The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded through Monday, August 18, the 42nd day of Operation Protective Edge. A five-day truce, which began at midnight Wednesday, expired on Monday at midnight, but a new 24-hour truce was apparently agreed, as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators continued talks on a long-term deal. (Tuesday’s liveblog is here.)

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

Day 42 of Operation Protective Edge

PREAMBLE: Monday will mark the end of the seventh week since the launch of Operation Protective Edge.

At midnight on Monday, a five-day truce will expire, unless Hamas and Israel agree to extend it or reach a long-term deal.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday that what he called Hamas’s defeat in Gaza would not be followed by a diplomatic victory for the Islamists in the Cairo negotiations. Hamas on Saturday had rejected an 11-point Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

Long-term truce uncertain, official says

A senior official told Israeli media late Sunday that it remains unclear whether the Cairo negotiations will secure a long-term truce, and added that Israel is prepared for a potential escalation with Hamas.

“It’s not clear whether there will be a truce. There are two options on the table: if there is no truce, and the fire resumes, the response will be strong, and if the fire does not resume, we will examine the possibilities how to progress to resolve the situation,” he said.

Palestinians may seek Turkish, Qatar mediation

Palestinian sources involved in the Cairo negotiations told Israel Radio late Sunday it seems unlikely that the sides will agree to a permanent ceasefire at this time, and indicated that the Palestinians may ask for Turkey and Qatar to act as mediators with Israel.

A Palestinian source added that it seems Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing intense pressure by his government to end the talks and topple Hamas militarily.

Sderot train line shut down until further notice

Israel Railways says its will close its train line between Sderot and Ashkelon until further notice, due to fears that trains could be targeted with anti-tank missiles from the Gaza Strip.

The move was ordered by the Defense Ministry following the recent conflict in Gaza and comes following fears of renewed violence there, as a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas comes to an end with no signs of a ceasefire deal being reached.

For now, Sderot residents will have a shuttle service to and from Ashkelon, until such time as the Sderot line is deemed safe.

Anti-intermarriage protesters gather outside wedding hall

Late Sunday, dozens of demonstrators assembled some 200 meters away from the Rishon Lezion hall where bride and groom Morel Malka and Mahmoud Mansour celebrated their wedding as planned. Several arrests were made.

Over 100 policemen patrolled the scene, barring the protesters from coming closer to the wedding hall and preventing disturbances.

The rally, organized by the Lehava anti-intermarriage organization, was protesting the couple’s mixed marriage: Morel comes from a Jewish background, although she recently converted to Islam.

Nearby, dozens of counter-protesters carried balloons and signs congratulating the newlyweds.

“As I told the groom and bride — in the end, love will win,” Mahmoud’s mother, Fadua, told Ynet. She said Morel was shaken by the public criticism, but added that “she is still strong, and will stay strong until the end.”

Lehava posted the wedding invitation of Moral Malka and Mahmoud Mansour on social media, calling on protesters to arrive with banners and bullhorns to protest. (photo credit: Facebook screenshot)

Lehava posted the wedding invitation of Morel Malka and Mahmoud Mansour on social media, calling on protesters to arrive with banners and bullhorns to protest. (photo credit: Facebook screenshot)

Palestinian divisions emerge in truce talks

The Palestinians appeared divided late Sunday as the clock winds down on the latest Gaza ceasefire, with officials saying Hamas is still opposed to a compromise Egyptian proposal that would ease the closure of the territory, whereas other factions, including delegates representing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, are inclined to accept.

Hamas officials said they were holding out in hopes of getting more concessions in the Egyptian-mediated talks.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, directed tough words at Israel.

“The Israelis will only return to their homes when the resistance decides. We are not seeking an agreement because we are weak, but to fulfill our people’s demands,” he told a rally.

In a show of unity, the Palestinian delegation in Cairo has included representatives of rival factions, including Abbas’s Fatah movement and the smaller militant group Islamic Jihad.

One member of the delegation said that even if Hamas opposes the deal, Abbas’s forces are prepared to oversee the crossings and reconstruction.

“We won’t let our people down,” said the official.


