The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Saturday, August 16, the 40th day of Operation Protective Edge. A five-day truce began amid rocket fire midnight Wednesday, but held through Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Friday an Egyptian newspaper published details of Cairo’s 11-point ceasefire offer, and Hamas leaders rejected it on Saturday. Negotiators are due back in Cairo Sunday. (Sunday’s liveblog is here.)
You can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.
Day 40 of Operation Protective Edge
PREAMBLE: Day 40 of Operation Protective Edge finds a five-day truce, begun at midnight Wednesday, still holding.
Egyptian media published an 11-point ceasefire proposal — detailed here.
Israel’s security cabinet met Friday, but didn’t issue a statement. And there’ve been mixed signals from Hamas over Cairo’s proposed terms.
The reported 11 clauses of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal
Earlier Friday, the Egyptian newspaper al-Shorouk published what it says are the 11 clauses of the ceasefire deal Egypt has proposed to Hamas and Israel, as reported by Channel 2:
- Israel will halt all attacks on Gaza — by land, air or sea. There will be no ground incursions into Gaza.
- All Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop all attacks against Israel by land, air or sea, and will stop the construction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel.
- The opening of crossings between Israel and Gaza – the passage of people and goods will be allowed in order to rebuild Gaza. The transfer of goods between Gaza and the West Bank will be permitted, according to principles which will be determined between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
- Israeli authorities will coordinate with the PA all issues of funds related to Gaza and its reconstruction.
- The elimination of the buffer zones along the security fence in the northern and eastern Gaza Strip and the deployment of PA forces in those areas beginning January 1, 2015. This will be conducted in several steps: At first the buffer zone will be reduced to 300 meters from the border, then 100 meters and finally the removal of the buffer zone altogether with the deployment of PA troops.
- The fishing zone off the Gaza coast will immediately be extended to 6 miles, and will be gradually extended to 12 miles, in coordination between Israel and the PA.
- Israel will assist the PA in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed in Gaza, and will assist in providing basic necessities for those Gaza residents who were forced to flee their homes due to the fighting. Israel will provide medical aid to the wounded, and will expedite the transfer of humanitarian aid and food through the crossings.
- The Palestinian Authority in coordination with Israel and international aid groups will provide the basic products needed to rebuild Gaza, according to a predetermined schedule which will allow those driven from their homes to return as soon as possible.
- Egypt implores the international community to provide swift humanitarian and monetary assistance for Gaza’s reconstruction, according to a set schedule.
- Upon the stabilization of the ceasefire and the return to normal life in Gaza, the sides will conclude their indirect negotiations in Cairo within a month after signing the deal. The exchange of prisoners and bodies will also be discussed at that time.
- The possibility of constructing an airport and sea port in Gaza will be considered in accordance with the Oslo accords and other previous agreements.
According to the report, both sides are now considering the Egyptian proposal.
An Israeli official told Channel 2 in light of the newspaper report that Israel had yet to agree to any offer. “Israel insists that any understandings reached must clearly serve Israel’s security interests,” the source said.
Israel said preparing with Egypt for possible talk collapse
Israel is conducting talks with Egyptian officials to prepare for the possibility of ceasefire talks in Cairo failing, Channel 2 reported late Friday.
The talks are being conducted independently of the official negotiations with Palestinian factions, due to what some sources say are the ongoing wide gaps between the sides.
Foreign Ministry welcomes EU call to disarm Gaza terrorists
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor praised the European Union’s call to disarm Gaza’s terrorist groups and prevent illegal arms flows late Friday.
“Just like EU ministers, Israel attaches great importance to the Egyptian initiative aimed at securing a stable, long-term ceasefire,” Palmor said in a statement.
Palmor added that the demilitarization of the Palestinian enclave “will ensure a change of the situation [in Gaza] at its core.”
Schumer calls for Schabas’s removal, winning Jewish leaders’ praise
Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Friday urged the UN Human Rights Council to remove William Schabas as head of the probe into the recent Gaza conflict, citing his past comments against Israel which the senator says rules him out as a fair judge of the war.
Schumer added that if Schabas is not removed, the US should halt its funding of the UNHRC as well as any participation in it.
Jewish leaders are applauding the senator’s stance, with the heads of the Conference of Presidents, Robert G. Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein, saying they too have urged UN chief Ban-ki Moon to reconsider Schabas’s appointment.
