Liveblog July 7 (closed)

Israel launches ‘Protective Edge’ counteroffensive on Gaza, Jewish suspects reenact teen’s murder

After dozens of rockets hit 40 km. into Israel, air force strikes dozens of Hamas sites; Hamas threatens to hit Tel Aviv; bereaved mother Fraenkel laments killing of Arab boy

Black smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the Gaza International Airport in Rafah, southern Gaza, on July 7, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Black smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the Gaza International Airport in Rafah, southern Gaza, on July 7, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel launched a major operation against Gaza in the early hours of Tuesday morning, following heavy Hamas rocket fire on Monday. Meanwhile, condolences continued to pour in to the family of slain East Jerusalem teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir following the announcement Sunday that six Jewish extremists are suspected in the brutal killing; 3 of the suspects reenacted the killing, police said. This blog, which covers developments from early Monday to pre-dawn Tuesday, is now closed. For Tuesday’s updates, click here.

Israel braces for another day of violence

Palestinians on Monday fired an anti-tank missile and bursts of bullets at IDF troops patrolling along the border with the Gaza Strip. There were no injuries. Earlier a soldier was lightly wounded by shrapnel from a rocket fired at the Eshkol region. Nine members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were killed overnight, according to Palestinian sources, when Israeli jets struck 14 sites in Gaza Strip, after a day of near-constant rocket fire on Israeli towns near the Palestinian enclave.

In Israel and the West Bank, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police continued for a fifth straight day Sunday, shortly after police confirmed that six Jewish suspects had been arrested in connection with the apparent revenge killing of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, 16, last week. Protesters threw stones and firebombs at police in several East Jerusalem neighborhoods. Rioting, rock-throwing and tire-burning were also reported in several northern and southern towns.

Arab Israeli politicians and community leaders have met to call for calm in Arab cities while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international investigation into attacks against Palestinians.

Netanyahu calls father of Muhammad Abu Khdeir

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Hussein Abu Khdeir, the father of slain Israeli Arab teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir.

“I would like to express my outrage and that of the citizens of Israel over the reprehensible murder of your son,” Netanyahu says, according to a statement.

“We acted immediately to apprehend the murderers. We will bring them to trial and they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. We denounce all brutal behavior; the murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being.”

Israeli group plans mass consolation visit to Abu Khdeir family

An Israeli group that promotes Jewish-Arab coexistence is planning a mass visit to the mourning tent of the family of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to offer condolences for the killing of their son.

The Tag Meir Forum says the event will take place on Tuesday and is organizing buses from Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, or Binyanei Hauma.

“The visit is coordinated with the Abu Khdeir family who welcome it and are touched by our coming to their mourning tent,” the group said.

Tag Meir is a coalition of 39 Israeli organizations serving as the moral answer to — and a word play on — Jewish attacks against Palestinians and their property, known in Hebrew as Tag Mehir, or “price tag.”

Hamas urges Beersheba ‘settlers’ to flee rockets

Hamas has released a new video calling on the “settlers of Beersheba” to flee from the threat of their rockets.

“To the settlers of Beersheba,” captions state in Hebrew amid photos of destruction and casualties in the Gaza Strip. “Your leaders killed our children, bombed our homes – and sentenced you to death.”

The video then displays clips of massive rocket barrages (it isn’t clear if the footage is from Gaza) and a 2008 picture of then-public security minister Avi Dichter taking cover from a rocket attack in Sderot.

“Run away before it’s too late,” the video concludes.

Warning sirens blare in Beersheba

Warning sirens are heard in the city of Beersheba, signaling an apparent rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.

There are no initial reports of impacts or casualties.

Grad rocket explodes near Beersheba; no casualties

Security officials say a Grad rocket has exploded outside the southern city of Beersheba.

Preliminary reports indicate the rocket fell outside the city and did not cause any casualties or damage.

On Saturday night, the Iron Dome anti-missile system shot down a rocket over the city.

3 suspects in Abu Khdeir killing confess, reenact crime

Police say three of the six suspects in the killing of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir last week have confessed to the crime and reenacted the killing.

The mother of one of the suspects tells Ynet: “We are broken and are having a very difficult time with this business. My son has nothing to do with it and will be released.”

“It’s crazy,” she said. “He’s only 16.”

On Sunday one of the six suspects arrested was said to have confessed to slaying the Jerusalem teen, implicating a number of other suspects as well.

Liberman to announce Likud-Yisrael Beytenu split

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has called a press conference for 12:30 today.

Media reports indicate the Yisrael Beytenu leader intends to announce the dissolution of his party’s joint Knesset faction with Likud.

