search
Live updates (closed)

No rocket fire from Gaza or IDF strikes reported, as truce appears to take hold

Ceasefire comes after 11 days of fighting * Biden commends Netanyahu for Gaza truce, vows to replenish supply of Iron Dome missiles * Blinken heading to region

  • Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City on May 21, 2021.  (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
    Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City on May 21, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
  • Smoke rises in a community in southern Israel after it was struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    Smoke rises in a community in southern Israel after it was struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 20, 2021, soon after Israel and the two main Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced a ceasefire (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
    US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 20, 2021, soon after Israel and the two main Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced a ceasefire (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi (C) visit a building that was hit by Hamas rocket fire from Gaza, on May 20, 2021, in Petah Tikva. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi (C) visit a building that was hit by Hamas rocket fire from Gaza, on May 20, 2021, in Petah Tikva. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
  • A screenshot of a video released by the Hamas terror group showing an anti-tank missile hitting an IDF bus near the Gaza border, May 20, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
    A screenshot of a video released by the Hamas terror group showing an anti-tank missile hitting an IDF bus near the Gaza border, May 20, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
  • A home hit by a rocket fired from Gaza in the city of Ashkelon, May 20, 2021 (Magen David Adom)
    A home hit by a rocket fired from Gaza in the city of Ashkelon, May 20, 2021 (Magen David Adom)
  • An Israeli self-propelled howitzer fires artillery shells toward terror targets in the Gaza Strip from a position along the border with the Palestinian enclave on May 20, 2021  (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    An Israeli self-propelled howitzer fires artillery shells toward terror targets in the Gaza Strip from a position along the border with the Palestinian enclave on May 20, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • The damage caused to a building in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, after it was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza into Israel, May 20, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    The damage caused to a building in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, after it was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza into Israel, May 20, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli air strikes in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, on May 20, 2021 (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
    Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli air strikes in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, on May 20, 2021 (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
  • A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during an Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave following rocket fire (BASHAR TALEB / AFP)
    A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during an Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave following rocket fire (BASHAR TALEB / AFP)
  • An Israeli soldier walks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
    An Israeli soldier walks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
  • Palestinians inspect a site hit during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on May 20, 2021 following rocket fire from the Strip toward Israel (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
    Palestinians inspect a site hit during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on May 20, 2021 following rocket fire from the Strip toward Israel (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tours a Petah Tikva building hit by Hamas rocket fire, along with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and head of the IDF Home Front Command, Ori Gordin, May 20, 2021 (Foreign Ministry)
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tours a Petah Tikva building hit by Hamas rocket fire, along with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and head of the IDF Home Front Command, Ori Gordin, May 20, 2021 (Foreign Ministry)
  • Guests dance in the bomb shelter as Loren and David's wedding is interrupted by rocket fire, May 19, 2021 (Screen grab, Channel 12)
    Guests dance in the bomb shelter as Loren and David's wedding is interrupted by rocket fire, May 19, 2021 (Screen grab, Channel 12)
  • A technician inspects an unexploded missile fired from the Gaza Strip that landed on the top floor of a high rise apartment building, May 20, 2021, in Ashkelon, southern Israel. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    A technician inspects an unexploded missile fired from the Gaza Strip that landed on the top floor of a high rise apartment building, May 20, 2021, in Ashkelon, southern Israel. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • Police officers from Gaza's ruling Hamas terror group near a destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes after rocket fire from Gaza, in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (AP/Adel Hana)
    Police officers from Gaza's ruling Hamas terror group near a destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes after rocket fire from Gaza, in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (AP/Adel Hana)
  • A pro-Israel demonstration at the Koekamp, Netherlands, on May 20, 2021 (Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP)
    A pro-Israel demonstration at the Koekamp, Netherlands, on May 20, 2021 (Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened. For a recap of Wednesday’s news, click here.

IDF: 80 rockets were fired from Gaza last night; none launched in last 6 hours

Some 80 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel between 7 p.m. yesterday and 7 a.m. today, with 10 of them falling short of the border and landing within the Palestinian enclave, the Israel Defense Forces says.