“We hope that the House and Senate will join and follow Senator Schumer’s lead in communicating their opposition to Schabas having a continuing role in any investigation of the Gaza conflict,” the Conference leadership said.
Hamas admits intimidating foreign press who reported wrong ‘message’
Earlier Friday, ToI reported that a Hamas official had inadvertently acknowledged that the group strong-armed journalists in Gaza into a reporting style that suited its narrative, keeping many under surveillance and kicking out of the territory those who sought to film the launching of rockets at Israel.
In an interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV on Thursday, relayed and translated Friday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the head of foreign relations in Hamas’s Information Ministry, Isra Al-Mudallal, complained that “the coverage by foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip was insignificant compared to their coverage within the Israeli occupation (Israel).”
“Moreover,” she said, “the journalists who entered Gaza were fixated on the notion of peace and on the Israeli narrative.” She asserted that the foreign press was focused “on filming the places from where missiles were launched. Thus, they were collaborating with the occupation.” (The Israeli army said last week that 600 of the 3,300 rockets fired into Israel over recent weeks were launched from residential areas, including schools, mosques and homes.)
“These journalists were deported from the Gaza Strip,” al-Mudallal said. “The security agencies would go and have a chat with these people. They would give them some time to change their message, one way or another.
“We suffered from this problem very much,” she added. “Some of the journalists who entered the Gaza Strip were under security surveillance. Even under these difficult circumstances, we managed to reach them, and tell them that what they were doing was anything but professional journalism and that it was immoral.”
On Monday, the Foreign Press Association, an umbrella group representing foreign journalists working in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, had issued a strongly worded condemnation of Hamas’s intimidation tactics and its interference with their reporting in Gaza.
Hundreds mourn AP journalist killed in Gaza
Several hundred mourners pack the ornate cathedral of this hilltop Tuscan town today to remember Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli as a committed storyteller who found personal and professional contentment in the Middle East.
An image of Camilli, leaning pensively over the balcony of the AP office in Gaza with smoke billowing behind him, stands near the simple unfinished wooden casket that accompanies his body back to Italy, and which his family chose to retain in deference to his preference for simplicity.
“You might think he was a thrill-seeker. Simone wasn’t one of those,” says friend and AP colleague Chris Slaney. “His best work was filmed far from the front lines. He was proud of items which were simple, human stories well-told.”
Video images made by Camilli are projected in the cathedral complex in Pitigliano, and mourners streaming to the funeral Mass were visibly moved as they pause to watch.
AP chief executive Gary Pruitt, speaking outside the cathedral, lauds Camilli’s commitment “to tell the human side of the story in a war” during nearly a decade with AP.
Camilli was killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip when leftover ordnance believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up. Also killed was freelance Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash, who was buried yesterday. Four police engineers also died in the explosion and AP photographer Hatem Moussa was among three people badly wounded.
— The Associated Press.
Israel weighs how to deal with UN war probe
With the Gaza war seeming to have calmed, Israel is now preparing for its next big battle: a diplomatic and legal challenge over Palestinian civilian deaths in its campaign against Hamas militants.
Facing a United Nations war crimes commission it accuses of bias, Israel must decide whether to cooperate and present its case or boycott the inquiry entirely.
Neither option is especially appealing. Israel believes that a stinging indictment from the United Nations Human Rights Council is all but guaranteed and that dealing with the body would give it undue clout. On the other hand, it is also wary of slighting the UN and appearing guilty by abstention.
Israel is convinced it won’t get a fair hearing, particularly after the appointment of Canadian law professor William Schabas as the panel’s head. Schabas is a longtime critic of Israel and has said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres should be indicted for war crimes.
“You can’t go into any kind of legal proceeding when the judge and jury have decided you are guilty before you have even walked into the courtroom,” says Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN who is now an adviser to Netanyahu. Gold says he opposes cooperating with the panel.
However, Frances Raday, a professor emeritus in international human rights law at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, says Israel has more to lose than gain from boycotting the panel. Writing in the Ynet news site, she says the Goldstone experience backfired and Israel would be better served by pressing its case.
“Israel has too much to lose by not maximizing its opportunities to present the evidence it has and prove its efforts of avoiding disproportionate harm to Gaza civilians,” she writes.
