The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Sunday, the 27th day of Operation Protective Edge. The IDF late Saturday night confirmed that Givati Brigade officer Hadar Goldin, who according to initial assessments had been captured in Gaza on Friday morning in a Hamas attack, had been killed, and IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz and other officials broke the news to the family. He was laid to rest Sunday, with 15,000 people at the funeral. Prime Minister Netanyahu announced Saturday that the IDF would redeploy when it completes demolishing Hamas tunnels, but that the operation in Gaza would continue for as long as needed to ensure sustained calm for Israel. He indicated that Israel would not seek ceasefire agreements with Hamas, which he said deliberately breached a truce on Friday morning with the “pre-planned” attack in which Goldin and two other soldiers were killed. The deaths in Rafah brought the IDF toll to 64; three civilians have also been killed on the Israeli side. Gazan health officials put the death toll there at some 1,800. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters. (Monday’s liveblog is here.) You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.

Day 27 of Operation Protective Edge

PREAMBLE: We now enter Day 27 of Operation Protective Edge, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having announced two hours ago that the IDF will soon redeploy its troops when the work of demolishing Hamas tunnels is done, but that “all options” are open for how the operation continues from here.

Some troops have already pulled out of Gaza, having completed their specific missions.

Meanwhile the family of Hadar Goldin held an emotional press conference, imploring the government not to leave their son — kidnapped by Hamas in Rafah on Friday morning, in an attack in which two soldiers were killed — behind in Gaza.

Outside the Goldin home in Kfar Saba, an impromptu rally is taking place in support of the soldier.

The head of IDF’s personnel directorate and the army’s chief rabbi are both making an impromptu visit to the home. No indication is given as to why they are there. Defense Minister Ya’alon has also arrived.

At the Goldin home earlier Saturday night were family members of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaar, three teens abducted and killed by Hamas members in the West Bank in June.

Key points of Netanyahu’s press conference

Here’s how ToI’s Itamar Sharon reported the key parts of Netanyahu’s press conference in Tel Aviv late Saturday:

Netanyahu said the IDF would continue its military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for as long as needed and with as much force as necessary.

“From the beginning, we promised to return the quiet to Israel’s citizens and we will continue to act until that aim is achieved. We will take as much time as necessary, and will exert as much force as needed,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu would not comment extensively on the movement of some troops out of Gaza Saturday, but stressed that the redeployment did not indicate an end to Operation Protective Edge and that the IDF would continue to operate “only on the basis of security considerations.”

The prime minister said that once the IDF had finished dealing with the terror tunnels, it would deploy “according to Israel’s security needs.”

“I can’t tell you how it’s going to develop,” he said. “We are keeping all options for action open.”

Netanyahu said that while Israel had the support of “many important world leaders,” there were others more inclined to tolerate terrorism. “Today it threatens Israel. Tomorrow it will threaten you,” he warned.

Netanyahu said there were some states — “like Qatar” — which had pressed US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a ceasefire but had failed to exert pressure on Hamas to live up to its obligations once a truce was achieved.

The prime minister said he sympathized with the family of 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was kidnapped in Rafah on Friday, and that he would speak with the family later in the evening. Israel “will make every effort to return its missing boys home,” he said.

— The full story is here.

Key points of Goldin family’s plea for their son

Soon after the end of Shabbat, the family of missing Israeli soldier 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin held an emotional press conference outside their home in Kfar Saba, and pleaded with the government not to abandon him.

Hadar’s father Dr. Simha Goldin said he “can’t imagine that the IDF will abandon its combat soldier.”

“I am a reserve battalion commander. I did reserve duty until age 50… my personal commander was [IDF chief of staff] Benny Gantz and I know it’s impossible that he would give an order to leave [the Gaza Strip] while there’s a soldier inside…I know Givati Brigade Commander Ofer Winter. I can’t believe he would forsake an officer anywhere.”

“The soldiers we sent…my sons…went out to protect the people of the Gaza periphery,” Simha said. “I can’t believe the people of the Gaza periphery will lend a hand to the abandonment of a soldier in the field, who went out there to protect them.”

The family of missing soldier Hadar Goldin speaks to the press, August 2 (screen capture: Channel 2)

The family of missing soldier Hadar Goldin speaks to the press, August 2 (screen capture: Channel 2)

Goldin’s older sister, Ayelet, said that “If a captive soldier is left in Gaza, it’s a defeat,” and called for Goldin’s return.

“It’s important to say this… Hadar was sent by the country and was abducted by a terror organization and he’s alive. He’s alive now and I will not allow for any other terminology to enter the lexicon,” Ayelet said.

Hadar’s fiancée Edna addressed him directly, saying: “I love you and I miss you. I’m waiting for you, waiting to dance at our wedding.”

“Hadar’s alive,” his twin brother, Tsur, said. “He went in alive, he’ll leave alive.”

As far as is known, Goldin was injured in a blast by a suicide bomber who emerged from a tunnel opening, close to a major “attack tunnel” that the Givati force was demolishing, in Rafah on Friday morning, breaching a UN- and US-brokered truce. Two other soldiers — Major Benaya Sarel, 26, from Kiryat Arba, and 1st.-Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem — were killed in the blast.

— Read the full story here.

Palestinian delegates in Cairo for ceasefire talks

A Palestinian delegation has arrived in Cairo ahead of ceasefire talks later Sunday, aimed at ending nearly four weeks of bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas, AFP reports.

US Middle East envoy Frank Lowenstein is also expected to arrive for the talks, which will be attended by Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Sarel buried in Hebron

In Hebron, Major Benaya Sarel is laid to rest in a midnight funeral.

Sarel, 26 and from Kiryat Arba, right outside Hebron, was killed on Friday along with Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni in an attack in Rafah on Friday morning, during which  2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin was kidnapped.

The raid, which included a suicide bombing and involved enemy gunmen emerging from a tunnel shaft, came at 9:30 in the morning, during the early hours of what was to have been a 72-hour truce.

Gidoni will be buried on Sunday at 5 p.m. in Jerusalem.

Large pro-Gaza rally outside White House

In Washington, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters, many waving or wrapped in flags, rally outside the White House, pushing for an end to fighting in Gaza.

The crowd, young and old from across the United States, including scores of children, chants “End US Aid to Israel” and “Israel out of Palestine.”

“Gaza will not die — it will never die,” says Amar Jamal as he marches through downtown Washington with his family.

“It is the time to make peace because this bloodbath will not stop in Gaza. All the Middle East will be in trouble” if the conflict doesn’t end, warned the Palestinian-born 70-year-old.

Many of the protesters voice anger at Netanyahu, with one waving a banner that reads “Netanyahu and Hitler are the same, the only difference is the name.”

Organizers claim that as many as 50,000 people participated in the afternoon rally.

A small pro-Israel counter-rally was held nearby, with the two groups briefly confronting one another, according to ABC News.

A brief scuffle broke out between the pro-Palestinian protesters and a group of Jewish counterprotesters, CNN reported.

Demonstrations also took place Saturday in Caracas, Venezuela, and Santiago, Chile.

Would-be Goldin sister-in-laws express hope for safe return

In Kfar Saba, a prayer rally for the safe return of Hadar Goldin is continuing and growing outside the family’s home, with hundreds of neighbors, youth group members and other supporters waving flags, holding signs and singing.

People rallying outside the home of Hadar Goldin in Kfar Saba early Sunday, August 3 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

People rallying outside the home of Hadar Goldin in Kfar Saba early Sunday, August 3 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Two sisters of Goldin’s fiance Edna reluctantly speak to Channel 2 news, thanking the country for its support and expressing hope for the upcoming wedding between Hadar and Edna.

“Thank you to everyone who came,” one sister says. “Many prayers, many many prayers.”

“We trust in our army that they will do everything to bring Hadar home,” says the other sister.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has left the home, though IDF Personnel Directorate head Orna Barbivai and army Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz remain.

