The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Friday, the 18th day of Operation Protective Edge. Israel’s government unanimously rejected a ceasefire offer advanced by US Secretary of State John Kerry, with sources saying it was too tilted towards Hamas. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly accepted a 12-hour truce to begin 7 a.m. Saturday. West Bank violence continued to escalate, with six Palestinians reported killed in riots. With the Gaza death toll said to reach 850, Israeli military sources said several hundred Hamas gunmen had been killed. The IDF death toll rose to 35. IDF-Hamas fighting in Gaza remained intensive, and 80 rockets were fired into Israel, but foreign airlines began returning to Ben-Gurion airport. (Saturday’s liveblog is here.)

You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.

Blog is now closed

A week into the ground offensive

Day 18 of Operation Protective Edge begins with heavy rioting in parts of East Jerusalem, with at least 2 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and the capital.

Earlier, 15 or more Gazans were reported killed in a shelling at a UN school in Gaza which, according to the IDF, may have been the result of an errant IDF shell fired during confrontations with Hamas, or a Hamas rocket. The IDF was investigating.

The ground offensive is a week old now, and Israeli military sources say approximately 200-500 Hamas gunmen are dead. But the fighting — and the rocket fire into Israel — continues, and there is no ceasefire in the offing.

Qalandiya protest ‘largest since Second Intifada’

Just to recap a post from a few minutes ago at the end of Thursday’s liveblog: Israeli journalists report that the violent protest at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah is one of the largest seen in over a decade.

“Qalandiya, as not seen since the days of the [Second] Intifada,” writes Israel Radio’s Palestinian Affairs correspondent Gal Berger.

“The scenes seen tonight at the Qalandiya checkpoint remind [me] of the Intifada. Don’t remember in recent years thousands [of Palestinians] confronting the IDF. Tomorrow, a dramatic day in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” writes Channel 1’s West Bank reporter.

Why has the IDF lost 32 soldiers?

Late Thursday night, ToI’s Mitch Ginsburg posted an analysis asking: Why has the IDF lost 32 soldiers in the Gaza ground offensive?

Mourners at the funeral for Max Steinberg in Jerusalem Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Mourners at the funeral for Max Steinberg in Jerusalem Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

As opposed to previous campaigns, he made clear, the army has a concrete goal — finding the tunnels — which means Hamas knows precisely where to strike.

He also quoted a senior intelligence officer saying recently, during a conference call to journalists, that while Hamas tactics haven’t changed much in the recent rounds of fighting, its weaponry has. Writes Ginsburg: “He spoke of advanced, Russian-made antitank missiles, some specifically made for urban fighting such as the RPG-29. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner added that there has been “an antitank missile component” in every Hamas attack on Israeli troops thus far in Gaza.”

Read the full article here.

Golani Battalion commander severely injured in Gaza

The commander of the 12th Battalion in the Golani Brigade was seriously wounded in Gaza when the wall of a tunnel dug by Hamas collapsed on him, the army says.

He is being treated at hospital.

Palestinian officials call for ‘Day of Rage’ Friday

Palestinian Authority officials are calling for a “Day of Rage” across the West Bank later today, in protest at the violent clashes tonight between Palestinians and police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, and in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Radio’s Gal Berger reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are calling for marches in Ramallah and Hebron, respectively.

Obama says FAA acted prudently on Israel flights

President Obama says the Federal Aviation Administration took “prudent action” in temporarily banning US flights in and out of Israel.

Obama says decisions on airline safety are not made on the basis of politics or alliances. He notes that the FAA ban came on the heels of last week’s downing of a passenger jet by a missile in eastern Ukraine.

The FAA issued the ban Tuesday and lifted the restrictions Wednesday night. Obama says that before lifting the ban, the FAA worked with Israel on a “checklist of concerns and mitigation measures” to ensure the safety of US airlines.

The FAA said the ban was imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.

Obama made his comments in an interview with CNBC.

– AP

Police arrest 39 Palestinians in clashes in Old City

Police say they arrested 39 Palestinians following violent clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City tonight.

Thirteen police officers were lightly wounded in the clashes.

Gaza death toll said to climb to over 800

The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip is said to climb past 800, according to Gaza’s emergency services. The services also claim that some 5,000 Gazans have been wounded.

Hamas leaders call for Third Intifada in West Bank

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad are calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to start a Third Intifada.

Qatar-based Hamas spokesman Husham Badran, responding to the reports of clashes between thousands of Palestinians and police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, says the timing is right to rise up, Israel Radio reports.

“This is your opportunity,” he says to West Bank Palestinians.

Hamas official Izat a-Rishk calls, on Twitter, for a revolution against the enemy, adding that the blood of Gazans ignites the West Bank.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says the events at Qalandiya prove that the Palestinians are one people and that Gaza cannot be isolated.

Hamas TV airs intifada songs, Abbas calls to donate blood

Hamas TV airs intifada songs, Israel Radio reports, ahead of the protests planned for later today.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls on Palestinians to donate blood at Palestinians hospitals for those suffering from “Israeli aggression” in the West Bank and Gaza.

Security cabinet to weigh Kerry truce plan

Israel’s security cabinet is expected to meet to discuss proposals for a Gaza ceasefire later today, Israel Radio reports.

“If Hamas accepts the American proposal, it is not impossible that there could be an Israeli decision to accept it also,”an unnamed senior Israeli source is quoted as saying.

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told the BBC in an interview Thursday that a truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“We want a ceasefire as soon as possible, which is parallel with the lifting of the siege of Gaza,” he said.

“We want an airport, a (sea)port; we want to open up to the world. We don’t want to be controlled by a border crossing that makes Gaza the biggest prison in the world.”

Haaretz newspaper reports that the Israeli security cabinet meeting is due to start at 1:30 p.m. (10:30 GMT) in Tel Aviv.

There was no official confirmation.

– AFP, Times of Israel staff

Relatively quiet, rocket-free night for southern residents

It’s been a relatively quiet night for residents of southern Israel tonight, with not one rocket being fired or a siren going off for several hours.

Yesterday, some 65 rockets were fired at Israel, including one at Eilat, which was shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

After 8 hours without rockets, sirens sound in Eshkol Region

Sirens blare in the Eshkol Regional Council, after a night of relative calm.

There were no immediate reports of rocket explosions, damage or injuries.

