The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Monday, the 28th day of Operation Protective Edge. Terror returned to Jerusalem Monday, as two attacks left a man dead and several more injured. After a humanitarian timeout, Israel resumed strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, while officials said they had finished destroying Hamas tunnels. Rocket fire on Israel continued throughout the day. The IDF death toll stands at 64. Gazan health officials put the death toll there at some 1,800. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters. (Tueday’s liveblog is here.)

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

Day 28 of Operation Protective Edge

PREAMBLE: Operation Protective Edge enters its 28th day, with the IDF redeploying its troops in and around Gaza, as it nears the end of its mission demolishing the 30-plus Hamas terror tunnels dug under the border.

Ceasefire talks are taking place in Egypt, but Israel isn’t there, having declared that it does not trust Hamas to honor any agreement. This, after Hamas breached a truce on Friday morning and killed three IDF soldiers, including Givati office Hadar Goldin, who was initially believed kidnapped. Goldin was laid to rest Sunday, at a funeral attended by some 15,000 people.

Meanwhile, Israel was slammed for allegedly striking a UNRWA school, killing 10; the IDF said it fired on terrorists on motorcycles near the school, and that it was looking into the incident. And Hamas was still firing dozens of rockets at Israel.

Horovitz on ‘an unavoidable war, unfinished’

ToI’s David Horovitz posts an op-ed, ‘An unavoidable war, unfinished,’ looking at both sides’ claims of success in the four weeks of bloody fighting. “But an endgame that leaves Gaza’s Islamist rulers capable of doing all this again, except worse, would be their biggest success of all,” he writes.

He writes:

The families of the bereaved were, without exception, noble in their indescribable pain. Heroic. “I loved him utterly,” said one bereaved father of his dead son, speaking to a TV reporter not long after he had received the worst news a parent can ever hear. “But I will not break,” he said tearfully, defiantly. “Our family will not be broken. Israel will not be broken.”

Relatives seen mourning during the funeral of corporal Meidan Biton at the Netivot Cemetery on July 29, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Relatives seen mourning during the funeral of corporal Meidan Biton at the Netivot Cemetery on July 29, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

And he adds:

We wait to see if Gazans will turn on Hamas for exploiting them in the way that it has — for ruining their lives, for getting them killed, while its leaders took shelter. The people of Gaza have been devastated by this war. At the same time, many of the people of Gaza firmly support Hamas. Will most Gazans prove willing accomplices in a renewed galvanizing of effort against Israel? One IDF general, describing a neighborhood in Gaza in which his soldiers were operating, said 19 of 28 homes had been utilized in one way or another by Hamas — booby-trapped, or used to store weapons or to conceal a tunnel opening. Did those 19 families choose to partner with Hamas, were they paid off, left no choice, or a mixture of all that and more?”

— Read the full piece here.

Bandaging the wounds you can’t see

Earlier Sunday, ToI’s Debra Kamin wrote a piece, headlined “How do you bandage the wounds you can’t see?” looking at the traumatic impact of the war.

Israelis in the Tel Aviv area take cover as a warning siren sounds, signaling an incoming rocket, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Israelis in the Tel Aviv area take cover as a warning siren sounds, signaling an incoming rocket, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

“The Israeli government is still calling the events in Gaza an operation, but for the homefront, it long ago spiraled into a war,” she notes. “The bloody toll in Gaza is horrifying; the loss, destruction and fear sowed among Israeli civilians is shattering. Every day brings more stories of fallen soldiers, their lives snuffed out in an instant of fire and utter injustice. Among the sunflower groves and sheep pastures near the Gaza border, a shovel’s scratching sound twists its way into dreams; in the coffee shops and boutiques of Tel Aviv, pedestrians jump or freeze at the wailing, siren-like sound of each passing motorcycle. The citizens of Israel know that their bodies are protected by the Iron Dome and by a military determined to finish the job. But what about their minds?”

— Read the full piece here.

Southern general says IDF to beef up defenses on Gaza border

GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman speaks to mayors of southern Israeli towns and says he’ll advise military action against any tunnels dug beneath the border with Gaza discovered after the completion of Operation Protective Edge.

“For every tunnel found in the future, I’ll advise a ground attack in Gaza,” the general is quoted by Channel 2 saying. Turgeman adds that “There’ll be a massive upgrade in security protection for residents of the southern area — both with more personnel deployed, and new physical components.”

The mayors said afterwards that he had indicated the IDF had some kind of new physical barrier in mind to help guard against the tunnels

According to Channel 10, Turgeman says all known tunnels penetrating Israeli territory will be destroyed within a couple of days, “but only those we knew about.” He notes that IDF troops will remain in the Gaza Strip after the tunnels are finished being destroyed and that Israel “will fire at any place from which [rockets] are being launched.”

Israel declares humanitarian truce for 10 a.m.

Israel declares a seven-hour humanitarian truce for Monday across the Gaza Strip, except for east Rafah. It is set to take hold at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai says that any violation of the truce will be met with immediate retaliation at the source of the fire.

Netanyahu says Gaza op will continue as long as needed

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Operation Protective Edge will continue until its objectives are obtained, namely the return of silence and security to residents of southern Israel, and dealing a significant blow to terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

He says that the IDF will prepare to continue operations as necessary even after the tunnels are destroyed. He adds that Hamas is interested in the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza and that the world will blame Israel for it. He reiterates that Israel is not directing its fire at civilians, and that it’s sorry for all unintentional harm caused to them.

Dubai police chief mocks Hamas, calls on it to halt rocket fire

Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim takes to Twitter bashing Hamas and calling for it to cease its launching of rockets at Israel “in vain.”

The policeman, who headed the investigation of the assassination of Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, writes “make the rockets devastating or do not launch them at Israel in vain,” according to a translation by Ynet.

He even mocks Hamas’s leadership for taking refuge in Qatar, far from the front in Gaza: “Allah helps opposition leader [Khaled Mashaal] who is staying in a seven-star hotel.”

French leader condemns strike near UNRWA school

French President Francois Hollande speaks about the strike near an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed 10 Palestinians, calling for those responsible for “this violation of international law” to be held accountable.

Hamas says Monday’s truce aims to ‘divert attention from Israeli slaughter’

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri responds to the IDF’s declaration of a seven-hour humanitarian truce on Monday, saying it’s a unilateral act which is designed to “divert attention from Israel’s acts of slaughter.”

“We don’t trust this truce and we call to our people to exercise caution,” he says.

Hamas lauds attacks on Israel, says no life more precious than Gazans’

Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades releases an oddly tensed statement in English in which it lauds strikes on Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Kiryat Malachi, though it’s not clear whether those are attacks it’s planning or have carried out.

The group says rocket attacks are a response against “Zionist massacres” and that “the enemy continue to try to cover its military failures by targeting Palestinian civilian [sic] in their homes and shelters.”

“If the enemy continues this criminal policy, all Zionist cities it will be targeted,” Hamas says. “No life is more precious than the lives of our dear people.”

Vice head of Islamic Jihad says war in ‘final quarter-hour’

Whereas Hamas strikes a defiant tone and says it will continue the fight against Israel, deputy head of Islamic Jihad Ziad Nakhleh says that “we’re in the final quarter-hour of the war, we must stand firm.”

Nakhleh, who’s participating in the talks in Cairo, says that the Islamic Jihad faction is optimistic about the talks among the Palestinian factions.

