After four days of Operation Protective Edge, over 400 rockets had been fired at Israel, and several Israelis were injured during Friday, even as Iron Dome intercepted most rockets heading into residential areas. The Israeli Air Force had carried out over 1,000 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip; Palestinian reports said at least 100 Palestinians have been killed. Prime Minister Netanyahu said all Gaza casualties are the fault and responsibility of Hamas, which uses Gazans as human shields while Israel does its best to avoid hitting civilians. Netanyahu also said the operation will continue until longterm calm is guaranteed for Israel’s citizens. The Times of Israel liveblogged Friday’s events as they unfolded here. (Saturday’s liveblog is here.)

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Defense minister backs Gaza ground operation

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon supports a limited ground operation into the Gaza Strip, sources close to the defense minister told Channel 10.

According to the report, if Israel were to pursue a ground incursion, it would focus on targets that cannot be destroyed from the air, specifically Hamas’s infamous tunnels near its border with Israel.

At the end of a security cabinet meeting Thursday night, which lasted over seven hours, Ya’alon said that, to this point in Operation Protective Edge, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza have been dealt a serious blow.

He added that Israel would continue to “hit” Hamas and to “make it pay a heavy price.”

Air strikes in Gaza target tunnel areas near Sinai

The Palestinian media reports that the Israeli Air Force targeted several sites in Gaza, injuring a yet-undetermined number of Palestinians.

Known tunnel areas between the enclave and Egypt’s Sinai region were targeted, according to Palestinian media cited by Israel Radio.

Gazan sources also told Israel Radio that the targets included homes of Hamas members and sites belonging to the group’s security and police forces.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashkelon

The Iron Dome intercepts one rocket over Ashkelon as sirens wail in several Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip.

The interception came after a slight pause in rocket attacks from the Palestinian enclave.

US: We won’t talk to Hamas, but Egypt, Turkey or Qatar could

Following President Obama’s phone call to Prime Minister Netanyahu a few hours back, in which he offered US help in negotiating a cease-fire, AP is quoting a senior administration official who makes clear that the US still considers Hamas a terrorist organization and it won’t have direct contact with its leaders.

Instead, the official says, other players in the Mideast could act as intermediaries, as was the case when Egypt and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton worked to secure the November 2012 cease-fire. Egypt, Turkey or Qatar are all possibilities, says the official, AP reports.

Trouble is, Egypt has other preoccupations and little time for Hamas; Turkish-Israel ties are in a deep freeze; and Israel would hardly trust Qatar as a mediator.

– AP, Times of Israel staff

Israel’s UN envoy sounds the alarm

Earlier Thursday, in a moment of drama at the UN, Israel’s ambassador suddenly played the piercing 15-second siren that warns Israelis to run to bomb shelters to escape rocket attacks — a move designed to highlight the threat his country faces. Ron Prosor told the council that Hamas is “intentionally and indiscriminately” threatening 3.5 million Israelis and “no nation, no people and no government could tolerate this.”

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said he had no props for his appeal to the council “to stop the bleeding” and revive the Palestinians’ “dying hopes” for an end to the conflict and peace with freedom. “I speak on behalf of the suffering and grieving Palestinian people, who are enduring yet another barrage of death, destruction, trauma and terror,” he said.

Diplomats claimed Jordan has circulated a press statement, which is not legally binding, for the Security Council’s consideration that would call for a cease-fire.

The draft calls for “immediate calm and ending the hostilities in Gaza including the launching of rocket attacks,” restoration of the 2012 cease-fire and resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a comprehensive peace agreement and a two-state solution. It also calls for protection of civilians.

– AP

Hamas says it’s prepared for escalation that could last months

Hamas says it’s prepared to keep fighting, even if the current round of violence with Israel goes on for months.

Hamas co-founder and senior official Mahmoud A-Zahar tells the group’s television channel, al-Aqsa, that rocket attacks on Israel will stop only if Israel abides by its conditions, namely ending the blockade on the Palestinian enclave and releasing 56 Hamas members freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal for Gilad Shalit and re-arrested in the West Bank during an 18-day operation in search of the kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers abducted on June 12 and found murdered on June 30.

Hamas says the arrests are a “red line” and cannot be overlooked.

The group’s leadership has gone underground since the start of Operation Protective Edge on Monday for fear of targeted assassinations.

Sirens wail in northern Israel

Code Red sirens, warning of incoming rockets, wail in Haifa and the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council just south of the city.

No immediate reports of interceptions, damage, injuries or (rocket) landings.

Rocket intercepted by Iron Dome near Haifa

One rocket intercepted over Hadera, south of Haifa, after a salvo of projectiles was fired from the Gaza Strip in the direction of northern Israel, triggering sirens in Haifa, Zichron Yaakov and Atlit.

Residents in the north report hearing several booms indicating possible additional interceptions.

The siren in Haifa sounded again for the first time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, in which, over the course of 34 days, the city and other northern regions were subjected to daily rocket fire from Hezbollah.

Hamas confirms it fired an R160 rocket in the direction of Haifa.

Elderly woman in Haifa collapses, dies on way to shelter

A woman in her 70s collapses and dies on her way to take shelter, following sirens warning of an incoming rocket in Haifa and the surrounding region.

Emergency services called to the scene attempted to resuscitate her, but were forced to pronounce her dead

Palestinians report 2 casualties in recent air strikes

Palestinian media reports that two people were killed in earlier airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force, including a child.

According to the report, Anas Abu al-Kass, 33, was killed during an airstrike on a building in Gaza City’s Tel el-Hawa neighborhood, and a 10-year-old child died of shrapnel wounds after a strike in the Rafah area near Egypt, bringing the Palestinian death toll since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge to 92, according to Israel Radio.

Al-Kass’s parents reportedly both died during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.

Sirens in Sderot and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council

Sirens sound in Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Two rockets fired from Lebanon land near Metulla

Two rockets fired from Lebanon landed near Metulla, close to the Israeli border, some 200 kilometers from Tel Aviv.

Residents in the north heard two explosions as the rockets landed in open territory. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

 

 

Five Palestinians killed in strike in southern Gaza

Five Palestinians, including at least one woman, were killed in another Israeli airstrike Friday that hit a house in southern Gaza, medical sources said.

Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said 15 other people were wounded in the airstrike targeting the house of an Islamic Jihad militant in Rafah.

AFP

Two rockets intercepted over Netivot, near Gaza

The Iron Dome intercepts two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over Netivot, near the Palestinian enclave.

Rocket hits near Netivot

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hits an open area near the city of Netivot in the western Negev. The Iron Dome intercepts two other rockets over Netivot fired in the same barrage.

Rocket fragments found near Lebanese border

Fragments of a rocket are found in an open area near Kiryat Shmona, on the Lebanese border. The rocket is thought to be one of two fired from Lebanon early Friday.

While those responsible for the launch on the northern town are not yet identified, the launch from Lebanon may mark an escalation of the fighting beyond the Gaza front.

IDF attacks 50 targets overnight

The IDF says it struck some 50 targets in Gaza overnight.

The figure brings the total targets hit by Israeli airstrikes in the Hamas-run territory since the start of the fighting on Monday to as many as 950.

According to Palestinian sources, the strikes early Friday leave six dead in the Strip.

IDF turns to UN over Lebanon fire

The Israeli army passes a message to UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, about the two rockets from Lebanon that struck the northern city of Metulla early Friday morning.

Expecting riots, police limit access to Temple Mount for Friday prayers

Police are limiting access to the Temple Mount on Friday to Palestinian women, and men over 50 holding blue identity cards indicating they are residents of Jerusalem.

The decision comes amid intelligence information suggesting that Palestinian groups are planning to “undermine public order” at the holy site, police are saying, a reference to expected rioting over the escalating fighting on the Gaza front.