Army Radio says Liberman seeks to distance himself from the Likud party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, partly due to the government’s too-soft — according to Liberman — response to a week of nonstop rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The Likud and Yisrael Beytenu parties ran as a single faction in the January 2013 Knesset elections, winning 31 seats. Liberman’s party holds 11 of those seats.

Rivlin calls for end to incitement on both sides

Israel’s president-elect Reuven Rivlin says no one can remain silent in the face of the evil perpetrated by Muslim and Jewish killers, and is calling on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to stop incitement and work together for coexistence.

“Cursed be revenge which ravages and destroys, which hurts for the sake of hurting and strikes the innocent,” Rivlin writes in a Facebook post (Hebrew).

“We have a choice,” he says, “to give in to the destructive worldview propped up by the racists and the extremists or to fight it to the last; to surrender to cruel and savage Muslim and Jewish terror or to end it by any possible means.

Israel's next president, Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: Flash 90)

Israel’s next president, Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: Flash 90)

“We must understand that there is no other path but coexistence,” Rivlin adds. “Bloodshed will end only when we realize that we are not doomed to live together but destined to live together.

“We have no other option,” he says. “We have no other country.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman calls the killing “beyond despicable.”

“The shocking murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir is beyond being a despicable crime,” Liberman says in a statement. “Even with the justifiable rage each and every one of us feels from the murders of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, as well as the murder of Shelley Dadon, nothing can justify another murder.”

Settlers make incursion into Palestinian village

A number of settlers entered the Palestinian village of Einabus, near Nablus, early Monday morning and initiated a scuffle with Palestinian villagers, Israel Radio reports.

Eight settlers were involved in the altercation, the report says.

There were apparently no reports of injuries.

Police are investigating the incident.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket above Netivot

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip is shot down by the Iron Dome defense system above Netivot, east of the Gaza Strip.

Code-red warning sirens are heard throughout the Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Henegev regional councils.

It is the fourth rocket fired at Israel today.

Right-wing extremist praises Abu Khdeir’s killers

A right-wing extremist who caused outrage several months ago when she said hurling rocks at IDF troops was a legitimate form of protest even if it killed a soldier, says she is “proud” of the alleged killers of Palestinian teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir.

“I didn’t believe that it was Jews [who committee the act],” Eliraz Fein wrote in a Facebook post that was later removed by the social network. “I am proud and happy to discover that some Jews could not stand by and stay silent!

“I’m sending a “Way to go!” to the detainees (whom I don’t know at all),” she said.

Following her post’s removal by Facebook, Fein writes: “Questionable freedom of expression by [Facebook CEO] Mr. [Mark] Zuckerberg or the Ishmael Police. I feel sorry for my friends who have lost the understanding of what basic existence is, and who are willing to throw away Jewish morality for the sake of warped Christian morals.”

Peres: Israel in a deep crisis of morality

President Shimon Peres says Israel is in a deep crisis of morality following the arrest of six people in the killing of Palestinian teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir last week.

“We did not believe that such a heinous crime could take place among our people. We mustn’t be such a people,” Peres says.

“Today ‘out of Zion shall go forth the shame,’” he says, paraphrasing a famous Bible quote.

“There is no justification for death and no crime is more acceptable than another,” the president adds. “My heart aches with the grieving Abu Khdeir family and with the grieving Shaar, Yifrach and Fraenkel families.”

Citing Gaza, Liberman disbands Likud-Yisrael Beytenu

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman announces the breakup of the joint Knesset list his party Yisrael Beytenu shared with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

Liberman says that recently, longstanding differences between him and Netanyahu have become “essential, and no longer enable cooperation.”

The minister hints that Israel’s moderate response to the recent spate of Gaza rockets and Israeli Arab rioting is connected to his decision to dissolve the partnership.

He notes that he has called for a harsh military campaign against Hamas in Gaza. “I’ve explained my position several times and I think I’ve been very precise,” he says.

As for the recent demonstrations by Israeli Arabs, Liberman says: “You can’t eat the cake and have it — enjoy all the advantages of democratic life but also demonstrate with photos of (Hezbollah leader Hassan) Nasrallah and Hamas and Hezbollah flags.”

“In order to stop this wave of incitement that comes from the top down, we must act decisively, without hesitation,” he says.

Yachimovich to Abu Khdeir family: I feel ashamed

Former Labor head Shelly Yachimovich visits the mourning tent of the Abu Khdeir family in East Jerusalem, along with Labor MK Miki Rosenthal.