According to the IDF, roughly 90 percent of the rockets heading toward populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The IDF conducted a number of overnight strikes in the Gaza Strip, continuing its campaign against Hamas’s sprawling tunnel network throughout the enclave, the military says.

Rocket fire from largely abated overnight, with the last attack occurring just after 1 a.m., targeting the town of Kiryat Malachi and the surrounding area.

No direct injuries were reported in the late-night attacks, save for a man in his 50s who injured himself on a bomb shelter door and a 14-year-old girl who fell while running for cover, medics say.

Blinken speaks with Ashkenazi, says US expects de-escalation

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is seen during a joint press conference with his Danish counterpart in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 17, 2021. (Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is seen during a joint press conference with his Danish counterpart in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 17, 2021. (Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweets that he spoke with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi to tell him the US expects to see a de-escalation in the violence and moves toward a ceasefire.

“I spoke with Gabi Ashkenazi about efforts to end the violence in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, which has claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians including children,” Blinken tweets. “The US expects to see de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire.”

The conversation comes with Israel under increasing pressure from Washington to end the fighting in the Gaza Strip as it enters its 11th day.

US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Wednesday phone call, their fourth on the matter, that he expected “a significant de-escalation” that day. Soon after, however, Netanyahu said he was “determined to continue this operation” against Hamas until “peace and security” were restored for Israel’s rocket-battered citizens.

US officials: Gaza violence means Washington can’t ignore Israeli-Palestinian conflict

US officials tell the Kan public broadcaster that they believe the violence between Israel and the Gaza terror groups will force the Biden administration to have more involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than they originally planned.

The report says that US officials had previously believed they would be able to move away from the issue, or at least delay any intervention.

The report notes that the US has still not appointed a special envoy to the region or an ambassador.

WSJ: Ceasefire could be tomorrow, concerns over ‘wild card’ Palestinian Islamic Jihad

The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interceptor missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interceptor missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Wall Street Journal reports that the ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror groups could come into effect as early as tomorrow.

People involved in the discussions told the outlet that Egyptian mediators have made progress in talks with leaders from the Hamas terror group, and Israel has “privately conceded” that it is close to achieving all its military objectives.

The report says Washington believes that barring any unforeseen events, the ceasefire could come into effect this week and the only question is one of timing.

However, a US official tells the outlet that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad remains an unknown quantity — the newspaper says the terror group is a “wild card” — and could continue to carry out attacks even after the ceasefire is agreed upon.

The White House declines to comment on the report.

Unnamed Likud officials: Netanyahu drawing out Gaza conflict to stop Lapid forming gov’t

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and then-finance minister Yair Lapid at a signing ceremony for a new private port to be built in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 23, 2014. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and then-finance minister Yair Lapid at a signing ceremony for a new private port to be built in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 23, 2014. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Sources in the Likud party tell the Ma’ariv newspaper there are concerns Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is extending the fighting in Gaza because Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid currently holds the mandate to form the next government.

“Netanyahu is drawing out the operation in Gaza because Lapid is holding the mandate,” a senior political adviser in the party says.

“He doesn’t seem to have a real desire to eradicate Hamas. Relations between the Arabs in Israel and Jews are being left in ruins,” the adviser says. “Netanyahu is galloping toward a fifth election and taking the country hostage. The collapse of right-wing chairman Naftali Bennett gives him a boost, but support for him within the Likud is weakening.”

Other elements in the right-wing bloc tell the newspaper that it is thought Netanyahu believes the conflict with Hamas will boost his image in fifth elections.

“He is building on the fact that Yamina will be wiped out,” unnamed party officials tell the newspaper.

Shortly after the violence broke out, Yamina’s Bennett abandoned Lapid and turned back to negotiations with Netanyahu’s Likud. The Walla news site reported this week that since then, the premier has toned back his original offer to the right-wing party head significantly.