4 IDF soldiers wounded in overnight Gaza operations

Four IDF soldiers are brought to the hospital for treatment following injuries suffered during overnight fighting in the Gaza Strip.

They are being treated at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba and the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

Qalandiya dead opened fire at IDF with assault rifles

A senior IDF official speaks to Ynet about the clashes near Qalandiya that left two Palestinians dead, saying “the two opened fire at our forces with Kalashnikov rifles from inside the protest.”

Rounding up the events of the past day, a military source tells the news site that the IDF has struck 130 targets in the Gaza Strip in the past day, and 3,540 since Operation Protective Edge began. Of the more than 700 Gazans killed, according to the Hamas Health Ministry, 240 are terrorists taken out by the IDF, they say.

The official notes that the terror tunnels the IDF is targeting will take time to eliminate.

“It’ll be neither a day, nor an hour, to finish the destruction of the tunnels,” the military official says. “We can’t guarantee another seven or 11 days. Destruction of the tunnels is an operation that takes time.”

Cruz still wants answers on FAA ban

Sen. Ted Cruz vows Thursday to continue blocking confirmation of a series of ambassadorial and other diplomatic nominees despite the Federal Aviation Administration lifting a ban on US airline flights to Israel. The State Department criticizes the Republican lawmaker.

Cruz says he won’t release the holds until the Obama administration answers his questions about the FAA prohibition, which went into effect Tuesday after a rocket landed about a mile from the Tel Aviv airport. The FAA ended the ban late Wednesday, after Cruz accused President Barack Obama of imposing an economic boycott of Israel while it is fighting the militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (photo credit: US government/public domain)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (photo credit: US Government/public domain)

“There are still serious questions as to the decision-making that went into the ban on flights and whether it was driven by political consideration at the White House, or by objective expert opinion at the agency,” the Texas senator says Thursday.

Obama says in an interview on CNBC Thursday that decisions on airline safety are not made on the basis of politics or alliances. He notes the FAA ban came on the heels of last week’s downing of a passenger jet by a missile in eastern Ukraine.

Obama states that before lifting the ban, the FAA worked with Israel on a “checklist of concerns and mitigation measures” to ensure the safety of US airlines. The FAA said the ban was imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.

— AP

Hamas cartoons on war with Israel

Israel Radio Arabic correspondent Gal Berger uploads Hamas cartoons circulating on the Internet, caricaturing the current conflict with Israel.

Meanwhile, near Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, a drop-off point for sending goods to IDF soldiers in Gaza pops up.

Drop-off point in Jerusalem's Nahlaot for goods for Israeli soldiers in Gaza (photo credit: Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

Drop-off point in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood for goods to Israeli soldiers in Gaza (photo credit: Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

Sirens break morning calm in Ashkelon

At least one rocket is intercepted over the southern city in the latest barrage.

Earlier, two rockets exploded in open areas in the Eshkol Region in the first attacks of the day.

Senior Islamic Jihad man killed; Hamas agrees ‘in principle’ to ceasefire

A Hamas spokesperson reports that an IDF strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed a senior Islamic Jihad official and his son, and injured 14 others on Friday morning.

According to Hamas Health Ministry, Salah Ahmed Hassanein, an Islamic Jihad spokesperson, and his son Abdulaziz Salah Hassanein died in an Israeli attack on Rafah. The IDF and Shin Bet confirm that Hassanein was targeted, but say he was injured in the strike, Haaretz’s Gili Cohen reports.

On the ceasefire front, Palestinian officials tell the al-Hayyat newspaper that Hamas agrees in principle to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal of a five-day humanitarian ceasefire starting on Saturday. Hamas reportedly requests mediation for its other demands, including the release of prisoners and the expansion of the Gaza offshore fishing zone.

Shin Bet confirms death of senior PIJ commander

The Shin Bet confirms that Salah Ahmed Hassanein, an Islamic Jihad spokesperson and member of its military leadership, was killed in Rafah Friday morning in a joint operation with the IDF, Ynet reports.

Qatar responds to Peres’s terror-funding charges

After outgoing president Shimon Peres accused Qatar of being the world’s #1 sponsor of terror, the country’s foreign minister denies the charges, and insinuates that Israel is the real terrorist in the region.

“There is absolutely no terror aspect in bringing the Palestinian people’s demands to the international community by Qatar,” says Sheikh Majd bin Abdal Rahman a-Thani, according to Ynet. “Terror is the continued bombing of civilians, of children, and schools. Qatar has no part in this.”

Israel to accept ceasefire if Hamas does, report says

Israeli officials say Friday morning that if the Hamas leadership in Qatar accepts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s five-day ceasefire proposal, Israel will likely reciprocate and evaluate the group’s intention of carrying it out, Israel Radio reports.

If it rejects the truce, however, the IDF has been instructed to prepare for a significant expansion of its operations in the Gaza Strip, starting next week.

Israeli UFC fighter to join reserves unit after match

MMA fighter Noad Lahat, who hails from Alfei Menashe, has an Ultimate Fighting Championship martial-arts fight in San Jose, California, Saturday night.

After the match, Lahat won’t spend time at home resting and icing his bruises. He’ll hop on a plane to Israel to join his reserve unit fighting in the Gaza Strip.

He is clear about the importance of the mission.

“The only way we will be a safer, stronger country is for all of us to be united and fight together to protect our country. And so that’s what I’m going to do,” he says.

Yahoo Sports has the full story.

Iranians rally for Palestinians, against Israel

Iranians rally nationwide on Friday in a show of support for Palestinians and to protest against Israel as it pursued its campaign against the Gaza Strip enclave.

Demonstrations were staged in Tehran and more than 700 towns and cities across the country on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, state television reported.

In the capital, footage showed demonstrators carrying placards saying “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” converging from nine different points on Tehran University in the city center.

“Quds Day” (Jerusalem Day) is staged annually on the last Friday of Ramadan, but this year’s protest came on the 18th day of Israel’s campaign against rocket-firing militants in the Gaza Strip.

Iran does not recognize Israel’s existence, and supports Palestinian Islamist groups that fight it.

On Thursday, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, told state television’s Arabic service that Tehran had provided Hamas with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel.

“Today, the fighters in Gaza have good capabilities and can meet their own needs for weapons,” he said.

“But once upon a time, they needed the arms manufacture know-how and we gave it to them.”

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called on the Palestinians to keep fighting Israel and to expand their resistance from Gaza to the occupied West Bank.

