatayim, just east of Tel Aviv. “Public resilience is a central part of how we show the other side – you cannot win.”
Hamas military wing launches Hebrew website
Hamas’s military wing launches an information website in Hebrew, complete with a news feed boasting of Israeli targets allegedly hit, a section containing translated statements, a picture gallery and a ‘contact us’ form.
At first glance, the site also contains less — sorry, fewer — grammar and syntax mistakes than the terror group’s music and propaganda videos.
— Al Qassam Brigades (@qassamfeed) July 12, 2014
Egypt’s al-Sissi warns against Gaza ‘escalation’
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi warns that escalating the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would cost more “innocent lives,” as the death toll climbed to 127 Palestinians.
Sissi’s spokesman says the government was in touch with both sides after the president met Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Cairo.
“The president warned of the dangers of military escalation, and the casualties it would cause among innocent civilians,” the spokesman said in a statement.
45 rockets launched at Israel so far today, 2 intercepted
Forty-five rockets and mortars have been launched at Israel from Gaza since midnight Saturday, with most landing in open terrain and two intercepted by the Iron Dome system, according to the latest IDF figures.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge early Tuesday, 564 rockets and mortars have struck Israeli territory with an additional 140 shot done by Iron Dome.
In Gaza, the IAF says 108 Hamas and Islamic Jihad sites have been struck so far today, bringing the total of targets hits since the start of the operation to just over 1,200.
According to Palestinian sources, 127 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza since the start of the military campaign, with 22 deaths today, including two nephews of former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Mideast Quartet rep Tony Blair in Egypt to discuss Gaza
Mideast Quartet representative Tony Blair is in Cairo meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi on the situation in Gaza, setting off rumors that a cease-fire may be in the offing, Israel Radio reports.
The Egyptian president warned earlier of “the dangers of military escalation, and the casualties it would cause among innocent civilians.”
Israel has signaled that is in not interested in a cease-fire at this time, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the military campaign will not stop until the missile threat from Hamas is over.
Ceasefire talks gathers pace… albeit only in TV studio
Channel 2′s savvy Middle East analyst Ehud Ya’ari says he believes most of the components for a ceasefire are at hand, but “there’s no doctor” to put the pieces together.
He says that Mahmoud Abbas should be the mediator. Israel might not like everything Abbas says, argues Ya’ari, but he’s a credible “address,” a leader recognized as the PA president by Hamas, and someone who proposed yesterday that first the sides should stop firing, and then they should work out the ceasefire terms.
Despite PM Netanyahu’s tough talk yesterday about not being deterred by any international pressure from attacking a terror group bent on Israel’s destruction, and Liberman’s demand for the destruction of Hamas, Ya’ari says the foreign minister’s goal is emphatically not going to be sought, and that the likelihood of a major ground offensive is small.
He does allow that there might yet be a limited use of ground forces, against specific targets.
While Ya’ari believes Hamas is looking for a way out, his Channel 2 colleague Nir Dvori immediately follows up by reporting that Hamas is still desperately trying to pull off a “major” or “quality” attack — that is, killing lots of Israelis with a rocket strike, sea infiltration, cross-border tunnel raid, kidnapping soldiers and/or civilians, including in Israel and the West Bank, or such like — so that it has “something to show the Gaza public.” Dvori also reports, from southern Israel, that IDF preparations for a ground offensive are continuing.
Dvori also says Hamas is having an increasingly difficult time maintaining rocket fire, as the IAF strikes take their toll. This despite 50-plus rocket attacks on Israel so far today. He says Egypt, Qatar, the PA and the US are all potential factors in ceasefire efforts.
In the studio, Likud minister Limor Livnat notes that Netanyahu said yesterday the Israeli attacks on Hamas would continue until calm was restored. “We’ve not reached that point yet,” Livnat notes.
Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on also advocates Abbas as a potential mediator for what she says is an urgently needed ceasefire.
Israel seems to be trapped in the false notion that “what can’t be achieved through the use of force can be achieved with the use of more force.” She highlights that well over 100 people have been killed in Gaza, including civilians, says a major ground offensive would cause lots more bloodshed on both sides, and warns of growing overseas delegitimization of Israel as the days pass.