— The Associated Press
Mixed signals from Hamas on Egypt’s proposal
The Hamas leadership was meeting in Qatar Friday to discuss Egypt’s long-term ceasefire proposal, and there were conflicting reports over whether it would accept the deal (and no comment on the terms from Israel).
AP late Friday quoted an unnamed Hamas official saying the radical Islamist organization was inclined to accept the Egyptian-mediated offer. It said the group had all but accepted the terms and was currently finalizing the wording. This, even though the official acknowledged that the proposed terms gave Israel “the upper hand.”
But Israel’s Channel 2, quoting Hamas sources Friday night, said the Egyptian offer “doesn’t give Hamas a thing,” and that while most other Palestinian factions were inclined to accept it, Hamas — under the Qatar-based political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal — was not.
The Egyptian proposal speaks of lifting the Israeli and Egyptian security blockade on Gaza, imposed after the Islamist terror group seized control of Gaza seven years ago to prevent Hamas importing more weaponry. But any such easing of restrictions would apparently be overseen by Israeli and Egyptian forces on their sides of Gaza’s borders, and by the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas on the Gaza side. The PA — which Hamas ousted violently from Gaza in 2007 — would also play a dominant role in the reconstruction of post-conflict Gaza.
The Egyptian formula also pushes off negotiations on the opening of a Gaza seaport and airport — key Hamas demands in recent weeks.
Northern community wants to keep Arabs out
Residents of a town in northern Israel cause controversy by saying they want to keep Arabs out of the ecological Galilee community they are establishing nearby.
According to a report by Hamakom, the residents, who live in Gan Ner, on the slopes of the Gilboa, object to a local Arab doctor’s decision to purchase land in nearby Nurit, a newly-founded community populated by Gan Ner residents.
The controversy erupts after one of the members of the community draws the attention of the other members to the fact that the doctor, Ali Zoabi, who works in Gan Ner, had purchased the land.
On Gan Ner’s Facebook page, he shares a photo of the physician’s son waving a Palestinian flag in front of the Eiffel Tower.
“Do you know him? There’s no way you don’t,” the man writes. At first, the other members of the community react with confusion. But when the original poster reveals the boy’s identity, many echo his sentiments, with one member even suggesting that the teen may have spray-painted a swastika at the entrance to Gan Ner.
“Let him go back to Gaza,” says one member, while another suggests Zoabi should not be allowed to treat children. Others, however, praise the doctor and urge the community not to judge him or his 13-year-old son over a photo posted “probably without giving it too much thought.”
“We must strive to preserve the coexistence on the Gilboa,” says a resident.
Hamas tunnels captured on Lebanese TV
A Lebanese news channel has captured footage of Hamas fighters inside the tunnels that criss-cross the Gaza Strip, preparing rockets to launch at Israel — reportedly during the temporary Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and the terrorist organization.
The footage, which was aired yesterday, shows fighters from Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades within one of the tunnels — which, according to the Lebanese station, al-Mayadeen, serves as a launching site for the rockets and missiles being continuously manufactured in the Gaza Strip.
The report suggests that the fighters are “racing” to equip themselves ahead of the next round of clashes with Israel, negating both Hamas’s commitment to the days-long ceasefire and Israel’s assertion that it has dealt a fatal blow to the tunnel threat.
UK Jewish paper responds to outcry over Gaza ad
Britain’s Jewish Chronicle responds to controversy over a Gaza aid appeal that it ran as an advertisement.
The Disaster Emergency Committee, a British umbrella organization for international aid organizations, began running the advertisement for its Gaza crisis appeal in various publications.
In response to controversy over its decision to run the ad, The Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard, issues a statement explaining that the ad was not an expression of the newspaper’s editorial view, which he says is separate from its commercial operations.
“The ad was approved by the chairman of the JC, who has no involvement in editorial decisions, as an ad for humanitarian aid which nowhere makes political or partisan points,” Pollard writes.
The ad features an image of a Palestinian child and states: “Thousands of children in Gaza … are injured, homeless and living in fear. They desperately need medical supplies, shelter, food and water right away.”
Pollard writes that he and the newspaper “are entirely supportive of Operation Protective Edge, as our coverage has demonstrated.”
Pollard concludes his statement by writing, “Even if you profoundly disagree with the ad appearing in the paper, I hope this will go some way to explaining its presence and that it is in no way part of our editorial stance.”