During the last major conflict in and around Gaza in November 2012, Larijani said Iran was “proud” to have provided “both financial and military support” to Hamas.

Israel accused Iran of supplying Gaza militants with its Fajr-5 missile, which has a range of 75 kilometers (45 miles), for use during that conflict.

But the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said at the time it was not the missiles that had been supplied but their technology.

AFP

Israeli official says security cabinet discussing ceasefire

An Israeli defense official says the security cabinet is meeting to discuss international ceasefire efforts but also the option of expanding its eight-day-old ground operation in Gaza.

He spoke on condition of anonymity, because Friday’s deliberations are taking place behind closed doors. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no immediate comment.

A Palestinian health official says the Gaza death toll has risen to 808, with 115 Palestinians killed on Thursday, in one of the bloodiest days in more than two weeks of fighting. Thirty-four Israelis, including 32 soldiers, and a Thai worker have also been killed.

Israeli police say thousands of security forces have been deployed around Jerusalem’s Old City in preparation for possible Palestinian protests after Friday prayers at a key Muslim holy site.

The Associated Press

Police on high alert in Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers

Israeli security forces are on heightened alert Friday after two Palestinian man were shot dead during a huge protest in the West Bank against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Palestinian factions in the West Bank declared a “Day of Rage” after the Thursday night clashes, which took place throughout the West Bank and in some sectors of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Police say that, due to fears of violent protest over the deadly Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, they will bar men under the age of 50 from Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque for what are usually packed prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“Different units have been mobilized in and around the Old City” of Jerusalem, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tells AFP on Friday.

“We’re prepared to deal with any disturbances.”

Palestinian security and medical officials named one of the slain men as Mohammed al-Aaraj, 25, and said he was among at least 10,000 people who clashed with soldiers and Border Police in Qalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

They said 150 people were wounded by Israeli fire, with five of them in critical condition.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for blood donors.

The army tells AFP that live fire was used in a confrontation with the protesters after some threw rocks, firecrackers and petrol bombs at soldiers and Border Police.

The fighting ended in the early hours of Friday, an army spokeswoman says.

Israeli public radio said Palestinians and troops also clashed in the areas of the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.

The confrontations came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as Ramadan nears its end.

Large numbers of police were deployed throughout Jerusalem Thursday night. The police said two officers were injured by stone-throwers near the al-Aqsa mosque.

Police say that 39 protesters were arrested in various violent disturbances in Palestinian areas of the city. At least 27 police officers were slightly injured in the clashes.

AFP

Sirens in Ashkelon, central Israel

Iron Dome intercepts rockets over central Israel

Multiple rockets are intercepted after being launched from the Gaza Strip. At least one rocket is intercepted over central Israel and another apparently explodes in an unpopulated area. No injuries are reported.

At least one projectile is taken down over southern Israel by the Iron Dome missile-defense system as well.

4 rockets intercepted over Ashkelon, fragment hits building

The Iron Dome intercepted four rockets over the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. A fragment of a rocket struck an eight-story residential building in the city itself, causing damage but inflicting no injuries, Channel 2 reports.

Hamas claims responsibility for rocket barrage

Hamas says it fired a Fajr-5 and M-75 rocket at Tel Aviv, and five Grad rockets at Ashkelon.

The IDF says on Twitter that four rockets were just launched at Israel. It says two were intercepted and two fell in open areas.

Turkish FM heads to Qatar to seek Gaza truce

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is flying to Qatar to seek Gaza truce.

AFP

Sirens in central Israeli cities

Air-raid sirens go off in Tel Aviv and metropolitan area. At least one rocket is intercepted en route.

IDF releases names of senior terrorists it targeted

Shortly after the Shin Bet confirms it killed senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Salah Ahmed Hassanein, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit releases the names of senior terrorists it targeted in the past week:

• Tafat Muhammad Hamed, a senior PIJ operative in the Beit Hanoun area. The IDF says he was responsible for rocket attacks into Israel.

• Hasim Abad Elkader Mecusan, a senior PIJ operative in the area of Shejaiya.

• Akrem Sha’ad, senior PIJ operative in the area of Khan Yunis.

• Mahmud Ziada, a senior PIJ operative in the area of Jabaliya.

• Ahmed Sahamood, a senior terrorist in the Khan Yunis area.

• Asama Alhia, a leading Hamas terrorist around Shejaiya. Alhia was the son of Halil Alhia, a senior member of Hamas’s political wing.

• Mahmad Shaaban, a senior Hamas operative.

• Abdala al-Haras, a senior leader in Hamas’s military wing.

4 rockets downed over Tel Aviv, Air Canada flight breaks off approach

As a rocket barrage is launched at the greater Tel Aviv area, an Air Canada flight making its approach to the Ben Gurion airport diverted its approach and is holding until given the all-clear. Another flight, an EasyJet flight from Geneva, is maintaining a holding pattern off the coast.

Air Canada Flight 84 from Toronto breaks off its approach to Ben Gurion as rockets are launched from Gaza. (screen capture: Flightradar)

Air Canada Flight 84 from Toronto breaks off its approach to Ben Gurion as rockets are launched from Gaza. (screen capture: Flightradar)

IDF targets 45 sites overnight, including command post

The IDF says it targeted 45 sites overnight Thursday-Friday.

Targets include a command post, which houses Hamas internal security offices, as well as the office of senior Hamas member Ra’at Habat.

According to army figures, 65,000 reservists have been drafted so far. Since the beginning of the ground operation last week, 843 rockets were fired at Israel. The Iron Dome intercepted 166, while 658 struck inside Israel.

The IDF also releases footage of forces enabling Red Cross vehicles to move through combat zones.

Hamas claims rocket fire at Ben Gurion Airport

Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades claims responsibility for firing three rockets at Ben Gurion International Airport. The rockets were intercepted, but flights were briefly pulled back from landing.

Turkish Jews reject call to strip Erdoğan of AJC award

Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News reports that the Turkish Jewish community wrote to the American Jewish Congress, asking it to reconsider its demand that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan return his Profile of Courage award, given by the Jewish group in 2004.

According to the paper, the community wrote to the AJC expressing its “deep resentment” at the AJC’s demand, saying, “We found this decision of yours very unfortunate just at the time that the Foreign Ministry harshly rejected the aggressive calls of opposition parties to return this award, saying the political criticisms of Israel must not [turn into] anti-Semitic statements at all.