Ya’alon still at Goldin home

Despite earlier reports, Israeli news channels are now reporting that Moshe Ya’alon has in fact not left the Goldin family home in Kfar Saba, after arriving about an hour ago.

Goldin killed in Gaza — IDF

The army has released a message saying that 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in Gaza.

Goldin family accepts the terrible news

The death of Hadar Goldin was established by IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz at 11.25 Saturday night, the IDF spokesman announces.

A family spokesman comes out of the home to announce that the family accepts with deep sorrow that Goldin is dead. He says funeral details will be announced later.

Crowd hears news of Goldin’s death

At the announcement, many of the hundreds rallying outside the Goldin home burst into tears.

The army says in a statement that Goldin was killed in battle on Friday.

Prior to the decision, all medical considerations, religious observances, as well as additional relevant issues were taken into consideration,” the IDF statement reads.

Findings in the field allowed conclusion

Military sources say that “the findings in the field” were such that it could be established that Goldin was dead, Israel Radio reports.

IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz headed a special panel that established Goldin’s death. The decision was made on the basis of findings at the scene of the attack, in the Rafah area on Friday morning, in which two other soldiers were also killed.

Goldin is officially listed as a fallen IDF soldier whose burial spot is unknown.

Goldin was killed while working to decommission tunnel

According to Israel Radio, soldiers had found a Hamas tunnel Thursday night, and were working on decommissioning it before Goldin and two other soldiers were attacked and killed.

They were working in separate groups. Goldin’s group was attacked, and two other soldiers, Benaya Sarel and Liel Gidoni, were killed.

Goldin was seized, and other soldiers who reached the scene tried to chase after the kidnappers, into the tunnel, but they were unable to thwart the kidnapping.

IDF conclusion ends search for Goldin

Goldin is the second soldier so far during Operation Protective Edge to be recognized as killed in action with his burial location unknown, after the army came to the same conclusion with Oron Shaul, killed near the beginning of the operation in Shejaiya.

Unlike with Shaul, though, Hamas claimed to have have no knowledge of Goldin’s whereabouts, saying earlier he had likely been killed along with other fighters during a heavy shelling of Rafah by Israeli forces.

IDF troops had searched for Goldin in the area throughout Friday and Saturday, effectively cutting Rafah off from the rest of the strip. The statement by the IDF will likely allow them to draw down the search.

Reports indicated that some of his personal effects had been found inside a Hamas tunnel.

A senior IDF officer told NRG news that Goldin had been standing right next to Gidoni and Sarel when the blast that killed them went off.

Goldin promoted to lieutenant

As is tradition with IDF soldiers killed in battle, Hadar Goldin is promoted posthumously one rank up, to lieutenant.

Four killed in Rafah — Gazan official

Gazan emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra reports that four people have been killed during Israeli shelling of Rafah.

He says another 10 people were injured in the strike.

Over 1,700 people have been killed in Gaza in three weeks of fighting, according to Qidra. Israel says hundreds of them have been Hamas fighters.

Sixty-seven people have been killed on the Israeli side, including 64 soldiers and three civilians.

Thousands in Chile call to break off ties with Israel

In Chile, thousands march against Israel’s operation in Gaza, urging President Michelle Bachelet to break off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

“Break it off, Break it off, Break off ties with Israel!” chanted demonstrators who marched to the presidential palace in Santiago, many waving banners or decked out in the Palestinians’ traditional keffiyeh scarf.

People take part in a demonstration outside the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, on August 02, 2014, to protest against Israel's military campaign in Gaza. (photo credit: AFP/ MARTIN BERNETTI)

People take part in a demonstration outside the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, on August 02, 2014, to protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. (photo credit: AFP/ MARTIN BERNETTI)

There are about 300,000 Arabs in Chile — a country of 17 million — including a large Palestinian community.

“We are asking President Michelle Bachelet to expel Israel’s ambassador, and to end ties with Israel. We want the world to know Chileans have stood against this Israeli massacre,” says Mauricio Abu-Gosh, head of the Palestinian Association of Chile.

Chile already has recalled its ambassador to Israel over the violence, as have Argentina, El Salvador and Peru. All have significant Arab populations, most of them of Palestinian origin.


No time set yet for Goldin funeral

The family of Hadar Goldin has not yet set a time for his funeral.

Israel Radio reports the burial will take place either Sunday or Monday.

Sirens in Gaza periphery

Rocket sirens are heard in the Shaar Hanegev region, breaking several hours of quiet.

Miliband hits Cameron over ‘Gaza silence’

Fighting in Gaza provided the backdrop for some harsh parliamentary sniping in London Saturday night, as Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Prime Minister David Cameron of “inexplicable silence” regarding Israel’s incursion into the Strip.

UK opposition leader Ed Miliband speaking at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, April 10, 2014 (photo credit: Hebrew University)

UK opposition leader Ed Miliband speaking at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, April 10, 2014 (photo credit: Hebrew University)

“The prime minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza. And his silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action will be inexplicable to people,” he said, according to the Guardian. “I am a supporter of Israel and I believe in Israel’s right to self-defense. But its military actions in the past two weeks have been wrong and unjustifiable.”

Miliband, who has expressed a desire to become Britain’s first Jewish prime minister, also praised Cameron for castigating Hamas, but said he should be playing leading role in peace efforts.

A spokesperson for Cameron shot back that Miliband was “playing politics” with the war.

‘Gaza fighting could lead to more anti-Semitic attacks’

Also in London, newly minted British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has warned that the country could see a rise in anti-Semitic attacks as a result of the fighting in Gaza.

Of course it’s a concern and we have already seen certainly an upturn in anti-Semitic rhetoric,” he says.

Hammond, speaking to the Sunday Telegraph in his first interview since being promoted to top diplomat last month, says that justifiable anger is growing in Britain over Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) leaves the podium at the end of a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L) on July 24, 2014 at the Knesset in Jerusalem (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Gali Tibbon)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) leaves the podium at the end of a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L) on July 24, 2014 at the Knesset in Jerusalem (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Gali Tibbon)

“The British public has a strong sense that the situation of the civilian population in Gaza is intolerable and must be addressed — and we agree with them,” he says. “What has struck me most looking at my own constituency in-box as well as the thousands of emails that I’m receiving from the general public here is that it isn’t just the Muslim community that’s reacting to this. It’s a broad swathe of British public opinion that feels deeply disturbed by what it is seeing on its television screens coming out of Gaza.”

Rocket sirens in Shaar Hanegev region

Rocket sirens in the Shaar Hanegev region sound again, for the second time in about 20 minutes.

Three soldiers to be buried at 5 p.m. Sunday

Three soldiers killed over the last several days will be buried at 5 p.m. Sunday, according to media reports.

Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem will be buried at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. He was killed Friday morning near Rafah, along with Benaya Sarel and Hadar Goldin.

At the same time, Captain Omri Tal, 22, killed on Thursday, will be buried in his hometown of Yehud, and Azuz resident Captain Liran Adir (Edry), 31, also killed Thursday, will be buried in Netanya.

Reading between Netanyahu’s lines

Diplomatic correspondent Raphael Ahren breaks down Netanyahu’s speech earlier in the night, when he vowed to continue the Gaza operation if need be, apparently fed up with trying to negotiate ceasefires with Hamas:

By beginning to withdraw troops from Gaza, without entering negotiations over a ceasefire, the prime minister is aiming to deny Hamas an immediate concrete achievement. In 2012, the ceasefire that ended Operation Pillar of Defense called for “opening the crossings [into Gaza] and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents’ free movement.”

This time, Netanyahu is not sending a team to Cairo to discuss a ceasefire with Hamas at all. Hamas deliberately breached Friday’s UN- and US-brokered 72-hour truce, he said, with the “pre-planned” attack in which Goldin and two others were killed. Why bother trying to negotiate another deal with a terrorist group that cannot be trusted?