Scottish Jewish leaders fear anti-Semitism
Jewish leaders in Scotland have asked to meet Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond amid growing fears of anti-Semitism in Scotland, Herald Scotland reports.
Glasgow Jewish Representative Council head Paul Morron is said to seek a tete-a-tete with Salmond after receiving a barrage of concerned messages from Scottish Jews.
“The level of anxiety is unprecedented. I consider the situation sufficiently serious to meet with Alex Salmond,” Morron tells the UK’s Jewish Chronicle.
Soldier who chased kidnappers of Hadar Goldin into tunnel recounts harrowing moments after abduction
The IDF soldier, Lt. Eitan, who on August 1, chased the Hamas men who snatched 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin into a tunnel after an attack that also killed Maj. Benaya Sarel and First Sgt. Liel Gidoni, recounts the harrowing moments he realized a soldier has been taken.
“I have never experienced anything so difficult,” Lt. Eitan says in an account of that morning’s tragic events on the IDF blog.
The soldiers were taking turns sleeping in the Rafah area in the southern Gaz Strip after 24 hours of inspecting homes for terror activity, taking advantage of a tense calm following a temporary US- and UN-brokered ceasefire that has gone into effect at 8:00am that morning and was supposed to last 72 hours.
According to the military, about an hour and a half after the truce began, Hamas men attacked the troops, violating the ceasefire.
Lt. Eitan says the sound of an explosion resonated through the area, followed by some confusion as to what had just occurred.
“When I arrived [on the scene], I saw two of our soldiers being taken into a house,” he says. “It was the same moment that we were told that we had found a tunnel opening at the location. Fearing a possible explosion, I ordered everyone to get away.”
“No one really knew what had happened but suddenly someone shouted: ‘Goldin’s gone, Goldin’s disappeared!’ We quickly started counting soldiers and everyone was present except one: Goldin was missing.”
Lt. Eitan says he received a call from the Col. Ofer Vinter, the Givati brigade commander and told him he was going to look for Goldin.
“I went four meters down into the tunnel when it began to collapse. I could hardly see anything; sand and stones were obscuring the light. I returned to the surface, took my equipment, my helmet and gun, and went back into the tunnel with my soldiers.”
Lt. Eitan says he went back into the tunnel with a group, warning them of the dangers it could be booby-trapped.
“There, I saw Hadar’s blood and his equipment,” he says. He also says he saw bags filled with explosives, weapons and entrances to other tunnels
Lt. Eitan says he wanted to reach the end of the tunnel but realized that it was too dangerous.
“I turned around and said to my commander ‘Count how long I’m here. I will run as fast as possible to reach the tunnel’s entrance. During this time, call the other soldiers into the tunnel. If I’m not back in 5 minutes – I’m dead’.”
He reemerged from the tunnel and was given the order to search the Rafah area for Goldin and military air strikes began, lasting almost 24 hours.
Hamas insisted it had no information about Goldin and claimed to have lost contact with its fighters involved in the attack.
On August 3, a special IDF committee concluded that Goldin was killed in action. His funeral was held in Kfar Saba the next day.
Accept our demands or prepare for war of attrition — Hamas, Islamic Jihad
The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad representatives of the Palestinian delegation to the Cairo talks for a permanent ceasefire between the Gaza-based terror groups and Israel say the proposals they have received, including the Egyptian offer, do not meet the nneds of the Palestinian people, Israel Radio reports.
The Israelis have two choices: accept our demands, or prepare for a war of attrition with us, Hamas senior official Osama Hamdan says, according to Israel Radio.
Hamdan warns that the terror group’s tunnels will be a “strategic threat” to Israel and its rockets will be more precise “next time,” he is quoted as having said during a visit to Sudan.
No deal better than committing to humiliating truce, says PIJ
A Lebanon-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad official says it is better for the Palestinian delegation in Cairo for ceasefire talks to return to the Gaza Strip without a deal than to sign a humiliating document.
Nonetheless, the official concedes that Egypt, currently in the role as mediator, will be given enough time to successfully negotiate a permanent ceasefire, Israel Radio reports.
‘Chances for ceasefire deal no higher than 50%’
A member of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo for ceasefire talks, Bassam al-Salahi, says progress is being made in terms of bridging the gaps between Israeli demands and those of Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip, but that the chances of reaching a deal are no higher than 50 percent.