“After all we believe that today amid the tragic losses we are witnessing in the Middle East, it is not appropriate at all to break down all the bridges but to try to amend instead the lack of confidence aroused between all the parties involved directly or indirectly in this crisis. We condemn hence your unacceptable demand and urge you to reevaluate your decision,” the letter from the Turkish Jews said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses on July 15, 2014 deputies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara. (photo credit: AFP/Adem Altan)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses deputies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara, July 15, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Adem Altan)

 

Letters from beyond the grave, in today’s Hebrew Media Review

Yedioth Ahronoth brings us coverage from the funeral of IDF soldier Daniel Pomerantz on Thursday in his hometown of Kfar Azar. Pomerantz’s mother, Varda, served for years in the IDF’s Casualty and Wounded Soldiers unit and “knew the day would come when the delegates bearing bad news would knock on her door,” it reports.

During the funeral, Varda Pomerantz plays back the recording during her eulogy for her son, and in it he tells her that he left a letter typed into his phone in case the worst should happen — but that they shouldn’t look at it, unless he is killed.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz, 20 years old, killed in action during Operation Protective Edge. (Photo credit: IDF)

Staff Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz, 20 years old, killed in action during Operation Protective Edge. (photo credit: IDF)

After hearing the terrible news, Varda found the letter and, facing the tearful crowd, reads it at the cemetery.

Find the whole story, and what else the Hebrew media is saying, in today’s Hebrew Media Review.

Hamas encouraging mass protests as Israel braces for more

Palestinians claim there were tens of thousands at last night’s demonstrations, and Israel estimates at least 10,000 — the largest such demonstrations in years, in numerous hotspots in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

These protests are largely being encouraged by Hamas, Channel 2 reports. And there’s been an upsurge in gunfire at Israeli troops in the West Bank, including at last night’s demonstrations, the TV report says, quoting military sources.

The security forces are braced for more such protests today and tonight.

Germany’s largest paper says ‘never again’ to anti-Semitism

“Raise your voice: Never again Jew hatred” — these words scream today from the front page of Bild, Germany’s largest daily newspaper. The paper, reacting to several anti-Israel demonstrations in the country in recent days, some of which were marred by explicitly anti-Semitic rhetoric, compiled a long list of celebrities speaking out against anti-Semitism.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck and several senior government ministers are among the VIPs quoted condemning what appears to be a new wave of anti-Semitism sweeping through the country. The list also includes celebrities from the worlds of sports and entertainment, and even senior members of Muslim and Christian groups.

“Jesus, too, was a Jew — anti-Semitism has no place in Christianity,” says cardinal Reinhard Marx, the head of the German Conference of Bishops. Aiman Mazyek, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, says that “whoever preaches the hatred of Jews is placing himself outside of our communities.”

Raphael Ahren

Front page of Germany's Bild newspaper on Friday July 25, 2014. (screen capture: Bild)

Front page of Germany’s Bild newspaper, Friday, July 25, 2014 (photo credit: screen capture Bild)

Cabinet to discuss Gaza ceasefire at 3 p.m.

The security cabinet discussion of an American ceasefire proposal in Gaza is delayed; it is now due to take place at 3 p.m. on Friday.

UNRWA says no evidence of rockets in Gaza school

UNRWA’s spokesperson says that “there is no evidence whatsoever that there were rockets in the school at Beit Hanoun” that was hit by a blast on Thursday, killing 16.

According to The New York Times, the UN could not confirm the source of the blast.

Meanwhile, the IDF shares a photo on Twitter of the apartment block that was hit by a rocket fragment, inflicting damage to the property.

IDF announces soldier killed Friday in Gaza

The IDF announces that an Israeli reservist soldier was killed Friday morning in combat in the northern Gaza Strip.

Master Sergeant Yair Ashkenazy, 36, of Rehovot, fell in combat. His family has been notified. Ashkenazy will be laid to rest in the Rehovot military cemetery at 4 p.m. on Friday.

The IDF is investigating the possibility of Ashkenazy dying from friendly fire, Channel 2 reports.

The army says that 33 IDF officers and soldiers have died in combat since the start of Operation Protective Edge.

Maccabi match in Austria cancelled

A soccer friendly between Maccabi Haifa and Germany’s Baderborn scheduled for Saturday in Kirchbichl, Austria, has been cancelled, after the city says it cannot provide adequate security for the match, Ynet reports.

The decision comes two days after pro-Palestinian protesters stormed the field during a match and attacked Maccabi players.

Sirens across Ashkelon area

3 rockets intercepted over Ashkelon

Three rockets were just intercepted over Ashkelon after sirens went off in the southern city. Earlier, two other projectiles were downed by Iron Dome.

No injuries or damage are reported in the latest barrage.

Sirens in Ashdod, Be’er Tuvia, Kiryat Malachi

2 policemen are injured in Wadi Joz clashes

Clashes break out between Palestinians and police in the Arab neighborhood of Wadi Joz in Jerusalem. Ynet reports that protesters are throwing stones at police and burning trashcans.

Police are using crowd-control measures.

Two policemen are lightly injured. One protester is arrested.

65-year-old hospitalized after hit by car during rocket attack

A 65-year-old man gets out of his car to find cover when air-raid sirens go off in Rishon Lezion and is struck by a passing vehicle, police say.

He is hospitalized at Assaf Harofeh Hospital with moderate injuries, and police are investigating the incident.

According to Ynet, two others suffered light injuries when running for cover during a recent rocket attack.

Iran opposition group denounces Tehran’s Israel policy

An Iranian opposition group denounces the Islamic Republic’s policies towards Israel and emphasizes that these policies have had a strong role in amplifying tensions in the region.

The Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates assert in their statement that the regime’s policy runs against Iran’s national interests.

This statement was published only a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the West Bank to be armed.

The student group condemns both the killing of civilians and the use of children as “human shields” by terrorist groups in Gaza. They also express disappointment that the Islamic Republic’s “harmful foreign policy” would change and call for close relations between the two countries in a “free and democratic Iran” which can help the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians and reaching a two-state agreement based on the pre-1967 lines.

The opposition group also criticized some anti-Semitic and racist comments posted by Iranian users on social media, stressing that these actions “are not compatible with morality.”