According to the Jerusalem police, forces are deploying in the alleyways of the Old City to keep order in the streets surrounding the Temple Mount as well.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

‘Lebanon rockets fired by Palestinian group’

The rockets fired from Lebanon that hit Metulla early Friday were likely fired by a Palestinian group that identifies with Hamas, say defense sources.

This would indicate that the Lebanon rockets do not represent an escalation and broadening of the conflict by the entry of other groups such as Hezbollah.

Sources also indicate that the rockets that struck were Katyushas.

The IDF responds with artillery fire into Lebanon.

Biden meets Jordan’s Abdullah, talks Gaza, Syria

US Vice President Joe Biden and Jordan’s King Abdullah II meet in Washington Thursday to discuss the many points of violence in the region, including the continuing Israel-Hamas aerial fighting in Gaza.

The White House releases a summary readout of the contents of the meeting:

US Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Knesset memorial ceremony for former prime minister Ariel Sharon, January 2014. (photo credit: screenshot)

US Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Knesset memorial ceremony for former prime minister Ariel Sharon, January 2014. (photo credit: screenshot)

“This morning, the Vice President hosted His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for a meeting at the Naval Observatory. The King and Vice President discussed a wide range of regional issues, including the Gaza crisis. They spoke about Iraq and agreed on the need for Iraqis to quickly form a government capable of uniting all of Iraq’s communities in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Regarding Syria, they discussed efforts to create the conditions for a comprehensive political solution, address the threat of violent extremism, and meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian people as well as those of host communities, including Jordan. The King and Vice President reaffirmed the value both countries place on the U.S.-Jordan partnership.”

Rocket hits Eshkol

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip strikes an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Security official: Rocket fire on north was expected

An Upper Galilee Regional Council security official says the rockets that fell in the Metulla-Kiryat Shmona area on Friday are not unexpected.

“This was a possible scenario that the council and residents have been preparing for, but we didn’t have a specific warning ahead of time,” according to Asaf Lengleven.

“As of now, the army’s instructions are simply to continue life as normal,” he tells the Ynet news site.

Hundreds of residents from the periphery of Gaza are being hosted in kibbutzim and towns on the northern border.

Sirens heard in Ashkelon, Ashdod region

Warning sirens go off in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gan Yavne, Nes Ziona, Netivot, Kiryat Malachi, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Hof Ashkelon.

Details to come.

Smoke seen at Ashdod gas station

After sirens are heard across the south, reports are received of a direct hit on a gas station.

Thick smoke is rising from the site, and rescue services are on their way.

There are Iron Dome intercepts in the latest barrage. Details to come.

US ambassador says Israel has right to self-defense

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro says that Israel has a right to defend itself from Gaza rocket fire, and that Washington is proud of the success of the Iron Dome, in which the US has invested tens of millions of dollars.

Shapiro was speaking to Israel Radio.

He also says that the US will not talk to Hamas, a terrorist organization, but will speak to other governments that can influence the group.

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro speaks at the Jewish Federations' General Assembly (GA) in Jerusalem on November 11, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro speaks at the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly (GA) in Jerusalem on November 11, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

At least 1 seriously hurt in Ashdod strike

There is one person seriously injured in the rocket strike on the gas station in Ashdod, say rescue personnel.

Firefighters, police, and ambulances are at the site, where thick, black smoke is rising out of the fuel tank that was hit.

3 hurt in Ashdod gas station strike

Three people are hurt in the morning strike on a gas station in Ashdod, says the head of the Magen David Adom’s Lachish region to Israel Radio.

One is seriously injured, one is moderately hurt, and the third person is lightly wounded.

Rescue personnel pulled the seriously injured man from a burning car moments before it exploded.

Security forces are currently carrying out searches in the area for additional casualties. Firefighters are working to ensure that the fire does not spread. The situation is not yet under control, but the fire is not spreading.

Additional rescue teams are on the way.

Two Hamas men killed in Rafah attack

Hamas says that two of its fighters are killed in an Israeli attack on western Rafah.

In addition, the organization says it fired nine rockets at Ashdod Friday morning.

One of the rockets hit a gas station in Ashdod, injuring at least three, one seriously.

Hamas launches 200 rockets in 24 hours, IDF says

Hamas launches 200 rockets from the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours, the Israel Defense Forces says on Friday morning. The figure brings the total of rockets fired at Israel since the start of Operation Protective Edge, on Monday, to 550.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit also notes that Hamas has launched barrages especially during morning and evening rush hours, making it more difficult for Israeli civilians to make it to shelter.

Fire fighters and police units were on the scene of an explosion in Ashdod caused by rocket fire from Gaza, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, July 10, 2014. The rocket had landed on a car, crushing it, and causing the building's gas tank to explode and burst into flames. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Firefighters and police units on the scene of an explosion in Ashdod caused by rocket fire from Gaza, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

IDF airstrikes, meanwhile, hit some 210 targets since this time yesterday, the army says. These include “long-range rocket launchers, Hamas leadership facilities, terror and smuggling tunnels, fuel-smuggling tunnels, compounds and training sites, communications facilities, air defense elements, concealed launchers, and additional sites used for terror activities targeting Israel, including command and control centers.”

The figure brings the total number of targets in the coastal Strip hit by the IDF to 1,090.

IDF releases list of recent Hamas targets, vows to continue strikes

The IDF releases on Friday morning a list of Hamas targets hit by Israeli strikes over the past 24 hours.

“In cooperation with the Israel Security Agency (ISA), the IDF targeted the residences of senior terror operatives, which were used for the purposes of advancing terror activities and operations, including command and control of the Hamas terror network,” the army says in a statement.

“Among those targeted was the residence of Attiya Abu Nakira, a senior terror operative in the Rafah area, responsible for numerous attacks on Israel. Abu Nakira, born in 1976, oversaw all Hamas terror activity in his territory, including the establishment of a terror network in the Rafah area and the training of terror operatives, contributing to the overall strengthening of Hamas. Attacks executed by Abu Nakira included rocket attacks on Israel, rocket firing on IDF forces (including tanks and aircraft), a major tunnel-based explosive attack against an IDF position in 2001, and attacks against Israel during operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense.”

The IDF also targeted “a Hamas training facility, which was adjacent to a school,” the army says. “Israeli intelligence services have reported the presence of rockets in the school, as well as the presence of an on-site terror tunnel. The Salah al-Islamiah Society also carried out functions at this site, evidence of the way in which Hamas carries out terrorism under the presumed cover of civilian facilities.”

The army vows to continue the campaign “to systematically target Hamas’s network and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, so as to strike a severe blow to the terror organization responsible for nearly 550 rocket attacks on Israeli civilians since the start of Operation Protective Edge, and thousands more rockets and additional attacks over the years. Thus far, the IDF has greatly damaged Hamas capabilities in the Gaza Strip and will continue to target Hamas and all who engage in terrorism against the residents of Israel.”

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF spokesman: “Whereas Israel safeguards Israeli civilians with its military capabilities, the Hamas safeguards its terror capabilities with Palestinian civilians while carrying out terrorism against the people of Israel, a deplorable and gross violation of the most basic of standards.”

Condition of soldier hurt last night worsens

The condition of one of the two IDF soldiers hurt in a mortar attack in the Eshkol Regional Council Thursday night worsens from moderate to serious, Ynet reports.

The second soldier is hospitalized with light injuries.

Rocket falls in Eshkol, 2 more shot down

After warning sirens sound, a rocket from Gaza lands in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council, while another two rockets are intercepted by the Iron Dome.

Since start of Protective Edge, IDF strikes Gaza every 4.5 minutes

Israeli strikes on Gaza have come at a pace of one strike on the Hamas-ruled Strip every 4.5 minutes since the start of Operation Protective Edge on Monday, according to the army’s figures.

Israel has hit some 1,090 targets in three-and-a-half days, the Israel Defense Forces says.