“I told the family that this is a sadistic and cruel murder that the Israeli public condemns and decries,” Yachimovich says on Facebook,” and that I feel ashamed that such despicable murderers committed the murder supposedly in the name of collective vengeance.

“The pain of a parent for the cruel murder of his child is the same pain on both sides,” she says. “We share in their heavy grief and feel their pain.”

IDF: Nine rockets fired from Gaza in last hour

Hamas official: No calm until Shalit prisoners freed

A senior Hamas official tells The Times of Israel the group does not accept the idea that “quiet will be answered with quiet” in the Gaza Strip, saying that if Israel wants peace in the south it must release all the prisoners freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit who were recently re-arrested following the abduction of the three Israeli teens, and must adhere to the ceasefire agreement reached in the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

The Hamas official claims the terror group was not involved in the abduction and killing of Naftali Fraenkel,  Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach on June 12, adding that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has spoken with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and assured him of this fact.

He says Israel has no evidence tying the group to the attack. Israeli leaders, he says, have launched an unjustified campaign against the Palestinian public in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and arrested dozens of prisoners released for Shalit for no real reason.

The official adds that Egypt is involved in trying to negotiate a ceasefire between the sides, though not heavily so. “They won’t put their full weight behind bringing about a truce,” he says. In recent days other Hamas sources have said a ceasefire depended on Egypt reopening the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai.

— Avi Issacharoff

IDF video shows overnight airstrikes in Gaza

The IDF has released new footage of its overnight airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks against Israel.

Settler group to demonstrate against Jewish terror

A group of settlers plans to hold a demonstration in the Etzion Bloc at 8:30 p.m. under the title “Israelis Against the Murder of Innocent Civilians.”

Event organizer Yishai Hughes says the aim is “to express our solidarity with all the families who have been victimized by terror, and to call upon the Israeli government and justice system to send a clear message that terror committed by Jews is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Livni meets with Arab leaders to help calm spirits

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni meets with key Israeli Arab figures to discuss ways to calm spirits on the Arab street. Regional council heads tell her they will strive to soothe their public.

Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi says the minister promised to bring both Jewish and Arab lawbreakers to justice, and to relay the plights of the Arab municipalities to the cabinet.

Security cabinet convenes to discuss rocket response

The security cabinet is meeting in Jerusalem at this time to discuss Israel’s response to the ongoing rocket attacks on the Israeli south.

Haaretz reports that around 20 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip since this morning.

IDF striking in Gaza as rocket attacks continue

The IDF is striking targets in the Gaza Strip in response to continued rocket attacks against Israel, Israeli Radio reports. There are no details on the targets at this time.

Meanwhile a rocket launched from Gaza hits a chicken coop in the Eshkol region, causing damage. Warning sirens are heard throughout the region. There are no reports of casualties.

False police warnings circulate on WhatsApp

False police and IDF warnings urging citizens to exercise caution are circulating on WhatsApp.

In a statement, police deny the warnings came from them, and stress that in the event of danger “we will formally update you on our Facebook page or through the media.”

A kidnapping of a ten-year-old was reported near Modiin, sparking a police search that had a helicopter scouting the area and Border Police roadblocks set up.

However, according to the local Modiin website, the call was a false alarm. There have been a number of similar incidents in past days, which have turned out to be baseless rumors upon investigation.

IDF: Airstrike targeted 3 ‘concealed rocket launchers’

The IDF says the most recent Gaza airstrike targeted “three concealed rocket launchers.”

In an army statement, it maintains that since June 12, over 240 rockets have been fired from the coastal enclave, of which 189 hit southern Israel.

Chief rabbi, Shas spiritual leader decry murder

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau condemns the murder of 16-year-old Abu Khdeir, saying “This is not the way of the Torah.”

“There is no room for the continued bloodshed from either side, and we must act to calm the public,” he said.

Earlier, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the Shas spiritual leader, fiercely denounced the murder. He said that the punishment for those with “innocent blood on their hands” was “indescribable.”

One of the suspect’s families is said to have “the worldview” of the ultra-Orthodox and Sephardic Shas political party.

Palestinians: 4-year-old injured in Israeli strike

A four-year-old Palestinian boy is moderately wounded in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, local medical professionals tell the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.

The attack targeted the Beit Lahia and Jabalya areas in the northern part of the Strip, it reports.

Police arrest suspects in Haifa ‘price tag’ attack

Police arrest two masked youths who attempt to burn down a Haifa school in a suspected “price tag” attack, Channel 2 reports.

Peretz to Abu Khdeir: Murderers worse than animals

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua) visits the bereaved Abu Khdeir family in Shuafat, and pledges that those responsible for the death of their son will be dealt with harshly.