Sirens sound in Ashdod, Rechovot, Nes Tziona, Lod
Code Red sirens wail in Ashdod, Rechovot, Lod and Nes Tziona, some 25 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.
UN Security Council to call for Israel-Hamas cease-fire
The UN Security Council is set to issue a statement condemning all violence against civilians and calling for a restoration of calm.
According to a post on the Twitter feed of the Palestine Mission to the UN, the statement will call for the “reinstitution of the November 2012 cease-fire” and the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which collapsed in late April after a nine-month, US-brokered effort.
The text of the statement was drafted by the United States and Jordan, Israel Radio reports.
— State of Palestine (@Palestine_UN) July 12, 2014
Some flights being delayed, others moved
Some flights are being delayed due to the reduction in civil air space, and the Israel Airports Authority is advising travelers to check for updates from their airline and the IAA before flying.
Israeli airline companies Arkia and Israir are moving their flights from Sde Dov Airport in northern Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion International Airport, which lies about 20 km (nine miles) West of Tel Aviv.
Israel Radio reports that Friday night, a flight by Polish airline Lot decided to land in Cyprus instead of Israel after it received instructions from the control tower at Ben Gurion to wait before landing due to rocket fire in the area.
‘Only one Haniyeh relative killed, and he was about to fire rockets at Israel’
Latest reports say one of Ismail Haniyeh’s relatives, not two, died in an Israeli air raid earlier this afternoon.
Channel 2 says the dead man was a known terrorist, who had been involved in rocket fire at Israel, and was with a group who were about to fire on Israel again.
The dead man was a grandson of Haniyeh’s sister, not her son, as previously thought.
The television report says the Israeli strike took place in Gaza’s Sheikh Radwan district. It quotes military sources saying three other people were injured. One of them, according to Palestinian reports, is also a relative of the former Hamas Gaza prime minister.
UK, US, France, Germany to discuss Gaza truce on sidelines of Iran talks
British Foreign Secretary William Hague says he will discuss an international push for a ceasefire in Gaza with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his German and French counterparts during talks in Vienna on Sunday.
Hague said in a statement on Saturday that the discussions on ending the hostilities between Israel and Gaza would take place on the sidelines of talks on Iran’s nuclear programme in the Austrian capital.
“It is clear that we need urgent, concerted international action to secure a ceasefire, as was the case in 2012″ during the last round of conflict between Israel and militants in the Palestinian coastal enclave, Hague said.
“I will discuss this with John Kerry, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier tomorrow [Sunday] in Vienna.”
He said he had also spoken by telephone on Saturday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman after 127 people died in five days of Israeli air strikes aimed at ending Hamas rocket fire.
“I stressed the need for an immediate de-escalation and restoration of the November 2012 ceasefire, our deep concern about the number of civilian casualties and the need for all sides to avoid further civilian injuries and the loss of innocent life,” Hague said.
Sirens wail in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Hebron areas
Code Red sirens wail in Jerusalem. Not longer after, we hear one boom, and then a second boom, and just maybe a third.
Sirens also rang out in the Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Arba (Hebron) areas.
Channel 2 says a rocket may have fallen near Hebron. It has no reports of damage or injuries.
This marks the third time sirens have sounded in Jerusalem this week.
Rockets intercepted over Rishon Lezion, Ashdod, Rehovot
Iron Dome intercepts three rockets over Rishon Lezion, Rehovot and Ashdod, respectively.
Five rockets launched in the same volley landed in open terrain, according to Israel Radio.
Hamas says it fired three M-75 missiles at Jerusalem
Hamas’s military wing says it fired three M-75 rockets, with a range of 75 kilometers, at Jerusalem, triggering Code Red sirens in the city and the surrounding areas.
Police say rocket falls south of Hebron, another near Bethlehem
Israel Police say that a rocket fired from Gaza a short while ago landed in open territory south of Hebron, with another landing near Bethlehem.
Both cities are in the West Bank’s Area A, controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Confirmed: The rockets fired from Gaza a few minutes ago struck Hebron and Bethlehem. (Photo is of Hebron) pic.twitter.com/TWx1cILrko
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 12, 2014
Rocket lands next to Palestinian home in Hebron
One of the rockets fired from Gaza less than an hour ago landed at the entrance to a Palestinian home in the Hebron area.