Palestinian reports count some 90 dead in the coastal territory from the strikes, a figure that includes both civilians and fighters.

Army asks Israelis to avoid ‘flying for sport’ over weekend

In light of the hundreds of Hamas rockets flying through Israel’s southern airspace each day, the army is asking Israelis to avoid “flying for sport” anywhere south of Tel Aviv.

That includes recreational flying of private planes and hang gliding.

Many small planes and gliders take to Israel’s skies each weekend in what has become a growing, if still niche, pastime.

Rocket falls in Sdot Negev area as sirens sound in south

A rocket fell in the past few minutes in an open area in the Sdot Negev Regional Council.

“Color Red” sirens were heard in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Throughout the morning, sirens have sounded in dozens of southern communities.

Lebanese say blood found at site of rocket launches

Blood, a boot, and scraps of clothing are found by Lebanese forces at the site from which Katyushas were launched into Israel Friday morning, Israel Radio reports.

The findings, if the reports are accurate, could be the result of retaliatory artillery from the IDF.

Air force strikes Gaza launchers that fired on Ashdod

The Israeli Air Force strikes the rocket-launching cell in Gaza that fired the barrage on Ashdod over the last half-hour.

Army Radio reports that the launcher was destroyed, but the terrorists who operated it were gone by the time the IDF hit.

One of the rockets that hit Ashdod in the last barrage ignited a gasoline container at a gas station, setting a nearby car on fire, severely wounding a passenger and lightly wounding seven others.

Number of Ashdod wounded rises to 8

After a rocket hits a gasoline container in Ashdod Friday morning, causing a large fire, the number of wounded rises to eight.

One of the casualties, a passenger pulled from a burning car, is severely wounded, while the others are lightly hurt.

Images of IDF strike in Lebanon

Photos emerge from the IDF retaliatory strike in Hasiba, Lebanon, on Friday, after terrorists in Lebanon fire Katyushas into Israel.

Lebanese sources say blood was found at the site of the IDF strike.

Sirens in Hof Ashkelon region

Warning sirens are heard in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

Lebanese Army says it’s pursuing rocket squad

In an official statement released Friday morning, the Lebanese military says that three rockets were fired from the Hasiba area into Israel, Israel Radio reports.

The Lebanese Army also says it found two launchers, loaded with rockets, which were neutralized by their forces.

Lebanese forces are involved in a manhunt for the squad that fired into Israel.

Sirens heard near Gaza border

Warning sirens sound in towns on the border with the Gaza Strip.

‘US looking to Egypt, Qatar for cease-fire help’

Washington is contacting Egypt and Qatar to help broker a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, former Israeli ambassador and negotiator Uri Savir claims Friday morning.

In a brief post on his Twitter account, Savir, who was the chief negotiator of the Oslo Accords, suggests that, following US President Barack Obama’s offer to help broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the US would enlist the help of two traditional regional partners.

On Thursday, the White House conveyed in a statement that Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement.”

The deal referenced in the statement brought to an end the eight-day-long Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, and was brokered by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Egypt, under the leadership of Mohammed Morsi.

Under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt traditionally played a role in securing deals concerning the Gaza Strip. The US refuses to conduct direct talks with Hamas, which is recognized as a terror group under US law.

After Mubarak’s ouster, and given the political instability and complicated relationship between the US and the current Egyptian administration, some pundits believed that Cairo would prove unable to carry out its traditional role as Gaza broker.

Qatar also frequently serves as a go-between for US initiatives in the Middle East. Most recently, it served as guarantor and mediator in the negotiations with the Taliban for the release of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

– Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Sirens in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport

Warning sirens are heard in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Kfar Chabad, Palmahim, Rishon Lezion, Holon, Bnei Brak, Givatayim, Ramat Gan, and Bat Yam.

In addition, sirens sound at Ben Gurion Airport near the city of Lod.

Explosions over Tel Aviv region

After sirens sound across Tel Aviv and the center of the country, explosions are heard.

Details to come.

Three rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv area

Iron Dome intercepts all three rockets fired at the Tel Aviv area, according to an IDF statement.

Egypt blasts Israel’s ‘excessive, unnecessary’ force in Gaza

Egypt hits out at Israel for killing civilians in Gaza with “oppressive policies of mass punishment,” while urging the international community to act quickly to end the conflict.

Israel’s aerial military campaign, targeting rocket-firing terror groups in Gaza, has killed around 95 Palestinians and wounded more than 500 since it was launched early Tuesday. According to the Israel Defense Forces, some 1,100 sorties were carried out since Monday.

“Egypt rejects the irresponsible Israeli escalation in the occupied Palestinian territory, which comes in the form of excessive and unnecessary use of military force leading to the death of innocent civilians,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“This represents a continuation of the oppressive policies of mass punishment.”

The ministry statement also appealed to the international community to quickly intervene to end the violence, and said the two sides must adhere to the truce that ended their 2012 conflict.

Erdogan: No ‘normalizing’ of ties with Israel

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says there can be no normalizing of Turkish-Israeli ties as long as Israel continues its offensive in Gaza.

Turkey and Israel have been working toward improving ties that were soured after Israeli commandos stormed a pro-Palestinian ship in 2010, killing eight Turks and one Turkish-American affiliated with the Islamist IHH organization.

Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to pay compensation under a US-brokered arrangement in 2013. Turkish officials said in March the sides were close to reaching a deal to restore ties.

Erdogan tells Israel late Thursday: “You have to end this oppression. As long as it does not end, a normalizing of ties between Turkey and Israel is not possible.”

– AP and Times of Israel staff

Lebanese Army arrests 1 for firing at Israel

After it launched a search, the Lebanese military arrests one man suspected of involvement in firing three rockets at Israel early Friday.

Lebanese forces find blood stains in his car, which they suspect belong to the individual who fired, and was wounded either from the launch or from IDF retaliatory fire, Ynet reports.

In this picture taken on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Lebanese army soldiers patrol a road near Ras al-Haref mountain at the unmarked Lebanese-Syrian border, eastern Lebanon. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Lebanese Army soldiers patrol a road near Ras al-Haref mountain at the unmarked Lebanese-Syrian border, eastern Lebanon. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Hamas claims it fired four M-75 rockets at Ben Gurion

After sirens are heard Friday over the Tel Aviv area, and three rockets are intercepted by Iron Dome, Hamas claims it fired four M-75 rockets at Ben Gurion.

The M-75 has a range of 75 kilometers.

Ben Gurion airport's Duty-Free mall (photo credit: to by Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Ben Gurion Airport’s Duty-Free mall (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Sirens in Ashdod, mortars in Eshkol

Rocket fire on Israel continues, with sirens sounding in the coastal city of Ashdod. A gas station in the city was struck early Friday morning, seriously injuring one and wounding seven others.

In addition, at least two mortar shells fall in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Rocket fragments fall in Tel Aviv

After the Iron Dome intercepts rockets over Tel Aviv, fragments fall near some of the city’s trendiest streets.

Tel Aviv resident Denisse Dubrovsky was on her way to buy coffee when she saw the fragments lying on the street before security forces arrive. A minute later, she says, buses were running again and the city had returned to routine.

She noticed people remaining on the street during sirens, and says they do not realize the risk they are taking.

“A lot of ‘tough guys’ are making fun of people for being scared or running for cover, but although we have faith in the awesome Iron Dome, part of why we need to take cover is that pieces of the exploded rockets fall onto the streets if they were intercepted above, and they can still cause a ton of damage,” she tells The Times of Israel.

Sirens in Ein Hashlosha

Sirens are heard in Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, on the border with Gaza in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Analysts question efficacy of Iron Dome

MIT Technology Review quotes experts who worry that Iron Dome is not destroying the warheads of the rockets it intercepts.

