The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Sunday, the 20th day of Operation Protective Edge. US Secretary of State John Kerry headed back home after Israel rejected his ceasefire proposal, and the PA castigated his handling of the crisis. A humanitarian truce was unilaterally ended by Hamas on Saturday night, when it resumed rocket fire, but Hamas called for a new truce on Sunday. With the Gaza death toll said to reach 1,000, Israeli military sources noted that several hundred Hamas gunmen are among those killed. The IDF death toll rose to 43. (Monday’s liveblog is here.)
You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.
Day 20 of war with Hamas
As we enter Day 20 of Israel’s war with Hamas, Secretary of State John Kerry is flying home to Washington, having failed to broker a ceasefire.
Israeli government sources are castigating him for his handling of the crisis, saying the offer that ministers unanimously rejected on Friday night was a “complete capitulation” to Hamas.
The IDF death toll has risen to 42.
And protests are erupting in various neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, with the security forces braced for West Bank demonstrations too.
Israel extends the truce that Hamas has breached
A few minutes ago, the Israeli security cabinet approved a 24 hour extension of the humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip, until Sunday at midnight. Hamas, however, breached that truce on Saturday night.
Still, Israel says it will hold its fire if Hamas does.
Israel also notes that the IDF exposed several Hamas terror tunnels and blew up several during Saturday’s lull — and tackling the tunnels is a key goal of the ground offensive.
FM Liberman and Economy Minister Bennett reportedly voted against the truce extension idea.
‘What Kerry promised Hamas’
ToI’s Avi Issacharoff, who on Friday broke the details of the Kerry ceasefire proposal, reports that, according to Palestinian sources, Kerry informed Hamas via Qatar last week that under his proposal, the US would guarantee the fulfillment of many of Hamas’s demands for an end to the war.
Writes Issacharoff: “The guarantees promised to Hamas by Kerry under a ceasefire, as relayed to The Times of Israel by the Palestinian sources, pertain to the following issues: an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods from Israel to Gaza; an easing of restrictions on the passage of traders and businessmen from Gaza to Israel; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees.”
Seven soldiers to be buried Sunday
Seven IDF soldiers killed in Gaza fighting since Friday will be buried on Sunday.
Staff-Sgt. Amit Yeori will be buried at 3 p.m. at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.
Sgt.-Maj. Ramo Kahlon will be laid to rest at 5 p.m. in the military emetery in Hadera.
The funeral for Staff-Sgt. Gal Bason will be at 5 p.m. in the Holon cemetery.
Staff-Sgt. Guy Levy will be buried at 5 p.m. at the military section of the Kfar Vradim cemetery.
Staff-Sgt. Guy Boyland will be laid to rest at 5 p.m. in Ginosar, in the military section of the cemetery.
Staff-Sgt. Avraham Grintzvaig, will be buried at 6 p.m. in the military cemetery of Petah Tikva.
Second-Lt. Roy Peles will be laid to rest at 7 p.m. at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul in Tel Aviv.
Hamas rejects truce extension
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri says the group rejects Israel’s offer to extend the humanitarian truce until Sunday night, saying it does not meet their demands.
“Any humanitarian ceasefire that does not include the pullout of [IDF troops] from the Gaza Strip and does not allow Gaza residents to return to their homes and to care for their wounded is not acceptable,” Abu-Zuhri says, according to Israeli media reports.
Hamas on Saturday night unilaterally broke a several-hour truce with Israel, shooting rockets at Beersheba and Ashkelon, after Jerusalem agreed to extend the timeout from 8 p.m. until midnight.
Hamas said to be in arms deal with North Korea
Hamas and North Korea are involved in a secret arms deal to smuggle rockets and communications equipment into the Strip, British newspaper The Telegraph reports.
The report, based on Western security sources, claims that the Gazan terror group is working through a Lebanese intermediary to bring more fighting equipment to the Strip, in order to replenish stocks after three weeks of fighting with Israel.
The deal with Pyongyang is said to be worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to the Telegraph, Israeli officials believe North Korea consulted with Hamas to aid the group in building a network of tunnels into Israeli territory intended for terror attacks, tunnels that Israel is now scrambling to uncover and destroy.
The subterranean passages are reminiscent of tunnels built by North Korea in the 1970s into South Korea.
Last week, a US federal judge found North Korea and Iran guilty of aiding Hezbollah during Israel’s 2006 war with the Lebanese terror group.
Gaza death toll hits 1,047
Gazan health officials say the death toll in Gaza has topped 1,000, witrh the recovery of nearly 150 bodies from rubble on Saturday.
Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra puts the death toll at 1,047 in 19 days of fighting, with more than 6,000 wounded, according to The Associated Press.
Hundreds of those are Hamas fighters, according to Israel, though the UN has said 80 percent of Gaza’s fatalities are civilian.
During the day 147 bodies were pulled from rubble during a break in fighting, according to Hamas.
Forty-five people have been killed on the Israeli side, including 42 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai national. Hundreds more have been wounded in fighting and indiscriminate rocket fire.
Kahlon, Lavi remembered
Israeli media is publishing new details about the last two IDF fatalities, Liad Lavi and Rami Kahlon, both of whom succumbed on Saturday to wounds sustained earlier in the week.
Kahlon, 39, leaves behind a wife, Pnina, and four children in the Sharon city of Hadera. “Rami was a recipient of the Chief of General Staff excellence award only a year ago, was a devoted father and a family man,” Hadera mayor Zvika Gendelman tells the Walla news site.
“Rami was a great guy, he was a pillar of his household,” a friend of the family tells Ynet.
According to the news site, his last wish was that his wife spread the word about Doron Elbaz, who set up a free refreshment station on his land near the Gaza border for soldiers heading to the fight.
Kahlon was injured by a grenade that exploded near him on Tuesday.
Liad Lavi, 22, also died on Saturday, after being wounded while entering a booby-trapped home.
“They opened fire and he was shot,” a family member tells Ynet. “He lost a lot of blood. They fought for his life in the field and in the hospital.”
His father spoke of their last vacation together, when they went skiing.
“We enjoyed it like crazy,” he tells the news site. “We decided we would also go skiing this year. he loved to [scuba] dive and all his brothers followed in his footsteps and dove as well.”
Hamas trying to save face by refusing truce
Hamas’s rejection of Israeli overtures to extend saturday’s humanitarian truce is less a function of the ceasefire’s usefulness and more a question of honor and face-saving for the Islamist group, TOI Arab affairs correspondent Elhanan Miller writes.
Hamas does not want to be “tricked” by the humanitarian ceasefire, claims an article in Hamas’s daily. “Perhaps that explains Hamas’s refusal regarding the four-hour extension,” the article’s author surmises.
“Hamas — and the other factions behind it — want a final agreement assuring an end to the aggression and a removal of the siege. In short, it insists on realizing an ‘honorable agreement’ worthy of the blood shed on Gaza’s soil.”
Shortly after midnight, the Israeli cabinet approved a UN request to extend the humanitarian ceasefire by an additional 24 hours. Palestinian journalist Yasser Zaatreh explained on Twitter the rationale behind Hamas’s rejection of the Israeli move.
“This is an [Israeli] attempt to improve its ugly image,” Zaatreh informed his 326,000 followers. “The international awakening is unnerving the Zionists.”
Iranians call to arm West Bank Palestinians
While much of the world is working on getting Israel and Hamas to a ceasefire, in Iran, leaders are calling to widen the conflict.
Iranian ground forces head Ahmad Reza Pourdastan says West Bank Palestinians should be armed, so they too can stand up to Israel, much as Gaza has.