“All of the losses inflicted upon the Palestinians are the price of life with honor,” he says.

10 killed in Gaza airstrikes, Hamas says

Hamas’s Health Ministry says 10 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight. According to the Islamist group’s statistics, at least 1,822 Gazans have died since the commencement of Operation Protective Edge. Israel says hundreds of those killed are combatants.

Comparing it to Hitler, Erdogan says Israel ‘will drown in the blood they shed’

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounces Israel once again in a campaign speech delivered Sunday, accusing Israel of genocide and comparing it to Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler.

“They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country … They will drown in the blood they shed,” he says, according to a translation by Reuters.

Sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon region

Early morning sirens in its southern coastal cities break hours of overnight calm. There are no immediate reports of impacts or interceptions.

Islamic Jihad leader killed in Jabalya airstrike

The Islamic Jihad’s northern district commander in the Gaza Strip, Danyal Mansour, was killed in an Israeli strike on a house providing him shelter in the Jabalya refugee camp. Another six were killed and 30 injured, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say.

Israel Radio’s Gal Berger tweets a photo of Mansour, on the left.

Iron Dome downs first rocket of the day over Ashdod

Israel Radio reports that one rocket was intercepted en route to the port city of Ashdod moments ago. There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

2 rockets downed over Ashkelon

After sirens wailed once again in the southern city, Iron Dome is reported to have intercepted two incoming rockets from the Gaza Strip.

UN chief deplores wave of anti-Semitic attacks

The conflict in Gaza should not be an excuse for anti-Semitic slurs and attacks, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says.

Ban “deplores the recent upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in Europe, in connection with protests concerning the escalation of violence in Gaza,” reads a statement from the UN leader’s spokesman.

“The Secretary-General emphasizes that the conflict in the Middle East must not constitute a pretext for prejudice that could affect social peace and harmony anywhere.”

Ban “firmly believes that the conflict needs to be solved through an immediate cessation of violence and negotiations,” the statement reads.

France has been rocked in recent days by violent pro-Palestinian protests in and around Paris as Israel has mounted Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

Pro-Palestinian marches, sometimes with protesters chanting anti-Semitic slurs, have also been held in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere.


2 rockets fired at Ashkelon, one intercepted

The IDF reports two rockets were fired toward Ashkelon in recent minutes. One was intercepted by Iron Dome.

IDF recap shows 119 rockets fired at Israel Sunday

The IDF recaps Sunday’s fighting. 119 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. Eight were intercepted by Iron Dome, while 108 hit Israel. The remaining three likely fell inside Gaza.

The IDF struck 63 targets in Gaza on Sunday, and 24 overnight.

Israelis trust Netanyahu, oppose Gaza withdrawal

A survey cited by Channel 2 television news this morning shows that Israelis trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Gaza conflict, but dislike his latest decisions to withdraw some IDF troops and begin a deescalation of the fighting.

More than half, or 56 percent, of Israelis oppose the IDF’s current withdrawal of some of its troops from Gaza, while 35% support it.

Fully 73% of Israelis believe Israel’s deterrence has been hurt by the operation — perhaps a response to the current withdrawal while rocket fire continues — while just 22% say Israel’s deterrence is up.

While they disagree with his decision to begin pulling troops out of the Strip, a large majority of Israelis nevertheless say they are happy with Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict by a factor of 62% to 29%.

Jerusalem police arrest 12 for recent violent protests

The Jerusalem Police arrests 12 residents early Monday on suspicion of disorderly conduct over violent protests that took place throughout the city over the past few days.

Some 430 people, mostly Palestinians from East Jerusalem, have been arrested in the protests since July 3, Ynet reports. More than 150 indictments have been filed.

Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, July 3, 2014 (Photo credit: Thomas Coex/AFP)

Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, July 3, 2014 (Photo credit: Thomas Coex/AFP)

‘Disarmament not raised in Gaza ceasefire talks’

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahla, the group’s number-two, says that the issue of disarming the Gaza Strip has not come up in ceasefire talks in Cairo, and that the demand is in any case unacceptable to Palestinian factions in the Strip, Israel Radio’s Gal Berger says, citing a report in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram.

Palestinian factions are meeting with Egyptian intelligence officials in an effort to broker a ceasefire to a month of fighting. Israel was set to join the talks multiple times, but in the past week has said that due to Hamas’s violations of multiple ceasefires, Israel would no longer negotiate any agreement with Hamas.

Palestinians riot on Temple Mount

Masked Palestinian men riot this morning on the Temple Mount, throwing rocks and fireworks at police forces at the Mughrabi Gate as the holy site is opened to visitors.

The young men blockaded two entrances to the mount to keep the police from sealing the entrances themselves.

Police and Border Police forces pushed the rioters back into the mosque on the site.

Five police officers were lightly wounded in the skirmish, according to Israel Radio.

Police say the situation on the mount is under control.

Patriots owner lauds ‘patriot’ Max Steinberg

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sends a condolence letter to the family of IDF lone soldier Max Steinberg, who was killed in Gaza last month.

Max “represents the consummate patriot and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he made to keep our beloved Israel safe,” writes Kraft.

Sirens sound in Kerem Shalom

Sirens are sounding in Kerem Shalom after a morning of rocket barrages on Ashdod, Ashkelon and other southern towns and villages.

Egypt asks Israel to let Hamas, Jihad leaders into Gaza

The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reports that Egypt is discussing with Israel the possibility of allowing two senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials, Khalil Al-Hiye and Khaled Al-Batsh respectively, to return to Gaza from truce talks in Cairo without being targeted by Israel.

Palestinian officials at the truce talks have said that Israel’s decision not to attend the talks after Hamas’s latest break of the weekend ceasefire “doesn’t interest us, since we wouldn’t have met with [Israel] directly in any case,” Ynet reports.

Reporter posts Netanyahu, Peres letters to Steinbergs

LA Jewish Journal reporter Jared Sichel posts on Twitter photographs of the letters sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres to the Steinberg family after the death of their son Max Steinberg in the fighting in Gaza.

7 rockets launched at Eshkol region, none hurt

Seven rockets are launched from Gaza at Eshkol region. There are no reports of damage or casualties as rocket fire continues from Gaza this morning.

Some 40% of all rockets launched from Gaza since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8 fell in the relatively small area of the Eshkol Regional Council, according to figures reported today by Channel 2 news.

IDF counts 3,253 rockets fired from Gaza

The IDF counts 3,253 rockets fired from Gaza since the start of the latest round of fighting last month.

Israeli-announced ceasefire goes into effect

A ceasefire declared by the IDF for today goes into effect now, at 10 a.m. According to the IDF, Israel will hold its fire until 5 p.m. in order to allow Gazans some relief from the ongoing fighting between IDF troops and Hamas.

IDF warns ceasefire to end if Hamas keeps shooting

While it announced a ceasefire and is reportedly holding fire in the initial minutes of the ceasefire, the IDF says it will respond with force if Hamas insists on continuing to fire rockets at Israel in the coming seven hours.

A reminder of Hamas ceasefire demands

While Israel declares a one-sided ceasefire, Hamas insists that it will not observe the ceasefire. It continues to stand by a long list of demands before agreeing to end the fighting that has cost Gaza over 1,800 lives.

Journalist Dalia Hatuqa tweets those demands, which are being discussed with Egyptian and Palestinian representatives in Cairo today.