“Even though Israel’s US-funded ‘Iron Dome’ rocket-defense interceptors appear to be hitting Hamas rockets in recent days, they are almost certainly failing in the crucial job of detonating those rockets’ shrapnel-packed explosive warheads, expert analysts say. As a result, rockets fired from Gaza are probably plunging to the ground with intact explosives. The fact that they aren’t causing injuries or deaths in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities is mainly a matter of luck, the analysts add.”

For their part, security officials note that Iron Dome only targets rockets fired at population centers, with the interception intended primarily to throw the rocket off-course, not to obliterate them. Israelis are advised not to approach fallen rockets, as they may still explode.

An Israeli Iron Dome missile intercepts a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip over Jerusalem on July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

An Israeli Iron Dome missile intercepts a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip over Jerusalem on July 10, 2014. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel reportedly rejects Turkish mediation, prefers Egypt

The Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida reports today that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rejecting offers from Turkey to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Jerusalem reportedly prefers that Egypt, if anyone, broker an understanding between the parties.

The Prime Minister’s Office declines to comment on the report.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday there can be no normalization of Turkish-Israeli ties as long as Israel continues its offensive in Gaza.

“You have to end this oppression. As long as it does not end, a normalizing of ties between Turkey and Israel is not possible,” claimed Erdogan.

– Raphael Ahren

2 Hamas operatives killed in north Gaza strike

Two Hamas members are killed when the Israeli Air Force hits their car in the northern Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reports.

In addition, two Palestinians are seriously injured when the IAF hits a house in the neighborhood of Sajaiya. Houses in Khan Yunis and Jabalya are also struck.

Israel has been targeting the homes of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas furious over re-closing of Rafah crossing

After opening the Rafah crossing this week in order to allow wounded Palestinians to reach Egypt, the el-Sissi government closes the crossing again.

Hamas accuses Egypt of disrespecting the suffering of the Palestinian people, Israel Radio reports.

Members of Hamas' security forces standing guard in front of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, September 16, 2013. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)

Members of Hamas’s security forces stand guard in front of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, on September 16, 2013. (photo credit: AFP/Said Khatib)

House in Eshkol suffers direct hit

A house in the town of Eshkol is hit by a mortar shell. Luckily, the family followed safety procedures and was inside their protected room at the time.

No one was injured.

Sirens in Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev

Sirens sound across the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils. Residents of Kfar Aza, Sderot, Nir Am, Kfar Maimon, Nahal Oz, and other communities in the area head for shelters.

Austria urges restraint, ‘proportionate’ response from Israel

As the Palestinian death toll continues to climb, the first Western leaders are taking Israel to task for the deaths of civilians in Gaza and calling for proportionality in the army’s response to ongoing rocket fire.

“Civilian casualties have to be avoided at all costs,” Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says in a statement.

“Even when Israel has a legitimate security concern, it needs to be proportionate and in accordance with international humanitarian law. On the other hand, the ongoing rocket fire on Israel needs to cease immediately.

“Peace is possible,” he adds. In his statement, Kurz also refers to Ramadan in calling for an end to the violence, saying the holy month “is considered for Muslims a time for peace.”

– Raphael Ahren

Sirens in Ashkelon industrial zone

Sirens are sounded north of the Gaza Strip, including in the Ashkelon industrial zone, Zikim, Yad Mordechai, and Netiv Ha’asara.

Iron Dome fells two rockets over Ashkelon

After sirens are heard in communities north of the Gaza Strip, the Iron Dome system knocks down two rockets over the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Two Israeli soldiers stand near an Iron Dome battery near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on March 13, 2014. (photo credit:AFP/DAVID BUIMOVITCH)

Two Israeli soldiers stand near an Iron Dome battery near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on March 13, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/David Buimovitch)

Defense committee chair wants to reduce Gaza’s electricity, water

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, MK Ze’ev Elkin, argues that Israel should pressure Hamas by reducing the electricity and water supply to the Gaza Strip.

If such a move brings an end to the rocket fire, it would be a far more humane means of squeezing Hamas than a potential Israeli ground invasion, Elkin argues.

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

MK Zee’v Elkin (LIkud), chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in the Knesset, May 12, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

“This operation must reach a point that Hamas is hurt enough to bring quiet to southern residents,” he tells Army Radio this afternoon.

“If there is no choice, we’ll launch a ground operation. But we have to consider pressuring [Hamas] with other tools. We continue to provide electricity and water to Gaza. [Reducing the supply of both] would be more humane than a ground invasion, which would lead to significant deaths on our side and theirs.”

Palestinian death toll hits 100

The number of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge reaches 100, according to Israel Radio.

The number includes both terrorists from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as civilians, including several members of the Kaware family and soccer fans viewing the World Cup.

Palestinian relatives of eight members of the Al Haj family, who were killed in a strike early morning, grieve in the family house during their funeral in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinian relatives of eight members of the al-Haj family, who were killed in a strike early morning, grieve in the family house during their funeral in the Khan Yunis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

Israel says mediation irrelevant as long as rocket fire continues

Offers to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the terrorists in Gaza are “currently not relevant, because Hamas continues to shoot rockets at Israeli citizens,” government sources in Jerusalem tell The Times of Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces’ response to the ongoing hail of missiles from the Strip “will continue to intensify,” the officials say.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will “do everything possible to return quiet for an extended period of time — be it through military or through diplomatic means,” they add.

– Raphael Ahren

Sirens in Gan Yavne and Ashdod

Sirens are heard in the Gan Yavne and Ashdod regions, between Tel Aviv and the Gaza Strip.

Sirens in Eshkol Regional Council

Sirens are heard in the Eshkol Regional Council, in southern Israel.

Hamas warns foreign airlines away from Israel

Hamas’s military wing claims it sent a message to foreign airlines that fly to Israel, telling them to “stop the flights in light of the dangers that engulf all the airports as a result of the war.”

Ben Gurion International airport (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/flash90 )

Ben Gurion International Airport (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90 )

Israel Radio reports that flights into Israel have been altered to avoid areas in which the Iron Dome batteries might fire. Giora Romm, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel, says that flights come in from the north now.

Unfortunately, says Romm, residents of the neighborhoods over which airplanes are now flying have been calling to complain about the noise.

IDF awaiting order for ground incursion, Gantz says

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says the army is prepared for a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip and is awaiting government orders.

“Nothing is stopping us from going ahead,” Gantz stresses during a visit to the paratroopers’ training base. “The army does not need a straw to break the camel’s back for a ground incursion, but a political directive,” he says, according to Ynet.

Sirens heard in northern Negev

Warning sirens are heard in towns in the northern Negev, including Eshel Hanasi, Gilat, and Ofakim.

Merkel condemns rocket fire, German Embassy says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterates her condemnation of rocket fire on Israel’s cities.

According to Germany’s embassy in Israel, Merkel has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there’s no justification for the rocket fire.

Earlier, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier tells a German paper that “the murderous rocket fire on Israel’s cities must stop” and calls on all sides to end the violence.

Soldier killed in West Bank road accident

An active-duty IDF soldier is killed in an apparent motor vehicle accident in the West Bank.

According to officials, the soldier’s jeep overturned on the road between the settlements of Shavei Shomron and Kedumim.

Two other soldiers, who were in the vehicle, are also hurt. They were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital.

Police are investigating, and officials say the incident appears to be a straightforward accident.

Home Front Command’s emergency Shabbat stations

In order to enable Sabbath-observant Jews to remain informed about rocket warnings and other developments in Operation Protective Edge, the Home Front Command will operate silent stations across the country. They will only broadcast warnings and urgent updates.

The frequencies for the silent broadcasts will be:

  • Gush Dan – 89.1 and 102 FM
  • Sharon – 94.7 FM
  • Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza border, Lachish – 101.5 FM
  • Beersheba, Negev – 97 FM
  • Arava, Dead Sea, Mitzpe Ramon – 95.8 FM

Let’s hope that the stations stay quiet all weekend long.