“We hope that one day, we’ll hear the call for freedom, democracy, and peaceful coexistence being transmitted from Iran and the rest of the Middle East instead of violence, war and political Islam,” the statement reads.

Thousands protest Gaza op in Istanbul

The Turkish humanitarian aid group that organized the Gaza blockade-running Mavi Marmara in 2010 tweets a photo showing thousands of demonstrators at Istanbul’s Eminönü square, who gathered “to protest the ongoing massacre in Gaza.”

38 rockets fired, 10 intercepted thus far on Friday

Thus far on Friday, 38 rockets have been fired at Israeli cities and 10 have been intercepted, according to an estimate by Channel 2.

After sirens sounded in the Be’er Tuvia region of southern Israel minutes ago, two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome and six fell in open areas. No injuries or damage are reported.

Hamas to respond to US ceasefire proposal within hours

A senior Hamas official tells The Times of Israel that his organization is presently studying the American ceasefire proposal, and that the organization’s official response will be given in the coming hours, or on Saturday.

According to the representative, if Israel accepts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal in its present form, there’s no doubt that it will positively influence Hamas’s decision.

He adds that the Americans presented general guarantees via Qatar to remove the blockade. At the same time, he emphasizes that the American ceasefire proposal explicitly indicates that Israeli military operations must stop and so must the demolition of tunnels.

— Avi Issacharoff 

Attorney general approves criminal probe of Zoabi

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein approves a criminal investigation against MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) on charges of incitement of violence and insulting a public official.

In the case in question, Zoabi took part in a protest outside the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court and allegedly hurled grievous abuse at a police officer.

The Israel Police’s chief of investigation and intelligence, Commissioner Manny Yitzhaki, requested the investigation from Weinstein.

‘Israel should offer concessions to Hamas’ — Diskin

In an interview with Der Spiegel Online, former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin criticizes Israeli government decisions leading up the conflict in Gaza, and urges Netanyahu to offer concessions to Hamas.

“It was a mistake by Netanyahu to attack the unity government between Hamas and Fatah under the leadership of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” says Diskin. “Israel should have been more sophisticated in the way it reacted. We should have supported the Palestinians because we want to make peace with everybody, not with just two-thirds or half of the Palestinians. An agreement with the unity government would have been more sophisticated than saying Abbas is a terrorist. But this unity government must accept all the conditions of the Middle East Quartet. They have to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and recognize all earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Yuval Diskin, ex-head of the Shin Bet. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

Yuval Diskin, ex-head of the Shin Bet (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“Only the Egyptians can credibly mediate,” Diskin adds. “But they have to put a more generous offer on the table: the opening of the border crossing from Rafah into Egypt, for example. Israel must also make concessions and allow more freedom of movement.”

He also blames the Israeli right for creating the conditions that led to the death of Jerusalem teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir at the hand of Jewish extremists.

“People like Naftali Bennett have created this atmosphere together with other extremist politicians and rabbis. They are acting irresponsibly; they are thinking only about their electorate and not in terms of the long-term effects on Israeli society — on the state as a whole.”

Sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon

Palestinian youth killed in West Bank, Israeli civilian questioned

An 18-year-old Palestinian is shot and killed during a demonstration against Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip near Hawara, south of Nablus.

It is currently unclear who shot the youth. Police have launched an investigation and an Israeli civilian has been arrested and is being questioned over a possible connection to the shooting.

Three other Palestinians are wounded during the demonstration.

Palestinian claims accident after running over Israeli in West Bank

A Palestinian man turns himself in to Israeli police after hitting a 17-year-old Israeli girl at the Etzion Bloc junction in the West Bank, Channel 2 reports.

The man says he hit the girl by accident as she stood at a hitchhiking point at the junction.

The girl was lightly injured, and police are investigating.

3 Palestinians killed in West Bank clashes in past few hours

Three Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank in the past few hours as violence in the region escalates.

In one incident, a settler driving in the Hawara area, south of Nablus says he was attacked by a mob who hurled rocks at his car, Channel 2 reports. The man says he shot at them in self defense, apparently killing one young man. Following the incident hundreds of Palestinians rioted in the area and clashed with IDF troops. A second man is reported killed in the rioting, and several other injured.

In a second incident in Beit Ummar, near Hebron, a Palestinian man is said killed by IDF troops in clashes.

Hamas ‘inclined to accept ceasefire’ — Channel 2

Senior sources in Hamas say the group’s leaders are meeting in their Gaza hideout to discuss a proposed week-long ceasefire, Channel 2 reports.

According to the source, the organization is inclined to accept the ceasefire offer made by US Secretary of State John Kerry and to announce its approval tonight.

Hamas has reportedly not yet agreed on its stance regarding IDF ground troops’ continued presence in the Gaza Strip during this ceasefire.

4th Palestinian killed in West Bank, more details on clashes

A fourth Palestinian man is reported killed in rioting across the West Bank, as further information comes in on the two fatal incidents:

In the first incident, 46-year-old Hashem Abu Marieh and 30-year-old Sultan Yusef were killed in the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar near Hebron by Israeli soldiers, Palestinian security sources say.

In the second incident, a group of settlers opened fire on protesting Palestinians after they threw stones at their car near Hawara, south of Nablus, Palestinian security sources say. The settler fire killed an 18-year-old Palestinian named as Khaled Oudeh.

Shortly afterwards, Israeli troops arrived at the scene and clashed with the Palestinians, firing live bullets and tear gas, Palestinians say. The Israeli army fire killed a second Palestinian, 22-year-old Tayyib Oudeh, the security sources say, adding that three other Palestinians were injured by live fire.

An Israeli army spokeswoman has no comment on the incident in Beit Ummar, but says there have been “confrontations” between Israeli troops and Palestinians near Nablus “in which settlers were involved,” without giving further details.

–AFP contributed to this report.

Sirens heard in Ashkelon, Sderot areas

Thousands of Jordanians protest in support of Gaza, Hamas

Thousands of Jordanians take to the streets of Amman and other cities to support Hamas and condemn Israel’s operation in Hamas-controlled Gaza, where more than 800 Palestinians have reportedly been killed.

Around 2,000 people demonstrate in central Amman after Friday midday prayers, chanting: “We sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Gaza,” in support of Hamas.

“Bomb and destroy Tel Aviv!” chant protesters  waving flags of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and holding banners that read “Stop the barbaric aggression on Gaza” and “The resistance represent us.”