Israel was ready to negotiate with Hamas, via American and Egyptian mediators. But after the terrorist group time and again proved that it was not interested in holding its fire, Jerusalem lost patience. The Israeli leadership is now hoping to have created enough deterrence to keep Hamas from launching rockets… or raids through tunnels not located. It is hoping that 1.7 million Gazans will not take kindly to having Hamas bring down another round of devastation upon them.

Read the full analysis here

Two rockets in open areas

Two rockets landed overnight in open areas in the Sdot Hanegev region just outside the Gaza Strip, the Ynet news site reports.

No damage or injuries are reported.

Rocket sirens blared twice during in the early morning in two communities in the nearby Shaar Hanegev region, piercing an otherwise calm night.

Qatar unhappy with UN for blaming Hamas

Qatar’s emir has phoned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to express his anger that the United Nations blamed Hamas for breaking Friday’s ceasefire, Al-Jazeera reports.

Speaking with Ban, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said he was astonished that the UN would blame Hamas without first verifying the facts.

Al-Thani, considered a Hamas backer despite attempts to broker a ceasefire, called on the UN to come out clearly against Israel.

A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire announced by the UN and US State Department fell apart shortly after it began Friday morning, when Hamas fighters attacked a group of Israeli soldiers working to dismantle a tunnel it says was built for terror attacks, killing three.

At the time, Ban’s office released a statement saying he “condemns in the strongest terms the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning. He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments.”

On Saturday, Hamas head Khaled Meshaal claimed the truce did not include permission for Israel to continue destroying tunnels. Israel has reserved the right to continue dismantling tunnels regardless of truces.

Sirens sound in Gaza periphery

IDF says Saturday saw 86 rockets, 153 IDF strikes

The IDF offers its daily recap of Saturday’s Gaza fighting: 86 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, 58 hit Israeli territory and 6 were shot down by Iron Dome. The IDF says it struck 153 targets in response.

IDF video shows discovery, destruction of Gaza tunnel

The IDF releases a video showing armor and engineering forces locating digging out and then blowing up a Hamas tunnel in Gaza.

‘No Gaza rehabilitation without disarmament’

As the IDF begins a drawdown of forces at the conclusion of the tunnel phase of Operation Protective Edge, a former senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urges an adjustment to Israel’s strategy in Gaza.

“There is no rehabilitation of Gaza without disarmament of Gaza,” says Tzvi Hauser, who was cabinet secretary under Netanyahu.

The case for conditioning economic recovery on disarmament is an easy case to make to the international community, he adds in an interview with Channel 2.

“[Currently,] a truck of concrete drives in and a truckful of rockets comes out. Israel has to effect a strategic change in this situation,” says Hauser.

10 killed in Rafah strike, say Palestinians

An IDF strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip kills 10, according to Palestinian reports.

The strike comes shortly after another IDF strike kills four people identified by the army as terror operatives.

The IDF says it has struck 108 targets in Gaza over the past 24 hours.

IDF says 3,127 rockets fired from Gaza

The IDF says 3,127 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli towns since the start of the fighting on July 8.

Sirens sound in Sderot, Gaza periphery

Sirens are sounding in the city of Sderot and nearby villages of the Gaza periphery for the second time Sunday morning.

Fatah predicts Israel will join Cairo talks

A Fatah delegate to the Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo predicts Israel will join the talks within a few days.

Israel has said it is no longer interested in ceasefire talks and will not be sending delegates to Cairo after as many as six ceasefires were violated by Hamas over the past month of fighting.

Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad also says the question of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt does not need Israeli participation, as it’s considered an “internal Egyptian-Palestinian issue.”

A Palestinian delegation from Ramallah arrived in Cairo yesterday for the talks. Hamas representatives from Qatar and American representatives are expected to arrive in Cairo today, Ynet reports.

Two rockets intercepted over Hof Ashkelon

The Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over the Hof Ashkelon region.

Israel to open Gaza crossings for aid

Israel is set to allow 200 trucks of humanitarian aid, including medications and medical equipment, into the Gaza Strip today.

Palestinians report 20 dead in Gaza strikes

Twenty Palestinians are reported killed this morning in four strikes on the homes of Hamas operatives, including in Rafah (nine dead), Dir El-Balah (six dead) and Jabalya (two dead), Palestinian sources say.

According to Israel Radio Palestinian affairs reporter Gal Berger (@galberger), some 30 Palestinians are dead from IDF strikes since last night, though the number of combatants among them is unclear.

Sirens sound near Ashkelon, Sderot

Rocket fire continues this morning on southern cities. Sirens are sounding in the Hof Ashkelon area and in Sderot.

Video of border policeman stopping car bomb

Video footage emerges of the border policemen who stopped an explosive-ridden car near Tzur Hadassah last week.

A border policeman was speaking to the Palestinian driver of the car at a roadblock, when the driver suddenly accelerated. The policeman, who realized the driver’s intentions from their brief exchange, leaped into the vehicle, turned the keys in the ignition and stopped the engine.

Police found multiple gas canisters connected to explosives in the car’s trunk.

The surveillance camera video of the incident captures the heart-stopping seconds in which the policeman made the leap into the car to prevent the vehicle from driving past the roadblock.

‘International agreement can remove Hamas,’ says Livni

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says she supports ending Hamas control in Gaza.

“I don’t want to leave a weakened Hamas if we can get rid of it altogether,” she says, according to Ynet.

“We have an opportunity for political change. It can come through international agreements on the disarmament [of Gaza] and placing Abbas in the Strip,” she argues.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni during a meeting at the Knesset on January 8, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni during a meeting at the Knesset on January 8, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

IDF toll stands at 64 dead, 136 still hospitalized

136 IDF soldiers are hospitalized from the fighting in Gaza. According to IDF figures, 12 are seriously wounded. The remainder sustained moderate or light wounds.

The IDF reports 64 soldiers killed in action since the start of fighting on July 8.

Unemployment offices reopen in southern cities

In a sign of mounting expectations that the current round of fighting Gaza is nearing its end, employment offices throughout southern Israel are resuming regular operations.

The return to normalcy includes offices in the cities of Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim, Yavne, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Netivot, Sderot and Rahat.

While the offices are back to full operations, recipients of unemployment benefits won’t be required to show up for their weekly employment consultations, which are mandatory under normal conditions as a condition for receiving benefits, until the fighting ends.

Rocket falls in Eshkol area, none hurt

Sirens are sounding in the Eshkol and Hof Ashkelon regional councils. One falls in an open area in the Eshkol area. There are no reports of casualties or damage.

The Gaza periphery has seen a barrage of rockets throughout the morning, including over Ashkelon and Sderot.

UNRWA says 260,000 displaced in Gaza

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweets that the organization now counts 260,000 people displaced by the fighting throughout Gaza.

Funeral information for Lt. Hadar Goldin

Lt. Hadar Goldin will be laid to rest at 5:30 p.m. at the military cemetery in Kfar Saba.

Ground troops withdraw, but Gaza mission continues

Israel has begun withdrawing some ground troops from the Gaza Strip and redeploying others but the mission was ongoing, an army spokesman told AFP on Sunday.

“We are removing some (forces), we are changing from within,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said, describing it as “an ongoing mission.”

“We are redeploying within the Gaza Strip and taking out other different positions, and relieving other forces from within,” he said.


Sirens sound in Gaza periphery, Hof Ashkelon

Sirens continue to sound in the Gaza periphery and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council as rocket barrages from Gaza continue throughout the morning.

Initial report of 7 dead in shelling near UNRWA site

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweets an “initial report” of shelling near an UNRWA facility housing displaced Gazans.

Seven people may have been killed in the strike, though no details are confirmed as yet.

Poignant photos of Goldin family awaiting news

As the IDF declares Lt. Hadar Goldin killed in action, and his funeral is called for today at 5:30 p.m., here are poignant photos of his family and supporters, including demonstrators calling for his return home last night in the hours before the announcement of his death.