“Given the realities that exist with regard to the Zionist regime, we are witnessing that the rockets fired by the Palestinians have made this regime feel much fear, which shows that this fake regime withdraws [from its positions] and sits to the negotiating table by using force,” Pourdastan is quoted as saying in the semi-official Fars news site, in a less-than-stellar translation of his remarks.
“It is the responsibility of all Muslims states and those who are worried about the religion, to arm the people in the West Bank so that the Muslim Palestinian nation can resist against the Zionist regime given the operational capacities that it will achieve [after that],” he continues.
On Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei made a similar call for the “Zionist regime” to be felled by an armed Palestinian uprising.
“My belief is this — our belief is that the West Bank should be armed like Gaza. Those who love the fate of the Palestinians, if they can do something, this is it. The people there should be armed. The only thing that can uproot the distress of the Palestinians … [is] to have the stronger hand. It is to show strength,” he said, according to an Al-Monitor translation.
OCHA: 200,000 Gazans displaced by fighting
The UN’s Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the number of displaced Gazans has surpassed the 200,000 mark.
Over 165,000 Gazans are being housed at 92 UNRWA schools as of Saturday afternoon, an increase of 6,000 over the day before, and an additional 9,000 people are being housed in government facilities in the Strip, according to OCHA numbers.
The agency estimates another 20,000 to be bunking with relatives or friends, but does not explain where the other 6,000 or so internally displaced people are.
Sirens near Gaza break calm
After several rocket-free hours, sirens ring out in a number of communities near the Gaza border, signaling incoming fire.
Israeli shows to face boycott in Scotland
In Scotland, a dance performance by an Israeli troop at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, among the biggest art gatherings in the world, has come under threat of boycott.
La Karina, by dancers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is slated to be performed four times at the festival next month.
But protesters angered with Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, led by the Gaza Emergency Co-ordinating Committee, plan to boycott and protest the performances, The Herald Scotland reports.
Previously, protesters said they would oppose the performance of hip-hopera The City, by the Incubator Theater of Israel, on July 30.
The festival is uncurated and open to all performers, organizers tell the newspaper.
Rocket sirens in Gaza periphery
For the second time Sunday morning, rocket sirens ring out in Israeli communities near Gaza.
Senior US official: IS could replace Hamas
Speaking at a high-level security conference in Aspen, Colorado, outgoing US Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn warns against the dangers of toppling Hamas, saying what may replace them could be even worse.
“If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse,” Flynn, a lieutenant general, tells the conference, according to Reuters.
He warns that with Hamas out of the picture, the Islamic State, or something like the brutal Islamist group ruling over parts of Syria and Iraq, could take its place.
Shell lands in open area
A mortar shell shot out of Gaza just after 5 a.m. landed in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon region, causing no injuries or damage, Army Radio reports.
At least one more projectile was shot out of Gaza at 6 a.m. No word yet on a landing site, or injuries or damage.
Damage after rocket hits community near Gaza
An early-morning rocket shot from Gaza landed inside an Israeli community in the Hof Ashkelon region, causing damage but no injuries, Army Radio reports.
Three rockets since midnight — IDF
Three rockets in total have been shot out of Gaza at Israel since midnight, the IDF reports.
The number, while not insignificant, is lower than most overnight totals since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge nearly three weeks ago.
No rockets were shot at Israel between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to media accounts.
Latest IDF KIA: Barak Refael Degorker, 27
The IDF releases the name of another soldier killed in the fighting in Gaza.
Sergeant First Class (res.) Barak Refael Degorker, 27, from Gan Yavne, succumbed to wounds he sustained from mortar fire on the Gaza border on Saturday night.
The family has been notified.
Degorker was one of over 65,000 reservists called up over the past month for the Gaza operation.
The announcement of Degorker’s death brings the IDF death toll in the Gaza operation to 43.
Bennett: ‘In Gaza, Israel is fighting Iran’
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who serves on Israel’s defense policy-setting security cabinet, insists in a Daily Beast article published Saturday that, “Simply put — Israel is fighting Iran.”
Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip has for the umpteenth time exposed Iran as the true source of instability in the Middle East.
At a time when Western powers are working to reach a deal with Iran over its illicit nuclear program, events in Gaza need to serve as a warning of what will happen if they fail.
As the Israeli government has claimed for years, Iran is the main sponsor and one of the main supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two terrorist organizations that have fired over 1,600 rockets into Israel over the past few days.
The M-75 rocket, which has been fired repeatedly into Tel Aviv and beyond, is a copy of Iran’s Fajr-5 artillery rocket, manufactured in the Gaza Strip with assistance from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Hamas drones, shot down by the Israeli Air Force, appear to have been the Ababil, an unmanned aerial vehicle designed and manufactured in Iran.
These Iranian weapons were used against Israel at the same time that Iran’s leadership was sitting with the P5+1 in Vienna to negotiate a deal over its nuclear program. While Secretary of State John Kerry sat with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, Hamas was firing barrages of Iranian rockets into Jerusalem.
For Israel, the message is clear. An Iran that provides, already today, its terror proxies with sophisticated rockets, drones, and other technology could one day hand off a crude nuclear device or dirty bomb to these same terrorists.
In addition, an Iranian regime with nuclear weapons is a regime more willing to take risks and to test the West’s resolve. Deterrence will no longer work.
That is why Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip needs to be put into the correct context. While the terrorists against whom Israeli soldiers are fighting in Gaza are Palestinian, they are in reality proxies of Iran located on our western border.
Simply put—Israel is fighting Iran.
Majority of Gaza dead are fighting-age men
One analysis of the Palestinian casualties in Gaza says that more than half are men aged 16-35, the age group of Hamas fighters.
The death toll is heavily tilted toward fighting-age men. Children aged 5-9 make up 14.3% of the population, but 5.2% of the casualties, while young adults aged 20-24 make up 8.9% of the population but 24.2% of the casualties, with women making up only 9.5% of the latter group’s casualties, according to the report.
The graph reverses — that is, non-fighting age groups see a rise in casualties higher than their percentage in the population — among the elderly. Gazans over 65 make up just 2.6% of the population, but 3.3% of the casualties. This may be a reflection of their reduced mobility, making them unable to flee areas of heavy fighting.
Sirens sound in Ashdod
The barrage of rockets from Gaza continues as sirens sound in Ashdod.
Barrage of rockets on southern towns
Sirens are now sounding in Ashkelon, moments after Ashdod.
Gal Gadot ♥ Israelis under rocket fire
Supermodel and actress Gal Gadot, among the most famous Israelis in Hollywood, sends her “love and prayers” to Israelis, and especially IDF fighters battling Hamas in Gaza.
On Friday night, at the start of the Jewish Sabbath, Gadot posted a photo of herself on Facebook and Twitter lighting the traditional Shabbat candles. Below the photo on Facebook is the caption:
I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom! #weareright #freegazafromhamas #stopterror #coexistance #loveidf
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) July 25, 2014
Gadot is famous for her role in the Fast and Furious franchise of action movies, and as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film.
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) July 26, 2014
Rocket shot down over central Israel
A rocket is shot down over central Israel by Iron Dome.
Two rockets fall in open areas in southern Israel.
In the latest barrage, which took place over the last half hour, sirens sounded in the Sharon and Shfela regions, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne and towns and villages on the Gaza periphery.
134 IDF wounded still in hospital
The IDF’s death toll from the fighting in Gaza hit 43 by Sunday, but less cited are the figures for wounded soldiers.