Electric company union: We won’t repair Gaza power lines until prisoners returned

Power lines next to Moshav Bnei Re'em in central Israel, April 26, 2010. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Power lines next to Moshav Bnei Re'em in central Israel, April 26, 2010. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The workers union at the Israel Electric Corporation announces they will not repair the power lines to Gaza until the Strip’s ruling terror group returns the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, both killed in the 2014 war, as well as civilian Avera Mengistu who entered Gaza of his own accord.

There is no mention of Hisham al-Sayed, a second civilian who entered the Strip.

The IEC issues a statement in response, saying they are a “government company, subject to the provisions of the law, and we believe that electricity is an essential product that is outside the conflict.”

The company adds that it “hopes the boys are brought home.”

Israeli officials say Hamas rockets damaged power lines, cutting off hundreds of thousands of Gazans from electricity.

Clockwise from top left: Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. (Flash 90/Times of Israel)

Rocket fire renews toward Gaza border communities after 8-hour lull

Rockets are fired by Palestinian terrorists toward Israel, near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 19, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Rockets are fired by Palestinian terrorists toward Israel, near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 19, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)

After a nearly eight and a half hour lull, incoming rocket sirens sound in the communities of Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

These communities have repeatedly been targeted by mortar fire over the past 11 days of fighting.

Footage shows clashes between pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian supporters in New York

Footage posted online shows a street brawl between a group of pro-Palestinian protesters and two pro-Israel demonstrators in New York.

It is unclear how the altercation started but the two Israel-supporters appeared to have been cornered by a large crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Police officers intervene to extract the two.

It was unclear when the incident took place.

Groups of pro-Palestinian protesters attacked Jews in two separate incidents in Los Angeles this week. Authorities are investigating one of the incidents as a possible hate crime.

IDF says it carried out strike on Hamas multi-launch rocket system, 2 weapon depots

The Israel Defense Forces says it has destroyed a multi-launch rocket system in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, as well as two weapons caches, as the Israeli military continues to conduct strikes in the Palestinian enclave.

The strike on the Hamas launchpad “prevented rocket fire at Israel,” the IDF says.

In video footage released by the IDF, secondary explosions can be seen after the strike, indicating that several rockets were inside the launcher when it was destroyed.

According to the IDF, one weapons cache was located in the home of the deputy head of Hamas’s air force in central Gaza and the other in the home of another member of the air force in Khan Younis.

Rocket barrage fired toward Ashkelon, Gaza border towns

Rocket sirens sound in the southern city of Ashkelon as well as the Gaza border communities of Zikim, Netiv Ha’asara, Karmia, Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, warning of incoming fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The city and those communities have come under heavy fire over the past 11 days of fighting.

Last week, Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam said 25% of the residents of the city don’t have access to a protected area when rockets are fired.

Palestinian media: Hamas fires anti-tank missile at IDF vehicle near Gaza border

Palestinian media reports that Hamas has just fired an anti-tank guided missile at an Israeli military vehicle near the border north of Gaza.

There is no immediate confirmation of the attack by the Israel Defense Forces.

German foreign minister lands at Ben Gurion for talks with Israeli officials, security briefing

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (L) greets German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (R) at Ben Gurion Airport, May 20, 2021 (Miri Shimonovitch)
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (L) greets German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (R) at Ben Gurion Airport, May 20, 2021 (Miri Shimonovitch)

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas lands at Ben Gurion Airport where he is greeted by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

Ashkenazi thanks his German counterpart for arriving on a “solidarity visit” and expresses gratitude to Germany’s government for its support of Israel throughout the conflict and for condemning Hamas terror, as well as for emphasizing Israel’s right to defend itself.

Ashkenazi accuses Hamas of firing missiles in a “brutal attempt” to strengthen its political standing and to take over the Palestinian Authority.

The foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia are also expected in Israel this morning as part of a delegation of envoys.

The ministers will visit a site hit by Hamas rocket fire and receive a briefing from a security official.

Later in the day, the foreign ministers are expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Hamas fires anti-tank missile at empty bus near border; IDF soldier lightly hurt

An Israeli soldier is lightly wounded after an anti-tank guided missile was fired at an empty bus he was standing next to near the Gaza border, the military says.

The soldier was hit by shrapnel.