Mother Lea and brother Haim (L) of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin are seen during a news conference outside their home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba August 2, 2014. (photo by Flash90)

Mother Lea and brother Menachem (L) of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin are seen during a news conference outside their home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba August 2, 2014. (photo by Flash90)

Israelis show their support outside the Goldin home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba, August 2, 2014. (photo by Flash90)

Israelis show their support outside the Goldin home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba, August 2, 2014. (photo by Flash90)

Zur Goldin (R), brother of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, and other family members talk to the media outside their home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on August 2, 2014. (Photo by Flash90)

Zur Goldin (R), brother of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, and other family members talk to the media outside their home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on August 2, 2014. (Photo by Flash90)

A photo showing Hadar Goldin (L), killed in Gaza on Friday, August 1, 2014, and his brother Zur Goldin (R). (photo by Flash90)

A photo showing Hadar Goldin (L), killed in Gaza on Friday, August 1, 2014, and his brother Zur Goldin (R). (photo by Flash90)

Gaza official says 7 dead, 30 wounded in Rafah strike

At least seven people were killed Sunday in an apparent IDF strike on a UN school in southern Gaza which was sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli military offensive, Gaza medical authorities say.

Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, an employee of the Hamas-run Health Ministry, says another 30 people were wounded in the attack which took place in the southern city of Rafah, which straddles the border with Egypt.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, says initial reports suggested there had been a shelling near a school housing almost 3,000 people.

— AFP and Times of Israel staff

Rocket falls in Hof Ashkelon, none wounded

A rocket falls in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council moments after a siren sounds. There are no reports of damage or wounded.

Hamas, PA delegates in Cairo for truce talks

A Hamas team arrives in Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian mediators on a possible truce in Gaza, an airport official and state news agency MENA said.

The delegation is led by senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq, the sources say.

Egypt, the traditional broker in conflicts between Israel and Hamas, invited Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to gather in Cairo to thrash out a durable truce in Gaza based on an Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

Israel, after initially agreeing to multiple international truce attempts, says it will not send anyone to the latest talks after the last agreed-upon ceasefire collapsed when Hamas attacked an IDF force attempting to destroy a Hamas tunnel in Rafah on Friday.

“Hamas has proven that it breaches any agreement reached right away, as happened five times in previous truces,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzachi Hanegbi told AFP on Saturday.

“It is therefore unclear at this stage what benefit Israel might see for participating in an attempt to reach agreements, based on the Egyptian initiative.”

Another Palestinian team, including the Palestinian Authority’s spy chief Majid Faraj, arrived late on Saturday for the negotiations, which are expected to start later today.

Representatives of Islamic Jihad are also expected in the Egyptian capital, as are US Middle East envoy Frank Lowenstein and the Middle East Quartet’s peace envoy Tony Blair.

— AFP and Times of Israel staff

Death toll in UNRWA site shelling rises to 10

Reports of the death toll in an apparent IDF strike on an UNRWA school in Rafah indicate the death toll has risen to 10, with some 40 said to be wounded, according to Gaza officials.

The UNRWA site is a school, but is currently used to house displaced Gazans who fled heavy fighting in other parts of the Strip.

Israel spied on Kerry during peace talks — report

Israel eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during doomed peace talks with the Palestinians last year, German news weekly Der Spiegel reports Sunday.

The article says the Israelis and at least one other secret service listened in on Kerry’s conversations as he tried to mediate, in a development that Der Spiegel says was likely to further strain ties between Israel and the United States.

Kerry regularly spoke by telephone with high-ranking officials throughout the Middle East during the negotiations that finally collapsed earlier this year.

Der Spiegel, which cites “several sources among secret services,” says that he used not only secure lines but also normal telephones with satellite connections which were vulnerable to tapping.

“The government in Jerusalem used this information in the negotiations on a diplomatic solution in the Middle East,” it says.

Der Spiegel says Kerry’s office and the Israeli government declined to comment on its report.


IDF video shows soldiers observing Sabbath in combat

An IDF video (in Hebrew) shows combat troops in Gaza making the traditional Sabbath blessings in the dark, quiet conditions of Gaza combat, replacing the traditional wine with what appears to be a water bottle.

‘It’s not over,’ Bennett says of Gaza op

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett urges the Israeli public and the IDF soldiers to carry on, as the operation continues.

“Lift your head up,” he writes on his Facebook page. “Soldiers, wherever you are: It’s not over. In these moments there is the danger of complacency… This is the time for unity and support as our soldiers still stand behind enemy lines and are endangering their lives for us… We’ll talk about everything, when there’s time to talk.

“We must lift our heads up and carry on. It’s not over,” he writes.

Gaza op continues, says another minister

Echoing a Facebook post by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Science Minister Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet, counters the widespread perception that the major combat portion of Operation Protective Edge is coming to an end.

“The operation isn’t over. The diplomatic arrangements are still on the way,” he says. “So all that’s left is to say is that we embrace the grieving families and the soldiers,” he adds.

UN worries of ‘health disaster’ in Gaza

UN agencies release a press release warning of a “health disaster of widespread proportions” in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing fighting between IDF troops and Hamas:

A health disaster of widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding in the Gaza Strip as a direct result of the ongoing conflict, said the United Nations today. …

“We are now looking at a health and humanitarian disaster,” warned [James W. Rawley, “the Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)”], adding, “the fighting must stop immediately.” After more than three weeks of intense conflict, Gaza’s medical services and facilities are on the verge of collapse. One third of hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 Palestinian Red Crescent and Ministry of Health ambulances have been damaged in the fighting. At least five medical staff have been killed in the line of duty and tens have been injured. At least 40% of medical staff are unable to get to their places of work such as clinics and hospitals due to widespread violence and at least half of all public health primary care clinics are closed.

In addition, in the last 24 hours, anonymous calls were made to staff at both the Najjar Hospital in Rafah and Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City warning of imminent attacks, causing major panic and chaos among patients and staff. Najjar Hospital was evacuated and remains closed due to fighting nearby.

The hospitals and clinics that are still functioning are overwhelmed: since 7 July over 8000 people have reportedly been injured, many seriously. Critical supplies of medicines and disposables are almost depleted and damage and destruction of power supplies has left hospitals dependent on unreliable back-up generators. Al Shifa, the main referral hospital in the Gaza Strip, is inundated with casualties and people seeking safety in its grounds. “The ability to provide necessary healthcare is being severely compromised. This puts the lives of thousands of Palestinians in needless danger,” said [Dr. Ambrogio Manenti, acting Head of Office of WHO’s operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip].

Two rockets explode near Sdot Negev, none hurt

Two rockets explode in open areas near Sdot Negev. There are no reports of injuries or damage.

Credit card firm says spending down in Gaza op

Israeli credit card firm Isracard publishes fascinating findings, displayed in (Hebrew-language) graphs in the tweet below that show a steep decline in consumer spending, especially for entertainment, since the start of Operation Protective Edge.

Credit card spending is six percent lower on average throughout the country and across all spending categories. In the south, the area most affected by rocket fire from Gaza over the past month, spending is down nearly 12%.

The category of “entertainment, culture and sports” is especially hard-hit, says Isracard, dropping some 19% over the course of the first three weeks of Protective Edge. Tourism spending (by Israelis in Israel) is down 27% nationwide — though ironically less among southern residents (down just 8%) who are “touring” other parts of the country to escape the rocket fire.

Defense minister says KIA Hadar Goldin was a relative

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says in a short Facebook post (Hebrew link) that Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Gaza on Friday, “is a member of my family. I have known him since he was born.”

“He and the other IDF warriors who fell in this operation went to battle in order to bring quiet and security to Israel. I embrace the grieving families,” he says.

Ya’alon and Goldin are second cousins once removed. Ya’alon’s grandfather and Goldin’s great-grandmother were siblings.

‘Security event’ near Zikim locks residents indoors

A “security event” is ongoing in the vicinity of Kibbutz Zikim on the Gaza periphery.

Residents of one village in the area have been ordered by the security services to lock themselves indoors.