Tunnel shafts allegedly discovered in southern towns

Three shafts possibly connected to tunnels from the Gaza Strip were recently found in Israeli towns on the southern border, Channel 2 reported late Sunday.

The army said in response that security forces were aware of the sites.

In the coming days, military experts are expected to visit the area to determine whether the shafts are connected to cross-border tunnels.

The openings were discovered some 100 meters (328 feet) from the closest homes, and near a kindergarten. Since they were uncovered, soldiers have been keeping watch of the area, but some cast doubt on whether a tunnel really lies below.

“We didn’t find a tunnel, there’s a suspicion,” said a soldier keeping watch. “That’s why we’re sitting here all the time.

“It’s probably nothing, but we’re checking,” he added.

Israel braces for rockets before truce runs out

The Walla news site quoted Israeli military sources late Sunday to the effect that Israel is preparing for a resumption of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza early Monday evening, even though the five-day ceasefire with Hamas is only set to end at midnight.

The projection is based on the assumption that Egypt-brokered talks with Hamas are on the verge of failure, the report said.

The sources were quoted as saying that the ceasefire won’t be broken directly by Hamas but rather by other, smaller armed factions.

Hamas, the sources said, will prefer to “turn a blind eye” to the violations of the ceasefire rather than declare that efforts at cementing a deal have failed.

Israel to end exports of settlement poultry, dairy produce to EU

Israel is to end its export of poultry and dairy produce to the European Union from Jewish settlements considered illegal by parts of the international community, Israeli and European officials say.

The restrictions stem from directives issued by the European Commission in February and affect chicken and milk products from East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

An Israeli official tells AFP that the agriculture ministry had=s recently issued directives to poultry and dairy manufacturers to “prepare for the EU decision and separate manufacturing lines, to enable the continued export to the Europe” without including products from settlements. The official says that Israeli export of products from settlements to Europe is not significant and caters mainly for Jews who observe religious dietary laws and eat kosher food.

Read more here.


Arab MKs travel to Qatar, possibly meet fugitive colleague

A number of Israeli Arab Knesset members traveled to Qatar last week, Channel 2 reports, with conflicting reports on whether they met with a former MK who fled Israel and is suspected of spying for Hezbollah.

According to the Channel 2 report, the Balad party’s three MKs — Jamal Zahalka, Hanin Zoabi, and Basel Ghattas — visited Qatar, a country said to have close ties to Hamas, in recent days. There they reportedly met with party founder Azmi Bishara, a former MK and academic who has lived there in self-imposed exile since 2007. He fled Israel after being investigated over suspicions that he provided Hezbollah with information during the Second Lebanon War.

Former Israeli Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara (photo credit: Flash90)

Former Israeli Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara (photo credit: Flash90)

A spokesman for the party tells Israel Radio that he is not aware of the three meeting with Bishara. He says they traveled to Qatar to conduct a series of interviews to the media (Al Jazeera is based in Qatar) and to meet with academics, and adds that the trip’s expenses were paid for privately.

Hamas leader: Israel rejected Egyptian offer, we’re back to square one

Hamas deputy political chief Moussa Abu Marzouk reports on his Facebook page that Israel rejected the Egyptian paper by introducing amendments to it, returning negotiation “to square one.”

Abu Marzouk says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is prisoner to domestic contradictions. He waged a ground and air offensive and lost them both.

He warns that if an agreement isn’t reached within 24 hours, “the truce may not be extended for the third time.”

–Elhanan Miller

Hamas official Moussa Abu-Marzouq in Gaza, December 7, 2012 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk in Gaza, December 7, 2012 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Abbas may head to Cairo to try and save talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may be headed to Egypt to try and salvage ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas.

Ynet quotes an unnamed Palestinian source on the subject, who does not say when Abbas will be traveling.

Transportation Ministry says it will fortify Sderot train line

The Transportation Ministry says it is working to fortify and protect the Sderot-Ashkelon train line which connects the Gaza periphery to central Israel, in order to enable it to reopen, telling Ynet the issue “is being handled by the relevant bodies.”