No other injuries are reported in the attack, which occurred just north of the Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Sirens sound in Gaza border communities

Rocket sirens warning of incoming fire sound in the Gaza border communities of Kissufim, Netiv Ha’asara and Zikim.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Netiv Ha’asara residents told to stay in shelters

Residents of the Gaza border community of Netiv Ha’asara are told by the Home Front Command to remain in bomb shelters or protected areas of their homes until further notice.

The town has come under repeated fire this morning.

IDF hits Hamas targets including attack tunnel, launchpads targeting Tel Aviv

The Israel Defense Forces says it has destroyed a number of Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip this morning, including an attack tunnel, command-and-control center and two underground launchpads.

The military says it bombed an attack tunnel located near the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun, as well as two underground launchpads in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City, which the IDF says was used to fire rockets at Tel Aviv earlier this week.

In addition, the IDF says its fighter jets destroyed a Hamas command center “from which the organization oversaw the combat in the current round of fighting.”

Sirens warn of incoming fire toward Gaza border towns

Incoming rocket sirens sound in the Gaza border communities of Nahal Oz, Nir Oz and Kissufim, Netiv Ha’asara and Tze’elim.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The alerts come as the Israel Defense Forces continues to carry out strikes on terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

Home Front Command head says building more shelters is responsibility of state as well as individuals

Daniel Turjman, 60, rests in a bomb shelter that is also used as a synagogue near his apartment building in Ashdod, Israel, May 19, 2021 (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
Daniel Turjman, 60, rests in a bomb shelter that is also used as a synagogue near his apartment building in Ashdod, Israel, May 19, 2021 (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)

Amid growing concern over the numbers of people living without bomb shelters or protected areas of their homes, the head of the Home Front says that his command is responsible for regulations but that implementation lies with the state as well as individuals.

“Protection is a national project that cannot be led by the local authorities or residents. More than 70% of citizens have standard protection. In the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, everyone is protected at home,” Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin tells the Kan public broadcaster. “The Home Front Command is responsible for regulation and criteria, but the realization of this protection is on the state as well as citizens.”

“It is necessary to significantly improve protection in Ashkelon, Netivot, Ashdod and Ofakim,” he says.

There has been increasing awareness since the start of the current round of violence that large numbers of people do not have shelters or reinforced areas of their homes and do not have enough time to reach public shelters when they hear a rocket alert siren.

The elderly, people with disabilities and those living in unrecognized Bedouin encampments in the south of the country are particularly vulnerable.

Barrages of projectiles fired at Gaza border communities

Incoming rocket sirens sound in a number of communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, sending residents rushing for shelter.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The alerts come as the Israel Defense Forces continues to carry out strikes on terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s Maas visits rocket-hit building, emphasizes Israel’s right to defend itself

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visits a building in Petah Tikva hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, May 20, 2021 (Miri Shimonovitch)
Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visits a building in Petah Tikva hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, May 20, 2021 (Miri Shimonovitch)

Shortly after landing in Israel, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas receives a security briefing in Petah Tikva from Gen. Ori Gordin, head of the IDF Home Front Command.

Maas also visits a building in the city hit by a rocket fired from Gaza.

The German envoy says his visit was meant to show solidarity with Israel, and emphasizes Israel’s right to defend itself.

He also says Germany supports efforts to reach a ceasefire.

The Czech and Slovakian foreign ministers are expected to land at midday.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (C) receives a security briefing in Petah Tikva from Gen. Ori Gordin (L), head of the IDF Home Front Command, along with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (R). (Foreign Ministry)

Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says at least 230 killed, including 65 children and teens

A picture shows destroyed buildings in Gaza City's Rimal area on May 20, 2021 after it was  bombed by an Israeli air strike following rocket fire (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
A picture shows destroyed buildings in Gaza City's Rimal area on May 20, 2021 after it was bombed by an Israeli air strike following rocket fire (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

At least 230 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip over the past 11 days of fighting, including 65 children, and another 1,710 people have been injured, says the Strip’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, at least 160 of the people killed in Gaza were members of terrorist groups, mostly Hamas but also the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli military has also indicated that Hamas’s health ministry may be under-reporting its casualty figures by failing to include the number of terrorist operatives killed in the Strip.