Fatah praises female suicide bombers

A short video clip posted on the Fatah movement’s official Facebook page Thursday glorified a female army unit training to launch rockets at Israel and presented suicide bombers as role models for the Palestinian population.

In the video, a group of Palestinian women are seen training, assembling and setting up rockets, shooting and engaging in physical training.

A narrator explains that the female fighters have “willpower stronger than mountains,” and that they “strive to become an important part of the path of Jihad and the struggle — the path walked by Dalal Mughrabi, Hanadi Jaradat and Reem Riyashi.”

Mughrabi, Jaradat and Riyashi all carried out deadly terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a member of the Fatah movement.

New photos from rocket-hit Ashdod gas station

The Israeli badly injured in the direct hit at an Ashdod gas station early this morning is an elderly, handicapped man, who was apparently in his car when the rocket struck. A relative tells Army Radio he fills up at that gas station every week, and that when she warned him about the rocket threats, he told her not to fill his head with such concerns.

He is suffering from severe burns and an injury to his hand, according to Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service.

The Flash90 photo agency has put out some photos from the scene.

Israelis watch the smoke rising from a gas station in Ashdod that was hit directly by rocket fire from Gaza on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014. The rocket caused explosions and three people were injured, one of them critically. (Photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israelis watch the smoke rising from a gas station in Ashdod that was hit directly by rocket fire from Gaza, on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Fire Fighters at the scene of a gas station in Ashdod that was hit directly by rocket fire from Gaza on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014.  (Photo credit: Flash90)

Firefighters at the scene, July 11, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Flames rise at a gas station in Ashdod that was hit directly by rocket fire from Gaza on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014. The rocket caused explosions and three people were injured, one of them critically. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Flames at the gas station, July 11, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Ramadan prayers end peacefully on Temple Mount

The second Friday prayer session of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on the Temple Mount comes to a close. Over 12,000 worshipers who attended the prayer session leave the site in the Old City of Jerusalem in relative calm.

No protests or violent incidents are reported.

Sirens in Sdot Negev and Netivot

Warning sirens are heard over the Sdot Negev Regional Council and Netivot. Details to come.

Egypt destroys Gaza tunnel intended for attacks on Israel, Egypt

Egypt’s military says it destroyed a tunnel from Gaza meant to be used for attacks against Israeli civilians and Egyptian military installations.

Military sources are telling Egyptian and Palestinian media outlets that border guards have engaged fighters, possibly from Hamas, at the tunnel’s entrance in the Salah a-Din area of Rafah, forcing them to flee.

Inside the tunnel, Egyptian forces find 20 warheads and 20 platforms for launching Grad rockets. The materiel was smuggled to the Sinai Peninsula and was intended to be launched at Egyptian military installations and Israeli towns.

World Health Organization urges Gaza assistance

The World Health Organization urges the international community to assist the Palestinian Authority financially, due to “the collapse of the health system in Gaza resulting from the escalation of violence.”

“The situation in Gaza is critical,” a WHO employee writes, adding that there are only enough medical supplies in the Strip to last for an additional 10 days.

The WHO report states that the Gaza Strip suffers from a water shortage, and that medical employees have not received their paychecks in months. Many medical units have stopped showing up for work, the report adds.

The PA is over $253 million in debt, according to the report.

2 rockets intercepted in Sdot Negev

The Iron Dome defense system intercepts two rockets fired at the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Sirens are heard throughout the area.

Report says IDF top brass supports Gaza ground operation

The top generals in the Israel Defense Forces emphatically support a ground incursion into Gaza, which, they claim, would contribute significantly to the army’s effort to destroy the “terror infrastructures” of the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio’s veteran military correspondent Carmela Menashe is reporting.

The army is only waiting for the go-ahead from the political leadership, the generals say. The required forces are arrayed and prepared, and top officers say the next 36 hours will determine how the IDF is able to operate in the Strip.

The cabinet is expected to make its decision over the next two days.

No prayer in unprotected Ashdod synagogues

Ashdod Mayor Yechiel Lasri orders the Shabbat shutdown of those synagogues without a bomb shelter, reports Kikar HaShabbat.

“Shabbat prayers must not be held in synagogues where there is no protection,” Lasri says.

“Therefore, anyone who wants to pray should choose a synagogue that has [a bomb shelter].”

Rouhani predicts defeat for Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says in a letter to Muslim leaders that the Palestinians will once again defeat Israel.

“Helping the oppressed Palestinians and preventing the Zionist regime from carrying out its atrocities is the responsibility of the international organizations and the freedom-loving countries of the world,” he writes, according to Ynet. “The Palestinian nation, which is difficult to defeat, will undoubtedly once again defeat the Zionist regime.

“The unity of the Muslim countries against the enemies is crucial at this juncture,” he adds.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech at a memorial ceremony in Tehran, June 3, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ATTA KENARE)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech at a memorial ceremony in Tehran, June 3, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Atta Kenare)

Sirens in Beersheba, Ofakim

Sirens go off in Beersheba, the Merchavim Regional Council, and Ofakim.

Jewish protests group in US blames Israel for violence, urge boycotts

Protests against Israel organized by Jewish Voice for Peace drew a thousand demonstrators in 15 US cities, organizers said.

Cities where “We Divest National Week of Actions” protests took place included Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, according to Rabbi Alissa Wise, a director of organizing for the group and a member of its rabbinic council. The Oakland, Calif. group supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Sponsors of the Boston protest, which attracted about 100 people, included the American Friends Service committee, Grassroots International and Ads Against Apartheid, a group that has run an anti-Israel poster campaign on the Boston transit system.

After a rally on the Boston Common, the group, including many students and young people as well as members of a few faith and labor groups, marched through downtown streets and picketed briefly in front of three companies they say are complicit in the violence. One was Macy’s which was targeted as part of a boycott campaign of SodaStream products made in a West Bank settlement, and TIAA-CREF, a retirement investment fund.

“We are here to condemn Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians, to mourn the loss of lives, and to hold accountable the corporations that enable this violence,” said Lisa Stampnitzky, an activist with the Boston chapter of JVP.

Boston’s Jewish community did not stage any counter protests.
“We’re devoting all our energies to supporting Israelis who are facing an impossible situation with a reprehensible enemy sworn to Israel’s destruction,” said Elana Margolis, assistant director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

A rally in support of Israel is being planned by the Boston area chapter of StandWithUs, a national pro-Israel organization with a presence on college campuses, according to Aviva Malveira, a recent Boston University graduate who is now the group’s New England campus and community organizer.

“It’s important to speak out on behalf of Israel,” Malveira told JTA. “It’s unfortunate and sad that Jewish Voice for Peace aligns itself with an anti-Israel agenda. They blame solely Israel for the lack of peace and place no responsibility on the Palestinian leadership.”

Wise said that JVP mourns all of the victims of the conflict and said that it would be short-sighted to view last month’s kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens as the launch of the current fighting. “This is a conflict that goes back 47 years,” she said referring to Israel’s capture of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War. “To not see that context would miss the story.”

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who has led trade and academic delegations to Israel, said in a statement to JTA that the state’s residents extended their concern to all those in the region.

“It is difficult to imagine that only a few weeks after our most recent visit, sirens warn of rocket attacks from Gaza over Tel Aviv,” the statement from Patrick’s office said. “We hold close in our hearts our friends and loved ones in the region, and all innocent Israelis and Palestinians who are living in fear as a result of the recent violence.”

Separately, Ads Against Apartheid issued a statement on Thursday condemning the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for taking down its pre-approved posters without prior warning, claiming it was the result of pressure from pro-Israel groups.

MBTA Spokesman Joseph Pesaturo in an email to JTA confirmed that after additional scrutiny by the transit authority, the three posters were removed, four days before they were scheduled to come down.

“The ad was deemed to be in non-compliance with the MBTA’s court-approved advertising guidelines,” Pesaturo said.