The home is in the Umm-Dalia neighborhood, inside Palestinian-controlled territory, close to a liaison office staffed by Israeli and Palestinian security officers.
The owner of the affected home, Iyad a-Raabi, says it was damaged by the strike. He says the rocket landed just two or three meters from his front door.
Palestinians in the Hebron area say they are listening out for Code Red sirens at the adjacent Kiryat Arba settlement to hear if they are coming under rocket attack.
– Avi Issacharoff
Qatar reportedly working on cease-fire between Israel, Hamas
Qatar is reportedly working on brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Channel 2 reported.
According to the report, Israel rejected Turkey as a mediator due the close relationship between the Turkish head of intelligence and the Iranian regime.
Hamas threatens to renew rocket fire on Tel Aviv
In an announcement in Hebrew, Hamas says it will hit Tel Aviv within the hour.
It issues the same warning in English on its Twitter feed.
— Al Qassam Brigades (@qassamfeed) July 12, 2014
UN Security Council calls for Gaza ceasefire, respect for human rights
The UN Security Council urges Israel and Hamas to end hostilities in Gaza, and called on both sides to respect “international humanitarian laws” and stop the loss of life.
In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member council called for a de-escalation of the crisis and urged a return to the “calm and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire.”
Yair Lapid: Operation is aimed at restoring long-term quiet
Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) says the Israeli government is not responding to cease-fire efforts at the moment because it wants “to ensure missile threat [from Hamas] is removed.”
“We are not looking for six months or a year of quiet, but long-term quiet,” he tells Channel 2.
Operation Protective Edge is aimed at restoring quiet, Lapid reiterates, adding that this is a face-off between a collapsing terrorist organization and a resilient Israel that will not tolerate having its citizens subjected to relentless rock fire.
Hamas says its upcoming barrage at Tel Aviv will challenge Iron Dome system
Following its initial announcement in Hebrew at 20:00pm local time that it will hit Tel Aviv in the next hour, Hamas warns Iron Dome operators to “be maximally prepared” for the upcoming salvo.
Hamas also urges news outlets to “point their cameras” and “document the launching of our J80 missiles,” saying it will challenge the Iron Dome defenses.
Hamas issued this warning on the newly launched Hebrew website of its military wing.
Israel’s army spokesman says Israel is prepared for all eventualities.
IDF Arabic spokesman mocks Hamas rocket capabilities
“A few minutes ago, a useless rocket fired by the “resistance” landed, as it was intended, in the city of Hebron,” IDF Arabic spokesman Avichai Adraee writes on Facebook, according to a Hebrew translation by Ynet. “What’s your opinion on the remarks by a Hamas spokesperson that the “resistance” knows the geography and how to avoid hitting Arabs with missiles.”
Rocket shot down over Ashdod
A rocket was intercepted by Iron Dome over the city of Ashdod, some 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.
Sirens sounded in the city earlier.
Israel says every truce offer considered, but refuses to comment on reports
The purpose of Operation Protective Edge is to restore quiet, and Israel will “consider every offer that will lead to the fulfillment of the campaign’s objectives,” a diplomatic source in Jerusalem tells The Times of Israel.
However, the source refused to comment on reports on efforts by Qatar, Turkey and others to broker a ceasefire.
“If Hamas continues to fire on Israeli citizens, the Israel Defense Forces will continue to intensify its strikes against Hamas and other terrorists organizations in Gaza.”
The army is ready to widen the campaign, the source says, adding that dealing a significant blow to the Gaza terror groups and restoring quiet “for a long time” were and remain the operation’s overarching goal.
- Raphael Ahren
Sirens in Tel Aviv
Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, an hour after Hamas warned it would challenge the Iron Dome system with a fresh salvo at about this time.
Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Tel Aviv
Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Ramat Hasharon, as Iron Dome intercepts one rocket so far.
4 rockets launched, booms over greater Tel Aviv area, threats of more
Moments after sirens blare in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Ramat Hasharon, several booms can be heard in the area.
A total of four rockets were launched from Gaza, with at least one intercepted by Iron Dome.
Rockets were aimed across the central region, setting off a series of sirens.
Israel is simultaneously carrying out a particularly heavy raid over Gaza, Channel 2 reports, in part apparently to make it harder for Hamas to launch.