In one case, a Palestinian family of eight in Gaza was killed when a rocket fired from the enclave failed to clear the border and struck their house in the city of Beit Hanoun.

Sirens warn of incoming fire to Ashkelon, Gaza border and Negev towns

Sirens are heard in towns in the south of Israel and close to the Gaza border as the area comes under sustained fire from terror groups in the Strip.

Rocket warnings wail as far east as some of the Bedouin towns and encampments in the Negev, and as far north as Ashkelon.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

More sirens warn of incoming fire to Gaza border towns

Rocket alerts wail in the Gaza border communities of Holit, Nahal Oz, Kerem Shalom, Netiv Ha’asara, Be’eri and Kissufim.

There are no immediate reports of projectile impacts in the community.

Many of those towns have been under near-continuous fire since this morning.

Bennett: Netanyahu not using Gaza for political ends, Hamas responsible for violence

Yamina party head Naftali Bennett gives a press conference at the Knesset on May 5, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina party head Naftali Bennett gives a press conference at the Knesset on May 5, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In an interview with US network MSNBC, Yamina head Naftali Bennett says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not using the fighting in Gaza for his own political ends.

When asked directly about the claim that the premier was using the situation to shore up political support, Bennett says: “No. I think the fundamental problem here is that Hamas wants to destroy [Israel].” He then reads sections of the Hamas charter aloud.

He is not pushed further on the matter of Netanyahu.

Sources in the Likud party told the Ma’ariv newspaper earlier that there are concerns in the party that Netanyahu is extending the fighting in Gaza because Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid currently holds the mandate to form the next government.

Gantz meets with Maas, expresses thanks for Germany’s support

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Tel Aviv, the Defense Ministry says in a statement.

The statement says Gantz expressed his appreciation for Germany’s “unequivocal support” and “unwavering commitment” to Israel’s security.

The two note their shared goal of “weakening extremist elements and strengthening moderate forces in Gaza and in the region at large, to the end of securing long-term peace and stability,” the statement says.

Barrages fired at Beersheba, Negev towns, Gaza border community

Sirens are heard in the southern city of Beersheba and a number of towns and villages in the Negev Desert, warning of incoming rocket fire.

Alerts are also heard in the Gaza border town of Netiv Ha’asara, which has come under sustained fire since the morning, with the Home Front Command telling residents not to leave their shelters.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Beersheba residents reported hearing explosions suggestive of interceptions by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

IDF says it hit 5 more Hamas rocket launchers, some buried underground

The Israel Defense Forces says it targeted five more Hamas rocket launchers throughout the Gaza Strip this morning.

According to the IDF, some of these were aboveground and some had been buried in order to make them more difficult for Israel to spot and destroy.

UN Human Rights Council to hold special session on Israel, Palestinians

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneval discusses a resolution condemning Israeli actions on the Golan Heights, March 22, 2019 (screen shot UN WebTV)
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneval discusses a resolution condemning Israeli actions on the Golan Heights, March 22, 2019 (screen shot UN WebTV)

The UN Human Rights Council says it will hold a special session on the situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem amid the deadly violence between Israel and the Gaza terror groups.

The session, planned for next Thursday, will address “the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” the council says in a statement.

The session was requested by Pakistan, which is the coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Palestinian authorities, it says.

The UN does not say how many of the Geneva-based council’s 47 member states back the call, but at least a third must come out in support for a special session request to be granted.

Israel has heavily criticized the rights council over the years, saying it focuses disproportionately on the Jewish state while ignoring abuses by autocratic regimes and governments — and even accepts them as members.

Israeli officials expecting ceasefire talks breakthrough within 24 hours – report

Unnamed Israeli officials tell the Walla news site they expect a breakthrough in Gaza ceasefire talks within the coming 24 hours.

Talks are taking place via two channels — Egyptian intelligence services and the UN envoy to the Middle East, Tor Wennesland.

There was no comment from the Prime Minister’s’ Office on the report.