– JTA

Mortar falls in open territory in Eshkol Regional Council

A mortar falls in open terrain in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip, setting off a Code Red siren.

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

Egypt says it thwarted attempted Grad smuggling from Gaza

Egyptian security forces say they thwarted an attempt to smuggle 20 Grad rockets from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai region.

The projectiles were meant to be used in attacks against Israel from the peninsula, Israel Radio reported.

2,000 rockets and mortars destroyed in past 4 days

A senior IDF official says 2,000 rockets and mortar shells were destroyed in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.

According to army intelligence, Hamas possessed 6,000 rockets and mortars before the operation began, Ynet reports.

Two rockets fired at Negev

Two rockets were fired at the western Negev from the Gaza Strip. No injuries reported.

Hamas slams Abbas for urging ceasefire

Hamas officials condemn Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after he calls for a ceasefire, Palestinian Media report.

Hamas Gaza spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accuses Abbas of “watching the conflict from the sidelines.”

“Israel started the conflict but it will not decide how it will end,” the Hamas spokesman says.

3 rockets hit open area in the Eshkol region

Three rockets explode in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip.

No injuries reported.

UN ‘concerned’ IDF violating human rights

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay expresses concern that the Israel Defense Force is violating international law by launching strikes on the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reports.

“We have received disturbing reports of civilians, including children, that have been affected by attacks on their homes, and there is growing fear that the Israeli attacks do not comply with international law, and violate human rights,” the commissioner said.

IDF says 7 Hamas members killed in Gaza

Seven Hamas members who had launched rockets at Israel were killed Friday in airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, an IDF spokesperson says.

The IDF adds that over the past day, nearly 30 tunnels and more than 40 rocket launchers were destroyed.

Sirens sound in Ashkelon, Hof Ashkelon, Shaar Hanegev

Sirens warning of incoming rockets wail in Ashkelon, Hof Ashkelon and the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

There were no immediate reports on injuries or damage.

Video footage shows IDF ‘knock on roof’ tactic

The Israeli media broadcast a video filmed in the Gaza Strip showing the IDF’s “knock on the roof” procedure, alerting inhabitants of a given building that the site will be targeted by dropping a non-explosive device onto the roof before bombing it, thus allowing them time to leave the area.

Ya’alon says more Iron Dome batteries in coming days

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon thanked the designers of the Iron Dome defense system during a meeting with officials from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Military Industries, adding that several additional batteries are set to become operational in the coming days.

Both companies helped develop the anti-missile defense system along with the IDF.

“I wish to thank you and express my appreciation for the Iron Dome system’s remarkable activity,” Ya’alon said.

“We are talking about outstanding achievements of the system, which primarily saves lives, and gives us broad possibilities in the battle against Hamas, and sends a strong message to states and organizations around us, who are accumulating massive amounts of missiles and rockets.”

“I visited yesterday, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a control center for the defense system and watched the Iron Dome interceptions in real time,” he continued.

“It was impossible not to admire the professionalism and commitment of the air defense fighters, as well as the special capabilities of the Iron Dome system. They are another example of the extraordinary human quality found in the defense industry in Israel.”

Thousands of Arab Israelis protest Operation Protective Edge

Thousands of Arab Israeli protesters gather in the Lower Galilee town of Manda to voice their opposition to Operation Protective Edge.

The demonstration was organized by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, Ynet reports.

Sirens in Eshkol region for ninth time on Friday

Sirens warning of an incoming rocket attack sound in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip for the ninth time since early Friday morning.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Hamas leaders again ‘hiding under hospital’

Gen. Eliezer Marom, the former head of the Israel Navy, tells Channel 2 that Hamas leaders in Gaza are again hiding from Israel under the wards of Gaza’s main Shifa hospital.

Marom, the navy chief from 2007-11, is reviving an allegation that Israeli officials also made at the time of 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eli Marom, the former commander of the Israeli Navy. (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eli Marom, the former commander of the Israeli Navy. (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

In the same studio discussion, another retired general, ex-IDF Military Intelligence chief Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, cautions against an exaggerated ground offensive, but does advocate a limited incursion into Gaza — to get to underground rocket-launchers and stockpiles, and other specific targets that cannot be hit from the air. Marom, by contrast, advocates a far wider ground offensive.

Channel 2 is reporting that Hamas has spent the time since the 2012 conflict emplacing launchers and arms stockpiles near schools, mosques and UNRWA facilities, and in apartment buildings — hoping that the local population will serve as human shields that will prevent Israel from targeting its weaponry.

Israeli military officials, including Chief of the General Staff Benny Gantz, have said repeatedly in recent days that Hamas terrorists are hiding out “in tunnels.”

In an article in February, ToI’s David Horovitz detailed Hamas’s much improved missile capabilities, and its use of underground tunnels. “Hamas has also committed considerable resources to the construction of a substantial network of tunnels — dozens of miles of underground networks in key areas of the Strip — which will immensely complicate future military confrontations for Israel,” he wrote.

“Hamas will use the tunnels to plant mines targeting Israeli land forces, the Israeli military believes. It will use the network of tunnels to move its gunmen undetected from place to place during warfare. The Israeli military further anticipates that Hamas will fire rockets from underground launchers, making them far harder to detect and target. Moreover, the Hamas command and communication facilities will be located underground, enabling it to seek to maintain effective control out of reach of Israeli air power. Finally, the Hamas leadership, which the Israeli army said in the past had taken refuge in underground bunkers beneath hospitals and other civilian facilities, will also utilize these more-sophisticated underground facilities.”

Horovitz added that “the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers have invested heavily in producing their own M-75 rockets, with a range of 75 kilometers and more… This means that the next round of conflict with Gaza will be focused on central Israel, with the Israeli military braced to defend the heart of the country against unprecedented salvos of M-75s directed at Tel Aviv, the rest of central Israel, and Jerusalem.”

US does not oppose – but doesn’t favor – ground operation

The US government does not oppose a ground operation into the Gaza Strip but prefers Israel refrain from embarking on one, US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Friday.

In their conversation on Thursday, “President [Barack] Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’s rockets,” Shapiro told Hebrew news website NRG. “If it’s possible to stop the rocket fire [from Gaza] without a ground incursion, that’s preferable because we all know the results [of such an operation.]”

“It’s not opposition to a ground operation but a willingness to talk about the consequences of such a move, ” said Shapiro.

On Thursday, the State Department blamed the current round of violence on Hamas and said the Obama administration was looking into the possibility of having Egypt, Qatar or Turkey mediate a cease-fire between the two sides.

Magen David Adom issues list of emergency needs

Israeli national emergency medical response organization Magen David Adom issues a list of emergency needs that citizens in Israel and abroad can sponsor.

The most critical emergency needs during the crisis, according to MDA:

1) Emergency medical supplies for ambulances and first-responders ($1,00-$10,000). These include trauma cervical collars, IV needles, ambulance resuscitators for adults and children, oxygen cylinders, spare parts for ambulances, uniforms, as bandages, oxygen and inhalation masks, respiratory apparatus, a blood pressure meter, needles and syringes, and blood transfusion kits.

2) MDA’s National Blood Services Center supplies ($3,600-$10,000). Incldes blood bags, viral testing kits, and transfusion equipment.

3) Communications systems ($1,000-$2,000). Includes beepers and cell phone units.

Rescue personnel treat a woman near the scene of an explosion in a car in Ashdod, Southern Israel, caused by rocket fire from Gaza, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, July 10, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Rescue personnel treat a woman near the scene of an explosion in a car in Ashdod, Southern Israel, caused by rocket fire from Gaza, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, July 10, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

MDA says it has treated 104 Israeli civilians injured in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.

“MDA and Israel’s Home Front Command spend a lot of time and resources educating the public about safety and the low numbers of Israeli casualties are the fruits of our labor,” says MDA Director of International Affairs Yonatan Yagodovsky.