Abbas to visit Cairo Friday, Palestinian envoy says

The Palestinian envoy to Cairo, Jamal Shubaki, tells Ynet PA President Abbas is expected to visit Cairo on Friday, where he will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, to discuss the efforts to solidify a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

According to the report the two will also discuss preparations for a summit on the restoration of Gaza which will take place in Egypt next month.

Sainsbury’s removes kosher food, fearing protesters

A Sainsbury’s store in central London removed kosher products from shelves on Saturday when protesters rallied outside to call for a ban on Israeli produce, The Guardian reports.

A representative for the chain says the decision was an “isolated” one by the branch manager, who only did so temporarily in order to prevent the protesters from attacking the food products.

But an image of the empty shelves posted to social media has sparked outrage, with many accusing the chain of anti-Semitic action, or at the very least, cowardice.

Read full story here.

Israel demolishes homes of 3 teens’ suspected murderers

IDF troops have demolished the Hebron homes of two men suspected of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens — Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel — near the Etzion Bloc in June.

The homes of Hussam Kawasme and Omar Abu Aysha were destroyed by engineering forces. The home of Marwan Kawasme was sealed off, the IDF says.

Arab MKs visit Qatar

Three Balad party MKs flew to Qatar, spoke to local media and met with academics, Ynet reports. Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Bassel Ghattas visited Doha and, according to conflicting reports, met with former party member and suspected Hezbollah spy Azmi Bashara.

Arab parliament member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference in the Knesset on Wednesday (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASh90 )

Arab parliament member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference in the Knesset last year (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Egypt footballer declines peace match invite because of Israeli

An Egyptian media report says that one of its national players has declined playing in the Interreligious Match for Peace, an all star soccer match initiated by the pope to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians, because Israeli national Yossi Benayoun will be attending.

According to Al-Ahram, Mohamed Abou-Treika’s agent cited “personal business” as the reason for declining the invite to play in Rome in September’s friendly match.

The paper says, however, that “it’s believed that the reason why Abou-Treika — widely thought to be a supporter of the outlawed Egyptian Islamic group the Muslim Brotherhood — will not play is the presence of ex-Liverpool and Chelsea Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun.”

Egypt pushes for another truce extension

Despite a previous statement that it would not seek another truce extension, Egypt is making a bid to prolong the current lull and press on with negotiations for a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

The indirect negotiations kick off once again on Monday ahead of the truce’s expiration at midnight.

Teachers to devote beginning of school year to discussing Gaza op

The Education Ministry says in a statement that it will devote the first two weeks of the school year to discussing the operation in the Gaza Strip, “providing emotional solutions and strengthening of emotional resilience,” and speak with students about their experiences during the war.

Donors for Gaza rebuilding to meet in Cairo once ceasefire reached

International donors will meet in Cairo to pledge funds for the reconstruction of Gaza as soon as a lasting ceasefire is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Norway announces Monday.

The funds raised under the aegis of Egypt and Norway will be released to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, whose country heads the international coordination committee for aid to the Palestinians.


Likud minister to lodge petition against Balad for Qatar visit

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) says he will lodge a petition against the Balad party after three of its members visited Qatar.

“The High Court of Justice previously canceled the ban on Balad contending in elections, and I hope this time it won’t intervene,” he says.

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz attends an Economic Affairs committee meeting on March 03, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz attends an Economic Affairs committee meeting on March 03, 2014. (photo credit: FLASH90)

Erdogan’s son threatens legal action for article claiming aid to IS

The son of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling on CNBC to remove an article in which it accuses him of providing funds to an aid group that’s assisting the Islamic State and “publish an apology, and pay a substantial amount of damages and all the legal costs.”

In an article entitled “Why is Turkey supporting Islamic State fighters in Iraq?” David L. Philips says that “Bilal Erdogan “has ties to the IHH board, and allegedly uses his father’s political network to raise funds for the organization.” Philips notes the IHH’s funding of extremist groups in the past and of Syrian Islamist groups, including the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS.

Erdogan’s agent told Daily Sabah, whose parent company is owned by the prime minister’s son-in-law, that the CNBC article was politically motivated and all charges are false.