Israel’s security chiefs are reminding Israelis to heed the correct procedures, stay in protected areas when sirens sound, and not go outside to watch Iron Dome in action.
This is rather surreal, to put it mildly — hearing sirens, then booms; watching Israeli TV report Hamas’s Hebrew threats; watching Israeli TV showing the rockets being fired out of Gaza — aimed at us — and watching the live TV footage of those rockets being (mercifully thus far) intercepted.
Hamas says this is only the first barrage of its threatened challenge to Iron Dome, and that more will follow.
Additional siren in Tel Aviv and surrounding area
Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Bnei Brak.
Several explosions heard as Iron Dome intercepts a yet unknown number of rockets.
Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over Tel Aviv
Two rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv area. No immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Israel stages heavy air strikes in Gaza as rockets fly
The Israeli Air Force is staging heavy air strikes in the Gaza Strip, as terrorists fired a heavy barrage of rockets at the greater Tel Aviv area.
At 20:00 pm local time, Hamas warned that its projectiles would challenge the Iron Dome system at 21:00 pm.
The first rocket came in at 21:07 pm.
Iron Dome “is very robust,” says the project’s manager Danny Gold, in a telephone conversation with Channel 2.
“I think all of Israel’s citizens are grateful to you right now,” says TV anchor Dana Weiss.
ToI has reported on the process by which Iron Dome came into being, notably in Mitch Ginsburg’s piece here.
We also published a Technion article on the project earlier today; read it here.
Hamas says it fired 10 rockets at Tel Aviv ‘as promised’
After a heavy barrage triggered sirens in Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas shorty after 21:00 pm, Hamas says it fired 10 projectiles in the direction of central Israel, “as promised.”
The Iron Dome system intercepted six of the rockets while the rest landed in open terrain.
Neil Young concert may be postponed
Rock icon Neil Young’s concert, scheduled for Tel Aviv’s Park Hayarkon on Thursday July 17, may have to be postponed or cancelled because of the Hamas conflict.
No final decision has yet been taken, but it’s not looking good, given that the Israeli homefront authorities are currently barring large gatherings because of the rocket threat.
Producer Shuki Weiss says Young may agree to postpone, rather than cancel, the concert.
The show, announced in January, would be Young’s first here since 1995.
Gazans dance in Jabalya after rocket salvo at Tel Aviv, false claims of Israelis hurt
Channel 2 shows footage of Palestinian youths dancing and cheering in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, minutes after a heavy rocket barrage was launched at the greater Tel Aviv area.
Hamas says it launched 10 rockets. Six were intercepted by Iron Dome, according to Israeli media. There are no reports of Israelis injured.
The rockets were aimed across central Israel, triggering alarms in the Modi’in area for the first time since this round of conflict erupted.
Channel 2 says Hamas television is claiming that many Israelis were injured in the latest salvoes, falsely citing ostensible Israeli media reports to this effect.
Analyst Ehud Ya’ari says Hamas TV in Gaza was showing Channel 2′s live broadcasts at the time of the rocket attacks, hoping to see its rockets causing major impact in Israel.
Australian FM regrets ‘retaliatory acts’ from both sides
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she regrets “retaliatory acts” from both Israelis and Palestinians, calling on the two warring sides to exercise restraint.
“The actions of militants in Gaza, who are firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, are inexcusable and must be condemned,” she says in a statement. “The retaliatory acts from both sides that have led to civilian deaths and injuries are deeply regrettable, and I call on all parties to exercise restraint and do everything necessary to avoid a further escalation of violence.”
In the statement, Bishop says that Canberra urges Australians currently in the Gaza Strip “to make arrangements to depart immediately.” Australians are strongly advised not to travel to the Gaza Strip because of the “extremely dangerous and unpredictable security situation and the possibility of further Israeli military operations against militants.”
The embassy in Tel Aviv is arranging a “one-off assisted departure” of Australian citizens currently in the Strip.
- Raphael Ahren
Gazans told in Israeli warnings to leave specific neighborhoods
Channel 2 quotes an Israeli military sources saying Gazans are being told, in Israeli warnings, to abandon specific Gaza neighborhoods from tonight.