IDF sweeps Zikim area for suspected infiltrators

IDF forces are conducting sweeps in the area of Kibbutz Zikim after receiving reports of suspected infiltrators from Gaza.

Similar sweeps have taken place in recent days. Most turn out to be false alarms, but Hamas has already launched several attacks through tunnels on IDF positions inside Israel, and the army is deployed to prevent a similar attack against the towns and villages of the area.

Two villages in the Zikim area are currently on lockdown, with residents ordered by security forces to lock doors and windows and remain indoors.

Rafah school strike may have targeted motorcyclists

Nick Casey, a Wall Street Journal Mideast reporter, says a witness to the IDF’s strike on an UNRWA facility in Rafah about an hour ago says the strike may have targeted two motorcyclists near the site.

Traffic jams in south due to tanks headed to Gaza

Traffic jams are reported on southern highways due to tank transport trucks making their way to the Gaza border.

The traffic problems are reported on roads 25, 232 and 241.

Police are deployed in increased numbers to help manage the traffic, and urge drivers to drive carefully on southern roads, as the tank transports move slowly, even on highways.

IDF strikes Gaza City

IDF strikes are reported in the northern part of Gaza City, as both Israel and Hamas say the fighting will continue unabated for the time being.

There are no immediate reports of damage or casualties in the Gaza City strike. An earlier hit, apparently targeting operatives in Rafah, killed between seven and 10 people in an UNRWA facility in the southern Gazan city.

Sources suggest no infiltration near Zikim

Sources indicate the IDF has ruled out the possibility that Hamas forces have infiltrated into Israel near Kibbutz Zikim on the Gaza border, but sweeps of the area continue and residents are requested to remain indoors.

Suspected infiltration sends Netiv Haasara residents indoors

The suspected infiltration being investigated in the Zikim area has sent residents of nearby Netiv Haasara indoors as security forces sweep the area.

Family of Oron Shaul urged return of his body for burial

The family of Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose body went missing after the APC he was riding in was blown up during fierce battles in Gaza, speak to the media Sunday at 2:10 p.m.

“Oron still hasn’t been brought to burial,” says Oron’s cousin Racheli Gazit. “We trust the IDF, we trust the State of Israel that they’ll do everything to bring Oron to burial in Israel,” she says in a prepared statement to the media outside the family home in the village of Poriya near Tiberias.

“We identify with the family of Hadar Goldin” — a soldier killed in action on Friday whose body is also missing — “and their immense pain. The [Shaul] family is going through difficult times, but we draw strength from each other and from the people of Israel,” says Gazit.

Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose death in Gaza on July 20 was formally confirmed by the IDF on July 25 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose death in Gaza on July 20 was formally confirmed by the IDF on July 25 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

“We are in constant contact with the relevant authorities. And we’re sure they’re working hard. We’re sure they’ll bring him home, we’re sure of it. With God’s help, may there be a burial soon.”

Siren sounds in Eshkol area

A siren sounds in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Israeli dancers avoid Edinburgh festival over safety worries

“Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has decided to cancel the performances of the student dance company which were scheduled for August 9-12 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe,” the university says.

“The decision was taken in light of the intentions of anti-Israel protesters to demonstrate against Operation Protective Edge and at the urging of the venue’s operator.”

According to the university, the primary concern is for the dancers’ safety.

“The personal safety of the members of the dance company is the most important factor and we will certainly not compromise on that in any way. We received warnings that their participation could endanger the dancers; therefore, in consultation with the relevant parties, we made the hard decision not to send the company to the planned performances in Edinburgh,” explains BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi.

“It is a shame that this is the state of affairs – where artistic freedom of expression is being sorely tested. The company has no connection to politics, but everything has become highly politicized. Considering the quality of the company, its withdrawal from the festival is a loss to all art lovers and we are dismayed at the necessity.”

The university also noted the troubled history of Israeli performers being forced out of the festival.

“After the Israeli play ‘This City’ by the Incubator Theater was targeted by protesters, which disrupted nearby performances as well, the venue’s operator canceled further performances until an alternate venue could be located. The group is currently performing on the street after having failed to find a hall ready to host it.”

Rockets fall on Shaar Hanegev, none hurt

A siren is sounding in Sderot and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council as a barrage of rockets falls near villages in the Shaar Hanegev area. There are no reports of wounded or damage.

Gaza fighting linked to rise in premature births in south

Some hospitals, especially those close to the Gaza periphery, are reporting spikes in premature births, or births before the 37th week of pregnancy. The spike is thought to be related to high levels of stress experienced by pregnant mothers due to the Gaza fighting and constant rocket fire on Israeli cities over the past month, hospital officials say.

Increases were reported in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba (20% increase over the previous year), Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, and Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot (28%),

Smaller increases are reported farther north, with a slight rise in Hadassah’s two hospitals in Jerusalem and increases of between five and 10 percent in Assaf Harofeh Hospital near Tel Aviv and Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah.

The rate of premature births of twins has risen by 82% over last year nationwide.

Premature birth is a leading indicator of disease and death among newborns, Army Radio reporter Ya’ara Shapira notes.

IDF rules out infiltration near Zikim

The IDF says it has ruled out an infiltration by Gaza-based terrorists into Israel in the Zikim area. Residents of nearby villages, including Netiv Haasara, may leave their homes, security officials say.

IDF says it found tunnel, mortars in Rafah

Infantry forces in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip uncover a tunnel and 150 mortar shells.

Givati force kills 3 terrorists

IDF troops operating in the Gaza Strip kill three terrorists who had emerged from a tunnel.

After soldiers from the Givati infantry brigade identify them, the gunmen try to run into a house, but Israeli tanks nearby open fire on the structure, killing the militants, Ynet reports.

The tunnel is then destroyed.

UN condemns school strike, but doesn’t mention Israel

The UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process releases a statement condemning today’s strike on an UNRWA school in Rafah, but takes care not to specifically blame Israel.

“The Special Coordinator is dismayed at reports of a strike in the immediate vicinity of an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering 3,000 displaced, which caused multiple deaths and injuries,” reads the statement released by Robert Serry’s office. “The Special Coordinator condemns the loss of innocent civilian lives.

“It is simply intolerable that another school has come under fire while designated to provide shelter for civilians fleeing the hostilities. The Special Coordinator repeats the call of the Secretary-General that all parties must respect the inviolability of UN premises and protect civilians.”

“The past 48 hours have seen renewed escalation and unbearable further loss of civilian lives, particularly in the Rafah area. This shocking violence underscores the urgent need, despite recent setbacks, for a ceasefire and negotiations between all parties in Cairo addressing the underlying issues. Mr. Serry calls on all parties to cooperate with ongoing international efforts to find a way out of this crisis and prevent the loss of more human lives.”

Gaza medical authorities say that at least 10 were killed in the strike, and another 30 injured.

Warning sirens in Ashkelon, Gaza border

Tunnel found in prison bathroom in north

Prison guards at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel find a tunnel in a bathroom stall shared by eight Islamic Jihad members, Ynet reports.

The prisoners are removed from their nearby cells, and police are investigating the incident.

It remains unclear how deep the tunnel is.

4 rockets strike Hof Ashkelon, no injuries

Palestinian ceasefire demands released

The Palestinian delegation in Cairo representing the Hamas-Palestinian Authority unity government releases its list of demands for a ceasefire, Ynet reports:

  • Immediate IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
  • Lifting of the blockade and opening of the border crossings
  • Extension of the fishing zone to 12 nautical miles
  • Lifting of the civilian no-go zone near the Gaza border fence
  • Creation of airport and seaport
  • Rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip through international donors
  • Release of the fourth tranche of prisoners from the failed talks between Israel and the PA
  • Release of the prisoners set free in the Gilad Shalit deal and rearrested during Operation Brother’s Keeper in the wake of the murder and kidnapping of the three Israeli teens, and the release of Palestinian legislators

After Hamas gunmen attacked an IDF force in Rafah at the start of a 72-hour ceasefire and snatched the body of a dead soldier, Israel said it would no longer negotiate ceasefires in the fighting in Gaza.