The IDF says 134 of its soldiers are still hospitalized for wounds sustained in the fighting. Five have serious or critical wounds, 39 moderate and 90 are lightly wounded.
The soldiers are being treated in five hospitals: 38 in Beersheba’s Soroka, 32 in Ashkelon’s Barzilai, 29 in Ramat Gan’s Tel Hashomer, 20 in Petah Tikvah’s Beilinson and 15 in Jerusalem’s Hadassah.
Some 70 soldiers have been released from hospital in the 10 days since the start of the ground operation.
IDF: 7 rockets launched at Israel
The IDF reports that seven rockets were launched at Israel in the last barrage, which took place a half hour ago. Two were shot down by Iron Dome, as they were headed to populated areas. The remaining five landed in open areas.
UPDATE: 7 rockets were fired from Gaza. Iron Dome intercepted 2 and 5 hit southern Israel.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 27, 2014
IDF video recaps 2nd week of Gaza fighting
To those looking for an IDF video montage and summary of the second week of the Gaza ground operation, here you go:
Rocket falls near Petah Tikvah, none hurt
A rocket falls near Petah Tikvah. No one is hurt and no damage is reported.
Police sappers are on the scene.
Residents are reminded not to approach fallen rockets, as some warheads are still live after the rocket falls.
Israel is observing a UN-requested 24-hour ceasefire. Hamas has rejected the ceasefire and continued rocket fire over Israel throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Haaretz: Kerry’s proposal empowered Hamas
Haaretz, bastion of the Israeli left, has published the harshest critique of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire attempt yet seen in the mainstream Israeli press.
The paper’s diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid writes in a scathing tone about Kerry’s “embarrassing” performance and apparent dishonesty in the negotiations.
The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.
The document recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’ disposal. The document placed Israel and Hamas on the same level, as if the first is not a primary U.S. ally and as if the second isn’t a terror group which overtook part of the Palestinian Authority in a military coup and fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
The secretary of state’s draft empowered the most radical and problematic elements in the region – Qatar, Turkey, and Hamas – and was a slap on the face to the rapidly forming camp of Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who have many shared interests. What Kerry’s draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.
Kerry isn’t anti-Israeli; on the contrary, he’s a true friend to Israel. But his conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events. It’s as if he isn’t the foreign minister of the world’s most powerful nation, but an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast. For a few moments Friday one could not avoid recalling the things Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said about Kerry, and admit that despite the fact that it wasn’t appropriate, he may have had a point.
If Kerry did anything on Friday it was to thwart the possibility of reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. Instead of promoting a cease-fire, Kerry pushed it away. If this failed diplomatic attempt leads Israel to escalate its operation in Gaza, the American secretary of state will be one of those responsible for every additional drop of blood that is spilled.
Sirens in Zikim, Karmiyeh
Sirens are continuing to sound throughout southern Israel. Sirens are sounding now at Zikim and Karmiyeh, north of Gaza.
Egypt destroys 13 new Gaza-Sinai tunnels
Egyptian security forces destroy 13 newly-constructed tunnels from Gaza to Sinai in recent days, Israel Radio reports.
Egypt has shuttered over 1,000 tunnels between Gaza and Sinai in recent months as relations between Cairo and Gaza’s Hamas leaders have soured over the latter’s support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
IDF forces have been operating on the ground in Gaza for the past 10 days in a mission defined by the security cabinet as targeting Hamas-built tunnels stretching from Gaza to towns and villages inside Israel.
IDF says it is resuming fire on Gaza targets
The IDF says that in light of the continued rocket fire from Gaza Sunday morning, it will resume strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip which were suspended since Saturday morning following a UN request to cease fire.
Anti-Jewish, anti-Arab vandalism on the rise
In growing signs of Arab-Jewish tensions fueled by the Gaza war, police report that it is investigating anti-Arab and anti-Jewish graffiti in the northern cities of Acre and Haifa.
Two anti-Jewish graffiti drawings are found in Al-Jazar square in Acre, and an anti-Arab drawing on a wall in the Neve David neighborhood of Haifa.
The graffiti is now scrubbed clean and investigations are opened in both cases, police say.
Police also suspect that a wave of seven separate fires in Jewish farms in the Jezreel Valley may be linked to local Arabs taking revenge for the Gaza war.
The fires, which have destroyed the contents of at least four grain silos, have caused millions of shekels in damage.
Palestinians report IDF strikes on east Gaza
Palestinian media reports indicate the IDF is resuming artillery fire in the eastern Gaza Strip.
There are also reports that naval strikes are resuming.
— Oliver Weiken (@OliverWeiken) July 27, 2014
There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
The IDF said a few minutes ago it is resuming strikes on the Gaza Strip after nearly 24 hours of holding fire. Since Saturday night, multiple rocket barrages were fired by Hamas on Israeli towns.
Israel seals Erez Crossing, including to journalists
The Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip has been sealed in the wake of continued rocket fire from Gaza Sunday, Israel’s Government Press Office says.
“Due to violations of the humanitarian truce by Hamas, entry and exit into/from the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing has been postponed until further notice. The situation will be reassessed this afternoon in accordance with developments,” reads the notice sent to journalists.
For journalists, this means they will not be able to enter or leave the Strip until further notice.
“Journalists wishing to enter Gaza are requested to remain at the entrance to kibbutz Yad Mordechai; those wishing to leave Gaza are requested to remain at their hotel,” the GPO says.
We care about Gaza’s children more than Hamas does — Lapid
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, blasts Hamas for refusing to abide by the humanitarian ceasefire.
“Once again we find proof that we care about Gaza’s children more than Hamas does,” Lapid says in a statement, since “[Hamas] violated the humanitarian respite.”
Palestinians report 3 dead in latest Gaza strike
Palestinian reports indicate three people were killed in the latest Gaza strike, as the IDF resumes attacks on Hamas targets and infrastructure in the Strip.
Hamas said refusing medicine from Israel
Hamas is refusing medicine and humanitarian assistance from Israel, a policy that is exacerbating Gaza’s humanitarian suffering, Health Minister Yael German charges.
“Even when we send the aid through the Red Cross, there is no one on the other side willing to accept the medicine,” she tells Channel 2 News. “They don’t want the world to see us doing anything humanitarian.”
PA enraged over Kerry snub
Palestinian sources tell the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian Authority is furious with US Secretary of State John Kerry for not consulting with it about his ceasefire initiative.
The sources tell the daily that PA President Mahmoud Abbas angrily lashed out at French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in a phone conversation, asking him, ‘Why didn’t you call me?’ in reaction to a Paris meeting to which Qatar and Turkey were invited, but not Egypt or the PA.
Fatah, Abbas’s party, issued an angry statement on Saturday, saying: “Those who want Qatar or Turkey to represent them should go live there. The PLO is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians.”
— Elhanan Miller
Trial begins for key suspect in terror killing of Palestinian teenager
The trial of the main killer of Muhammed Abu Khdeir begins Sunday in the Jerusalem District Court.
Yosef Haim Ben-David, 30, is charged with kidnapping the Palestinian teenager on July 2 together with two accomplices, beating him in the head with a tire iron and then burning him to death in a Jerusalem-area forest. The attack is believed to be a revenge killing for the kidnapping-murders of three Israeli teens by a Hamas-affiliated terror cell in the West Bank in June.
Ben-David is expected to pursue an insanity defense. He has reportedly said he is “the messiah.”
Police stop car bomb at West Bank checkpoint
Border Police forces catch a car rigged with explosives and multiple gasoline tanks in the West Bank.
The vehicle is spotted Sunday morning driving from Tzur Hadassah, southwest of Jerusalem, toward the West Bank town of Beitar Illit.