“Both I and my children cry with you — even animals don’t do what was done to your son,” he tells Hussein Abu Khdeir, according to the Ynet news website. “We must prove, both to you and the entire world, that we will deal with them more severely than we deal with terror organizations.”

Abu Khdeir requests that the culprits’ homes be demolished, and Peretz says the government will weigh the possibility.

McCain: Send Kerry to Israel to calm passions

Senator John McCain urges President Barack Obama to send US Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel to quell tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in the wake of the four murders, Politico reports.

“In this case, I think our secretary of state, Secretary Kerry, could go to the region and try to maybe do a little shuttle diplomacy,” McCain says on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“This thing is in danger of spiraling out of control.”

Hebrew press expresses outrage, disgust

The arrest of multiple suspects in the murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir rocks the Israeli press, in large part because they are Jewish. The headlines in Monday morning’s papers reflect disappointment, shame and shock.

Ilan Ben Zion

Read the full Hebrew media review here.

Cabinet meeting ends; Abbas meets Abu Khdeir family

The security cabinet meeting adjourns after some three hours of discussion.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas meets with the Abu Khdeir family, as well as their US cousin Tariq, 15, who was beaten by Israeli police and detained on Thursday, and later granted a conditional release, the Ynet news website reports.

The meeting takes place in the West Bank city of Ramallah in the PA president’s residence.

Peres: ‘I am ashamed on behalf of my nation’

President Shimon Peres phones Hussein Abu Khdeir this afternoon to offer his condolences, and emphasizes that “there will be no compassion for the murderers.”

“I know what you and your family is going through. I am full of shame and share in your grief. He was murdered by criminals. I am ashamed on behalf of my nation and grieve with you. The only thing left for all of us to do is to ensure that no more children are murdered, and no more tears are shed are by mothers,” he said, according to a statement.

“Justice will be done and we will not compromise on that. We all reject murderers and like you I want justice, true justice. There is nothing that saddens us more than the tears of a mother and the grief of a father. Sadly there is no comfort for a grieving mother but there will be no compassion for the murderers. The murderers must be punished and the murder uprooted from its source. We must replace the mourner’s tent with a tabernacle of peace.”

Abu Khdeir thanks Peres for the call, expresses his hope for peace, and says he “seeks true justice in the court.”

IDF gears up for escalation; 1,500 troops called up

After the cabinet meeting, the IDF is instructed to increase its strikes against the Gaza Strip in efforts to halt the rocket fire emanating from the coastal enclave.

Some 1,500 reserve soldiers — primarily Home Front Command troops and those trained to operate the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries — are called up to the southern border.

An IDF official says: “Quiet was not met with quiet, and therefore we are preparing for an escalation.”

7 Hamas men killed in terror tunnel overnight

IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner says seven Hamas operatives were killed in a terror tunnel near Rafah overnight that had been bombed by the Israel Air Force a few days earlier, after the seven entered the tunnel and meddled with their own explosives which had been stashed there.

The operatives “were in a tunnel with special infrastructure and strength and designated for a significant attack against soldiers.” He says the airstrike was carried out a few days ago “and last night the Hamas members touched the explosives — which is what caused the tunnel to explode. This was a significant tunnel that was a top priority [for the IDF].”

Lerner adds that on account of the deaths “we understand that there is a potential of escalation.”

If last week the IDF wished to convey a message of a defensive deployment, Lerner says, today there is “a preparedness for escalation.”

Abu Khdeir: No proof killers of Israeli teens aren’t Jews

Hussein Abu Khdeir says there’s no evidence that the murderers of Gil-ad Shaar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were not Jews.

In a conversation with the grandfather of Gil-ad Shaar, Shmuel Shai Cohen, on Channel 2, the father of the slain East Jerusalem teenager says while suspects are being held for burning his son alive — a murder for which he says there is no precedent except for in Israel — it remains unknown who is behind the murder of the three Israeli teenagers.

Shaar’s grandfather, visibly perturbed, interrupts to stress that the three were definitely murdered by terrorists.

“Bring me someone who said they killed them,” Abu Khdeir replies.

Cohen also asks Abu Khdeir if he comes to Shuafat to offer his condolences to the Abu Khdeir family, will Hussein come back with him to the Shaar family. Abu Khdeir says “Why not?” at first, then appears to back out by saying that Cohen should not come now, since things are chaotic in Shuafat.

Cohen responds by saying that if Abu Khdeir comes to Talmon, not a hair on his head would be harmed.

Suspects in Arab teen killing sent for psychiatric exam

Several of the six suspects in the killing of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir were sent for a psychiatric evaluation by police investigators.