“Mr Erdogan has no ‘ties’ to IHH. He has never been involved with IHH nor sat on IHH’s board. He has not been involved in fundraising for IHH, whether using his father’s political contacts or otherwise,” the agent says in a statement.

IHH is best known in Israel for being behind a flotilla to break the Gaza blockade in 2010. One of the boats, the Mavi Marmara, was the scene of a violent melee between Israeli troops and Turkish activists, nine of whom died in the scuffle. Several soldiers were also injured.

Last week, the group said it would launch another flotilla aimed at busting the naval blockade.

Lebanon asks for US aid in fighting Islamist rebels

Lebanon has called on the US for military aid in fighting Islamist rebels in its eastern province, the Daily Star reports. The army reportedly asked for fixed-wing aircraft and ammunition to combat Islamic State allies and Nusra Front fighters.

Gaza death toll tops 2,000, Hamas says

The death toll in the war-torn Gaza Strip rose above 2,000 Monday, the Hamas Health Ministry says, as more people injured in over a month of fighting with the Israelis succumbed to their wounds.

According to a ministry statement, a total of 2,016 people were killed and another 10,196 wounded. Among the dead were 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men, it says.

Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead 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.”

Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting. Eleven of the 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 contributed to this report.

Abbas, Mashaal to meet in Qatar

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Qatar and meet with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal to discuss the ceasefire negotiations with Israel, Israel Radio reports. An earlier report indicated that the two were going to meet in Cairo, where the talks are taking place.

In this file photo provided on Nov. 24, 2011, by the office of Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader Mashaal, left, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt. (photo credit: AP/Office of Khaled Meshaal)

In this file photo provided on Nov. 24, 2011, by the office of Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader Mashaal, left, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt. (photo credit: AP/Office of Khaled Meshaal)

Lapid calls for conference with Gulf states on Gaza reconstruction

Finance Minister Yair Lapid says Israel should convene a joint committee with Gulf states to form a “regional conference, which will include the United States, European Union, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States with support from the donor countries,” which “could create a joint framework of demilitarization and rehabilitation” of the Gaza Strip.

“I am calling for a regional conference which will provide an international framework to achieve these aims,” he says. “Without a diplomatic initiative, without widespread international support, any attempt to reach an agreement will be the beginning of the countdown toward the next round of violence.”

ICC officials say West pushing against probe of IDF, Hamas crimes

Former International Criminal Court officials say that Western powers, including the United States, are leaning on the Hague not to launch an investigation into possible IDF and Hamas war crimes, the Guardian reports.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (photo credit: Vincent van Zeijst/Wikimedia Commons/File)

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (photo credit: Vincent van Zeijst/Wikimedia Commons/File)

Ashdod, Ashkelon close beaches ahead of truce’s end

Ahead of the possible breakdown of the truce between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist groups, Ashdod and Ashkelon’s city halls announce that their beaches will be closed tomorrow, according to the Israel Hayom daily.

Earlier the train route from Ashkelon to Sderot was closed ahead of the possible recommencement of hostilities between the two sides.

‘No dramatic developments’ in Cairo talks, official tells BBC

A senior Israeli official tells the BBC that there have been “no dramatic developments” in the Cairo talks on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The two sides reconvened earlier today to make a last-minute effort to reach a long-term agreement to end the conflict that has raged for over a month.

The five-day truce agreed upon last week is set to expire at midnight tonight.

Iran’s official calls for punishment of ‘Zionists, Takfiris’

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, the country’s chief negotiator in nuclear talks with world powers, says that “Zionists and Takfiris” — hard-line Muslims who accuse others of apostasy — should be prosecuted and punished.

Araqchi pans what the Fars News Agency calls the “international community’s silence on the massacre of the innocent Palestinian people by Israel and other regional people.”

“The Zionists and Takfiris shouldn’t escape unpunished,” Fars quotes Araqchi saying.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (photo credit: YouTube/Press TV/File)

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (photo credit: YouTube/Press TV/File)

‘No return to war,’ Islamic Jihad head says

The current five-day truce ends at midnight (2100 GMT) Monday but Ziad Nakhleh, head of the Islamic Jihad faction within the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, said he expects it to be extended if a deal is not reached by then.