Jordan PM rejects recalling envoy in Israel

Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour rejects demands by some Jordanian parliamentarians and others to recall Jordan’s ambassador to Israel.

“Such a move does not benefit Jordan and does not benefit the Palestinian issue. The ambassador is there to serve the interests of residents of the West Bank, who can leave only through Jordan,” he said Sunday.

7 soldiers hospitalized overnight

7 IDF soldiers were hospitalized from overnight fighting in Gaza, the army reports.

All sustained light wounds, and were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Some have already been released to their homes.

According to the IDF, 122 soldiers are still hospitalized, ten with serious wounds, 22 with moderate wounds and 90 lightly hurt, Ynet reports.

Liberman: UN can take over Gaza

Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this morning, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman says the Gaza operation is not over, and suggests the UN could take over the Gaza Strip.

“What we have agreed to now, what we’ve decided, is an end to the stage of taking care of the tunnels,” he tells lawmakers in the committee, but clarifies, “there is no decision about ending the operation.”

Israel has “three clear options. First, an arrangement [apparently a reference to an agreed-upon ceasefire]. Second, defeating Hamas. Third, limbo, something unclear where we only respond to fire. The third option simply isn’t relevant.”

He then offers the suggestion that the UN oust Hamas as administrators of Gaza  and take over instead.

“We need to consider returning control over Gaza to the UN. I don’t rule out this option.”

Iran denounces UN for inaction on Gaza

In a speech this morning to the Palestine Committee of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounces the inaction of the UN Security Council in its response to the “slaughter” of Palestinians in Gaza.

“The savage aggression of the army of this child-killing regime [Israel] continues with a deliberate policy of genocide through killing civilians and destroying infrastructure, homes, medical centers, schools and mosques,” says Rouhani.

He denounces “the inaction of international bodies, in particular the [UN] Security Council, in preventing the Zionist regime’s crimes against humanity.”

— AFP and Times of Israel staff

Gazans say IDF strikes Shati camp, violating ceasefire

Hamas says IDF forces struck a house in the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, thereby violating Israel’s own self-declared ceasefire.

The strike, near the beachfront of Gaza City, is said to have wounded between 15 and 30 people.

There is no confirmation from the IDF about the strike.

Israel has said the ceasefire called for 10 a.m. would not include ongoing fighting in Rafah in southern Gaza, where IDF troops are continuing to hunt for tunnels that go under the border into Israel.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, in Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egyptian and other Palestinian representatives, says the alleged IDF strike “is proof the occupation lies and only announced the ceasefire for media purposes,” Israel Radio’s Gal Berger reports.

Wikileaks tweet shows US concern over Gaza blockade

Wikileaks tweets a 2009 confidential US diplomatic cable expressing concern that the blockade of Gaza was “crippling [Gaza’s] health sector.”

The cable summary reads:

Access to Gaza for goods through Israeli crossing points remains severely constrained. While there are adequate stocks of basic food items in Gaza, the lack of variety and continuing price increases are negatively impacting people’s health. A lack of medicine is crippling the health sector.

In the current fighting, Israel’s Health Minister Yael German has accused Hamas of rejecting truckloads of thousands of blood donations, including Palestinian blood donations, saying Hamas was working to worsen the humanitarian toll of the fighting on Gazan civilians in order to increase international pressure on Israel.

8-year-old girl said killed in IDF strike

An eight-year-old girl is killed in the IDF strike on the Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, Israel Radio’s Gal Berger cites Gaza health officials as saying.

Israel sending 3,000 pints of blood to Gaza

Channel 2 says Israel is sending medical supplies and 3,000 pints of blood into the Gaza Strip. The blood was donated by Palestinians in the West Bank. The report says that Israel offered the blood to Gaza officials three weeks ago but was turned down. Now that there is a serious shortage of blood supplies in Gaza hospitals the shipment is being transferred.

Hamas has ‘homemade’ sniper rifle — report

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports on Hamas claims that its fighters are using a “new model of sniper rifle manufactured in the Gaza Strip.”

The “homemade rifle” reportedly “uses 14.5 mm cartridges and has a maximum effective range of two kilometers, the [Sunday night] al-Qassam Brigades statement said. The rifle is named ‘Ghoul’ after the Brigades’ late military leader Adnan al-Ghoul.”

Ma’an notes that the Qassam rocket itself is a “homemade” weapon developed by Hamas in Gaza.

‘Erdogan makes most anti-Semitic comments since Hitler’

In a press release, the California-based Wiesenthal Center calls recent comments about Israel by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan an “anti-Semitic diatribe unmatched since Hitler and Goebbels.”

The press release reads:

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging President [Barack] Obama and other world leaders to repudiate Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, at a rally in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters, compared Israel’s military actions in Gaza to Hitler’s, saying:

“They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country … They will drown in the blood they shed…”

“These lines are the words of a modern day Goebbels who believes that if you repeat a lie often enough it will eventually be accepted as truth,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean.

“After such a diatribe we fear for the safety of the Jewish communities in Turkey and in Europe. His calumny is virtually a warrant to attack Jews everywhere,” they added.

“The entire world knows what Erdogan would do if thousands of rockets were fired at his cities,” they added.

“The time has come for President Obama and the world’s leaders to rein Erdogan in and repudiate his unadulterated anti-Semitism,” Rabbis Hier and Cooper concluded.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan weara a keffiyeh during a July 22, 2014 AKP party meeting as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people (photo credit: AFP/Adem Altan)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan weara a keffiyeh during a July 22, 2014 AKP party meeting as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people (photo credit: AFP/Adem Altan)

Sirens in Hof Ashkelon, breaking quiet stretch

US, Qatar renew efforts to forge their own truce proposal

Palestinian sources in Cairo reveal that the United States and Qatar have again renewed their attempts to reach understandings on a ceasefire, even as Palestinian factions meet Egyptian officials in Cairo to forge their own ceasefire proposal.

Officials suggest that the US-Qatari initiative slows and undermines the Egyptian efforts.

Representatives of the US administration are in Cairo, as is the Palestinian delegation that includes senior officials from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah.

Sources tell The Times of Israel that the Egyptian effort is focusing on convincing Hamas to first stop fighting on the basis of the understandings obtained after Pillar of Defense in 2012, then moving to a broader ceasefire.

These understandings also include demands on Israel to withdraw from Gaza, ease restrictions at the border crossings and allow the rehabilitation of Gaza.

The new Palestinian government would handle contacts between the sides over the border crossings, importing of goods, and the passage of businessmen into Israel and Gaza after the ceasefire takes effect.

Then, at a later stage, the sides would discuss other demands like the construction of a port and the opening of the Rafah crossing.

Avi Issacharoff

Rocket hits Hof Ashkelon, sirens in Gaza periphery

A rocket fell in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon area as sirens sound in the Gaza periphery.

Sirens are sounding in Kibbutz Saad and Kfar Aza.

Egypt destroys 3 more Sinai-Gaza tunnels

The Egyptian military says it destroyed three tunnels from Gaza into Sinai and destroyed captured motorcycles that were used by Islamist groups to attack Egyptian military posts in the peninsula.

According to Israel Radio, 11 operatives were killed in northern Sinai in a firefight yesterday with Egyptian forces.