Similar demonstrations are held in the northern cities of Zarqa and Irbid as well as in the south, in Karak.

Jordan, is home to more than two million Palestinian refugees, as well as large numbers of Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

–AFP

Air Canada flight delayed by rockets over Tel Aviv

An Air Canada flight from Toronto was forced to circle Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport before landing after rockets are fired over the area, an airline spokeswoman says.

“Eight kilometers away from landing at the Tel Aviv airport this morning, the pilots of Flight AC84 were ordered into a standard holding pattern by Israeli air traffic control,” Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur says.

The aircraft was asked to continue circling overhead “until the airspace was deemed secure,” before landing safely, she says. As a result the flight was delayed 10 minutes, she added.

Earlier Hamas said it targeted the airport, while the Israeli army confirmed that it intercepted two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, missiles fired at the airport forced the cancellation of several American and European flights. Flight AC84 was Air Canada’s first flight to Tel Aviv since the airline joined others in suspending trips to the city. It later departed for Toronto at 2 p.m. local time.

“The security of our passengers and of our crew is our top priority,” says Arthur. “And we will continue to monitor the situation.”

–AFP

Missing soldier Oron Shaul officially declared dead

The IDF says Sgt. Oron Shaul, previously declared Missing in Action in Gaza and claimed by Hamas as kidnapped, was killed in the Shejaiyah incident on Sunday in which six other Golani troops died.

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed killed in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

Missing IDF soldier Oron Shaul, presumed killed in Gaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

The news follows an announcement by IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz to the Shaul family.

Shaul’s death brings the IDF death toll to 34.

Lufthansa, Swissair to resume flights to Israel

Lufthansa and Swissair will resume flights to Israel starting tomorrow, Channel 2 reports.

The decision is likely to lead the way for other European airlines to renew flights to Tel Aviv.

Kerry ‘s ceasefire terms reported by ToI’s Avi Issacharoff

The ceasefire proposal being advanced by US Secretary of State John Kerry, which was being discussed by Israel and Hamas on Friday afternoon, provides for an immediate halt to hostilities to be followed 48 hours later by contacts between Israel, Palestinian and Egyptian delegations in Cairo, Arab sources tell The Times of Israel. The talks in Egypt would include discussion of Hamas’s call for the lifting of the so-called siege of the Gaza Strip, and other demands.

The ceasefire would take effect as soon as the sides tell Kerry that they accept the terms, and all military activity by the sides would halt immediately, the sources say.

On the Palestinian side, this provision is interpreted as also meaning that Israel’s activities to find and destroy Hamas’s cross-border tunnels would also immediately be halted. Israel has reportedly pushed for terms that would enable it to continue tackling the Hamas tunnels after a halt to hostilities.

Full story here.

– Avi Issacharoff

Fifth Palestinian man killed in West Bank clashes

The number of Palestinians killed in violence in the West Bank today has risen to five, Palestinians say.

In addition to the four reported previously, a third Palestinian man has been reported killed in clashes near Beit Ummar, near Hebron, according to AFP.

Israel’s cabinet concludes meeting on ceasefire

Israel’s cabinet has concluded a 3-hour meeting on the proposed five-day ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza.

There is no word yet on the government’s response to the offer advanced by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Beersheba hospital treats 6 soldiers in critical, serious states

Three soldiers are being treated at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba in critical condition, while three others are in serious condition, a hospital official tells Channel 2.

Correction: Cabinet meeting takes break, doesn’t end

Turns out the cabinet meeting did not end; it adjourned.

Shabbat is near but the one Orthodox minister in the inner cabinet, Naftali Bennett, is understood to be remaining in the session, since the concern for saving lives permits a breach of the Sabbath if necessary.

Palestinians accuse Israel of war crimes in the Hague

Top Palestinian officials file a complaint to the International Criminal Court, accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza.

Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem al-Saqqa and Ismail Jabr, the Gaza court public prosecutor, start legal proceedings via a Paris-based lawyer over the 18 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel.

They accuse Israel of war crimes, including apartheid, attacks against civilians, excessive loss of human life and colonization.

To process the complaint, the Hague-based court must first rule if it has jurisdiction in the Palestinian Authority. The territory isn’t a UN member but became an observer in 2012, a status the ICC chief prosecutor said was required for Palestinians to sign up to the court.

–AFP

Thousands attend fallen reservist’s funeral

Thousands of people attend the funeral of Master Sergeant Yair Ashkenazy, 36, at the military cemetery in his hometown of Rehovot.

Ashkenazy, a reserve soldier, was killed this morning during fighting in the northern Gaza Strip. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Master Sergeant Yair Ashkenazy, 36, was killed in combat on Friday, July 25, 2014 (photo credit: courtesy of Ashkenazy family)

Master Sergeant Yair Ashkenazy, 36, was killed in combat on Friday, July 25, 2014 (photo credit: courtesy of Ashkenazy family)

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah says Gaza has defeated Israel

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah says Gaza has defeated Israel in its 18-day conflict with the Jewish state, saying it has failed to stop rocket-fire and stamp out Hamas in the Palestinian enclave.

“Ehud Barak said that in any possible war between Israel and Gaza, it would be quick and decisive and the victory would be clear,” Nasrallah says in a speech, referring to Israel’s former prime minister and defense minister, “but Gaza todays says to them — you are cowards that murder children, and if you face our heroes face to face, you and your army will fall.”

Nasrallah’s speech is reported to be a rare public appearance before a crowd of supporters, though TV footage which only shows the Hezbollah leader alone in extreme close-up makes the claim dubious.

The terror group’s leader claims that, as in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Israel used a kidnapping as a pretext to launch a war, “thinking it had a golden opportunity to open a war on Gaza.”

Nasrallah says not just Hamas but all of Gaza is being targeted by Israel. “The target is every rocket and every tunnel in Gaza and every drop of blood of the Gazans.”

35th IDF soldier killed

The IDF announces that a soldier has been killed in the fighting in Gaza today, bringing the toll of the IDF dead to 35.

The name of the latest fatality has not been released yet. The family have been notified.

Initial reports are that the soldier was killed by an anti-tank rocket fired at his tank by a Hamas cell in a built-up area.

MK Zoabi demands investigation of police brutality

In response to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s decision to launch a criminal investigation against her on charges of incitement of violence and insulting a public official, MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) demands that police officers be investigated for brutality as well.