He says that the Palestinians are prepared to postpone talks on building a seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip — key Hamas demands — but only by a few weeks.
Both sides are currently observing a five-day ceasefire, and the indirect talks are set to resume tomorrow.
Egypt reportedly submitted an 11-point proposal that was leaked to the press yesteday and is being considered by the Gaza-based groups.
Israel releases three Gazan prisoners arrested during military operation
Israel releases three prisoners that were arrested by the IDF during the ground invasion phase of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reports.
No details were given on their identities.
Army Radio initially tweeted the report then deleted the tweet.
Israel holding 250 people arrested during operation — Palestinian media
Israel is holding at least 250 Palestinians arrested during the ground campaign into the Gaza Strip launched July 17, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports, citing figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs run by the Palestinian Authority.
The IDF told Ma’an that it had 159 people in custody who were actively engaged in terror activity, according to the report.
Earlier today, Israel said it released three people. Ma’an named them as Ahmad Muhammad Hmeidan Abu Lihya from Khan Younis, Abd al-Qadir Freih Salim Shalouf from Rafah, and Nafith Hussein Muhammad Shalouf, also from Rafah.
So, Mohammed Deif is a popular baby name among Palestinians
From the armed wing to the maternity ward, Palestinian mothers are reportedly naming their babies Mohammed Deif, after the mysterious commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’s military wing) since 2002, Israel Radio reports.
עוד ילוד פלסטיני נושא את שמו של מוחמד דף. נאחל לו גורל שונה. another palestinian baby named after Mohammed Deif pic.twitter.com/EORdOiDIOJ
— Gal Berger (@galberger) August 16, 2014
Deif has been wanted by Israel for directing terror attacks since the 1990s and has survived repeated Israeli assassination attempts.
Erekat to meet with Mashaal in Qatar
Fatah official Saeb Erekat is set to meet with Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar later today to discuss the ongoing ceasefire talks in Cairo which are scheduled to resume tomorrow.
Israelis, Palestinians poised to resume Cairo talks
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are poised to resume indirect talks tomorrow with Egyptian mediators on reaching a more permanent ceasefire before a current truce expires at midnight on Monday.
The Egyptian government persuaded both sides late Wednesday to adhere to a new five-day ceasefire, extending an earlier three-day agreement in order to allow more time to thrash out a longer-term truce.
It got off to a rocky start with Palestinian rocket attacks and retaliatory Israeli air strikes, but today marked a sixth day of quiet following more than a month of fighting. that has killed more than 1,960 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side, 64 of them soldiers.
Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead on the Gazan side are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”
Eleven of Israel’s soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border.
Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
Head of Palestinian delegation has ‘high hopes’ for truce deal
Azzam al-Ahmad, who heads the Palestinian delegation at the Cairo talks, tells AFP he is quietly optimistic that an agreement for a longer-term truce could be reached.
“We have high hopes of reaching an agreement very soon, before the end of the truce, and perhaps even, very quickly, for a permanent ceasefire,” he says.
But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri struck a hardline, insisting that there can be no return to peace without a lifting of Israel’s blockade, which it imposed together with Egypt in large part to prevent Hamas from importng weapons, after it violently seized control in 2007.
“We can reach an agreement if the Israeli side accepts all the demands of the unified Palestinian delegation, in particular the end of any aggression against our people, the war on Gaza and the complete lifting of the siege,” Abu Zuhri said.
Israel has spoken little in public about the negotiations.
The five-day truce is set to end Monday night.
No more ceasefire proposals, says Egypt
Egypt says it will not submit any more ceasefire proposals to either side, after Cairo offered an 11-point proposal yesterday, Israel Radio reports.
Hamas has said the bid did not meet the needs of the Palestinian people.
‘Hamas has not agreed to the Egyptian proposal’
A senior Hamas official says the terror group has not agreed and will not agree to what the Palestinian delegation has been offered before leaving Cairo, Ynet reports
“The stance of the [Palestinian] delegation is clear. We will not accept what has been offered to us before we leave. We object to any formula [of a proposal] that does not go hand in hand with the demands of the Palestinian people. There are several issues [in the 11-point Egyptian proposal] that are unacceptable to the delegation,’ says Issat a-Rishq, a close associate of Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal.