Egypt has destroyed hundreds of tunnels leading from Gaza into Egypt, a move that led to drastic economic pressure on the Strip’s Hamas rulers and is thought by many analysts to be a key cause of Hamas’s decision to begin the latest round of fighting with Israel.

MK asks court to classify Gaza op as a war

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) petitions the High Court of Justice in a bid to have Operation Protective Edge formally recognized as a war.

The move would mean a significant increase in state benefits to hundreds of thousands of Israelis affected by the fighting in Gaza, including those not living in the immediate vicinity of the Strip.

Labor Party MK Nachman Shai, February 3, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

Labor Party MK Nachman Shai, February 3, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

The motion claims that the fighting affects Israelis throughout the country, and classifying it as a war would enable residents of rocket-hit cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere to claim compensation for related damages.

Also Monday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid formally classified Sderot as a “periphery town,” a move that extends certain tax breaks and other benefits to residents in the rocket-battered southern city.

IDF says Shejaiya is ‘terrorist stronghold’

The Shejaiya neighborhood in the central Gaza Strip is a “terrorist stronghold,” the IDF says on Twitter.

Shejaiya has seen some of the bloodiest battles in the monthlong fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Four wounded in IDF strike on central Gaza

Palestinians report four wounded, one of them moderately, in an IDF strike on a home in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Palestinian reports indicate the IDF has not stopped its strikes on targets in Gaza, despite Israel’s self-declared ceasefire which was said to be in effect until 5 p.m.

Ex-leaders pan Latin American Israel criticism

A group of former leaders from across the globe, including the former presidents of Peru and Uruguay, are lambasting the Latin American countries that recalled their ambassadors in Israel in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. In the process they issue a passionate defense of Israel’s Gaza policy.

“The manipulation of information in Latin America regarding the current conflict in Gaza not only intoxicates the citizens, but inspires wrong and reprehensible policies,” the former leaders say in an open letter.

The open letter is signed by former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo and former Uruguayan president Luis Alberto Lacalle, along with former Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi, former Spanish industry minister Carlos Bustelo, former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and others.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas (R) and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala shake hands after a joint press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 18, 2014 (photo credit: Pool/AFP Abbas Momani)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas (R) and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala shake hands after a joint press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 18, 2014 (photo credit: Pool/AFP Abbas Momani)

Over the last two weeks, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil have called in their envoys in Tel Aviv over what they said was Israel’s disproportionate military response to Hamas rocket fire.

“It’s certainly regrettable to see the Middle East immersed once again in another war, because all wars produce pain, destruction, and death. Mistakes inevitably take place and many innocent civilians end up paying the consequences of the decisions of those who do fight,” the former leaders say before listing, at great length, several reasons why Israel cannot be blamed for the current conflict.

The former world leaders appeal to all Latin American governments to return their ambassadors to Israel and “demonstrate your solidarity, not cheap demagoguery, with the one fighting to put an end to terror, but using all the restraint in the world — Israel.”

— Raphael Ahren

‘Sammy the Fireman’ goes to Gaza

Yedioth Ahronoth has the story — and touching photos — of an IDF reservist fighting in Gaza who took his two-year-old son’s toy figures with him as good luck charms.

“These figurines reminded me at every moment who I was fighting for,” the reservist says.

The reservist is identified only as Captain S., as the IDF does not allow the publication of the identities of soldiers below the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Captain S. has taken photos of the figures, including “Sammy the Fireman” and the lion from the movie “Madagascar,” at all stages of the fighting: standing on the back of a tank, at the staging grounds, and even inside Hamas-built tunnels his unit was tasked with locating and destroying.

Some of the photos can be found here:

IDF says Beit Hanoun residents can go home

The IDF notifies residents of Beit Hanoun, a city in the northern Gaza Strip, that they can return home starting at 2 p.m. today.

The IDF called on the residents to leave the city, which was a source of rocket fire at Israeli towns and saw a significant amount of fighting since the launch of the IDF’s ground offensive against Hamas on July 17.

Initial report of attempted terror attack in Jerusalem

A tractor driven by a Palestinian driver tries to run into a Jerusalem bus at the end of Shmuel Hanavi Street, near the Olive Tree Hotel, according to initial reports.

No one is hurt in the incident, though reports are still hazy on details.

The driver may have attempted to run over those waiting at the bus stop.

Bus seen overturned by tractor in J’lem terror attack

A bus was overturned by the tractor in the attempted terror attack in Jerusalem moments ago.

The bus was apparently empty at the time.

A policeman reportedly shot the tractor driver dead.

Bus in Jerusalem after it was overturned by a tractor in an apparent terror attack (screen capture: Channel 2)

Bus in Jerusalem after it was overturned by a tractor in an apparent terror attack (screen capture: Channel 2)

Police say all initial information points to a “nationalist crime,” a police term for a terror attack.

Police secure area of Jerusalem terror attack

Police forces have deployed to the area of the overturned tractor.

Conflicting reports on fate of J’lem tractor driver

There are conflicting reports on the fate of the Palestinian tractor driver who overturned an Israeli bus moments ago.

Some reports say the man was killed by a policeman who rushed to the scene. Other reports say he was evacuated by ambulance in critical condition.

The driver of the overturned bus sustained light wounds. No one else was hurt, as the bus was empty at the time of the attack.

Pedestrian critically hurt in J’lem terror attack

The critically wounded man in the terror attack in Jerusalem is not the terrorist, MDA CEO Eli Bin says.

The terrorist was shot and killed by a policeman and a Prisons Service officer who were near the incident. The critically wounded man, described by Bin as “a young man,” was apparently a pedestrian standing near the bus as it overturned. He is being treated by medics en route to hospital.

Photo of digger used in Jerusalem terror attack

Ynet publishes a photo of the digger used in the Jerusalem terror attack that critically wounded one pedestrian and lightly wounded a bus driver.

Channel 2 broadcasts footage of terrorist being shot

Channel 2 news has broadcast cellphone footage of the terrorist being shot by a policeman who rushed to the scene.

Video of Jerusalem terror attack

A cellphone video of the Jerusalem terror attack has been uploaded to YouTube.

The digger is shown immediately after overturning the bus, and the video captures the gunshots fired at the terrorist by a policeman and at least one other witness who rushed to the scene.

Pedestrian dies of wounds in Jerusalem terror attack

A pedestrian, 30, who was critically wounded in the terror attack in Jerusalem has died.

The pedestrian was apparently crushed by the tractor as it approached the bus.

There are no details immediately available about the identity of the terror victim.

Six are now reported wounded in the attack, in which a Palestinian driver of a tractor overturned a bus in Jerusalem before being shot dead by a policeman who rushed to the scene.

Sirens sound in Ashdod, Shfela as rockets fall

Sirens are sounding in the Ashdod, Hof Ashkelon and Shfela areas as rockets are fired at southern Israel from Gaza.

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

Jerusalem terrorist reportedly resident of E. Jerusalem

The terrorist killed in the Jerusalem terror attack an hour ago was a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, according to unconfirmed reports on Palestinian social media accounts. The man’s name is also being publicized, but The Times of Israel will wait until the identity is officially confirmed before identifying the man.

Police are not naming the terrorist, but say he worked at the building site nearby from which the digger was taken. Two policemen and a Prison Service officer from the Nahshon unit ran to the scene, says Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente.

The victim is Jewish, says Pariente.

“We are at the highest level of readiness” due to the fighting in Gaza, says the police chief.