This is being interpreted as heralding either much heavier airstrikes or a ground incursion.
Two rockets explode in open terrain in Beersheba
Two rockets fired from Gaza land in open territory in Beersheba.
Sirens sound in Gan Yavne, Kiryat Malachi.
Canada defends Israel to UN human rights chief
Canada slams the United Nation’s top human rights official for questioning the legality of Israel’s air strikes in Gaza.
“Canada rejects UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s uncalled-for criticism of Israel’s response to rocket attacks from Gaza. Focusing her comments on Israel is neither helpful nor reflective of the reality of this crisis,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird says.
“There must be no moral equivalence between Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, and its blatant disregard for human life, and the liberal democratic State of Israel’s duty and obligation to defend its people from cowardly and indiscriminate attacks,” he says.
While Ottawa mourns the “death and suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza,” Hamas and its allies bear all responsibility for the current crisis as they continue to shoot rockets at Israel, Baird says. The Israeli army takes “extraordinary steps to reduce civilian casualties in very difficult and trying conditions” and Israel should be commended for these efforts, “in the face of an enemy clearly determined to put civilians, from both sides, in mortal danger to suit its own purposes.”
Earlier on Saturday, Pillay said “deeply disturbing” reports of civilian casualties in Gaza resulting from IDF bombardments of homes raise “serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
- Raphael Ahren
Police separate competing protests in Haifa
Police are separating two competing protests in Haifa, with a 150 Jews and Arabs calling for an end to the operation in Gaza and 50 people waving Israeli flags demonstrating opposite them, according to Ynet.
IDF targets source of Tel Aviv barrage
The IDF says that it struck northern Gaza, targeting the launcher used to fire a barrage of rockets at Tel Aviv earlier in the hour. Ynet reports the source of the attack was in the city of Beit Lahiya.
A short while ago in northern Gaza, IDF aircraft targeted the rocket launcher that was used to fire the recent barrage on Tel Aviv.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 12, 2014
Hamas, Hezbollah coordinating on the ground, says Hamas official
Hamas and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah are coordinating and “exchanging expertise” on Israel, a Hamas official in Lebanon says.
“The enemy is the same and our tactics are the same. Therefore, we put in efforts to exchange expertise. There is constant field cooperation and coordination,” the Lebanese Daily Star quotes Osama Hamdan as saying.
“The relationship with Hezbollah and Iran today is better than everyone thinks, and ties with Hezbollah [specifically] is by far better than what [enemy] optimists want to believe,” Hamadan,says. “These ties are based on confronting the Zionist and working on liberating Palestine. Everyone is keen on preserving such a relationship regardless of how much the circumstances change and opinions differ.”
Hamdan says Hamas is able to withstand Israeli attacks and is capable “of continuing to fire rockets and confront any ground operation and reach deep into Israel.”
“The resistance has grown from a military faction to include more people, and now today involves the general population. Therefore, it is difficult to defeat it, but the battle will take some time and there are plenty of surprises to come,” he says.
The relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah deteriorated over the Syrian crisis as the Sunni Hamas criticized the regime of Bashar Assad over its brutal crackdown and the Shi’ite Hezbollah continues to alongside the Syrian army.
Sirens blare in Nahariya, across Galilee in north
Sirens sound in Nahariya and across the Galilee region amid reports of renewed rocket fire on northern Israel.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Early Friday morning, two rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory landing near the northern town on Metulla. The Lebanese army said it arrested two Palestinians in connection with the rocket fire.
15 Palestinians said killed in air strikes in Gaza City
At least 15 Palestinians were killed in new Israeli strikes on Gaza City, medics in the coastal enclave say.
“At least 15 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike on the Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City that hit a house and a mosque,” Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says. An earlier toll said 10 were killed.
Al Jazeera says the strike hit the home of the Al-Batsh family. Israel’s Channel 2 says the apparent target was Tayseer Batsh, a Hamas police chief, who was reportedly injured in the strike.
Another 35 were injured in the same strike, and one more person was killed in southern Gaza’s Rafah, Qudra said.
15 killed & tens were injured by latest Israeli airstrike on east #Gaza city, health ministry spokesman said
— Hazem Balousha (@iHaZeMi) July 12, 2014
Three rockets from Lebanon fall in open territory in north
Three rockets fired from Lebanon fall in open territory, moments after sirens blared in Nahariya and the surrounding region in the north.