As the car approaches a border police checkpoint, a policeman notices the Palestinian driver driving “strangely.” He orders the car to stop and turn off the engine. When the driver doesn’t respond, he leans in the driver’s window to remove the keys himself. The driver then accelerates, leaving the policeman hanging halfway out the driver’s-side window. The policeman pulls out his handgun and yells at the driver to stop. The car stops.
In the ensuing search of the vehicle, police discover gasoline tanks in the car’s trunk linked to an explosive detonator.
The driver is arrested and taken for questioning.
Reports of IDF targeted strikes against Islamic Jihad
Channel 2 reports IDF airstrikes in Gaza, resumed in the past hour, are targeting key Islamic Jihad operatives in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza official puts Palestinian death toll at 1,049
Gaza’s Health Ministry is reporting the death toll in the coastal territory has risen to 1,049 in 20 days of fighting.
Dr. Ashraf Al Qudra, spokesman for the Health Ministry, offers the updated numbers on Sunday. Some 6,000 are believed injured, he says.
Israel says the figure includes many hundreds of Hamas fighters and that the Health Ministry that is reporting the figures is controlled by Hamas. The UN has said most of the dead in Gaza are civilians.
Islamic Jihad commander killed in Gaza
Reports from Gaza indicate an Islamic Jihad commander has been killed in an IDF strike east of Khan Younis, Israel Radio’s Gal Berger reports. The commander’s name has not yet been publicized.
A motorcyclist was also killed in a nearby strike, though initial reports do not identify the man.
Two more are dead from shelling in the central Gaza Strip.
Hamas quietly seeking truce extension — Israel
Israeli officials say Hamas is quietly asking for a return of the humanitarian ceasefire.
Israel resumed strikes on Hamas targets Sunday morning after Hamas refused to abide by a UN-requested ceasefire and launched several volleys of rockets at Israeli towns.
Within two hours of Israel’s resumption of strikes, Hamas officials are now asking the UN’s peace envoy Robert Serry to arrange a renewal of the ceasefire.
If true, the report indicates Hamas has given up its previous demand that no ceasefire would go into effect unless Israel withdrew is ground troops from Gaza and stopped the destruction of Hamas’s tunnels.
According to Channel 2’s Ehud Ya’ari, Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal was surprised Friday at the Israeli cabinet’s unanimous rejection of the ceasefire proposal raised by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Hamas believed Kerry’s proposal, which offered Hamas its key demand of easing the Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade of the Strip, would rescue it from the relentless pressure of the unified Israeli-Egyptian front.
Such a ceasefire extension won’t take effect until Hamas makes the request publicly, Israeli officials say.
Israel kills top Hamas officer
The Shin Bet announces that the organization, in a joint operation with the army, killed a leading Hamas military wing operative on Friday. Ismail Akluk, 25, was assassinated while riding in a car in Gaza.
Akluk was deeply involved in weapons manufacture for Hamas, the Shin Bet says, including “a very large contribution” to Hamas’s fledgling offensive drone project and its rocket development wing.
The targeted killing, the internal security organization says, harms Hamas’s ability to develop more advanced weapons, “with an emphasis on the UAV project, which is considered a flagship project toward which a large amount of resources are devoted.”
Twice during the course of Operation Protective Edge Hamas has launched relatively primitive, Iranian-made drones toward Israel; both were shot down by Patriot missiles.
— Mitch Ginsburg
Rivlin expresses 100% trust in cabinet
President Reuven Rivlin expresses full support for the cabinet’s handling of the Gaza operation.
“I trust the cabinet 100%,” he says following a visit to the family of IDF soldier Jordan Ben-Simon, who was killed in the fighting in Gaza.
The cabinet’s ministers “have all the facts they need to make decisions” about the Gaza operation, he says in response to a reporter’s question.
While he insists that “ceasefire talks are the government’s purview,” he notes that “it’s clear to all that we can’t return to a situation where Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba residents are afraid for their lives.”
He praises Israelis for their resilience and for “doing their part in a remarkable way.”
Asked by a journalist if he senses international pressure over Israel’s operation in Gaza, Rivlin replies: “There has been international pressure on Israel throughout all periods and generations, from our enemies and our friends alike. But we have to explain to the world that our decisions must be made by us.”
3 rockets fall in open areas near Ashkelon
Three rockets fall in open areas near the southern city of Ashkelon. Sirens sounded in the area moments earlier.
Sirens are also sounding in Yad Mordechai and Netiv Haasara.
Kerry proposal answered Hamas demands, ignored Israel’s
Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reveals the contents of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal that left Israeli ministers “shocked” on Friday.
In the proposal, Ravid writes, “Egypt’s traditional role of supervising implementation of the agreement has been passed to Turkey and Qatar – two states which support Hamas and are hostile to Israel.”
The proposal ensured a ceasefire would mark the beginning of talks on Hamas’s demands, including “arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer of funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees and address all security issues.”
Meanwhile, “Israel’s demands were mentioned in the most general of terms in the phrase ‘address all security issues.’ There was no one mention of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip of its rocket supply or advanced weapons, and not the dismantling of the terror tunnels.”
‘Tunnel digging will resume when Israel leaves’
Col (res.) Atai Shelach, a former commander of the elite combat engineering unit Yahalom, says in a conference call with journalists that Israel “won’t find all of the tunnels,” and that “the moment we go out they will start digging again.”
He describes a history of tunneling in Gaza as “almost two decades old” and says that it began with the acquisition of goods, then turned into a commercial industry for several families in Gaza and, since the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, the intensity of digging has increased from year to year.
Shelach says that the intelligence picture provided to the troops “was very good” and that he was not at all surprised by the extent of the tunnel network in Gaza.
In a call arranged by The Israel Project, he explains how “the hundreds, if not thousands” of tunnels in Gaza are created. Beyond the craft of the digging and the usage of perhaps 800 tons of concrete in some of the tunnels, he says that the first step is to find a family willing to help Hamas, or to accept payment in exchange for looking the other way, and to begin digging – slowly, so as not to create suspicion – from within the home.
— Mitch Ginsburg
Hamas asks for 24-hour truce starting at 2
Hamas is asking Israel through UN mediators for a 24-hour truce set to begin at 2 p.m.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri announces that the group has agreed to a UN request for a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire to take effect at 2 p.m., though UN and Israeli sources say Hamas had asked for the truce.
Israel observed a humanitarian ceasefire requested by the UN from Saturday morning until Sunday morning, when a barrage of rocket fire from Gaza led the cabinet to order the IDF to resume strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas’s request follows multiple declarations over the weekend in which the group rejected a ceasefire as long as the IDF remained in Gaza.
Siren sounds in Ashkelon region
A siren is sounding in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council north of the Gaza Strip.
10 minutes before possible start of truce, IDF strikes Gaza
A Reuters reporter says IDF strikes continue in Gaza, minutes before the 2 p.m. start of a ceasefire requested by Hamas.
— Noah Browning (@sheikhNB) July 27, 2014
Israel resumed its strikes on targets throughout the Gaza Strip after a barrage of Hamas rockets on Israeli towns Sunday morning ended Israel’s observance of a UN-requested humanitarian ceasefire over the weekend.
UN official confirms Hamas ceasefire request
UN Middle East peace process coordinator Robert Serry confirms reports that Hamas had asked to reinstate the ceasefire ended earlier Sunday after a volley of rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli towns.
“Yesterday I called on all parties to extend the humanitarian pause for another 24 hours,” Serry says in a live phone call to Channel 2.