“I invite the Attorney General to investigate all police officers who broke the law and behaved brutally towards me, and towards the rest of the protesters [who attended a demonstration against the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip],” Zoabi says.

The Balad MK says she is preparing a lawsuit against the police officers who were at the demonstration.

“I’m working on preparing a complaint… against police officers who pushed me and cursed at me, beat me and pulled my hair, and handcuffed me for no reason,” she says.

In the case in question, Zoabi took part in a protest outside the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court and allegedly hurled grievous abuse at a police officer.

Top IDF commander: Hamas weakening, we need more time

The commander of IDF forces in southern Israel says Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip are weakening and losing morale “in all parameters,” but says troops need more time to root out terror tunnels burrowing into Israel.

“The spirit of Hamas terrorists is weakening,” Southern Region Commander Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman says. “I see terrorists in distress, abandoned by their commanders who deserted them at the front and stayed behind…and facing them, our reserve and standing army units led by commanders leading the force.”

“Every day of combat there is a day of accomplishments for us, both on the issue of tunnels and on the issue of enemy units,” Turgeman says.

“Up until today we have managed to locate and destroy at least half of the enemy’s attack tunnels,” the IDF commander says. “Every day of combat will allow us to harm this infrastructure more and more.”

Turkish source says ceasefire talks progressing

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meets with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Doha to contribute to efforts for a ceasefire with Israel, a Turkish government official says.

“Negotiations are progressing in the right direction,” the official, speaking under condition of anonymity, says.

The unscheduled meeting is held following a telephone conversation between Davutoglu and his American and Qatari counterparts Thursday night.

“We are working with Qatar on a draft for a ceasefire,” the Turkish official says.

–AFP

Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets over Ashkelon

Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over Ashkelon, Israel Radio reports.

A third rocket falls in an open area, lighting a small fire. Three more rockets fall near the town of Netivot.

Over 45 rockets have been fired at Israel since midnight.

Pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Berlin, avoid anti-Jewish slurs

About 1,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators march through Berlin, closely watched by police for any banned anti-Semitic slogans and separated from pro-Israel rallies.

More than 1,000 officers are on guard in the rainy capital for the rally against Israel’s Gaza operation that officials in the Hamas-controlled territory say has killed more than 845 people, most of them civilians.

A few hundred counter-protesters are waving Israeli flags and while the groups shouted at each other, no violent clashes are reported.

“We are keeping the groups apart,” a police spokesman says.

Protesters shout slogans such as “Israel, child killers” and “Stop killing the innocents” but avoided chants against “Jews.”

Jewish groups and German politicians had voiced outrage in recent days that protesters at past pro-Gaza rallies had chanted anti-Jewish slurs and hate speech, in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust.

Police in Berlin made clear that no anti-Jewish chants or calls to violence would be tolerated, and that burning flags and effigies would also be forbidden.

–AFP

Sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza vicinity

‘Cabinet won’t take ceasefire deal that leaves tunnel threat unresolved’

As the cabinet session continues into Shabbat, Channel 2 reports that there is no likelihood of ministers voting for a ceasefire deal that does not ensure that the tunnels are destroyed.

Ministers also unanimously oppose any deal that would grant Hamas enhanced status in subsequent negotiations over its demands.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz addresses the seventh Annual INSS conference in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz addresses the seventh Annual INSS conference in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

Channel 2 describes the Kerry proposal as being for a “humanitarian ceasefire” for seven days, during which the sides’ conflicting demands would be negotiated. The TV report notes that there is little chance that the radically different positions of Israel and Hamas could be reconciled in many weeks, never mind one week.

It also says that ministers Avigdor Liberman (foreign) and Yuval Steinitz (intelligence and strategic affairs) want the Gaza operation expanded to bring down Hamas.

Channel 2 quotes a senior IDF officer saying that the army believes it has found most but not all of Hamas’s cross-border tunnels, and is gradually destroying them. This officer say the IDF is gearing up so that it can continue to demolish the tunnels from outside the Strip — where they emerge inside Israel — if troops are ordered to withdraw from Gaza before their work there is finished.

Kerry said set to make an announcement

Secretary of State John Kerry, pushing a ceasefire proposal, is said set to make an announcement in about half an hour.

Israeli media reports say Israel has been in contact with Kerry over his terms. Channel 2 speculates that the original Egyptian ceasefire terms, which Israel accepted on Tuesday, have been diluted to incorporate some of the demands pushed by Qatar on behalf of Hamas.

We shall see.

Cabinet said to unanimously reject Kerry ceasefire

Israeli ministers have rejected ceasefire terms presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Channel 2 reports.

The ministerial vote was unanimous, it says.

Earlier, it was reported that ministers were adamant that they would not accept a ceasefire that left the threat posed by Hamas’s terror tunnels unresolved.

Staff Sgt. Guy Levy is soldier killed in Gaza today

The IDF names Staff Sgt. Guy Levy, 21, of Kfar Vradim, as the soldier killed earlier today in the central Gaza Strip.

Levy was reportedly killed when Hamas gunmen fired an anti-tank missile at his tank. Several other soldiers were wounded in the incident.

Sirens heard across central, southern Israel

Rocket warning sirens are heard in central Israel, with 3 rockets fired at the Sharon and Netanya regions, Channel 2 reports. The rockets appear to have been intercepted by Iron Dome.

Iron Dome also intercepts two rockets fired at the Ashdod region.

Gaza death toll said to reach 848

A spokesman for Hamas-controlled Gaza’s health ministry says the Palestinian death toll there has reached 848.

Ashraf al-Qudra says the dead include 208 children, 82 women and 40 elderly.

Al-Qudra adds that 5700 people have been injured, including 1779 kids, 1112 women, 230 elderly.

Israel demands right to act against tunnels, official says

Israel wants to reserve the right to continue to operate against Gaza tunnels during a proposed five-day ceasefire with Hamas, Israeli officials tell Walla News, citing this demand as one of the reasons for the rejection of the American truce offer in its current form.

Though Israel has rejected the American ceasefire proposal, the government leaves the door open for an improved offer, government officials say.

According to Walla, the American offer had stipulated that both sides must stop all military activities as part of the proposed truce.

IDF: Missile that killed soldier fired from near UN school

The military says Palestinian gunmen who fired at IDF troops in the central Gaza Strip today, killing armored corps Staff Sgt. Guy Levy, fired at troops from “a structure near an UNRWA school.”