$1,000 of Qatari money to be paid to Gazans who lost homes
The Hamas social affairs ministry tells Palestinians in Gaza that in two day’s time, it will pay — using donations from Qatar — $1,000 to each person whose home was destroyed during Operation Protective Edge, Ynet reports.
South Africans mull boycott of Israeli-made penis clamps
Boycott of Israel takes the strangest forms. South Africans are reportedly talking about refusing to buy Israeli-made penis clamps, a “safe, inexpensive, nearly painless, and non-surgical” device used to reduce HIV rates through medical circumcision, because of Israel’s latest operation in the Gaza Strip.
Author Sayed Kashua explains reason for leaving Israel
Sayed Kashua, an Israeli-Arab author who wrote extensively about his determination to integrate into mainstream Israeli society, has decided to move permanently to the United States, citing Jewish “extremists in the streets of Jerusalem.”
In an interview with NPR, Kashua, who says he strove to write a common narrative for Israeli Jews and Arabs, explains that “when Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the young Palestinian teenager, was kidnapped and executed, I felt that I cannot really let my daughter take the buses in the streets of Jerusalem. But I think that more than anything else, it was this very strong feeling that I lost my world, in my case – because it’s true.”
Click here for the full interview.
Mashaal says war with Israel wasn’t Hamas’s choice
Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’s politburo, speaks to Al Jazeera from Doha, Qatar and says that the month-long conflict with Israel was “not a war of choice, not the choice of the Palestinian people, or the choice of Hamas,” blaming Israel and saying it’s only operated out of self-defense.
Concerning the nearly 2,000 Palestinians Hamas’s Health Ministry says died in Operation Protective Edge, Mashaal again blames Israel, saying “it is the Israelis who killed all those, it is them that made 300,000 Palestinians homeless” and “they turned Gaza into a disaster zone.”
“It is the Israeli occupation, only because it wants to gratify its thirst for vengeance from our people in Gaza,” Mashaal says.
He charges that despite Israel’s military might, it “concentrated on killing women and children,” whereas Hamas “has high moral standards” and is only killing Israeli soldiers who entered the Gaza Strip.
“Those who care about the Palestinian blood, we tell them: send suitable weapons to the Palestinian people so they can defend themselves against the Israeli aggression,” the Hamas leader says in an overt appeal for military assistance for an internationally recognized terrorist group.
Mashaal accuses Israel of stalling for time in the indirect negotiations in Cairo and ignoring Palestinian demands, while Hamas seeks to end the war “today, not tomorrow.”
“The Palestinian people will continue their struggle until they end the occupation, the colonization and the siege [on Gaza],” he says.
He speaks at length for nearly a half an hour with the Doha-based channel. The full interview is here.
World soccer legends to play for peace in Gaza
Some of international soccer’s biggest stars, including Argentinian striker Lionel Messi, Brazilian star Neymar and legends Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane, might play a match for peace in Gaza, Indian news site DNA reports. Israeli soccer player Yossi Benayoun will also attend.
The Interreligious Match for Peace, proposed by Pope Francis, will take place September 1 in Rome.
“The best soccer players in the world, will represent many religious faiths and will give life to the first Interreligious Match for Peace, a historic and engaging appointment, which will be based on spirituality, fraternity and sporting excellence, in the name of the dialogue among peoples for the peace in the world,” the event’s website says.
Slim chances of reaching deal by Monday, senior Israeli official says
An unnamed senior Israeli official tells Walla news that the chances of reaching a long-term ceasefire deal by the end of Monday, when the current truce expires, are very faint.
The official says that despite reports about progress in the negotiations in Cairo, the two sides remain entrenched in their positions and are inflexible in reaching a compromise. Because of that, the government is considering a unilateral move to ease limitations on the Gaza Strip and provide its residents with funds for rebuilding.
Senior minister says implosion of talks possible
A cabinet minister tells Ynet that there’s a chance that the negotiations with Hamas will implode, and that the side will revert to “quiet in exchange for quiet,” an informal ceasefire. The official explained that the Israeli negotiation team will return to Cairo on Sunday — not Saturday as previously reported — to continue the talks.
Meanwhile, the News1 website reports that attorney Yitzhak Molcho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close confidant and personal envoy in the talks with the Palestinians, didn’t attend the past several days of negotiations because of a personal conflict with the prime minister. According to the report, Molcho is upset by what he considers a zigzagging by Netanyahu and his agreement to concessions to the Palestinian Authority, and the damage in relations with the US.