“The war is behind us now,” he told the AP. “We are not returning to war.”

A Palestinian negotiator, Qais Abdul Karim, told The Associated Press that on Sunday, Israel pressed for guarantees that Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza would be disarmed, while the Palestinians demanded an end to the blockade without preconditions.

— AP

Deal or not, no more rockets, Palestinians say

Whether or not a detailed ceasefire agreement is signed in Cairo between Israel and the Palestinians Monday, Hamas won’t resume launching rockets from the Gaza Strip, a leading Arab daily reports.

Palestinian negotiators say two options are available: a detailed agreement based on the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, or “quiet in return for quiet.”

For the full story, click here.

Holes found in south not tunnel shafts — IDF

The IDF says the three suspicious openings found inside communities in southern Israel are not connected to cross-border tunnels, Channel 2 reports.

The army had closed off the areas around the openings as a precaution against possible terrorism infiltrations.

Sderot trains to be fortified

The Transportation Ministry announces that the Sderot train line will be closed until further notice due to the fortification of the trains to protect passengers from anti-tank missiles, according to Ynet.

The ministry says the construction should be completed in the coming days.

Yesterday, the Defense Ministry said the train line would be closed, but offered no explanation.

Shuttles to Ashkelon have been provided for the Sderot residents inconvenienced by the move.

IDF says it expects attack if talks fail

Despite Palestinian assurances that the fighting will not resume if the ceasefire negotiations end without a deal, sources in the IDF’s Southern Command tell the Walla news site they anticipate Hamas will launch a surprise attack to restart talks.

The sources say Hamas would probably attempt to strike a significant blow to Israel, either by way of an infiltration through a cross-border tunnel which has gone undetected by Israel, through small aircraft that can carry explosives, or by firing an anti-tank missile at IDF patrols on the Gaza border.

“Hamas will not hesitate to use one of its strategic assets to try to renew the negotiations, or to deteriorate the situation in the Gaza Strip as part of the continuing violence,” sources say.

The Palestinian terror group believes that an attack on Israel would give it leverage to pressure the Jewish state into a return to the negotiating table, and prevent Israel from reinstating its longstanding “quiet will be met with quiet” policy.

PM visits Sderot teens, counsels patience

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with representatives of youth groups in Sderot, many of whom organized activities for the local children in shelters during the Gaza campaign.

Speaking to the teenage leaders, the prime minister calls for patience and resilience.

“In the Middle East we live in, it’s not enough to have just power — we have a lot of power — you also need a lot of patience. We have it, in abundance, and you are proof of that,” Netanyahu says.

Media awaiting Hamas-Israel intermarriage

While the hours tick away on the last day of the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, one can’t help getting the feeling that Israelis, or their media anyway, are starting to lose interest. Sure, the front pages run headlines about the machinations in Cairo – Israel Hayom most prominently — but Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth’s hearts seem far less into it.

Read the full Hebrew media review.

Hamas planned to topple PA in West Bank — Shin Bet

The Shin Bet says that along with the IDF, it uncovered and successfully disbanded a West Bank- and Jerusalem-based Hamas cell, which had planned to topple PA President Mahmoud Abbas and take control of the West Bank.

The large-scale operation to thwart the plan took place between May and August 2014, according to the national security agency, but was only released for publication today.

The Hamas cell, which the Shin Bet says operated under the instruction of Hamas leadership in Turkey, had plotted to perpetrate a series of attacks on Israel and thereby destabilize the security situation.

The Shin Bet arrested 93 Hamas operatives, 46 of which were transferred for interrogation. In addition, funds amounting to over NIS 600,000 was uncovered, and 24 rifles, six pistols, seven rocket launchers, a large amount of ammunition, and a getaway car were confiscated by Israeli security forces.

The group was based on Hamas’s existing military infrastructure, and various emissaries smuggled over NIS 2 million toward the purchase of weapons and safe houses.

In June, following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, the IDF issued a wide-ranging crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of its members. It remains unclear what the connection is, if any, between the two incidents.