The IDF says mortars and anti- tank missiles were fired from the location near the school, killing Levy and injuring several others.

Egypt says no ceasefire deal yet

At a press conference in Cairo, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri says his country has been working non-stop to end the killing of civilians and protect the Palestinian people. He urges an immediate ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

He calls on both sides to accept a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire, and start negotiating to end the crisis. He says the Egyptian proposal is still on the table. He says Egypt has been working for an acceptable text, but without success thus far.

No truce yet, but we’re still working, says Kerry

John Kerry is speaking now, praising his hosts, and PA chief Abbas, for pushing for a ceasefire as soon as possible.

He talks about the grief and blood of the conflict.

He says Israel is being battered by rockets and targeted through terror tunnels, and cites the death of lone soldier Max Steinberg. “In Gaza hundreds of Palestinians have been killed,” he says, citing yesterday’s attack at a UN school and other incidents.

“Violence breeds violence,” he declares, and calls for “long-term change” that he says “both parties really want.”

Specifically, he says “we are working towards a brief seven days of peace. Seven days of a humanitarian ceasefire in honor of (the Muslim festival) Eid” — leading to talks on a more durable arrangement. “The basic structure is built on the Egyptian initiative,” he says. But the humanitarian element is built on.

Egypt has offered to bring the “Palestinian factions” to Cairo, along with other interested parties, and Israel, for these talks. “We still have some terminology” to work through. “But we are confident that we have a fundamental framework” that can work, he says.

“We don’t yet have that framework” agreed upon by all, he says, “but none of us are stopping.”

Kerry says he just spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who “made it clear that he wants to find a way forward.”

He says UN chief Ban Ki-moon is pushing a 12-hour time out.

Kerry says he’s flying to Paris tomorrow to meet with “other players who are important to this discussion” to try and narrow the gap, and that Netanyahu is committed to trying to do that.

End the chokehold on Gaza, says UN chief

UN chief Ban Ki-moon says the bloodshed in Gaza has to stop.

First, stop the fighting, he says — initially for a seven-day period, beginning with a 12-hour pause; second, start talking; third, tackle the root causes of the crisis.

Ban says the fighting emphasizes the need to end the 47-year occupation and “the chokehold on Gaza,” and achieve a viable two-state solution.

The UN leader is speaking in Cairo at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri.

Israeli source bashes Kerry, says his offer biased toward Hamas

Army Radio quotes an unnamed source in Jerusalem flatly disputing Secretary Kerry’s assertion that his ceasefire proposal, rejected by the cabinet tonight, is “built on” the Egyptian proposal that Israel accepted Wednesday.

“It is not built on the Egyptian proposal,” the source is quoted saying. It is, rather, heavily tilted toward Hamas.

Army Radio also plays down Kerry’s assertion that Netanyahu has “indicated his willingness” to accept Ban Ki-moon’s proposal for a 12-hour time out as “a good faith downpayment.” There’s no agreement on when this 12-hour time out might start; and such pauses have been breached in the past by Hamas, the radio report notes.

IDF footage shows detonation of Gaza tunnel

The IDF releases footage showing a detonation of a terror tunnel built by Hamas operatives in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Am I clear for countdown?” A soldier can be heard asking in a radio transmission. When answered in the affirmative, the soldier counts down from four, and a massive explosion follows.

“This is the commander, give me status report,” the IDF commander says.

“Living and breathing,” the soldier answers.

“Good job!” the commander concludes, as the video shows the full length of the tunnel. The shafts of the tunnel as well as a view after the detonation are shown as the short clip ends.

PM said willing to consider 12-hour time out

Reports from the government say Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon are willing to consider a 12-hour time out, solely for humanitarian purposes, during which the IDF would not initiate fire.

Kerry said in Cairo a few minutes ago that Netanyahu had “indicated his willingness to do that as a good faith downpayment.”

IDF says kidnapping of soldier thwarted in Gaza

The IDF says it has prevented an attempt to abduct IDF soldiers in the central Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reports.

According to the military, earlier today soldiers of the infantry, engineering and armored corps entered a Gaza building believed to contain a tunnel shaft, when two militants emerged from the tunnel and attempted to pull one of the soldiers inside.

The IDF says it fired a tank shell at the building, killing one of the militants, while the other is believed to have escaped.

Further details remain under wraps at this time.

Ya’alon: Israel may significantly expand Gaza op ‘very soon’

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tells soldiers during a visit to an Iron Dome battery to “prepare for the possibility that we will very soon direct the IDF to significantly expand the ground operation in Gaza.”

Ya’alon thanks the soldiers for their work defending Israel, saying “Hamas thought it would cause irreparable damage to Israel by friing over 2,000 rockets and missiles, but it became irrelevant thanks to the Iron Dome array.”

6th Palestinian killed in West Bank after trying to grab soldier’s gun

A sixth Palestinian has been killed in the West Bank today, Israel Radio reports, after trying to grab a soldier’s weapon during a riot near Al-Arroub, outside Hebron. The man was shot by troops after trying to grab the gun.

Meanwhile violent demonstrations are also reported in Taybeh, east of Netanya, where rioters hurl rocks at police and burn Israeli flags.

Israel said to confirm 12-hour ceasefire to begin at 7 a.m.

Israel confirms a 12-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday, a US official says.

French police ban pro-Palestinian protest in Paris

French police ban a protest against Israel’s Gaza operation that was due to take place in Paris on Saturday, following several similar rallies that turned violent.

The ban comes in the wake of clashes earlier this month at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, in which some protesters shouted anti-Semitic slogans and fought with police.

Two of those rallies had been banned but went ahead anyway.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve appeals on organizers to cancel the rally.

“I urge the organisers to abandon the event on Saturday,” he tells AFP, accusing them of taking a “high-risk path” if they go ahead.

But a lawyer representing the organisers of the rally says they have lodged a legal challenge against the ruling.

“The government is trying to ban a fundamental right,” says Omar Alsoumi, an organiser of the protest and member of the Palestinian Youth movement.

–AFP

Over 80 rockets fired at Israel today

Over 80 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israeli territory throughout Friday, according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office. At least 15 of those rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

Approximately 2,430 rockets were launched at Israel since Operation Protective Edge began 18 days ago, the IDF says. At least 1500 targets associated with rocket launching capabilities were targeted by the army.