No injuries or damage reported.
Hezbollah is not believed to be behind the rocket fire. Other jihadi or Palestinian groups are suspected, as in the incident Friday morning when two rockets fell near the northern town of Metulla.
The Lebanese army arrested two Lebanese-Palestinians in connection with that incident.
Gazans told to leave certain areas pending imminent Israeli strikes
The Israeli military says it is ordering Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate the area “for their own safety.” Officials say the area has been used to fire rockets at Tel Aviv.
According to a report on Channel 10, Israel is set to attack sites previously not targeted because of their sensitivities.
In a statement Saturday, the military said it would send messages to residents overnight to leave the area.
Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, the chief military spokesman, said Israel planned to hit the area with heavy force in the next 24 hours as it steps up an offensive against Gaza militants.
The attacks come after Hamas fired 10 rockets at the Tel Aviv area earlier tonight.
AP, Times of Israel staff
Israel responds to Lebanon rockets with artillery fire
The IDF responds with artillery fire to three rockets fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory, triggering sirens in Nahariya and the surrounding region.
Israel is firing at targets inside Lebanon in response.
American tourist dies of heart attack following siren in Jerusalem
A 74-year-old American tourist died of a heart attack following the Code Red siren in Jerusalem earlier tonight.
The woman told her hosts she was not feeling well after the siren sounded and collapsed. A paramedic team called to the scene tried to revive her but was forced to pronounce her dead.
On Friday morning, a 70-year-old woman died of a heart attack in Haifa following the sound of the siren there.
Lebanon says rockets into Israel fired from Tyre
A Lebanese security source tells AFP at least one of three rockets fired from Lebanon tonight was from an area south of the port of Tyre, about a dozen kilometers from the border.
Gaza police chief among 16 killed in Israeli air strike
Hamas police chief Tayseer al Batsh is among 16 people killed in an Israeli air strike in a Gaza City neighborhood earlier tonight.
Some 35 people were injured in the strike.
Hamas urges residents not to heed IDF call to leave specific areas
Gaza’s Hamas-run Interior Ministry is reported to be urging Gazans not to heed Israeli army warnings to evacuate areas that are about to be hit.
The Israeli military issued the warning earlier tonight, telling Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip to leave the area.According to a report on Channel 10, Israel is set to attack sites previously not targeted because of their sensitivities.
Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, the chief military spokesman, said Israel planned to hit the area with heavy force in the next 24 hours as it steps up an offensive against Gaza militants.
Dozens rioting in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods
In two Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Palestinian rioters are attacking police lines with stones and Molotov cocktails.
In Isawiya, a group of young men is throwing stones and firebombs. In A-Tur, several dozen rioters, all with their faces covered, are lobbing stones at riot police.
In both neighborhoods, police are responding with crowd-control weapons. There are no reports of injuries in either location.
Meanwhile, firefighters are battling a small forest fire on Mount Scopus, in northern Jerusalem, which was apparently caused by an errant firebomb.
Three lightly wounded in rocket fire on Shfela
Three residents are lightly wounded from rocket fire on the Shfela region in central Israel.
One man is hit in the leg by shrapnel from a rocket warhead. Two others are also lightly injured, but not from rockets. They are reportedly hurt from stumbling while running to shelters.
All three are evacuated to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
Rocks thrown on Israeli vehicles on Route 6
A bus and several private cars are hit with stones on Route 6 near Nitsanei Oz, east of Netanya near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.
Two people are lightly hurt in the incident, one from shock, the other apparently from stopping the car quickly. The attack takes place in the southbound lanes.
Police are searching the area for the perpetrators.
As day five comes to an end
It’s a little after 1.00 am in Jerusalem, the end of a long, violent day. The Israeli army is in the process of warning residents of Gaza to leave certain neighborhoods where it is planning to attack. Hamas is maintaining its rocket fire into Israel, and also claiming responsibility for three rockets fired into northern Israel from Lebanon just before 11 pm on Saturday. We’ll close this liveblog now, and our colleague Haviv Rettig Gur will be taking up the strain in a few moments with a new liveblog. Good night.