The suspects are expected to face charges of belonging to a terrorist organization, murder of a minor, kidnapping with the intent of murder or extortion, conspiracy, purchasing weapons or ammunition parts, and racially motivated crimes, police say.

Acre protesters: We will continue the resistance

Some 200 people are demonstrating in Acre against the murder of Abu Khdeir, 16, the Ynet news site reports. The protesters have blocked the main road in the Old City.

“Rest in peace Abu Khdeir, we will continue the resistance. With stones we will defend our lands and our homes; the police won’t deter us,” they cry.

Beit Shemesh mayor holds meeting on Arab teen murder

The mayor of Beit Shemesh holds an emergency meeting to discuss the murder of 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, which was suspected to have been carried out by a resident or residents of his city, as well as residents of Jerusalem and the settlement of Adam.

Moshe Abutbul condemns the murder and says he had been briefed on its details by police.

Southern residents told to stay near shelters

Residents of the Shaar HaNegev, Eshkol, and Hof Ashkelon regional councils in southern Israel are instructed to stay within 15 seconds of shelters, as red alert sirens continuously sound.

Four rockets fall in open areas in southern Israel. No injuries or damage are reported, according to the Ynet news website.

‘Rockets may be fired at central Israel tonight’

In the cabinet meeting this afternoon, ministers expressed the assessment that Hamas may expand its range and target cities in the Gush Dan area in central Israel as soon as tonight, the NRG news website reports.

Home Front says no gatherings of over 500 people in south

The Home Front Command issues directives to residents within 40 kilometers (24 miles) of the Gaza Strip, strongly discouraging gatherings of over 500 people and instructing summer camps to run as usual only if shelters are within seconds reach.

Cities within range include Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba and many smaller towns.

Rachelle Fraenkel condemns murder of Abu Khdeir

Rachelle Fraenkel — the mother of the slain Naftali Fraenkel — strongly denounces the killing of the 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, and offers condolences to the grieving family.

In a public statement given outside the Fraenkels’ Nof Ayalon home, Fraenkel says: “No mother or father should ever have to go through what we are going through, and we share the pain of Muhammed’s parents.”

“Even in the abyss of mourning for Gil-ad, Eyal and Naftali, it is difficult for me to describe how distressed we are by the outrage committed in Jerusalem – the shedding of innocent blood in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country,” she says.

“Only the murderers of our sons, along with those who sent them and those who helped them and incited them to murder – and not innocent people – will be brought to justice: by the army, the police, and the judiciary; not by vigilantes.”

Fraenkel adds that despite “the pain of this terrible act, we take pride in our country’s zeal to investigate, to arrest the criminals and to stop the horror, and we hope that calm will return to the streets of our country.”

The bereaved mother emphasizes that the legacy of the three slain teenagers “is one of love, of humanity, of national unity, and of integrity.”

Major rocket barrage fired deeper into Israel

Some 30 rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip in a major upsurge. No injuries or damage are reported.

Residents in southern Israel are asked to stay in their shelters until further notice.

The rocket fire extends some 40 kilometers into Israel, including the Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi and Gan Yavneh areas. Local councils in some of these areas are canceling kids’ summer day camp programs for tomorrow unless the facilities are reinforced against rocket attack.

Most of the rockets fall in open areas, but Iron Dome intercepts some rockets heading for residential areas.

The IDF has deployed Iron Dome and other measures to counter a possible further expansion of the Gaza rocket range to central Israel, Channel 2 reports.

Fatah FB status tells Israel to prepare body bags

A Facebook status posted on an official Fatah profile warns Israel to ready its body bags ahead of an escalation, according to a translation from Palestinian Media Watch.

“Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts,” a status on the Facebook page, posted today, reads.

A status from two days ago warns that “sons of Fatah will turn your settlements into balls of fire and increase your horror,” according to PMW.

Sirens sound in Jerusalem, central Israel

Red alert sirens are heard in central Israel, the Jerusalem area, and parts of the Gush Etzion bloc, including Efrat and Tekoa.

Channel 2 reports that the sirens are a false alarm and that rockets were not fired toward those areas.

Iron Dome intercepts rockets in south Israel

The Iron Dome intercepts four rockets over Netivot, the IDF says in a statement.

Channel 2 reports that three projectiles were shot down by the Iron Dome over Ashdod, as Hamas increases the range of its rockets to 40 km (24 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

‘All options are on the table,’ Bennett says

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett insists that with regard to an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, “all options are on the table.”