“Israel agreed. Despite initial disruption from resumed rocket fire, Hamas and other Palestinian factions have now announced they are willing to pause for 24 hours, starting at 2 p.m. I have now passed their request to the Israeli army, to [Maj.] Gen. [Yoav] Mordechai, [the coordinator of government activities in the territories,] and call on Israel to accept the extension of the humanitarian ceasefire,” Serry says.
“I hope this opportunity will not be missed.”
Serry also warned Gazans “not to go into the street or back to their houses before this new ceasefire is actually effective on the ground.”
“I am hopeful the Israeli government will respond as soon as possible and that all sides show all humanitarian restraint. I am troubled that just a few moments ago new rockets came out of Gaza.”
Despite Hamas ceasefire request, rockets fall
Sirens are sounding in the Yad Mordechai area near Gaza, despite the call by Hamas and other Palestinian factions to restore the humanitarian ceasefire that ended Sunday morning after Hamas resumed rocket fire on Israeli towns.
Hamas asked for the ceasefire to begin at 2 p.m., but rockets were being launched 15 minutes later.
Israel has yet to respond to the latest ceasefire request.
Erez Crossing reopened to journalists
The Erez Crossing has been reopened to journalists seeking to enter and leave the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Government Press Office says.
The crossing was closed earlier Sunday as fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas.
Thai worker killed in Gaza fire flown home
Thai migrant laborer Narakon Kittiyangkul, 36, was killed last week in Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara by the explosion of a mortar shell fired from Gaza.
Kittiyangkul’s body is being flown to Thailand today after a Saturday funeral at the kibbutz officiated by a Buddhist monk.
Pope pleads for end to Gaza violence
Pope Francis calls on warring parties in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine to put an end to violence.
“Stop, please stop! I beg you with all my heart,” the 77-year-old Argentine pontiff pleads before pilgrims packed in St Peter’s Square for the weekly Angelus prayer.
“I think of the children, who are robbed of the hope of a dignified life, of a future. Dead children, wounded children, mutilated children, orphans, children who, for toys, have the debris of war. Children who do not know how to smile,” he says.
Marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Francis calls on people “not to repeat the mistakes of the past,” saying: “Let us remember that everything is lost in war, nothing is lost in peace.”
Gazans attack Red Cross office
Dozens of Palestinians in Khan Yunis break into the local Red Cross office, trashing equipment and setting the area on fire, the Ynet news website reports.
Turkish opposition delegation to visit Gaza
A delegation from Turkey’s main opposition party is planning a solidarity visit to Gaza in time for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
The delegation of 20 will be led by Veli Ağbaba, deputy head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Sunday’s Zaman reports. It is trying to enter the Strip from Egypt, according to the paper.
“The CHP condemns the Israeli atrocities, and we are aware that diplomatic ties with Israel are at their lowest level. This means we will not be welcomed by the Israeli state with open arms. However, our main purpose is to end the bloodshed,” Ağbaba says.
The visit aims to “contribute to the restoration of peace,” he says. “Because of the government’s mistaken foreign policy, Turkey cannot play an active role in mediating between Israel and Palestine. Our delegation will try to mobilize global public opinion.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week said that Israel’s operation in Gaza is more “barbaric” than Hitler, bringing already strained ties between Ankara and Jerusalem to a new low.
— Raphael Ahren
Iranian lawmakers to visit Gaza
A delegation of six Iranian parliament members is set to visit the Gaza Strip on Monday, the Iranian Press TV reports.
The lawmakers will arrive through Egypt’s Rafah crossing and visit with Palestinian families in solidarity, it reports. They are awaiting visas from the Egyptian government.
Rockets strike southern Israel
Despite a Hamas request for a 24-hour ceasefire, the terror organization launches several missiles at the Eshkol region in the past hour, and takes credit for the attack.
There are no reports of injuries or damage.
Amos Yadlin says op strategy a mistake
Israel’s incremental operational plan for the Gaza operation, beginning with an aerial campaign and slowly increasing in intensity, is a mistake, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence directorate says Sunday.
Maj. Gen. (ret) Amos Yadlin says that there are merits in the approach adopted by the government, in that it preserves Israeli legitimacy and it allows multiple exit points for de-escalation, but “in hindsight, this was not the right strategy.”
A sharp, forceful move at the onset, exerting immediate pressure on the military wing of Hamas, he says in a conference call, would have been “a much smarter” option.
— Mitch Ginsburg
Israel has yet to approve truce request
Israel has not formally accepted Hamas’s request for a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire beginning at 2 p.m., but Channel 2 reports that the IDF has halted its operations on the ground, and the cabinet is expected to approve the temporary truce later this afternoon.
Conflicting reports on Israeli response to truce
There are conflicting reports on whether Israel accepts the Hamas initiated 24-hour truce, with a senior official now telling Channel 2 that Israel rejects the proposal.
Netanyahu continues weekly media blitz
As has become a weekly tradition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hits the Sunday talks shows in the US, granting interviews to Fox News, NBC, CBS and CNN.
Israel accepted five different ceasefire proposals and truce offers, which were all rejected by Hamas, the prime minister says. “And now Hamas breaks the ceasefire it itself had asked for, and continues to fire at Israeli civilians. Israel will do whatever is necessary to guarantee the security interests of Israeli citizens.”
“The money from the international community given for the building of kindergartens for Gaza residents has been used for the construction of tunnels intended to blow up Israeli kindergartens,” he says.
The Israel Defense Forces will continue to destroy Hamas’s terror tunnels, Netanyahu stresses in his interviews. Some of the other core messages he seeks to convey: Hamas is using Palestinian civilians as human shields and is responsible for any harm done to them. Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction and condemns the killing of Osama bin Laden. Operation Protective Edge will continue until its objective is met: restoring calm to Israel’s cities. The Egyptian ceasefire proposal is the only one currently being considered by Israel.
Economic assistance to the people of Gaza needs to be connected to the demilitarization of the Strip.
— Raphael Ahren
IDF to continue tunnel demolitions
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, did not say if Israel would hold its fire during the time requested by Hamas, but says troops would continue demolishing the tunnels — the central goal of the Israeli ground operation in Gaza.
Meanwhile, another rocket falls in the Shaar HaNegev region.
— AP and Times of Israel staff
‘Hamas knows efforts to avoid Egyptian proposal failed’
Channel 2’s Ehud Yaari says Hamas realizes its effort to circumvent the Egyptian proposal, via Kerry, has failed.
Netanyahu in his US interviews has been stressing that the only ceasefire initiative on the table is the Egyptian proposal, Channel 2 emphasizes.
Woman hurt by rocket in Shaar Hanegev
A house in Shaar Hanegev sustains a direct hit by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. A woman in her 40s is injured and is taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for treatment, Channel 2 reports.
WATCH: Hamas fires rockets from cemetery, school
The IDF releases footage of what it says is Hamas terrorists firing rockets from a cemetery.
Another clip released by the army is said to show the firing of missiles from within a school.
Sirens in Ashkelon, Ashdod
1,000 Israeli buildings, 750 cars damaged since op began
Some 1,800 requests for compensation for damaged property by rocket fire in southern and central Israel are filed with authorities since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, Israel Radio reports.
One thousand complaints refer to damaged buildings, 750 to cars, and 60 to agriculture.
Iron Dome downs 4 rockets over Kiryat Gat
‘Mission in Gaza is not finished,’ Gantz says
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz tells troops involved in the operation that successfully tackling the tunnels is crucial to the safety of the residents of the south.
“The mission in Gaza is not finished,” he says, adding that the IDF must make the best use of the time it has.