Hamas mastermind linked to killing of teens

Deported terrorist Saleh al-Arouri, who presently resides in Turkey, is behind a terror cell in the West Bank that planned to overthrow PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the Shin Bet says.

Al-Arouri had recruited the head of the Hamas ring in the West Bank, Riad Nazer, in 2010.

An Israeli official had linked the Hamas leader to the killing of Israeli teenagers Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel in June.

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

The Shin Bet says the cell had planned to commit a series of terror attacks against Israel “rare in its scope and severity.”

Balad party defends Qatar visit

Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas visited Doha and, according to conflicting reports, possibly met with former party member and suspected Hezbollah spy Azmi Bashara.

Members of the Arab Balad party say they acted within the law in visiting Qatar.

“The trip was legal, and all complaints to the attorney general to open an investigation are a cheap trick by right-wing ministers and Knesset members to make headlines,” the party says in a statement, according to Walla news.

Hanin Zoabi (center) and Jamal Zahalka (left) at the High Court of Justice on Thursday. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hanin Zoabi (center) and Jamal Zahalka (left) at the High Court of Justice (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Zahalka adds: “We don’t view Qatar and its citizens as enemies, but as our brothers, and it’s natural to be in contact with them. Our political actions are not designed to curry favor with [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman, [Transportation Minister Yisrael] Katz, [MK Miri] Regev… and other fascists and warmongers, but rather to represent the public that elected us and the principles of equality, freedom, and peace upon which we were elected to the Knesset.”

Meanwhile, Liberman strongly condemns the visit. The meeting proves they have no place in the Knesset, he says. While Israel combats Hamas in its Gaza campaign, the Balad party members show support for Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, he charges.

Liberman pledges to do his utmost to ensure that the Balad party is disqualified in the next elections, and calls on the attorney general to investigate the source of funding for their trip, and whether the three violated any laws by going to Qatar.

Egypt to request truce extension — report

Egypt is set to ask both parties to extend the temporary truce for a month to continue talks toward a permanent ceasefire, Channel 2 reports, citing Arab media.

The truce is due to expire tonight at midnight.

Gaza needs houses, not rockets — UN envoy

Robert Serry, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, appeals to the Gaza residents to back the Palestinian unity government, and says the ceasefire talks must yield an end to the blockade, while ensuring Israel’s security demands.

“I call on all in Gaza to rally behind the Government of National Consensus and empower it to take charge and effect the positive, transformative change that Gaza so badly needs,” Serry says in a briefing of the UN Security Council, referring to the Fatah-Hamas unity government.

“Right now, Gaza urgently needs houses, hospitals and schools — not rockets, tunnels and conflict,” adds Serry.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

With regard to ongoing ceasefire talks in Cairo, Serry continues: “The basic equation must consist of ending the blockade on Gaza, and addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

The UN coordinator also calls for the reinstatement of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, arguing that clashes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem following the campaign, which led to the deaths of several Palestinians, are “a bleak warning to all concerned what the future will bring if we do not reverse the current negative trend towards a one-state reality, which is now on the parties’ doorstep.”

Ceasefire will not be extended — Hamas

Hamas says that following the expiration of the temporary ceasefire tonight at midnight, it will not agree to extend the truce further, Channel 2 reports.

However, sources close to Hamas tell Ynet that the chances of reaching an agreement tonight are high, if Israel does not sabotage the negotiations.

Pro-Palestinians prevent Israeli ship from docking in CA

Pro-Palestinian protesters prevent an Israeli cargo ship from unloading at a California port for two straight days.

The protesters gather Sunday at the Port of Oakland to stop a ship from Zim Integrated Shipping Services — Israel’s international maritime cargo company — from docking and unloading. The protest is under the auspices of the Block the Boat coalition organized by the San Francisco-based Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

The ship docked at the port Sunday evening after remaining at sea on Saturday to avoid arriving in the middle of a protest by thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Unionized dockworkers at the port on Sunday honored the picket line and refused to unload the ship.

“Workers honored our picket and stood on the side of justice, as they historically have,” the center says in a statement on its website. “Oakland said no to Zionism and blocked the boat for an entire weekend. This is the first time in history that this has happened. Israeli apartheid is falling, one port at a time.”