Peace rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square set for 8 p.m.
A peace rally is scheduled to kick off in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square at 8 p.m this evening. The gathering, which takes place two days after a rally in support of residents of southern Israel, is entitled “Changing direction to peace — not the way to wars.”
Among those speaking at the event are author David Grossman, journalist Zuhair Bahloul, Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-on and Hadash party leader Mohammad Barakeh.
According to Israel Radio, streets leading to the central Tel Aviv venue — Ibn Gabirol, Arlozorov, Frishman, Ben Gurion and Malchei Yisrael — are closed to traffic.
Abbas says Egyptian proposal only solution to Gaza conflict
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says that there is no other option by the Egyptian proposal, and “Egypt is not a mediator, rather a member of the negotiations, and there’s no one else who will come in its place.”
The Palestinian Authority “adheres to Egypt’s role [in the negotiations] and there’s no other [ceasefire] proposal
but that of Egypt.”
Abbas’s remarks come amid Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal and insistence that it’s prepared for a prolonged conflict with Israel.
“Israel must agree to the demands of the Palestinian people or it will face a long war of attrition,” spokesperson Osama Hamdan says on his Facebook page.
Hamas ‘continuing struggle’ after it rejects Egyptian truce deal
Simultaneous to an announcement by a Hamas spokesperson on Facebook that the terror group rejects the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, and that Israel must either accede to its demands or face a war of attrition, Hamas’s armed wing tweets “We are continuing our struggle.”
“ALLAH IS OUR GOAL, THE PROPHET IS OUR LEADER, JIHAD IS OUR WAY, AND DEATH FOR ALLAH IS OUR MOST EXALTED WISH,” the Al-Qassam Brigades tweets in all capitals.
We are continuing our struggle. ALLAH IS OUR GOAL, THE PROPHET IS OUR LEADER, JIHAD IS OUR WAY, AND DEATH FOR ALLAH IS OUR MOST EXALTED WISH
— Al-Qassam Brigades (@Qassam_English) August 16, 2014
For now, there is no indication the group intends to break the truce, which expires on Monday night.
Over 1,000 turn out to Tel Aviv peace rally
Approximately 1,500 people have turned out to the peace rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. They call for a political solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-on tells the crowd that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a failure and says he should resign. She also calls for an end to the Gaza blockade.
Grossman condemns fanaticism and hatred at peace rally
Author David Grossman addresses the crowd at the peace rally in Tel Aviv and says that Israelis “are losing our home to fanaticism and internal hatred,” Ynet reports.
“Dangerous movements are coming to pass in Israel because of the despair, the anxiety, nationalism and racism erupting all at once,” he says. “Not one word of condemnation has been uttered by the prime minister. It will be very difficult to rein in the dark forces. I’m concerned that the leaders enjoyed seeing the Left held hostage, but this tide will turn against them when they appear too moderate. These processes and phenomena will unfortunately turn Israel into a radical, militant, xenophobic cult, isolated and ostracized.”
Estimated 10,000 attend Tel Aviv peace rally
The number of attendees at the peace rally at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square has swelled in the past hour to at least 10,000, the largest of its kind since the onset of Operation Protective Edge.
10,000 Israelis are rallying in Tel Aviv right now calling for peace pic.twitter.com/QL18p8Zt2c
— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) August 16, 2014
Firebomb attack near Jerusalem moderately injures 1
While peace protesters rally in Tel Aviv, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a car south of Jerusalem. The driver, a 40-something-year-old man suffered moderate burns, Ynet reports.
Unconfirmed reports also say shots were fired at the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, near Nablus. There are no immediate reports of injuries, but IDF troops have been dispatched to the scene.
Troops dispatched to site of firebombing south of Jerusalem
The IDF has dispatched troops to the area south of Jerusalem near the settlement of Beitar Illit, where earlier this evening a man suffered moderate burns after his car was attacked with a Molotov cocktail and pelted with rocks.
According to Israel Radio, the Israeli man in his forties received treatment from Magen David Adom and was taken to Hadassah Hospital at Ein Kerem for further treatment.
As of now, no arrests have been made.
Palestinian arrested near Gaza border
A Palestinian man is arrested while approaching the security fence near the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza.
Security forces interrogate the man.
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