Jerusalem terrorist named

The terrorist who killed one and injured six others in a Jerusalem terrorist attack earlier today is being identified by Palestinians on social media as Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.

Mayor praises policeman who stopped terror attack

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat praises the “resourcefulness” of the policeman who shot the terrorist and ended the terror attack in Jerusalem.

He points to “the resourcefulness of the policeman who rushed at the terrorist together with another two friends, two warriors.”

“First of all, we ask police officers and residents to stay alert and vigilant. This is a very tense time. This is true for all residents of Israel everywhere.”

Barkat noted that the policeman and two others “ran to the location [of the attack], took initiative. I’m very proud of them.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, on Jaffo street in the center of Jerusalem. September 02, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, on Jaffa Street in the center of Jerusalem. September 02, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Police investigate Jerusalem terrorist’s family

Police and other security services have launched an investigation into the family and possible terror ties of the East Jerusalem Palestinian who killed a pedestrian and overturned a bus in the city about an hour ago.

“From day one when the fighting started in the south, we knew we might see an incident like this of terrorism,” says Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch. “Two policemen from Police Headquarters [located in northern Jerusalem] and a policeman who was on a motorcycle nearby responded [as the attack was underway]. They reacted quickly, charged, killed him. That’s the response I expect from officers of the Israel Police,” Aharonovitch adds, echoing praise for the policemen who shot the terrorist that was heard earlier from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

“Their fast response saved lives,” he says.

Aharonovitch, in an interview televised on Channel 2 from the scene of the attack, declines to name the terrorist, but says “the entire family is being investigated. We’re going to find out if this was done independently, or if he’s part of a network. We have to check everything about him. It’s all being checked now.”

The terrorist was named by Palestinian sources as Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, and Aharonovitch hinted in the interview that Ja’abis may have been involved in a previous terror-related incident.

Contradictory Palestinian claims emerge on J’lem attacker

Some Palestinians, including the family of 19-year-old terrorist Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, who killed one and wounded six in Jerusalem earlier today, are arguing that the incident in which he ran over a Jewish pedestrian and overturned a bus with a digger was actually a car accident, and that he was then shot by policemen in cold blood.

Others, however, including Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV, are reporting the incident in glowing terms as an attack in solidarity with the beleaguered Palestinians of Gaza.

Hussam Badran, a senior West Bank Hamas operative released in the Schalit deal who now resides in Qatar, is one of the first to respond to the attack. He calls Ja’abis “a patriot” and insists, “We are all part of the same war, and will all be part of the same victory.”

Video shows Jerusalem terrorist overturning bus

A new video shows the actual overturning of the bus in the terror attack earlier today in Jerusalem.

Sirens in Hof Ashkelon, 1 rocket falls in Gaza

Sirens heard in the Hof Ashkelon region in the Gaza periphery as rockets are launched from the Strip.

One rocket reportedly misfires, falling inside Palestinian territory.

Photo of Jerusalem terrorist

A photograph emerges of Muhammed Naif el-Ja’abis, the terrorist who attacked a bus with an excavator vehicle today.

 Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis (screen capture: Channel 2)

Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis (screen capture: Channel 2)

Police evacuate bus full of Arab workers from scene of attack

Police evacuate a bus full of Arab men from the area of the terror attack in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reports, fearing for their safety as angry crowds gather at the scene.

Most of the men were apparently workers at the construction site from which the terrorist set out with the tractor to carry out the attack earlier.

Hundreds of people, most of them ultra-Orthodox residents of the area, are assembled near the overturned bus with some calling “Death to Arabs!”

Some policemen on horseback were also at the scene to deal with potential unrest.

Rocket fire rises after terror attack

Sirens are heard in Hof Ashkelon, Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Hanegev.

Channel 2 reports that rocket fire has intensified since the terror attack in Jerusalem two hours ago, with a possible link between the two.

Cousin of Jerusalem terrorist had house demolished 2 weeks ago

Security officials say the terror attack in Jerusalem today may have been a revenge attack, as the man’s cousin had had his house in East Jerusalem demolished two weeks ago.

That event, along with the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip and tensions in the West Bank, may have encouraged Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis to carry out the attack.

Channel 2 says Ja’abis is known to police for a previous security-related matter.

East J’lem driver of attacked bus: ‘Terrorist should go to hell’

The driver of the bus that was attacked and overturned in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem resident Nabli Abed Alhi, tells Channel 2 “the terrorist should go to hell.”

“I’m very distraught. He suddenly hit me and I understood that it was a terror attack,” 31-year-old Abed Alhi says.

“I’m very dazed at the moment,” he says. “I didn’t know what happend at first. I simply could have died. It was very frightening and the terrorist should go to hell.”

The terrorist, Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis from East Jerusalem, was shot and killed after the attack by two policemen and a Prison Service officer.

Possible shooting incident at Mount Scopus – Ch. 2

Channel 2 reports a possible shooting incident in the Mount Scopus area. Details forthcoming

Initial report: Israeli shot at Mount Scopus

An Israeli has been shot in the stomach in Mount Scopus, near the Hebrew University campus, Channel 2 reports.

One man seriously injured in Mount Scopus shooting

One man is being treated by medics in serious condition near the Hebrew University Campus in Mount Scopus, Channel 2 reports.

Initial reports are of a drive-by shooting, possibly by a motorcycle rider.

Police chase shooter of 20-year-old Israeli

Police say the man seriously injured in Mount Scopus is around 20 years old.

Security forces are searching for a motorcycle or moped rider who witnesses said shot the man and fled the scene.

Shooting victim rushed to hospital

The shooting victim is being rushed to Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus in serious condition, medics say.

The man was shot in the abdomen.

Possible security incident near Gaza border

Channel 2 reports a possible security incident near the northern Gaza border, in the Sha’ar Henegev region.

Security forces are being scrambled in the area, according to the report.

Mount Scopus shooting victim is IDF soldier

The young man shot in the abdomen and seriously injured in Mount Scopus is an IDF soldier, Channel 2 reports.

The soldier was apparently on a sidewalk near the Mount Scopus tunnel when he was shot, not far from the campus of the Hebrew University.

Officials at the university stress that the shooting occurred outside the campus, and that the campus remains safe and secure.

J’lem police chief: Shooting likely terror attack

Security officials are conducting a manhunt for the Mount Scopus shooter, and believe it is highly likely that it is a terror attack, Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente says.

Pariente says the soldier was “shot at close range by a man dressed in black.”

“He fired several shots and ran towards a motorcycle or moped nearby” and escaped, Pariente says. “A security guard fired at the motorcycle…apparently he didn’t hit it.”

Pariente says security forces are scouring the area for the shooter, “so far without results.”

“We are treating this at the moment as a terror attack with very, very high likelihood,” he says.

J’lem mayor: Be vigilant, continue daily life

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says the soldier seriously injured in the Mount Scopus shooting attack is in surgery at the moment and “as far as we understand the soldier arrived here conscious.”

Barkat says Israelis and especially Jerusalem residents must remain vigilant during this tense time “and no less important, continue with their daily lives.”

Disrupting Israeli life “is exactly what the terrorists are trying to do to us. We mustn’t give them that reward.”

Dozens riot in East Jerusalem

Several dozen people are rioting in East Jerusalem, in the Issawiya neighborhood, clashing with police forces and hurling rocks and firebombs.

Police are using nonlethal means to disperse the crowd.