In an interview with Channel 2, Bennett says: “We need to broadcast to Hamas a message of deterrence.” The head of the right-wing Jewish Home political party says Israel must strike hard or risk looking weak.

Ashdod woman lightly hurt, running for shelter

A resident of Ashdod suffers light injuries when running for shelter.

A medical team provides the wounded woman emergency treatment at the scene, Channel 2 reports.

IDF says Gaza escalation will be gradual

There will be a gradual escalation against Gaza targets, especially against tunnels on the Gaza-Israel border, a senior IDF source says at a briefing Monday evening.

He also notes that the Islamic Jihad is not known to be involved in the rocket fire.

Hamas takes credit for latest rocket salvo

The military wing of Hamas says it was responsible for the dozens of rockets fired at Israel around 8 p.m..

7 treated for shock in south

Seven residents in southern Israel are being treated for shock, following the rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip, Channel 2 reports.

Ashkelon mayor: ‘The time has come to deal with terror’

Itamar Shimoni, the mayor of Ashkelon, urges the Israeli government to deal with the rocket threat from the Gaza Strip once and for all.

Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni (left) with Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, May, 2014. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash 90)

Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni (left) with Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, May, 2014. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash 90)

“We are very resilient. And we have patience. Our residents have been told what to do. The time has come to deal determinedly with terror [from Gaza]. If we have to sit for a month in bomb shelters, that’s what we’ll do. But let’s see uncompromising activity [against Gaza terror],” he says.

Some 60 rockets have been fired at Israel in the past hour. There is Israeli air activity in southern Israel, Channel 2 reports.

US condemns rocket fire from Gaza

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki denounces the volley of fire from the Gaza Strip and maintains that Israel reserves the right to defend its citizens.

Hamas says it will hit Tel Aviv

Hamas vows to expand the range of its rocket attacks to central Israel, specifically Tel Aviv, Channel 10 reports, adding that Egypt is no longer acting as a mediator between Hamas and Israel to broker a ceasefire agreement.

Iron Dome batteries are deployed to areas further north, Channel 2 reports, as residents within the 40 km (24 mile) range from the Gaza Strip continue to be advised to remain 15 seconds away from a shelter.

Two people are lightly injured after hurting themselves while running to shelter.

IDF says over 40 rockets fired at Israel; media says 70

The IDF says that over 40 projectiles targeted Israel in the latest round of fire, and is “reviewing reports indicating that approximately 30 rockets landed in Israel.”

Seven rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome over Ashdod, while five others were shot down over Netivot, an army statement says.

Sirens in the following cities were triggered by the barrage: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Rehovot, Lehavim, Hatzerim, Kiryat Malachi, Beer Tuvia, Gedera, Yavne, and Beit Shemesh.

Hebrew media reports say 70 rockets were fired so far this evening.

220 arrested, 36 injured in riots across country

Police report 220 people have been arrested in riots that took place in East Jerusalem and across the country since last Friday, after the murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Muhammed Abu Khdeir.

Thirty six police officers were lightly injured in the riots.

Police say they are preparing for further “disturbances” across the country, NRG reports.

After rocket barrage, Israel kicks into ‘war footing’

With the most recent wave of fire from the Gaza Strip and as the government approves a stronger military response, Israel enters its all-too-familiar “war footing.”

The radio stations broadcast the red alert sirens, and strictly report the news and interviews with former generals.

On TV, shows resume, but the news anchors warn that in the event of another attack, the broadcasting will be interrupted.

Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Sderot

The Iron Dome shoots down a rocket headed toward Sderot, as three others land in open areas in Sderot and Shaar HaNegev, according to the Ynet news website. Another Grad rocket slams into a town near Kiryat Malachi, causing damage.

Paramedics from Magen David Adom are on high alert in central Israel and southern Israel in anticipation of further attacks overnight.

Exams at southern universities canceled

Final exams scheduled for tomorrow at the Beersheba campus of Ben-Gurion University will not take place in light of the security situation, the university says.

Similarly, all classes and tests at Sapir Academic College near Sderot are canceled.

Chicken coop, diesel tank damaged by rocket

A chicken coop in a kibbutz in the Yoav regional council and a diesel tank sustain damage from rocket fire, police say.

Eida Haredit condemns murder of East Jerusalem teen

The Eida Haredit, the umbrella organization for Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox communal services, fiercely denounces the murder of 16-year-old Abu Khdeir.

“With pain and horror,” we heard of the “foolish, and very severe act,” a statement from the Eida Haredit read, according to the ultra-Orthodox Kikar HaShabat website.

“It is clear and simple” that “it is forbidden according to the Torah, for a Jew to spill blood, heaven forbid.”