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi attending a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Cairo on August 2, 2014 (Photo credit: AFP photo/Ho/Egyptian Presidency)

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi attending a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Cairo on August 2, 2014 (Photo credit: AFP photo/Ho/Egyptian Presidency)

Hollande calls for Gaza peace in WWI ceremony

French President Francois Hollande commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I with an appeal to players in the Gaza conflict to put animosities aside — just as France and Germany have done.

Hollande gives an impassioned speech Sunday in Vieil Armand in Alsace, marking Germany’s declaration of war on France on August 3, 1914. He is joined by German President Joachim Gauck — the first time Germany’s head of state has attended the event.

France's President Francois Hollande, right, stands next to German President Joachim Gauck, left, as they pay respect in the crypt of the the National Monument of Hartmannswillerkop, in Wattwiller, eastern France, Sunday, August 3, 2014, to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.  (photo credit: AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)

France’s President Francois Hollande, right, stands next to German President Joachim Gauck, left, as they pay respect in the crypt of the the National Monument of Hartmannswillerkop, in Wattwiller, eastern France, Sunday, August 3, 2014, to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. (photo credit: AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)

Hollande remembers the 30,000 men killed around Vieil Armand, known in German as Hartmannswillerkopf, but points out that France and Germany, “who were regarded as hereditary enemies,” reconciled.

He appeals to the world to use Franco-German peace as a lesson in peacemaking and “to stop the suffering of the civilian population,” in Gaza.


Chinese FM calls for end of Gaza op

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urges Israel on Sunday to end military operations in Gaza and lift its blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

Wang makes his comments at a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri, whose government is hosting a Palestinian delegation for ceasefire talks not attended by Israel.


Sirens in Beersheba, Lakiya

‘IDF needs another day or two for tunnels’

IDF sources say that the army needs another day or two to deal with attack tunnels into Israel, Channel 2 reports.

Anti-tank cell hit in Gaza

A Paratrooper Brigade force in the southern Gaza Strip identifies four militants preparing to fire an anti-tank missile from a house, the IDF says. Tanks working in conjunction with the infantry soldiers open fire, recording a hit.

The IDF says that it has struck 40 targets in Gaza since midnight, including 8 terrorists.

Hamas says Israel lied about abducted soldier

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri writes on Facebook that Israel “deceived the world” when it claimed Givati Brigade officer Hadar Goldin was kidnapped in Gaza, and calls on Ban Ki-moon and the international community to rectify their positions on the clash that occurred at the start of an ostensible 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (photo credit: AP/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (photo credit: AP/Hatem Moussa)

The IDF later declared Hadar Goldin killed in action, and his funeral is to take place at 5:30 p.m. today.

PM phones Goldin family, calls son a hero

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Simcha and Leah Goldin, the parents of slain Givati Brigade officer Hadar Goldin — who was initially thought kidnapped Friday morning — telling them that he was a “great hero.”

“I know that you’re going through horrible agony, the feeling that a part of you was taken away and that you’re no longer complete,” Netanyahu tells the bereaved parents. “These are feelings impossible to calm in an instant. I hope that you will take comfort in the fact that in his death he sustained the people of Israel in their struggle for independence.”

— Raphael Ahren

Sirens in Ashdod, central region

Rocket intercepted over Dan region

Two break into home in West Bank settlement

According to Israel Police, two suspects, who police believe were Arabs, break into a house in the West Bank settlement of Neve Tzuf-Halamish. Security forces are searching for the suspects.

The motive was likely criminal, say police, but they are also looking into the possibility that it was nationalistic.

The West Bank settlement of Halamish (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The West Bank settlement of Halamish (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

EU calls for immediate end to fighting

The European Union calls for an immediate end to the “intolerable violence” in Gaza, condemns rocket fire on Israel and reiterates the state’s right to defend itself – as long as its response maintains “proportionality.”

“Gaza has been suffering from intolerable violence for more than three weeks already. We deplore the terrible loss of lives, including innocent women and children. Many have been injured, property and livelihoods have been destroyed. This needs to stop immediately,” reads a joint statement issued by the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

Head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP)

Head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP)

At the same time, the EU strongly condemns continued rocket fire over Israel, the statement continues. “It constitutes an unacceptable threat to its citizens. Israel has the right to live in peace in its recognized borders. Legitimate defense needs to maintain proportionality. We have all seen these cycles in the past and we know that there are limits regarding what military operations can achieve…The bloodshed needs to stop.”

The EU is ready to “support actively negotiations, confidence building measures, reconstruction and reconciliation efforts,” the statement reads. “No more lives should be wasted. Palestinian and Israeli leaders need to exercise courage by putting an end to this senseless violence. They also need to exercise courage and wisdom to move beyond these cycles of violence and advance towards arrangements that will ensure peaceful and dignified coexistence, based on mutual respect.”

— Raphael Ahren

Sirens sound in Ashdod

Funeral of Hadar Goldin begins

The funeral of Givati officer Lt. Hadar Goldin begins in Kfar Saba.

Three other IDF soldiers — Liel Gidoni, Omri Tal, and Liron Adir (Edry) —  are being buried today as well.

One injured by rocket outside Gaza

One person is injured, possibly seriously, as rockets fall in communities in the Sdot Negev region, in the Gaza periphery, Channel 2 reports.

Muslim Brotherhood leader calls for ‘death and martyrdom’

Tareq Al-Suwaidan, a Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood leader, says on Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV on Friday that all Muslim mothers must raise their children to hate “the sons of Zion.”

He also says that Jews are “greedy” for life, but his people yearn for death and martyrdom.

“Without a doubt, the blood being spilled [in Gaza] is dear. But the equation is: ‘Those killed from our side are in Paradise, and those killed from their side in Hell,'” says Suwaidan, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch.

“We are not afraid of martyrdom. Not long ago, you cried out loud: ‘Death for Allah is our most exalted wish!’ You received the death you wanted. We have no problem with death. We are not like the children of Israel: ‘And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life,'” Suwaidan says, quoting the Koran. “Whereas we yearn for death and martyrdom… Every mother — especially the mothers in Palestine, but every mother in the [Islamic] Nation, not just Palestine — must nurse her children on hatred of the sons of Zion. We hate them and they are our enemies. We will plant this in their souls, so that a new generation will grow among us, which will erase them from the face of the earth.”

Injured man near Gaza in light-moderate condition

The man hurt in a mortar attack Sunday afternoon near the Gaza border is in light-moderate condition, Channel 2 reports.

Gazans say death toll at 1,830

The Gaza death toll is up to 1,830, says the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. Israel says that hundreds of the dead are armed combatants.

‘Strength and humility,’ eulogizes Hadar Goldin’s father

Simcha Goldin, father of slain Givati officer Hadar Goldin, asks the mourners at his son’s funeral in Kfar Saba to live their lives as Hadar lived his — looking for the best in every person, interacting with others with a smile on his face.

Goldin says his son worked to repair the world, by setting an example for proper interactions between people. His son never cursed, he said, and spoke to others gently and directly.

“Let’s not defile ourselves with conflicts,” says Goldin.

Goldin pauses several times as the sorrow overtakes him.

Hadar was a painter and an avid reader in school, his father says.

Once he went into the army, Hadar asked his mother to teach him to sew, and he sewed the words “strength” and “humility” into his gunstrap.

Hadar’s brother and fiancee speak after his father.

Simcha Goldin speaking at the funeral of his son Hadar at the Kfar Saba cemetery Sunday August 3, 2014. (Screen capture: Ynet)

Simcha Goldin speaking at the funeral of his son Hadar at the Kfar Saba cemetery Sunday August 3, 2014. (Screen capture: Ynet)

Rocket intercepted over Ashdod

UN’s Ban calls strike near Gaza school ‘criminal act’

In unusually strong language, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon slams the Israel Defense Forces for an attack near an UNRWA school in Gaza during which 10 Palestinians were reportedly killed Sunday, calling it a moral outrage and a criminal act.