“But MDA is still in need of significant assistance and support because don’t know how long this operation will last.”

To sponsor any of the items above or to make a donation to MDA, visit American Friends of MDA.

PM: No amount of global pressure will prevent Israel from hitting Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that no amount of international pressure will prevent Israel from acting against terror organizations that call for its destruction.

Speaking to the press Friday afternoon, Netanyahu says that Israel is preparing for all possibilities going forward, including a ground operation and a cease-fire.

Netanyahu warns however that the military will “not stop until quiet is restored to all Israeli citizens.”

“I will end [Operation Protective Edge] when the missile threat is over,” says the PM.

The prime minister accuses Hamas and Islamic Jihad members of “hiding behind civilians,” saying they are responsible for any harm that comes to ordinary Gazans.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system is an “extraordinary asset” to Israel’s defense, says the prime minister, adding that the Israeli government is acting to station Iron Dome batteries and other missile defense systems that would cover all of Israel.

Netanyahu also praises Israeli citizens for heeding the instructions of the Home Front Command when sirens sound, thus preventing the loss of life.

“I am proud to be your prime minister, Shabbat Shalom,” he says.

Sirens in greater Tel Aviv as rocket barrage launched from Gaza

Sirens sound in Azur, Bat Yam, Holon, Rishon Letzion and Palmachim as Gaza terrorists launched a fresh barrage of rockets at Israel’s central region, just as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a press statement on Operation Protective Edge.

According to initial reports, the Iron Dome system intercepted one rocket over Holon.

Five rockets launched at greater Tel Aviv area

Five rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip Friday evening in the direction of central Israel, triggering sirens in cities across the greater Tel Aviv area.

Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The barrage came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was delivering a press briefing on Operation Protective Edge.

Police suspect fire bomb caused Jerusalem blaze

Police investigators suspect that a fire in Jerusalem’s First Station Compound may have broken out after a Molotov Cocktail was deliberately hurled at the site.

The blaze caused serious damage to the compound, one of the capital’s most prominent recreational sites, and thousands of visitors were evacuated by police. Three vehicles were damaged in the fire as well, but no injuries were reported.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and managed after a short while to put out the flames.

Police are still investigating the cause of the fire. Initial reports stated that the blaze broke out due to faulty infrastructure, but now police believe the ignition was intentional.

Two soldiers injured by anti-tank missile fired from Gaza

Two soldiers lightly injured after militants launch an anti-tank missile from the Gaza Strip at the pair, who were patrolling the the security fence, the IDF Spokesperson’s office tweeted.

Defense Ministry says 8th Iron Dome battery ready for use

The Defense Ministry announces that an eighth Iron Dome battery is ready for operational use, Channel 10 reported.

The battery will be stationed at an undisclosed location.

“The eighth battery will allow us to protect large areas across the country from the threat of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip,” a statement from the Ministry of Defense read.

An Iron Dome Missile Battery near Tel Aviv, on the first day of Operation Protective Edge, July 8, 2014. (Photo by Flash90)

An Iron Dome Missile Battery near Tel Aviv, on the first day of Operation Protective Edge, July 8, 2014. (Photo by Flash90)

Sirens sound in Beersheba, Ashkelon

Sirens wail in Beersheba and Ashkelon. No immediate reports of injuries, damage or interceptions.

IDF targets 8 buildings in Strip

The IDF launched airstrikes on 8 buildings in the Gaza Strip which are used as command headquarters for terrorists, an army spokesperson says. According to Army Radio, one of the buildings had been targeted on Thursday as well.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 103 Palestinians were killed in IDF strikes and 700 were injured. The Egyptian government authorized the opening of the Rafah border crossing in order to transfer severely wounded Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt for emergency treatment.

A senior IDF official says 2,000 rockets and mortar shells were destroyed in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the operation.

According to army intelligence, Hamas possessed 6,000 rockets and mortars before the operation began, Ynet reports.

Ron Dermer: Support for Israel in Congress remains high, bipartisan

WASHINGTON – A day after briefing a select group of senators on the ongoing rocket attacks and the Israeli Air Force’s operation in Gaza, Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer met Friday morning with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to deliver a similar briefing.

Following the meeting, Dermer said that he found broad-based bipartisan support for Israel’s efforts to defend itself against continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

- Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Sirens in Ashdod, no injuries or damage reported

Sirens sound in Ashdod. There were no immediate reports of injuries, damage or interceptions.

US House passes ‘forceful’ resolution in support of Israel

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives passed by unanimous vote a resolution reaffirming support for Israel’s defense of its citizens, condemning “unprovoked rocket fire at Israel” and calling on Hamas to immediately cease all attacks against Israel. The resolution was spearheaded by Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tom Cole (R-OK).

Representatives included in the resolution’s wording acknowledgement that Iran has provided material support in long-range missile production to both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The members of Congress noted that US-Israeli cooperation has led to a series of missile defense projects, including Iron Dome — which has intercepted dozens of rockets over the past week — David’s Sling and the Arrow Anti-Missile System.

AIPAC immediately released a statement praising the House of Representatives “for passing a forceful resolution affirming Israel’s right to self-defense and holding Hamas responsible for the attacks on America’s democratic ally.”

- Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Rocket barrage toward Ashdod, Ashkelon

Sirens wail in Ashdod, Ashkelon and other cities surrounding the Gaza Strip as a fresh salvo of rockets was launched from the Palestinian enclave.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

FM Liberman: It’s time to ‘go all the way’ in Gaza

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman says it’s “time to go all the way” in Gaza, and topple Hamas.

“After three military campaigns — Operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge — it’s time to go all the way in the Gaza Strip. We cannot allow Hamas to continue ruling,” he tells Channel 2.

Liberman says that the Israeli government is focused on “stage one” — that is stopping the rocket fire from Gaza — and that the next stop will come, intimating a ground operation.

“We are considering all the options,” says Liberman, echoing earlier statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hamas is a terror organization that has become a terror state and “no country can allow that,” he says.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks with the press before entering the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, June 1, 2014. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash 90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks with the press before entering the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, June 1, 2014. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash 90)

Short circuit in wires caused Jerusalem blaze

Police investigators determine that a fire in Jerusalem’s First Station Compound earlier today broke out due to an electrical wire that short circuited, and not because a Molotov Cocktail was hurled at the site, as was previously suspected.

The blaze caused serious damage to the compound, one of the capital’s most prominent recreational sites, and thousands of visitors were evacuated by police. Three vehicles were damaged in the fire as well, but no injuries were reported.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and managed after a short while to put out the flames.

‘Hamas may be looking for a way out’

“It seems as though Hamas is starting to look for a way out,” Channel 2′s Middle East commentator Ehud Ya’ari says.

Ya’ari assesses that the exit strategy may come at the price of the release of some of the rearrested Shalit prisoners who were detained in waves of massive sweeps during Israel’s 18-day operation to find the kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers abducted on June 12 and found murdered on June 30.

“The problem is, there is no one to broker the deal,” says Ya’ari.

Sirens sound in greater Tel Aviv area

Several booms are heard in the greater Tel Aviv area as sirens sound in central Israel.

Iron Dome intercepts several rockets launched at the area.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Lebanon arrests two Palestinians for suspected rocket fire on Israel

Lebanese forces say they arrested two Palestinian-Lebanese men on suspicion that they fired three rockets into Israeli territory early Friday morning.

According to Israel Radio, the two belong to the PFLP group.

Fragments of two rockets were found in an open area near Kiryat Shmona, on the Lebanese border earlier Friday

Lebanese forces found blood stains in a car, which they suspect belong to one of the individuals who fired the rocket, and was wounded either from the launch or from IDF retaliatory fire.

Sirens wail in Nes Tziona, Holon, Bat Yam

Sirens sound in Nes Tziona, Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon Lezion and Rechovot.

Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Herzliya, near Tel Aviv.

House hit by rocket in Beersheba

A house in Beersheba sustains damage after being hit by a rocket fired from Gaza. No immediate reports of injuries.

Two people injured in rocket fire in Sderot

Two people are injured, one moderately and one lightly, in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Sderot.

The two are taken to Soroka Medical Center for treatment.

Women moderately injured in rocket hit on Beersheba house

An 80-year-old woman is moderately wounded in a rocket attack in Beersheba which made a direct hit on a house.

She was taken to hospital for treatment.

Abbas: Stop the violence now, discuss terms later

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in a TV interview, says he want to see an end to the bloodshed. The balance of power favors Israel, he adds.

What he advocates, according to a Channel 2 report of the interview, is that the fire from both sides has to stop now, and conditions to concretize the ceasefire can be finalized afterwards.

The Israeli TV channel’s analyst Ehud Yaari says Abbas seems to be presenting himself as a potential mediator. Unlike other analysts, and in contrast to the thrust of PM Netanyahu’s comments earlier this evening, Yaari says he believes this conflict is closer to its conclusion that most people think.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Man helps wife deliver baby in Sderot amid rocket fire

A man helps his wife deliver their baby in their Sderot home as continued rocket attacks prevented him from taking her to hospital and emergency services from reaching them.

Mother and child were doing well, Channel 2 reported.

White House urges both sides to avoid civilian casualties

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says both Israel and Hamas must try to avoid civilian casualties in the current round of violence.

He urges both sides to “leave the door open to the possibility of negotiating a cease-fire.”

He reiterated the US’s willingness to use its relationships with countries such as Qatar, Egypt or Turkey to aid in de-escalating the situation, as it did in Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.

IDF strikes rocket launcher used to fire missile over central Israel

The IDF says it struck a rocket launcher from which projectiles were fired at the greater Tel Aviv area.

Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

Thousands protest Israel’s Gaza operation in London, Paris

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators turned out on the streets of London and Paris on Friday to call for an end to Israeli military strikes on Gaza.

Several thousand people crowded the streets outside the Israeli Embassy in west London, waving placards that read “Gaza: End the Siege” and “Freedom for Palestine.” The crowds blocked an entire road, and several protesters managed to climb on top of a double-decker bus stuck in traffic, but police said the protest was largely peaceful.

A smaller protest took place in Paris Friday, where about 100 people demonstrated near the French Foreign Ministry.

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags. One woman shouted “Palestine will survive” had the flag painted on her cheeks.

Stephane Frappreau, who identified himself as Jewish, said the demonstrations were about “defending humanity and about stopping the massacre.”

“I think that people tend to forget that Palestinians are people who are suffering, kids and women, who are dying every day,” Frappreau said. “And I think that people shouldn’t confuse things or come to quick conclusions, because being against Israel as we are today is not about being anti-Semitic.”

France has both Western Europe’s largest Jewish community and its largest Muslim population, and the French government has been walking a careful line on the Gaza developments. President Francois Hollande issued a statement earlier this week in support of Israel that prompted criticism because it failed to mention Palestinian victims. He later spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, then issued new statements expressing support for each and concern for all victims. He condemned violence and urged a return to peace talks.

Palestinian youth protest in Paris Friday, July 11, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/Jacques Brinon)

Palestinian youth protest in Paris Friday, July 11, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/Jacques Brinon)

More demonstrations were planned for the weekend.

In London, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier he supported Israel in the face of attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians.

Reports of injuries following Gaza air strikes

Palestinian media report several Gazans injured in Israeli air strikes on Gaza City’s Sajiyeh neighborhood in the Palestinian enclave.

2,000 Tunisians protest against Israel’s Gaza operation

Some 2,000 people, mostly supporters of the main Islamist party, protested in Tunis Friday against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, which has claimed more than 100 lives in four days.

“The people want the liberation of Palestine,” and “Forward Hamas, you fight for our honor,” were among the slogans shouted by demonstrators, who waved Tunisian and Palestinian flags.

The green and white flag of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, was also visible.

Some protesters shouted slogans against Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, whom Islamists have vilified for crushing the Muslim Brotherhood and taking a back seat as Israel pounds Hamas.

“The world, with all its organisations and institutions, watches this odious crime without demanding whether it is more than just a cry of terror,” said Nabil Boulifi, a civil servant attending the rally.

Former health minister Abdellatif Mekki, a senior member of Ennahda, the Islamist party that headed the ruling coalition until its forced resignation in January, welcomed the firing of Palestinian rockets into Israel.

The Palestinians had, he said, “introduced a new equation by responding to the aggression with strikes… against the fortress of the enemy”.

A similar protest was planned in the Moroccan capital Rabat later on Friday.

- AFP

US reiterates offer to arrange Israel-Hamas mediation

The United States says that it is ready to leverage its relationships in the Middle East to try to bring about a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

The US offer came a day after President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer to facilitate an end to Hamas rocket fire and Israeli aerial strikes that have killed over 100 Palestinians in Gaza.

“There are a number of relationships the United States has that we are willing to leverage in the region to try to bring about an end to the rocket fire that’s originating in Gaza and, as we saw this morning, in Lebanon,” says White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“We are interested in taking the kinds of steps that we did about a year-and-a-half ago in November of 2012 to facilitate a cease-fire and to try to get this situation back on the path of de-escalation.”

On that occasion, the United States worked with Egypt to broker a deal to end eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

It is unclear, however, whether such an approach would work again.

Then Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who had contacts with Hamas, has been deposed, and the new government has cracked down on the Palestinian militant group.

Washington’s own influence may also have eroded, given the failure of a US-brokered peace effort between Israelis and Palestinians.

- AFP

Two more killed in Gaza shelling, Palestinians say

Two men, including an 80-year-old, die in the latest Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency report.

The shelling takes place late Friday night, targeting the al-Nizar neighborhood in la-Shujaiyya in eastern Gaza City.

Palestinian health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra names 47-year-old Hussein al-Mamlok and 80-year-old Saber Sukkar as dead, with three others injured.

Gaza medics say the latest strike raises the death toll from Israeli airstrikes to 106, and the number of injured to about 680.

MDA asks for Americans’ help with emergency needs

Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical response organization, publishes a list of emergency needs toward which Americans can contribute as rockets continue to rain over Israel, causing injuries and material damage.

The organization, which does not receive government funding, says it has mobilized its 13,000 volunteers and 1,000 ambulances to help save lives in the current escalation, but that the response has strained its limited resources, which must now be divided between the rocket landing sites and everyday emergencies.

The organization says that in recent days, it has treated 104 Israeli civilians hurt in rocket fire and preventing further casualties.

“MDA and Israel’s Home Front Command spend a lot of time and resources educating the public about safety and the low numbers of Israeli casualties are the fruits of our labor,” says MDA Director of International Affairs Yonatan Yagodovsky. “But MDA is still in need of significant assistance and support because don’t know how long this operation will last.”

MDA lists its most critical needs as emergency medical supplies such as IV needles, trauma cervical collars, ambulance resuscitators for adults and children, oxygen cylinders, spare parts for ambulances, and syringes and needles (at a cost of between $100 and $10,000), blood transfusion supplies such as blood bags and viral testing kits (at a cost of between $3,600 to $10,000), and communications systems such as beepers (at a cost of between $1,000 to $2,000).

Code Red alert sounds in Eshkol region

A Code Red alert sounds in the towns of the Eshkol area, in southern Israel.

Sirens sound at the end of Day 4

It’s 1.20 Shabbat morning, and sirens continue to warn of incoming rockets. We’re going to put this liveblog to sleep now, and hope for a restful Shabbat.

Our colleague Yifa Yaakov will be starting Day 5′s liveblog in just a few moments. Wishing you all a good night from Jerusalem.