The home front is completely supportive, he says.
Horovitz calls Kerry’s behavior a ‘betrayal’
In an op-ed, ToI editor David Horovitz terms Secretary Kerry’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war a “betrayal.”
Summing up Kerry’s Friday ceasefire proposal and his subsequent consultations in Paris on Saturday, Horovitz writes: “Israel and the US are meant to be allies; the US is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the US and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top US diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.”
Security cabinet convenes
The security cabinet begins its 5 p.m. meeting to deliberate Israel’s next steps in the operation.
Rivlin visits bereaved families
Newly inaugurated President Reuven Rivlin visits the families of IDF soldiers slain during Operation Protective Edge.
The president meets with the parents of Sergeant Ben Itzhak Oanounou, 19, and Staff Sgt. Tal Ifrach, 21.
“We must show that we are defending our country, and as its name — the Israel Defense Forces — says, we don’t go out to attack, but rather to defend,” he says.
Over 30 cross-border tunnels found
All the tunnels that Israel knew about before Operation Protective Edge began have been located and dealt with, Channel 2 reports. But others have been found since. In all, more than 30 cross-border tunnels have been located.
The IDF doesn’t know how many more there are — “perhaps 10 or 15,” the report says.
The latest such tunnel was just demolished near Kibbutz Be’eri, the report notes.
Sirens in Beersheba, Negev region, Ashkelon
Rally outside Israeli embassy in Brussels
Nearly 500 people gather outside the Israeli embassy in Brussels, observing a minute of silence for the Israeli and Palestinian victims of Operation Protective Edge, and lighting candles in memory of the 43 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza.
The protesters emphasize that it is not the people of Gaza who are the enemy of Israel, but rather the terrorists of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
“For two weeks, we see foreign pro-Palestinian demonstrations where Israeli flags are burned, where ‘death to Jews’ is cried, where flags of Hamas and Hezbollah are exhibited … Israel is a democracy under siege facing the terrorist organization Hamas, which targets Israeli civilians and uses its own population in Gaza as a human shield. Four thousand kilometers from here there is a struggle between democracy and barbarism, which probably also defines the future of Europe,” said Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism.
At the same time, some 5,000 people attend a pro-Palestinian rally in Brussels.
Iron Dome intercepts several rockets over Beersheba
White House official recasts Kerry’s proposal
The US seems to be desperately rolling back Kerry’s ceasefire proposal, which was unanimously rejected by the Israeli cabinet on Friday night, and infuriated the PA and Egypt as well.
First, the State Department Marie Harf insists “there was never a formal proposal put forward.”
And now Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, says Kerry was focused in his meetings on trying to get to “a common place” to stop the violence and “then have a further negotiation under the Egyptian lead in Cairo” to bring together “Israel, the Palestinians, and other players” in support of a comprehensive ceasefire that would address “Hamas’s military capabilities and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
Quite a change from the terms of Kerry’s original proposal, with its stress on Hamas’s demands for eased access to Gaza.
Rhodes also says Israel could do more to reduce Palestinian civilian casualties. “I think you can always do more,” Rhodes says on CNN’s “State of the Union,” according to the Washington Times.
“If there are rockets being fired indiscriminately at Israel, they have a right to defend themselves,” he says. “We have said Israel has to do a better job to avoid civilian loss of life.”
‘Israel’s hidden agenda — to destroy Palestinian reconciliation’
Mohammad Shtayyeh, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Israeli “aggression is totally unjustified.”
Speaking shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he says he was “very shocked” the prime minister expressed concern about civilian casualties as “80 percent of those killed in Gaza are civilians — women, children, old men.”
“These people have no place to go, even a UN school was bombarded by the Israeli army,” he says.
Shtayyeh adds that “Israel has a hidden agenda — to totally destroy” the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, according to Politico.
“President Abbas has actually come to terms with Hamas that they are accepting a two-state solution, they are ready for quietness, long-term quietness,” he says.
“We have formed a Palestinian agreed-upon government with the blessing of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority here was taking over Gaza, so we were designing a very well-orchestrated Palestinian reconciliation on the terms, on our terms, not on Hamas’s terms. The whole world welcomed the agreed-upon Palestinian government,” except for Israel, he says.
Shtayyeh says that Israel has exaggerated the rocket threat, as evident by the low numbers of Israeli casualties.
Turkish FM says there will be 24-hour truce
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and tells him there will be a 24-hour humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas starting tomorrow afternoon, Channel 2 reports, citing a Turkish news report.
There has been no official confirmation from Israel on the proposed temporary ceasefire, and rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip.
‘Hamas rejects 3 truce offers in one day’
Hamas rejects three proposals for a humanitarian truce within one day, Israeli government officials say: The first time on Saturday night, at 8 p.m., after Israel agreed to extend an existing 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
The terrorist group then refused for a second time when Israel subsequently agreed to hold fire for 24 hours. And now, on Sunday after 2 p.m., for a third time it breaks a ceasefire it itself asked for, the sources say.
Israel was ready to agree in each of these cases, they say.
“They’re violating even their own ceasefire,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Hamas is simply continuing its operations, and Israel will not let this terror operation decide when it’s convenient for them and not convenient of them… We’ll do whatever is necessary to protect our people.”
— Raphael Ahren
Gaza death toll said to be 1,062
Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, says 1,062 Palestinians have been killed, and 6,037 injured since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.
Israel says hundreds of the dead are Hamas gunmen.
Mother of slain soldier urges PM to continue op
Chava Noach, the mother of Golani soldier Oren Simcha Noach, 22, who was killed in action on July 20, posts a plea to continue the operation on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Facebook page.
“The goal of a ceasefire for them [Hamas] is clear to everyone, but why are we complying with their request? Why don’t we finish the job?… We must finish the job by destroying their terror infrastructure. That the death of our soldiers will not be in vain. Keep making brave decisions,” she writes.
Man lightly injured by rocket shrapnel
A man is lightly injured by shrapnel in Beersheba after rockets are intercepted over the southern city.
He is treated at the Soroka Medical Center.
Slain soldier to be buried tomorrow afternoon
Capt. Liad Lavi, 20, an Infantry Corps officer, will be laid to rest in the Meitar military cemetery tomorrow at 5 p.m.
His family extends an open invitation to the public to attend.
JetBlue ‘Palestinian’ rant victim admits she’s Jewish
The victim of a verbal attack by a Jewish doctor on a JetBlue flight from Palm Beach admitted that she is not a Palestinian, but is Jewish.
The woman, who did not divulge her name, made the admission in a phone call to Queens gynecologist Dr. Lisa Rosenberg, who recorded the conversation, and in an interview with the New York Post, the newspaper reported Sunday.
The Brooklyn woman, who said she is a third cousin of late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, told Rosenberg that she identified herself as Palestinian in order to stop Rosenberg from continuing what the woman called a “hate-filled diatribe” against Palestinians.
Rosenberg was kicked off her July 7 flight from Palm Beach International Airport to New York’s Kennedy Airport.
Rosenberg claimed that the other passenger started the fight after overhearing a phone conversation in which Rosenberg was discussing the Israel-Gaza conflict. Amid an “ugly, racially driven altercation,” Rosenberg said, the other passenger called her a “Zionist pig.” Eventually, crew members ejected Rosenberg from the plane, which was still on the ground in Florida.
Two internal JetBlue reports obtained by airline industry blogger and consultant Steven Frischling “both squarely paint Dr. Rosenberg as the sole instigator of the events on board Flight 454,” according to Frischling.