“The attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities,” he says in a statement.

“United Nations shelters must be safe zones, not combat zones. The Israel Defense Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites. This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

Ban further states that he is “profoundly dismayed over the appalling escalation of violence and loss of hundreds of Palestinian civilian lives since the breach of the humanitarian ceasefire” on Friday.

Unlike a Friday statement, he does not say who was responsible for the ceasefire’s breach. According to the Israeli version, Hamas breached the ceasefire by launching a suicide attack that killed three Israeli soldiers more than a hour after the truce went into effect. Hamas claims that the attack took place before the truce started.

“The resurgence in fighting has only exacerbated the man-made humanitarian and health crisis wreaking havoc in Gaza,” Ban says.

— Raphael Ahren

Sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon

‘We didn’t want to topple Hamas’

A senior military official tells Ynet that the IDF could have taken over Gaza in 10 days, but the government didn’t want to destroy Hamas.

“There is an Israeli interest that there be one address in Gaza. We don’t want ‘Somalization’ in Gaza instead of one party who will rule, and this is why the toppling of Hamas was not defined as a goal.”

“If they had told us to defeat Hamas,” he continues, “we could have already captured the Strip within 10 days, then another year or two of searches and operation to destroy terror infrastructure in the Strip, while fighting guerrillas as they did in Defensive Shield. This wasn’t the essence of the mission given to us.”

Two lightly injured in Sha’ar Hanegev

Two people are lightly injured in a mortar strike in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

‘I thought we would be together forever’

Edna Sarusi, Hadar Goldin’s fiance, eulogizes the fallen soldier, recalling how easygoing he was when it came to making their wedding arrangements and that he would often say, “All I want Edna, is that you be a bride.”

“I didn’t expect you to leave me so quickly,” Sarusi says, her voice choked with emotion. “I relied only on you. I don’t know what to do.”

“I though we would be together forever,” she says. “I love you so much, and I miss you so much.”

Sarusi speaks of how proud she was to see the attention the Goldin gave his soldiers when she visited him in the past in the army.

“I so wanted to be your bride, Hadar,” she says.

Hamas says it’s changed Egypt’s truce plan

Palestinian negotiators discussing a ceasefire in Cairo Sunday have been able to change the original Egyptian ceasefire proposal of “quiet for quiet,” say Hamas’s deputy political bureau chief.

Speaking to the website of Palestinian daily Al-Quds, Moussa Abu Marzouk says that Hamas members of the multi-factional Palestinian delegation could not leave the Gaza Strip to Egypt “for security reasons.” Hamas is nevertheless represented by three delegates in Cairo, he says. In addition to Abu Marzouk, two Hamas representatives have arrived in Egypt from Qatar: Izzat al-Rishq and Muhammad Nasr.

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (photo credit: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (photo credit: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Rephrasing Hamas’s demands in the ceasefire talks — which Israel has decided to skip following the death of IDF officer Hadar Goldin’s death — Abu Marzouk says that “we are interested in reaching a ceasefire, lifting the siege, and for our people to live like other nations on earth; enjoying freedom of travel, import and export. There should be no buffer zones or [areas] we cannot come near,” he says.

Hamas was unable to accept the Egyptian conditions when they were first presented in mid-July, Abu Marzouk explains, but now Palestinians had come to Cairo with a unified list of demands.

“Had we accepted the Egyptian initiative at the time, many things would be imposed on us which we cannot accept today,” he says.

— Elhanan Miller

Rick Perry says US hasn’t supported Israel enough

Texas Governor Rick Perry criticizes the Obama administration for leaving “any air between us and Israel” as the Jewish state fights Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“There have been messages sent both publicly and privately that have not been strong in their support of Israel,” Perry tells CNN’s Candy Crowley on her Sunday morning “State of the Nation” news program.

“We need to be standing up with Israel, sending a strong message to those in the Middle East that would attack this democracy that they are our ally, and they can count on us,” Perry emphasizes.

UNRWA head condemns strike near school

After a missile hits near an UNRWA school Sunday, the organization’s commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl indicates that Israel is endangering lives with its actions in the Gaza Strip, Politico reports.

“This is, of course, another incident that generates both shock and disbelief at the fact that it could happen again,” Krahenbuhl says on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“But, clearly, nobody can suggest that because weapons were found in one premise this can be in any sense a justification for shelling other schools and endangering the lives of displaced people in the middle of a war zone,” he adds.

2 rockets explode in Eshkol region; no injuries

Motorcycles found in Hamas tunnel

Israeli soldiers find three motorcycles in a tunnel near Nahal Oz. Security forces believe they are intended for use in a kidnapping operation.

Hamas says it tries to spare Israeli civilians

Hamas’s military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades issues a statement saying its gunmen have tried to hit “as much as possible [Israeli] military targets, “especially soldiers and bases and have avoided striking targets that are nonmilitary,” namely civilian, Israel Radio reports.

Over 80 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel over the past 24 hours, the IDF says, including at central Israel — its most populous area — just a few short hours ago.

Thousands at South Africa pro-Israel rally

Thousands rally in support of Israel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Attendees put the number at over 12,000.

Thousands rally in Johannesburg, South Africa in support of Israel (photo credit: Courtesy)

Thousands rally in Johannesburg, South Africa in support of Israel (photo credit: Courtesy)

Sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon

Rocket hits inside Israeli school grounds

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip strikes inside the grounds of a school in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No injuries are reported.

Over 80 rockets have been fired Sunday.

Channel 2 reports that the 2 men injured by a mortar attack Sunday afternoon were members of the Chabad Hasidic movement who were in the area to cheer soldiers resting on the Gaza border.

Givati soldiers searched for Goldin 800 meters into tunnel

Soldiers who reached the scene after Givati officer Hadar Goldin was seized Friday tried to chase after the attackers into the tunnel, but they were unable to thwart the abduction. The soldiers searched 800 meters into the tunnel and found “items” that were central to determining that Goldin was dead, Channel 2 reports.

Israel assassinates nephew of Mahmoud Mabhouh

Israel lifts the gag order on last night’s strike on senior Hamas member and expert bomb-maker Ahmed Mabhouh, of Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Mabhouh’s uncle Mahmoud Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander, was assassinated, likely by Israeli agents, in Dubai in 2010.

Dermer says Abbas ’embraces’ terrorists

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer says that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has embraced terrorists.

“You have to fight terror. You can’t embrace terrorists. That’s unfortunately what President Abbas has done,” Dermer tells David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Abbas’s unity government with Hamas was “a terrible thing for peace. The road to peace goes over Hamas; it doesn’t include Hamas,” Dermer continues.

PA officials “now unfortunately are in alliance with this terrorist organization, and it’s a genocidal terror organization. Hamas’s charter calls for the murder of Jews worldwide. I hope that after this round of fighting is over, that President Abbas will abandon the pact that he has made with Hamas, and that he’ll go back to peace negotiations” with Israel.

UK foreign sect’y ‘appalled’ by UNRWA strike

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says he spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni by phone and commented on the shelling of a UN school where Palestinians were sheltering that killed 10 people.

“I am appalled at reports of further civilian casualties in the vicinity of a UN-run school housing Palestinians displaced by the Gaza conflict in Rafah this morning,” Hammond says.

“The facts are not yet clear, but it is tragic that there are further losses of life in a place which is being used as a shelter.”

He also welcomes signs that Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza.

The IDF spokesman’s office says that the army “targeted three PIJ terrorists onboard a motorcycle in vicinity of an UNRWA school in Rafah. The IDF is reviewing the consequences of this strike.”


Hundreds protest Gaza op in Lod

Hundreds of Israeli Arabs and other opponents of the military operation in Gaza wave Palestinian flags in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, and protest the government’s campaign.