The organization maintains that the incident was made significantly worse since the perpetrators were “in Haredi garb.”

Preemies in Beersheba hospital transferred to shelters

The premature babies in the Beersheba Soroka Medical Center are transferred to a ward that doubles as a bomb shelter ahead of further rocket attacks, Channel 10 reports.

Medical personnel in the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba move premature babies to protected rooms (screen capture: Channel 10)

Medical personnel in the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba move premature babies to protected rooms (screen capture: Channel 10)

Clashes resume in capital, north

Dozens hurl stones, firecrackers at police in the Beit Safafa neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

A Jewish man is arrested after throwing a bottle at a car in East Jerusalem, police say.

Near the Abu Khdeir mourning tent in Shuafat, police fire stun grenades at rock-throwing protesters, the Ynet news website reports.

Earlier, in the northern city of Shfaram, a number of rioters throw stones at police. Troops respond with crowd control measures. No injuries are reported.

In Reineh and Sha’ab, tires are set on fire by Israeli-Arab protesters and rocks thrown at security forces.

Two minors are arrested in Nazareth and are suspected of throwing stones at a passing bus, according to Ynet.

IDF plans to assassinate targets, avoid large-scale operation

As part of the gradual escalation, the IDF will keep the operation focused on specific figures and targeted hits, the cabinet decides, according to the Ynet news website.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is said to appeal to Israel to stop the Gaza airstrikes.

Palestinians: Israel strikes two targets in Gaza

Israeli aircraft bomb two targets in the Gaza, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports.

‘Hamas has about 10,000 rockets in its arsenal’

Yaakov Amidror, the former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says Hamas has “about 10,000 rockets” in its arsenal.

Amidror tells Channel 2 that “we may be in for many more nights” of rocket attacks, but adds that Hamas “does not have any kind of game-changing Doomsday weapon.”

Military officials have said in recent weeks that the Gaza-based terror organization has hundreds of rockets that can reach as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Iron Dome downs missile over Sderot

An Iron Dome anti-missile battery downed an incoming rocket over the southern city of Sderot around midnight on Monday, Ynet reports. Air raid sirens also sounded in the area south of the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Videos show Iron Dome interceptions

A number of videos uploaded to YouTube Monday night purport to show missile interceptions by the Iron Dome system, which shot down over a dozen rockets over the course of the day.

One video, filmed from Rehovot, shows what appears to be three interceptions in the distance in the night sky.

Another video apparently shows the system shooting down several rockets over the Ashdod port, as “red alert” sirens ring out.

A third video, filmed in the Eshkol region outside Gaza, shows a damaged poultry coop, with scores of dead chickens.

Radio station to broadcast rocket sirens

Thousands of residents of southern Israel will be spending the night in bomb shelters, but for those within rocket range who prefer to sleep in their own beds, a number of radio stations will only broadcast rocket sirens overnight, with silence in between, to let people get some rest between running to reinforced rooms.

In Tel Aviv and central Israel, people can tune into 100 FM

In Rishon Letzion 91 FM

In Ashkelon, Ashdod and areas near Gaza, 101.5 FM

In Lehavim, Meitar, the Arava and Mitzpeh Rimon 95.8

In Beersheba and the surrounding area 97 FM

Stay safe and sweet dreams

80 rockets launched at Israel in 24 hours

The IDF says that 80 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, 11 of which were shot down by the Iron Dome system. The spokesperson says that Hamas was responsible for launching most of the missiles.

A Twitter feed affiliated with Hamas, for its part, tweeted that the aim of the rockets is to deprive Israelis of calm and security, and that it comes in retaliation to Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Beersheba, other cities cancel camps

Beersheba becomes the latest southern city to cancel camps and special education activities for Tuesday, joining Ashkelon, Ashdod and a number of other locales.

Th city’s Ben-Gurion university of the Negev earlier canceled all tests scheduled for Tuesday.

In several places in southern Israel, educational activities will only take place in fortified buildings or places within a short sprint of a bomb shelter.

Rocket fired at Hof Ashkelon

A rocket explodes in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon region north of the Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage are reported.

Rocket fired has slowed to a trickle over the last couple hours, after the massive barrage of dozens of rockets in under an hour earlier in the night.

IDF launches Operation Protective Edge

The IDF has just launched an airstrike on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah and announced the commencement of Operation Protective Edge, “in order to stop the terror Israel’s citizens face on a daily basis.”

Conflicting media reports from the Gaza Strip indicate there may be injuries in the airstrike on a house in Rafah.