Similar actions are expected to take place at ports in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, this week and later in Vancouver.


If fire resumes, we will strike hard — PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Israel is prepared to respond forcefully if Hamas resumes rocket fire on southern Israel at midnight, should the ceasefire talks fail.

“We are preparing for any outcome — the Israeli team was instructed to insist firmly on Israel’s security needs, and the Israel Defense Forces is gearing up for a very forceful response if the fire resumes,” he says.

Home Front Command precautions minimal as lull ends

Despite the ceasefire deadline at midnight and the possible resumption of hostilities, the Home Front Command issues safety precautions for tonight and tomorrow that are identical to those presented on August 14, during the five-day truce.

Camps, schools, and daycare centers within 7 km of the border are allowed to open, provided they are within distance of a shelter. Residents in areas between 7 km to 40 km are asked to rush to shelter if sirens sound. There are no restrictions in other areas of the country.

IDF boosts troops in southern towns

Channel 2 reports that the Israel Defense Forces has increased its presence in the southern communities, and along the border, hours before the ceasefire is due to end.

Hours before truce expires, ceasefire uncertain

Four hours before the five-day truce is set to expire, Channel 2’s nightly news opens with assessments that reflect the uncertainty of what the next few hours will bring.

Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari says the likelihood of resumed hostilities is “very low,” and says Egypt is making efforts to secure an extension of the truce.

Diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal stresses, however, that “there is no deal” and therefore Israel is braced for the possibility of resumed attacks from Gaza.

Palestinians said to be seeking truce extension

Palestinian sources close to the negotiations tell Ynet that both sides are currently working on extending the temporary truce for a few days, beyond its midnight deadline, rather than signing a long-term ceasefire deal.

Head of the Palestinian delegation Azzam al-Ahmed gives a press conference at a hotel in Cairo late on August 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP)

Head of the Palestinian delegation Azzam al-Ahmad gives a press conference at a hotel in Cairo, August 13, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Khaled Desouki)

The head of the Palestinian delegation, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, is set to address the press in the coming hours with an update on the talks.

Israel, Palestinians said to sign ceasefire outline

The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports, quoting Palestinian officials, that the Israeli and Palestinian teams have signed an outline ceasefire agreement that details the issues that both sides have agreed to, and those that will be discussed in a second round of negotiations at a later date.

The Israeli team has since returned to Jerusalem for consultations, which are set to take place at 9 p.m. In the meeting, the Israelis will either approve or reject the proposal, it reports.

At 11 p.m., an Egyptian official is due to announce the ceasefire has been extended.

Israel declines comment on reports of ceasefire

Government spokesman Mark Regev refuses to comment on Palestinian reports of an imminent ceasefire.

State Department urges ceasefire

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf urges the Palestinians and Israel not to resume fire, as the five-day truce comes close to its end, Army Radio reports.

She says the US is hoping that the Palestinians and Israel will reach an agreement tonight for a long-term ceasefire. If there is no permanent arrangement, the US will call on both sides to extend the current lull and continue talks, she says.

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

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (photo credit: screen capture YouTube)

Details on reported ceasefire agreement

The ceasefire outline reportedly signed by both the Palestinians and Israelis would call for the complete removal of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, Ynet reports, citing Palestinian sources.

It announces that Israel will agree to open all of its crossings into the Gaza Strip, and Egypt will open its Rafah crossing. The fishing zone will be expanded, and Israel will release Palestinian prisoners recently arrested in the West Bank.

The discussions on the airport and seaport will be delayed to the second round of negotiations.

However, an Israeli defense official tells Walla news that, contrary to earlier reports, the Israeli delegation has not returned from Cairo and no deal has been finalized.

Palestinians agree to ceasefire, await Israeli response

A member of the Palestinian delegation confirms that his team has approved the Egyptian proposal for a lasting ceasefire, Ynet reports.

“Right now, we are waiting for the Israeli cabinet to announce that it approves the agreement,” he says.

US envoy to UN slams Gaza probe

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, criticizes the world body’s panel created to investigate the recent conflict in Gaza.