France says Gaza may need ‘imposed’ solution

PARIS — France’s foreign minister is calling on the international community to impose a solution on Israel and Hamas, saying the warring sides have shown themselves unable to negotiate.

In an unusually strong statement Monday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says Israel’s right to security “does not justify the killing of children and the massacre of civilians.” France is closely allied with Israel, and Fabius’s statement is a rare direct criticism.

Gazans say the conflict, in its fourth week, has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, of whom Israel says many hundreds are combatants. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Fabius says a ceasefire, followed by a two-state solution, is needed and “should be imposed by the international community because, despite numerous attempts, the two sides have shown themselves to be incapable of concluding negotiations.”

— AP

Mortar hurts 2 soldiers, 31 rockets since 10 a.m.

Two soldiers are injured near the Gaza Strip when a mortar shell falls close to troops gathered near the border.

Sirens continue to be heard throughout southern Israel, as Channel 2 reports 31 rockets fired at Israel between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the seven-hour humanitarian window declared one-sidedly by Israel.

Hamas: Israel trying to wreck truce talks

Hamas accuses Israel of trying to scuttle truce talks in Cairo, saying the Jewish state refused to send negotiators to avoid questioning over the “escalating massacres” in Gaza.

“Whether the delegation comes or not… it will not run away from its responsibilities. The Palestinian people will pursue them at the ICC (International Criminal Court),” Ezzat al-Rishq says.

A Palestinian delegation, which includes members of Gaza’s Hamas rulers and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, agreed on Sunday to joint demands for a truce with Israel.

Members of the delegation handed the demands today to Egyptian intelligence chief Mohamed Farid Tohamy, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reports.

The Palestinian demands agreed to on Sunday include “a ceasefire; Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; the end of the siege of Gaza and opening its border crossings.” They have also demanded fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast and the release of Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and Abbas.

Al-Rishq says Egypt will “try to press Israel” to accept these demands and that eventually Israel “may change its position and send a delegation at the last moment.”


Police on heightened alert in Jerusalem

Police are on heightened alert in Jerusalem following today’s two attacks in the capital, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweets.

Netanyahu: Op goes on until no rockets fired

Operation Protective Edge will continue until no more rockets are fired on Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows.

“The campaign in Gaza continues,” he says after security consultations with the military leadership in the country’s south. “What is nearing conclusion is the IDF’s activity on the tunnels, but this operation will only be over when the calm and security returns to Israel’s citizens for an extended period of time.”

Israel has no intention of hurting civilians in Gaza, Netanyahu adds, claiming that it is Hamas that harms Gazans by preventing them from accepting humanitarian aid. “I think the international community should vocally condemn Hamas and demand, as we do, that Gaza’s rehabilitation be linked to its demilitarization.”

The prime minister is also meeting today with the heads of local councils which are under fire in the south.

–Raphael Ahren.

Britain to review arms exports to Israel

The UK will review its arms exports to Israel in light of its actions in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge, which have been heavily criticized by many in the international community as disproportionate, Reuters reports.

“We are currently reviewing all export licenses to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate,” a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron says.

“Clearly the current situation has changed compared to when some licenses will have been granted, and we’re reviewing those existing licenses against the current situation but no decisions have been taken beyond going back again and reviewing,” she adds.

Britain supplies Israel with components used in missiles and drones, and arms contracts are said to be worth over $13 billion.

Read the full story here.

IDF rules out security incident near Gaza

Security forces have ruled out a security threat near the Gaza border after going on alert status earlier, Channel 2 reports.

IDF forces had searched the area surrounding Israeli communities near the border with northern Gaza, but found nothing.

Ya’alon: We’ve set Hamas back 5 years

Israel “has set Hamas back five years” in its actions in Gaza, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says while visiting soldiers and communities in southern Israel.

“Hamas has so far paid a heavy price and should, along with Gaza residents, calculate whether this situation is convenient for them or not,” Ya’alon adds. “The IDF’s activity has taken Hamas back five years. It took them five years to build it all.”

“Right now the ball is in their court,” continues Ya’alon. “We are operating independently without any [negotiation] process. If they want a ceasefire, let them call us. The operation is not over until there is a full ceasefire.”

Hollande: Put an end to Gaza ‘massacre’

French President Francois Hollande calls the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza a massacre, calling for action to put an end to the fighting.

“When I see what is happening with the Christians in Iraq, the minorities in Syria, massacres every day. What is happening too in Gaza, massacres…. We have to act,” Hollande says, as he attended ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

More than 1,800 people have been killed in Gaza, according to health officials in the Hamas-run Strip. Israel says many of those have been combatants.


IDF resumes airstrikes in Gaza as truce ends

The Israeli military has resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip after a one-sided “humanitarian window” — declared by Israel between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. — ended, Channel 2 reports.

Parents of ‘hero’ officer who chased Goldin’s attackers into tunnel say he does not seek praise

The formerly American parents of an IDF officer who rushed into a terror tunnel in the Gaza Strip to pursue Hamas terrorists as they tried to abduct the body of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin say he is a modest, highly driven young man.

They add that he does not consider himself a hero, and is ill at ease with the high level of media attention his actions have brought on.

Susan and Simcha and their son Eitan, in Channel 2's studio on Monday August 4, 2014. (Screen capture illustration: Channel 2)

Susan and Simcha and their son Eitan, in the Channel 2 studio on Monday, August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Screen capture Channel 2)

The officer, identified by the army only as Lt. Eitan, was with the team that was attacked Friday in the southern Gaza city of Rafah by a suicide bomber and several gunmen. The attackers killed three soldiers — including Goldin — and escaped with the latter’s remains into the tunnel from which they had sprung.

Eitan, Yedioth Ahronoth reported today, took several soldiers and pursued the gunmen into the tunnel for hundreds of meters, against army regulations. The gunmen got away, but he found remains that helped the military rabbinate declare Goldin’s death and allowed Goldin to be brought to burial on Sunday.

“It’s very hard for him now,” Eitan’s mother, Suzi, tells Channel 2. “He feels that the story is that of the soldiers who were killed and not of himself. It was important for him to stress that the heroism was with his soldiers and officers — and not with him.”

Eitan’s father, Simcha, says he believes his son acted on instinct when rushing into the tunnel.

“We know him, we know Eitan. I suppose he found himself in a situation in which he had to make a decision in a split second… and that’s what he did,” surmises Simcha.

The two described their family as “religious, normal.”

“We taught our children that it is very important to give back to the community,” Simcha says. “All along, Eitan wanted to be a combat soldier, wanted to give back… to give all that he can.”

Tel Aviv police search for possible terror suspect

A large number of police forces are conducting searches at the Tel Aviv Port for a man who allegedly said he intends to commit a terror attack, Ynet reports.

Police call on the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

Egypt tells Hamas: First stop firing, then discuss terms

Egypt is sticking by its terms for a ceasefire in Gaza, Channel 2 reports, telling a Palestinian delegation in Cairo that Hamas must first agree to a three-day truce with Israel without conditions, and only then can the terms of a long-lasting ceasefire be discussed.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said earlier that “the Egyptian proposal provides for a ceasefire by both sides, so that both sides can send delegations” to Egypt, where Egypt “can help broker” terms for a stable deal.

AFP reported earlier that the Palestinian delegation, which includes members of Hamas as well as the Palestinian Authority, had handed in its demands for a ceasefire to Egyptian officials.