The reports show that Rosenberg accused the other passenger of being a “Palestinian murderer” and that “her people are all murderers and that they murder children.” As Rosenberg continued to rant and tried to move closer to the other passenger, onlookers began to express concern for their safety, the reports said, according to Frischling.
Rosenberg denied to the New York Post that she accused her fellow passenger of having explosives with which to blow up the plane, and denies that she refused to stop arguing and sit down when asked to by a flight attendant.
JetBlue’s corporate communications manager, Morgan Johnston, said earlier this month, “A crew member may request a customer to deboard and be re-accommodated if the crew member feels as though the safety of the plane or customers on board is impacted, or the customer on board is unable to comply with in-flight instructions or obstructing a crew member’s duties.”
IDF continues fighting in Gaza
As the security cabinet weighs the 24-hour humanitarian truce proposal, the IDF continues to strike targets in the Gaza Strip, according to Channel 2.
Rocket hits Eshkol Region, damages electric pole
A missile lands in the Eshkol Region, causing damage to an electric pole.
There are no reports of injuries.
House hit by rocket in Eshkol Region
A house in the Eshkol Region is hit by rockets in the latest barrage. There are no immediate reports of injuries.
Over 50 rockets have been shot at Israel since the morning.
Half of cabinet said to be opposed to truce
Due to the continuous rocket fire, half of the ministers in the security cabinet are opposed to the Hamas proposal for a 24-hour humanitarian truce, Channel 2 reports.
The meeting is ongoing.
Is Hamas starting to crack?
ToI’s Avi Issacharoff has written an analysis piece citing Hamas’s bid for a humanitarian truce as a sign that it might be starting to crack.
“There’s no surrender and white-flag-waving,” but the call for a truce “is a sign of significant distress,” he writes.
What’s changed the organization’s mind, from rejecting a truce to seeking one? “Likely the pressure of Gazan public opinion,” he notes.
“The Gazan public is exhausted and being forced to deal with a situation that is akin to an earthquake: thousands of homes completely destroyed, thousands more damaged, and more than 1,050 people dead (including hundreds of gunmen) and 6,000 injured, according to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Health Ministry — and all this on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, a major holiday on the Muslim calendar.
“Given the dire situation on the ground when Israel offered to extend Saturday’s humanitarian truce through Sunday, it’s safe to deduce that too many Palestinians did not like the organization’s initial negative reaction.”
Bomb threat in Mumbai over Gaza op
The Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria receives a letter allegedly penned by terror operatives, threatening to carry out bombing attacks in retaliation for the Israeli operation in Gaza, The Times of India reports.
The letter, sent on July 25, is signed by the terrorist group Indian Mujahideen (IM).
“We will take revenge for Gaza,” the letter said, according to the Hindustan Times.
“Maria you were lucky in 1993 to have escaped the wrath but this time you will not. Now we are going to carry a blast and it is a challenge for you if you can stop, stop it. Mujahideen,” it says.
Maria launches an investigation and raised the security alert, but the paper reports that the police receive threats regularly, and believe the letter may be a prank.
UN chief Ban calls for 24-hour truce
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel and Hamas to extend the humanitarian truce by 24 hours.
“The Secretary-General urges, in the strongest terms, both the Israelis and Palestinians to extend, for an additional 24 hours, the humanitarian cease-fire that was in effect and mostly observed until early this morning,” a statement from the UN says.
Ban “urges all those with influence on the parties to help encourage an extension of the humanitarian cease-fire and compliance with observing it, once declared,” it says.
Hamas will restart tunneling as soon as it can, IDF officer warns
A former senior commander in the IDF’s Combat Engineering Corps warns that Israel will not find all of the cross-border tunnels in Gaza during this operation. And, he tells ToI’s military correspondent Mitch Ginsburg, if Hamas is able to secure ceasefire terms that give it sufficient room to do so, it will commence digging anew after this conflict is over.
“We won’t find all of them,” said Col. (res) Atai Shelach, former commander of the elite Yahalom unit that tackles the tunnels, “and the moment we leave they will start digging again.”
Writes Ginsburg: “The Israeli army has found more than 30 tunnels that cross underground from Gaza to Israel. The channels are often wider than a man’s shoulders and close to six feet high; they are supported with hundreds of tons of concrete arches and frequently reach a maximum depth of 20 meters below ground level. Most of the tunnels are well lit and properly ventilated. Soldiers on the ground in Gaza have reported finding explosives and arms stashed within the tunnels and, on several occasions after thwarting underground infiltration attempts, have found Hamas operatives armed with zip ties and narcotic drugs meant to facilitate a kidnapping.”
PA slams Kerry for convening ‘friends of Hamas’ summit
The PA leadership issues a strongly worded statement against Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal, saying it “crosses all red lines,” according to Channel 2.
The Paris meeting on Saturday between the US, Turkey, and Qatar representatives was tantamount to an international gathering of “the friends of Hamas,” it says.
The PA is the only representative of the Palestinian people, it says.
Kerry has been castigated in Israel and the PA for drafting a ceasefire proposal deemed to undermine the Egyptian proposal, and to represent a capitulation to Hamas. Israel rejected the Kerry proposal on Friday. Kerry then flew to Paris and met with leaders from Qatar and Turkey for more consultations, and not with Israeli, PA, or Egyptian representatives.
Israel made clear Sunday that the Egyptian proposal, for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire, is the only offer on the table.
‘We are not fanatics,’ Hamas leader says
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was interviewed by US broadcaster PBS in the Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday.
A full version of the interview will be broadcast late on Monday, but excerpts are revealed on Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
Asked by veteran interviewer Charlie Rose whether he could foresee living beside Israelis in peace, Mashaal says only a future Palestinian state could decide whether to recognize the Jewish state.
“We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers,” he says.
“I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs,” he adds. “However, I do not coexist with the occupiers.”
Pressed on whether Palestinians could recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state, Mashaal reiterates Hamas’s position — the group does not recognize Israel.
“When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you,” he continues.
“But Palestinian people can have their say when they have their own state without occupation.”
‘Kerry pushing for short-term truces in lead-up to ceasefire’
US Secretary of State John Kerry is working for Israel and Hamas to agree to further halts in the Gaza fighting ahead of Egyptian-led peace talks, a US official says Sunday.
A senior US official says that Kerry was seeking a series of temporary ceasefires, which would lead the way for Israeli-Palestinian talks in Egypt on a more permanent plan.
“You have a way now to staunch the bleeding,” the official who accompanied Kerry says on condition of anonymity.
The US official defended the meetings between Kerry and the Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers, which have come under fire in Israel, saying it was significant that Turkey and Qatar had joined other international players in calling for a ceasefire.
Asked whether the approach was at odds with past US criticism of Qatar’s support for Hamas, the official says: “The fact is, they are (funding Hamas) and as a result of that they have some influence.”
‘If Hamas halts fire, so will Israel,’ military sources say
Israel will not formally respond to Hamas truce requests, but rather if Hamas fires, Israel will respond. If not, it will hold its fire, Channel 2 reports, citing military sources.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to tackle the tunnels. This situation works in Israel’s favor, Channel 2 says, since it continues to look for, and demolish, the tunnels.
The rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continues, triggering sirens in the Israeli communities along the Gaza border.
Police still defusing bomb discovered this morning
Police are still in the process of defusing explosives found in a car near the West Bank town of Beitar Illit earlier this morning.
The road to Tzur Hadassah is still closed to traffic.
IDF broadcasts anti-Hamas rhetoric on Gaza TV, radio
The IDF takes over the TV stations and radio stations in the Gaza Strip to broadcast anti-Hamas messages, Channel 2 reports.