At a private meeting on Friday with American Jewish communal leaders, Power says the UN’s Human Rights Council “has shown itself incapable of engaging constructively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to one attendee of the meeting.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (photo credit: AP/Seth Wenig/File)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (photo credit: AP/Seth Wenig/File)

Power also slams the commission of inquiry announced last week as “wildly unbalanced,” according to the same source, and says “the process for the appointment of the commissioners was ill conceived, poorly executed and does nothing to dispel the perception of bias within the council.”

The meeting is held at the US mission to the United Nations in New York City.

The commission of inquiry has already drawn stiff criticism from Israel and a number of its allies for including Canadian human rights academic William Schabas as its head. Schabas has criticized both Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in past statements.


Israeli official denies reports of ceasefire

Channel 2’s Udi Segal tweets that an Israeli official has denied reports of a ceasefire in Cairo.

He adds that, contrary to the Palestinian report, the Israeli cabinet will not meet tonight to discuss the Egyptian proposal.

An Egyptian official is expected to make a statement at 11 p.m.

Truce reportedly extended by 24 hours

Amid conflicting reports of a ceasefire, al-Jazeera reports that the truce has been extended by 24 hours to work out the final details of a long-term ceasefire deal.

Elhanan Miller

‘There is an option for a 24-hour extension’

An Israeli source tells Ynet, “The Israeli team in Cairo is reporting that, as of the last hour, nothing is final. There is an option for an extension of 24 hours.”

Initial details of truce agreement reported

Qatari news channel al-Jazeera reports unconfirmed initial details on the ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinians:

1. The Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings will be opened permanently, with building materials allowed to enter under international supervision.

2. The area allowed for fishing in Gaza waters will be expanded from 6 to 9 miles, and then to 12 miles (as Hamas demanded) within 6 months.

3. Gaza’s electrical crisis will be solved within a year.

4. An agreement was reached in principle to build a seaport in Gaza, a matter to be discussed in a month.

5. The release of Palestinian prisoners will be discussed one month from the signing of the agreement.

The ceasefire has been extended by 24 hours to allow for the finalization of the agreement. The channel says that Palestinian delegation leader Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah is expected to appear within minutes to make an announcement.

— Elhanan Miller

Gaza group threatens to fire without new truce

The Salah ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, an armed group in Gaza, says it will begin firing rockets at Israel if the ceasefire is extended at midnight with no agreement, al-Jazeera reports.

A rocket is fired from Gaza City towards Israel, Saturday, August 9, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Dusan Vranic)

A rocket is fired from Gaza City towards Israel, Saturday, August 9, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Dusan Vranic)

— Elhanan Miller

Sources confirm truce extended by 24 hours

Israeli diplomatic sources confirm that the ceasefire will be extended by 24 hours, “at Egypt’s request.”

— Raphael Ahren

Palestinian officials confirm 24-hour extension

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed on Monday to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours to conduct more talks on a long-term truce, Egypt and a Palestinian official said.

The current five-day ceasefire was set to expire at midnight local time (2100 GMT).

“Both sides have agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire,” the official with the Palestinian delegation in Cairo said.

The official Egyptian MENA news agency later quoted an “official Egyptian statement” confirming the ceasefire’s extension.

The negotiations centre on an Egyptian proposal that meets some of the Palestinian demands, such as easing the blockade of Gaza, but defer other stumbling blocks to later negotiations.

Hamas had repeatedly warned it would not extend the ceasefire, pressing for immediate gains that would allow it to claim concessions from Israel after the devastating four-week war in July and August.

But the militant group has come under pressure from both Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt, which borders Gaza to the west.


Islamic Jihad threatens rocket fire

Islamic Jihad threatens to renew rocket fire at midnight if no agreement is reached. The Popular Resistance Committees made an identical threat.

Hamas confirms truce extension but says no progress made in talks

Hamas negotiator Izzat al-Rishq confirms to Al-Jazeera that the ceasefire has been extended by 24 hours under Egyptian pressure, but says that no progress has been made in talks with Israel.

He says that the principles presented by Al-Jazeera as the basis of an agreement include “misinformation and confusion.”

— Elhanan Miller

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