The demands include “a ceasefire; Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; and the end of the siege of Gaza and opening its border crossings.” They have also insisted upon fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast and — as demanded by Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abbas — the release of certain Palestinian prisoners.


Israel completes tunnel mission in Gaza

Israel says it has completed one of the main objectives of its offensive in Gaza: the destruction of the attack tunnel infrastructure.

“The IDF has completed the work of neutralizing the tunnels,” an officer in the military’s Southern Command tells Walla News, “and is redeploying in strong, defensive positions inside the Palestinian territory.”

Tel Aviv: Man calls police, says he planned terror attack

More details on police searches in Tel Aviv:

Haaretz reports that a man called the police in Tel Aviv and said he had intended to carry out a terror attack, but that he’d changed his mind and wanted to go back home to his mother. He then hung up the phone without giving any further details.

Egypt, Hamas: Truce may be declared within hours

Egyptian officials, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials, say a ceasefire could be declared in Gaza within hours, according to various media reports.

Sirens in south, three rockets intercepted

Rocket sirens sound in the Hof Ashkelon, Eshkol and Sdot Negev regions.

Three rockets are intercepted above Netivot. Other rockets fall without causing harm.

In south, leaders say operation to go on

The four chief architects of Operation Protective Edge — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman — are touring southern Israel, saying Israel will continue to act against Gaza terrorists for as long as needed.

Netanyahu announces that, while the work on the tunnels is coming to an end, the operation will continue until, as promised, sustained calm is restored to the people of Israel. He praises the army for its work. He also stresses that the world should condemn Hamas for bringing a disaster upon the people of Gaza, and speaks of the imperative to link the rehabilitation of Gaza to its demilitarization.

Ya’alon says: “Right now, the Southern Command is finishing detecting and destroying the tunnels.” He adds that the IDF “is preparing for the next missions, as needed.”

The defense minister adds that “to our sorrow, we’ve paid a heavy price,” referring to the 64 soldiers who have been killed throughout the fighting in Gaza.

Turgeman confirms that “the destruction of the tunnels is being completed in the next few hours… the territory is largely neutralized.”

Gantz also stresses that “the operation is not yet finished,” adding that the soldiers’ performance has been “excellent.”

Hungarian town hangs effigies of ‘Jewish terrorist’ leaders

The mayor of a town in eastern Hungary held an event, hanging effigies of the prime minister and former president of Israel to protest the war in Gaza.

Mihaly Zoltan Orosz, who has been mayor of Erpatak since 2005, tells The Associated Press that the “Jewish terror state” is trying to obliterate the Palestinians and says he opposes “the efforts of Freemason Jews to rule the world.”

Hungary’s Foreign Ministry condemns the mayor’s actions, saying he is using innocent victims of the war “to spread hate-inducing propaganda.”

An online video of Saturday’s event shows an executioner, with a black hood over his face, kicking chairs out from under the puppets of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres, each tied to a gallows.

— AP

Victim of J’lem excavator attack: Avraham Walz, 29

The victim of today’s terror attack in Jerusalem, who was killed when a construction excavator driver ran him over before attacking and overturning a bus, has been identified as 29-year-old Avraham Walz, a father of five.

HRW accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza

Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of killing civilians as they attempted to flee a stricken neighborhood of Gaza, in what it says amounts to a war crime.

“Israeli forces in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a fired on and killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war in several incidents between July 23 and 25,” says the New York-based watchdog.

“Deliberate attacks on civilians who are not participating in the fighting are war crimes.”

The group says civilians faced “grave dangers” in Khuza’a, including repeated shelling, lack of access to medical care, and coming under attack from the Israelis as they attempted to flee to nearby Khan Younis.

The report points out that, although Israeli forces had warned people to leave Khuza’a prior to July 21, “the failure of civilians to abide by warnings does not make them lawful targets of attack.”


UK National Union of Students adopts BDS

Britain’s National Union of Students has voted to adopt a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, the Jewish Chronicle reports.

Under this policy, student unions across the UK can “impose sanctions on Israel and support campaigns to boycott Israeli products on their university campuses.”

The Union of Jewish Students attacks the decision, with a spokesperson saying the policy “will only divide student groups, undermine interfaith relations and suffocate progressive voices for peace on both sides.”

Senior officials: Truce declaration within hours

Senior negotiators tell The Times of Israel that Palestinian factions are set to announce a 72-hour truce in the Gaza Strip within the next few hours.

Palestinian sources tell ToI the offer has been conveyed to Israel.

Diplomatic officials tell Channel 2 that Israel will consider accepting such an unconditional truce, if it is indeed announced.

— Avi Issacharoff and Times of Israel staff

Leaked call to police by suspected terrorist

An audio file leaked on Twitter is reported to be a recording of a call placed to the police hotline of a man who allegedly said he intends to commit a terror attack in the Tel Aviv area.

In the recording, the man first asks whether the operator speaks Arabic. Then, when answered in the negative, the caller proceeds to explain, in broken Hebrew, that he is from Hebron, but is currently in Tel Aviv.

He says that he is carrying explosives and had planned to set off a bomb in the city, but immediately adds that he’d changed his mind. He commented that “I have a lot of paraphernalia on my body, and I don’t know what to do” and that all he wanted to do was go back home. He says his mother had urged him not to carry out the attack. When asked where he is located, the man responds, in Arabic, that he is not sure. He repeats that he cannot say where he is and finally hangs up several seconds later.

A police spokesman tells The Times of Israel that security forces are conducting searches in Tel Aviv. He adds that police have tightened security throughout the city, but that he cannot confirm if the recording is genuine.

Police also call on the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.

100 rockets fired at Israel so far today

Amid renewed talk of a ceasefire, almost 100 rockets have been fired into Israel so far today. There were four Iron Dome intercepts in the south, including over Sderot and Netivot, in the past two hours, Channel 2 reports.

It also quotes UN figures that put the Gaza death toll at 1,777 — of whom 1,242 are civilians. Channel 2’s Roni Daniel, by contrast, says the IDF believes “about half of the dead” are combatants.

Readiness upped over attack fears ahead of ceasefire

Security forces have drastically ramped up preparedness as reports come in of a possible ceasefire in the next few hours, Channel 2 reports.

Officials fear terrorists will use the last hours before the ceasefire goes into effect to launch large volleys of rockets at Israel, or they may try to infiltrate into southern communities to carry out attacks.

The hours before ceasefires have, in the past, seen an uptick in hostilities, as combatants try to get in their last licks before laying down their arms.

According to Channel 2, a 72-hour ceasefire brokered in Egypt will be announced in the coming hours and go into effect Tuesday morning.

Hadar Goldin’s parents talk of accepting son’s death

The parents of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin say that, after being presented with convincing medical evidence, they accepted that their son was killed in Gaza — even though Israel does not possess his whole body.

“I wanted a second opinion,” says Leah Goldin, of the conversation Saturday night when the IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz told the family their son Hadar — feared kidnapped in Gaza on Friday morning — was dead. “And as I heard myself saying the words, I realized how impossible that was.”

The two are being interviewed by Channel 2 News.

Leah says she was assured by Peretz as well as by the military pathologist, who “gave us the medical information that showed he was not alive.”

“The meeting was very difficult,” Father Simcha Goldin says. Leah adds, “The children didn’t want to believe it, they lashed out a bit.”