The army edits footage from Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and the Hamas spokesman to transmit rhetoric that rails against the terror organization.
IDF targets 40 sites, six operatives in Gaza
The IDF says it targeted 40 sites since the humanitarian truce expired last night, which include “rocket launchers, a tunnel, and additional terror infrastructures.”
The army says it uncovered three tunnel access shafts, and demolished two tunnels, “causing extensive damage to one.”
The air force targets six operatives, but no details are provided on whether the targets are wounded or killed.
‘IDF needs a few more days to finish tunnel demolitions’
IDF spokesperson Moti Almoz tells Channel 2 the IDF has made “significant accomplishments,” and says the army needs a few more days to finish destroying the tunnels.
His statements come on the heels of statements by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz earlier today, according to which most of the cross-border tunnels have been demolished.
Almoz says the IDF continues its operations in destroying the tunnels during the humanitarian truces. He says there are “hundreds of dead terrorists,” including many operatives who were afraid to confront the IDF and stayed in the tunnels while they were bombed.
With regard to the rockets, Almoz says Hamas is not producing more projectiles, and that the continuing rocket fire is “fire of desperation.”
Israel said to accept 3-day lull, but will not declare it
The IDF will not initiate strikes on the Gaza Strip for the next three days, in effect accepting a humanitarian truce, but is avoiding declaring it publicly, a senior official tells Channel 10.
The official says it is an open-ended truce.
Channel 10 reports that, since 2 p.m., the IDF has been instructed to halt fire, and since then has only targeted specific sites in response to the ongoing rocket fire.
Sirens in Netivot
Poll shows overwhelming support for extension of op
A Channel 10 poll published today shows 87 percent of the public would like Operation Protective Edge to continue, and 69 percent want Hamas to be toppled entirely.
Only seven percent say they want an immediate ceasefire, and six percent answer that they don’t know.
The poll marks a spike in support for the operation, with a similar survey 12 days ago only garnering 73-percent support for the offensive to continue.
Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets over Netivot
IDF denies Israeli mortars killed Gazans at UNRWA school
The Israeli army concludes its inquiry into the fatal incident at the UN facility in Beit Hanoun on Thursday, finding that IDF mortars did not play a role in the killing of 16 people in a school courtyard there. “A single errant mortar landed in the school courtyard,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says in a conference call, “injuring no one.”
The army says it has footage, to be sent out shortly, of a completely empty courtyard at the time.
Lerner describes a scene of “intense fighting” in the vicinity of the school, including a volley of anti-tank missiles fired at soldiers, who responded with live fire. The militant fire, Lerner says, came from the areas “adjacent to, and in the vicinity of, the school.”
He suggests that the 16 dead and dozens of wounded could have been caught in the crossfire and brought into the courtyard, or may have been hit by rockets or mortars fired by militants.
He adds that the Palestinian medical authorities, in a decision he terms “out of the ordinary,” did not share the nature of the wounds of the casualties, which would have indicated the cause of death.
— Mitch Ginsburg
2 rockets land in open areas in Eshkol region
Thousands attend pro-Palestinian rally in Rotterdam
Thousands of people protest in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on Sunday against what some labeled Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza, the media reports.
State broadcaster NOS says as many as 10,000 people took part in the demonstration, with marchers waving posters reading: “Free Palestine” and “No Dutch support for Palestinian genocide.”
The event is organized by a coalition of pro-Palestinian organizations in the Netherlands, according to a Facebook events page.
Members of the group wave the Palestinian flag and wear the keffiyeh, a Middle Eastern headdress that has become a symbol of Palestinian independence.
“Error 404, humanity not found,” says one placard held aloft by a protester, according to NOS footage.
The group lay out a collection of coffin-like boxes and an assortment of dolls, some of them burned, to represent the infant victims of the operation.
“For years, the Palestinians have suffered under the illegal blockade and occupation by Israel,” says the Facebook page.
“Since July 8, Gaza has additionally been suffering under a daily rain of bombs. The bloodshed must end!”
Japan pledges $5.5 million in Gaza aid
Japan says it will give US $5.5 million in emergency aid to organizations such as UNICEF to transfer to the Gaza Strip, the International Business Times reports.
Japan “has to respond to the situation as many people are being killed and injured,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida continues. He also calls on Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire agreement.
Thousands march for Israel in Marseille
Some 2,000 demonstrators rally in support of Israel in the French city of Marseille.
“We are here to show our solidarity with Israel, which has been attacked and has a right to defend itself,” Jewish communal leader William Labi tells Reuters.
Alongside the protesters but separated by riot police, a few dozen pro-Palestinian activists stage a counter-rally at the site.
US official says Israeli reports misrepresent Kerry’s efforts
A senior US official says the harsh criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal in the Israeli press is imprecise and, in some cases, hurtful, according to Walla News.
The official stresses that the reports misrepresent Kerry’s efforts, and that the accusations of betrayal are particularly distressing.
He adds that the proposal presented to Israel was based on the Egyptian initiative, which Israel had said it was willing to accept.
Obama to Netanyahu: Immediate ceasefire
US President Barack Obama phones Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urges an immediate ceasefire in the conflict with Hamas.
Obama calls to “underscore the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel” and “reaffirm Israel’s right to defend itself.”
The president tells the prime minister that any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.”
Obama also expresses concern for the civilian fatalities in the Gaza Strip and the humanitarian crisis there.
He calls for an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”
Deputy FM: US call for demilitarized Gaza helpful to Israel
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi praises America in that it “gave us 20 days.”
He also says that “with all due respect to President Obama,” if Hamas doesn’t halt its fire, Israel won’t be able to.
In a Channel 2 interview, Hanegbi says US President Barack Obama’s call for a demilitarized Gaza will be helpful to Israel in the coming negotiations.
Three rockets explode near Eshkol Region
Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip explode in open terrain near the Eshkol Regional Council.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Ex-deputy DM: Israel needs ceasefire from Obama
Likud MK Danny Danon, who was fired from his post as deputy defense minister earlier this month, says Israel needs a ceasefire from US President Barack Obama.
“We need a ceasefire from Obama and the American administration. Just like the US is fighting the Taliban with determination, we must continue fighting Hamas and destroying its tunnel infrastructure,” he says in a statement released to the press.
Danon says the government must ignore the pressure inflicted on it and look out for its own interests.
UN calls for full probe into Gaza school shelling
Hours after the Israeli army releases the results of the investigation that shows a single IDF shell struck a school in Gaza but did not lead to 16 deaths last week, the UN calls for a full inquiry into the incident.
“It is important in a case like this, where a UN school in which hundreds of people took refuge is hit in this way, that there should be full transparency and accountability,” say Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
He notes that when the UN agency attempted to conduct its own investigation, “the mission was aborted after a firing incident at the school.” Gunness does not say who he believed was responsible for that fire.
He says the school had been clearly marked as a UN shelter, and that the Israeli military was aware of its location. On Thursday, the UN made numerous phone calls to the army to request a pause for the evacuation of civilians, he adds, but the request was not granted.
Gazan officials say 16 people were killed at the Beit Hanoun school Thursday, but the Israeli army says it does not know how they died.
IDF spokesman Peter Lerner says the shell struck an empty courtyard.
Senior US official: Kerry ceasefire proposal was just confidential draft
A senior US official says US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal was just a confidential draft to be used for deliberations.
“The draft that was forwarded was not the Kerry proposal but the latest draft in a series that emerged from discussions between a number of parties, which was provided for comment and input, not for rejection or acceptance,” he says.
— Raphael Ahren
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