Air force strikes Hamas targets in Gaza

The Israeli Air Force strikes multiple targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning after commencing Operation Protective Edge.

Airstrikes are reported in the southern city of Khan Younis and in the central Gaza Strip. There are no immediate reports of injuries.

Israeli planes bomb Gaza, 9 reported injured

The Israel Air Force carries out multiple airstrikes against Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports nine Palestinians injured in Israeli strikes. According to medical sources cited by a BBC correspondent, two of those hurt in the attack on a house in the southern Gaza Strip were minors.

Israeli strikes target training facilities, Hamas says

Hamas says Israel targeted two houses and four training facilities in the Gaza Strip in the Israeli Air Force’s latest round of airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave.

The IDF tweets that the Islamist terrorist group “will not be safe as long as it continues to threaten the lives of Israeli civilians.” The military said that at least 80 rockets were fired into southern Israel on Monday.

Air raid sirens ring out across southern Israel

Air raid sirens are reported in the towns of Ofakim, Kiryat Malachi and Rahat, and in the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev and Merhavim regions of southern Israel.

Hamas threatens to fire rockets deeper into Israel

Hamas’s armed wing says in a statement that airstrikes on houses in the Gaza Strip are a “red line,” and that if Israel doesn’t cease it will extend the range of its rocket fire. The group claims responsibility for firing a rocket at the southern town of Ofakim.

Moments earlier air raid sirens sounded across southern Israel. Unconfirmed reports indicate that five rockets exploded in open areas of southern Israel’s Eshkol region, one hit near the southern city of Kiryat Malachi and one in the Merhavim region of southern Israel. No injuries or damage are being reported.

Video of airstrikes on Gaza uploaded to Facebook

A video uploaded to Facebook shows Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning after the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge.

14 Palestinians hurt in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

Reports from the Gaza Strip indicate that a total of 14 Palestinians have been injured in Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets thus far Tuesday night. Four houses have also been destroyed.

According to a Hamas news outlet, the IDF carried out over 60 airstrikes in the first couple hours of Operation Protective Edge.

Israel’s UN envoy calls on Security Council to condemn Hamas

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor calls on the Security Council to condemn Hamas for firing rockets into southern Israel, denounce terrorism and call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve his national unity government with the Islamist group.

In a letter sent to the Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Prosor says Israel will “no longer tolerate this situation” and that “those who target Israelis with terrorism will pay a very heavy price.”

Hamas threatens to fire on Tel Aviv

A spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, addresses Tel Aviv residents saying that the Israeli military is placing them in danger by striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, and that they’ll come under fire in the coming hours.

Obama: Peace best way to ensure Israel’s security

US President Barack Obama writes an op-ed in Haaretz on Tuesday morning in which he reiterates Washington’s commitment to the state of Israel and reaching a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The op-ed comes out a few hours after the IDF launched its Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Obama elaborates the expanded security cooperation between the US and Israel, particularly in “cutting-edge defense systems like the Arrow interceptor system and Iron Dome,” which are making Israelis safer. The president says that the only guarantor of security for Israel, however, is peace with the Palestinians.

“Peace is necessary because it’s the only way to ensure a secure and democratic future for the Jewish state of Israel,” Obama writes. “While walls and missile defense systems can help protect against some threats, true safety will only come with a comprehensive negotiated settlement. Reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians would also help turn the tide of international sentiment and sideline violent extremists, further bolstering Israel’s security.”

Obama repeats his call for a comprehensive two-state solution, “a democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state.” He says Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a partner for peace with Israel, and calls on the Palestinian government to uphold its commitment to non-violence, adherence to past agreements, and the recognition of Israel. Both sides must take risks for peace, though.

“It is never too late to seed the ground for peace—a true and living peace that exists not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of all Israelis and Palestinians,” he says.

Many #Gazaunderattack pics not authentic

An investigation by the BBC finds that many images being shared on social media with the hashtag #Gazaunderattack, claiming to show current Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, are not from 2014 and are in many cases are not from the Palestinian enclave.

According to #BBCtrending, some of the images being shared “date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.”

Hamas: ‘This is not the time for quiet’

After a restless night in southern Israel, air raid sirens sound in the Eshkol region bordering Gaza after sunup. A rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol region, causing no injuries or damage.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum says, “This is not the time for quiet. We have a bank of various targets. An Iron Dome [missile battery] will be needed in every Israeli home.”

According to Israel Radio’s Gal Berger, 17 Palestinians were reported injured in Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets. At least five houses belonging to Hamas members were attacked, and residents were called ahead of the strikes and instructed to evacuate, a Palestinian reporter tweets.

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