The parents add that the army had promised to continue making efforts for their son, not elaborating but perhaps referring to retrieving the rest of Hadar’s body.

Simcha praises the fellow Givati officer, Lt. Eitan, who dashed into the tunnel to try to thwart the gunmen who had seized Hadar, and who found the materials and remains that enabled the experts to certify Goldin was dead. “That’s the quality of camaraderie… He risked his life. He knew what was waiting [in the tunnel].”

Leah says their children had wanted Eitan to come to the funeral and help carry Hadar’s casket, but he was still inside Gaza.

The two add that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called them before the funeral to express his condolences. “It was a very emotional call,” admits Leah, adding that the premier spoke with Hadar’s twin brother, Tzur, who was broken after receiving the news, “as a bereaved brother [himself].”

Netanyahu lost his brother Yonatan in the 1976 Entebbe Operation to rescue Israeli hostages in Uganda. 

CNN reporter says Mashaal more confident than ever

CNN correspondent Nic Robertson, who conducted an interview with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal several days ago, says the man hardly seems defeated and is perhaps even more confident than in the past, in spite of Israel’s claims that Hamas has suffered massive damage in the Gaza Strip.

“He doesn’t seem to be a man on his knees at the moment,” Robertson tells Channel 2, adding that he is “even more confident, maybe” than he has seen him in the past.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal addresses the crowd during a rally at the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, Syria, on Friday Nov. 5, 2010. (photo credit: Bassem Tellawi/AP)

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (photo credit: AP/Bassem Tellawi)

“You get the sense that [people around Mashaal] feel that the high civilian death toll is bringing for them more international pressure [on Israel] that favors them,” Robertson adds. “Mashaal himself says, ‘Look, we’re not trying to get a high civilian death toll.’ But talking to the people around him, you get that impression.”

Still, Robertson noted that Mashaal knew that support for Hamas among the Gaza populace could drop due to the mounting casualties.

“My sense is that this is a man who’s concerned… and he also fundamentally believes that what the people of Gaza are going through, under Hamas leadership, is something that they would want to go through” if it led to an improvement of their condition.

State of alert lifted in Tel Aviv

The state of alert declared in Tel Aviv earlier over fears of a suicide bomber loose in the city has been lifted, though it is unclear whether police have concluded that the call, which led to the concerns, was a hoax.

In the call to the police, a man with an Arabic accent said he was in Tel Aviv and had intended to carry out an attack, but had changed his mind. He then hung up.

Soldier still in serious condition

The soldier injured in a shooting attack in Jerusalem hours ago is still in serious condition, Channel 2 reports. The soldier, whose name has not been released, just underwent surgery, at least his second since the incident at around 4 p.m.

IDF map shows terror infrastructure in Shejaiya

The IDF releases a map detailing the vast terror infrastructure in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya, which was the scene of heavy fighting and many casualties during the first days of combat in the Gaza Strip.

A map distributed by the IDF depicts terror infrastructue in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya (Photo credit: IDF)

A map distributed by the IDF depicts terror infrastructue in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya. (photo credit: IDF)

Egypt: All sides agree to truce

An Egyptian official tells AFP that Israel, as well as the Palestinian factions, has agreed to a 72-hour truce, starting Tuesday.

Palestinians sources tell the media the truce is set to begin at 8 a.m.

Top Islamic Jihad commander killed in strike

The Shin Bet says a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist was killed and another injured this morning in an airstrike in the Shati refugee camp.

Ibrahim Masharawi, a battalion commander, was killed in the attack. Amar Arhim, the deputy commander of the terror group’s Gaza Division, was seriously injured. 

Israel says ‘no comment’ on truce

Officials at the Prime Minister’s Office decline to comment on reports that Israel has agreed to a 72-hour truce, beginning tomorrow morning.

— Raphael Ahren

Palestinian officials confirm truce at 8 a.m.

The Palestinian delegation to Cairo — which includes representatives of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions — tells Egypt this evening that it accepts its offer for a 72-hour truce, beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow, senior officials in the delegation tell The Times of Israel.

The officials say the Egyptians have made it clear that Israel has agreed to the offer in principal.

They note that the agreement began as a request for a 24-hour truce to allow the head of the Red Cross to visit the Strip, and was then expanded to 72 hours, with the option of a further extension.

Furthermore, during the 72-hour period, an Israeli security delegation is expected in Cairo to negotiate the terms of a long-lasting ceasefire with the Palestinian delegates. The Palestinian demands include the opening of crossings and the release of prisoners. Israel will also present its demands during these talks.

— Avi Issacharoff

ICRC president on way to Gaza, Tel Aviv

Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is en route to the region in order to inspect damages caused during the IDF’s ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reports.

Maurer will also meet with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv, as well as employees and volunteers from the Red Crescent.

Israel agrees to 72-hour ceasefire

An Israeli diplomatic source says Israel has agreed to a 72-hour Egyptian ceasefire offer beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Israel insisted that the ceasefire, based on an Egyptian proposal, be without any preconditions.

According to the source, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was waiting until all Hamas tunnels were destroyed before agreeing to the truce, which can be extended. Earlier in the day, IDF officials said they were destroying the last tunnel.

The decision was made by Netanyahu, who notified the members of the security cabinet, the source said.

An Israeli delegation is heading to Cairo in order to finalize the agreement and kick off talks for a long-term deal.

An Israeli official stresses that the army will respond forcefully if the ceasefire is broken. As long as the ceasefire is holding, there is no need for an IDF presence in Gaza, the source says.

Earlier, Egyptian officials said Hamas and other Palestinian factions agreed to the ceasefire.

Raphael Ahren

IDF will remain in Strip during ceasefire

IDF soldiers will remain deployed in the Gaza Strip during the 72-hour ceasefire, set to begin Tuesday at 8 a.m., Channel 10 reports.

The forces will continue to operate in order to uncover tunnels in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Tanks being moved from Gaza back up north

Several vehicles carrying IDF tanks are making their way up north from the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reports.

Police say the vehicles will move mainly on Highway 6 and will be escorted by Military Police officers. Drivers are urged to avoid parking on the side of the road and to exercise caution.

“We are talking about heavy vehicles, whose width exceeds the width of the roads and sometimes, when going uphill, even if it is a moderate hill, their speed decreases significantly,” a police spokesman says. “The major speed differences between tank carriers and other vehicles, combined with their deviation from lanes, create a real danger to human life,” he adds.

UN General Assembly to hold hearing on Gaza op

The UN General Assembly will hold a special hearing Wednesday in order to discuss the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip. A spokesperson for General Assembly President John Ashe announces that representatives from 193 members states will take part in the hearing, in response to a request by several Arab countries, Ynet reports.

UN members will be briefed by human rights chief Navi Pillay, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees Pierre Krahenbuhl, deputy humanitarian chief Kyung-wha Kang, and Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, according to AP.

Official says ceasefire is a great achievement

A senior Israeli official says the acceptance of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal is a great achievement for the Jewish state.

“We have pushed for the Egyptian outline since the first week of fighting,” the official says, according to Walla.

‘Gaza demilitarization only when occupation ends’

Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Palestinian delegation currently discussing a ceasefire in Cairo, says the Palestinians will consider the option of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip only once “the occupation ends,” Ynet reports.

Ahmad is a member of the Fatah faction, one of several Palestinian factions taking part in the ceasefire talks.

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