DNA used to confirm Hadar Goldin’s death

The Israeli army on Sunday confirms the death of missing soldier Lieutenant Hadar Goldin by checking the DNA of parts of his body that were found in a tunnel.

Goldin went missing in action on Friday following a deadly incident in southern Gaza on Friday morning in which two other soldiers were killed, with Israel saying it suspected he had been snatched by Palestinian militants.

The incident sparked a major bombardment of the southern city of Rafah and the surrounding area as troops sought to track him down in a display of firepower which killed 114 people in just 24 hours.

Relatives and friends of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin mourning over his grave during his funeral at the military cemetery in Kfar Saba on August 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Relatives and friends of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin mourning over his grave during his funeral at the military cemetery in Kfar Saba on August 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But early on Sunday, the army announced that Goldin had been killed in action, with army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner telling AFP he had been identified by his DNA.

“What we know for sure was that one suicide bomber and at least three or four other gunmen came out of a tunnel.

“One blew himself up, killing two on the spot, and the others were shooting — they grabbed Hadar and snatched him down into the tunnel,” he says.

“We don’t know if he was alive and wounded, or dead at this time. Only in the aftermath, with the forensic investigation, were we able to conclude that he was killed,” he says.

Remains of Goldin’s body were discovered inside the tunnel east of Rafah where the confrontation took place, Lerner says.

“He was identified by his DNA,” he tells AFP, saying what they found proved he was dead, not being held by a militant group.

“There was enough to determine that he had been killed and to carry out a burial.”

Goldin’s death brings the death toll among Israeli soldiers to 64 since the start of hostilities on July 8, the heaviest since the 2006 war against Hezbollah.

More than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed, with UN figures indicating most were civilians.


State Dept. ‘appalled’ by UNRWA shelling

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf delivers an unusually strong condemnation of Sunday’s shelling near an UNRWA school in Rafah, saying that the US was “appalled” by the “disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school.”

The US statement notes that the school was, at the time, sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, and that “at least ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed.”

“The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces,” the statement emphasizes.

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (screen capture: Youtube)

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (screen capture: Youtube)

The State Department spokesperson said that “Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”

“UN facilities, especially those sheltering civilians, must be protected, and must not be used as bases from which to launch attacks,” Harf continues. “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”

Harf reiterates previous calls for “full and prompt investigations” of shelling at or around UNRWA facilities.

“We continue to underscore that all parties must take all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties and protect the civilian population and comply with international humanitarian law,” Harf concludes.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

‘We will not remove the blockade while Hamas rules Gaza’

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar says that the blockade on Gaza will remain as long as Hamas rules in the coastal strip, Ynet reports.

Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar in the Knesset, December 23, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar in the Knesset, December 23, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

‘I’ll recommend action against tunnels found after Gaza op’

Speaking to residents of the Gaza border region, GOC Southern Command Sami Turgeman says he will recommend military action against any tunnel found after the of Operation Protective Edge, Channel 2 reports.

He also says he will significantly improve defensive measures for communities near the Gaza border.

‘No date for end of Gaza operation’

IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz tells Channel 2 that there is no specific date for the end of the operation, and that Hamas is still trying to record achievements in the conflict.

“There are many troops inside the Strip. We are continuing to deal with the tunnel threat, we are close to achieving the goal.”

Moti Almoz (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

Moti Almoz (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

Footage of Liel Gidoni’s funeral

A mourner posts footage from the funeral of Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, who was buried Sunday at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. He was killed Friday morning near Rafah, along with Benaya Sarel and Hadar Goldin.

Most troops out of Gaza, says IDF

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, confirms that the bulk of ground troops have been pulled out of Gaza after the military concludes it had destroyed most of the tunnel network.

He says Israel has detected some 30 tunnels that were dug along the border for what he called a “synchronized attack” on Israel.

“We’ve caused substantial damage to this network to an extent where we’ve basically taken this huge threat and made it minimal,” he says. The army had thousands of troops in Gaza at the height of the operation.

— AP

UNRWA officials pan strike on school

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl, and its Gaza Director of Operations Robert Turner call Sunday’s strike on a school “incomprehensible.”

“We vigorously condemn today’s Israeli strike and find it incomprehensible that such violence has happened again, only four days since we carried out dead and wounded civilians who had sought refuge in a UN installation,” says a statement released by UNRWA.

“We again call on the Israeli authorities immediately to investigate this appalling incident in Rafah. We made two similar calls after the shelling incidents at our schools housing thousands of displaced people in Beit Hanoun and Jabalia, which caused multiple deaths and injuries. We fully expect the result of these three investigations to be transmitted to us.”

“International law requires that principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack must be taken into account by parties to a conflict to reduce civilian casualties; the frequency of these incidents increases the urgency to find out why this continues to happen and hold accountable those responsible. We echo the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate cease-fire. This is another urgent reminder that the people of Gaza need an end to this violence and a negotiated settlement that addresses so the underlying causes; instead of this being the third war, it must be the last.”

Israel says it fired on terrorists on motorcycles near the school, and that it is looking into the incident.

3 rockets hit Sdot Negev, no injuries reported

Footage of tunnel motorcycles, small arms

A video (in Hebrew) released by the IDF today shows forces from the Squad Commanders School removing motorcycles and assorted small arms from a tunnel in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian delegation presents truce demands to Egypt

The Palestinian delegation including Hamas presents its joint demands to Egyptian mediators in Cairo for a truce with Israel, including an end to the Gaza blockade, officials said.

The delegation, which includes members of president Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, met the Egyptian mediators earlier today even as Israel began pulling some of it forces out of Gaza.

The Palestinians, who met earlier to hammer out a joint position, agree on “a ceasefire; Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; the end of the siege of Gaza and opening its border crossings,” says Maher al-Taher, a member of the delegation.

The Palestinian demands also include fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast and the release of Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and Abbas, said Taher, a senior official with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Cairo is set to relay the demands to Israel, which balked at sending negotiators after Hamas breached a 72-hour truce moments after it began on Friday.

— AFP, Times of Israel staff

Hamas ‘expects’ Egypt to pressure Israel to accept truce demands

A Hamas member of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo for truce talks, Izzat a-Rishq, says he hopes the Egyptians will pressure Israel to meet the demands of the Palestinian side for a ceasefire and hopes for a positive outcome

Rishq says the delegation is set to meet with the head of the Egyptian Intelligence service tomorrow.

The demands include a ceasefire; Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; the end of the blockade of Gaza and the opening of its border crossings.

The Palestinian demands also include fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast and the release of Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

At least 7 killed in strike in Jabaliya, Palestinians say

At least seven people are killed in an air strike in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says.

Another 30 were injured in the strike that targeted a house, says Ashraf al-Qidra.

According to Channel 2, Hamas threatens to escalate the fighting against Israel in response.

French president says UN school shelling in Gaza ‘unacceptable’

French President Francois Hollande says the bombing of a UN school in Gaza was “unacceptable” and called for those responsible to “answer for their actions”.

In the statement sent to AFP, Hollande denounces the “unacceptable bombing of a school in Rafah run by the United Nations, which caused the death of at least 10 people who had taken refuge there”.

The French president did not say who he considered responsible for the attack, but backs calls by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “to ask that those responsible for this violation of international law answer for their actions”.

Responsibility for the attack has not yet been formally established. The Israeli army says it had targeted “three terrorists” from the Islamic Jihad group riding a motorcycle near the Rafah school and was examining the “consequences of this strike.”


Rocket explodes in open terrain in Sha’ar Hanegev; no injuries

Palestinian arrested in Jo’burg heavily armed at pro-Israel rally

The South African police department reports that it arrested a Palestinian man “for possession of unlicensed firearm outside Golf Club where Israel supporters gathered.”

According to the police spokesperson’s Twitter feed, “The man had a rifle, revolver, shotgun & 3 knives in his possession when arrested in Linksfield,” an area of Johannesburg. The police say the man didn’t have a license for the rifle, but gave no indication of whether the other firearms were registered.

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