Senior officials tell the outlet that Egyptian mediators are leading the discussions and are in direct contact with the leadership of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Wennesland has traveled to Doha to meet with Hamas leaders who are living there and have some influence on the situation.

Sirens sound in Nir Am, Kissufim and Mefalsim

Fresh rocket sirens have been set off in the Gaza border towns of Nir Am, Kissufim and Mefalsim.

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

Philippines says will stop sending workers to Israel amid violence

The Philippines says it will temporarily stop sending citizens to work in Israel after three foreign workers were killed by rocket fire.

Three of the 12 people killed in Israel since the start of the violence last week were foreign workers — two from Thailand and one from India.

Philippines’ labor secretary, Silvestre Bello III, tells the ABS-CBN news network that workers will not be allowed to travel to Israel “until we can ensure their safety,” the New York Times reports.

“As of now we won’t be deploying workers,” he says. “As we can see, there’s bombing everywhere. If we deploy, it would be difficult — it would be my responsibility.”

According to the newspaper, some 30,000 Filipinos work in Israel, mostly as domestic workers and caregivers for older Israelis or those with disabilities.

Some workers say they are subject to abuse and bad working conditions, as well as risking deportation under Israeli law if they marry or have children.

Iran’s Rouhani: Agreement reached on ‘major issues like sanctions’ at nuclear talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2021. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2021. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says nuclear deal talks in Vienna have yielded agreement on “major issues like sanctions,” while other issues remained under discussion.

“We have taken a major and big step and the main agreement has been done,” Rouhani says.

According to the Bloomberg financial outlet, the sanctions to be dropped are those affecting oil, banking and shipping.

Rouhani gives an optimistic assessment of the ongoing talks to resuscitate his country’s nuclear deal with world powers, claiming there has been “major” agreement among diplomats even as other nations involved suggested challenges remain.

Specifics have been few from weeks of talks in Vienna, which aim to see Iran return to the limits the deal impose and the US drop the sanctions it imposed after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal in 2018.

Iran refuses to engage in any direct talks with the US, however. Tehran now enriches small quantities of uranium to 60% purity, its highest level ever, maintains an ever-growing stockpile of lower-enriched uranium and operates advanced centrifuges — all things prohibited by the accord.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency faces a looming deadline with Iran over its inspections of Tehran’s nuclear sites. It reached a temporary deal with Iran in February to ensure inspections continued, though Iran stopped allowing it to access footage recorded on cameras monitoring its nuclear sites.

Iran vowed to hold onto the footage for three months, but warned it would erase it if sanctions relief didn’t come. That three-month deadline expires either Friday under the Gregorian calendar or Monday under the Persian calendar.

The IAEA says Thursday it “and Iran are currently in consultations regarding the implementation of the existing understanding.”

Poll: 72% of Israelis believe Gaza operation should continue, with no ceasefire yet

A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during Israeli strikes on the Hamas-controlled enclave in response to rocket fire (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during Israeli strikes on the Hamas-controlled enclave in response to rocket fire (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

A survey cited by Channel 12 news finds that the majority of Israelis do not believe Israel should negotiate a ceasefire now.

The poll finds that 72% say “the operation should continue,” with the number rising slightly in the south of the country to 73%.

Only 24% say “we should agree” to a ceasefire, with the figure dropping to 22% in the south.

When asked whether Israel has made greater achievements in this round [of fighting Hamas] than previous rounds, 66% say yes, with the figure dropping to 30% of those who live in the south, while 30% say no (28% among southern residents).

The survey was conducted today by Direct Polls, and questioned 684 Israelis, with a 4.3% margin of error.

Leah Goldin: Israel must not sign ceasefire without return of captives

Leah Goldin, mother of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, attends a press conference ahead of the cabinet meeting, August 5, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Leah Goldin, mother of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, attends a press conference ahead of the cabinet meeting, August 5, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The mother of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose body has been held by the Hamas terror group since he was killed in Gaza in 2014, says Israel should not reach a ceasefire with Hamas unless the agreement includes the return of Israeli captives.

“We must not sign a ceasefire without the return of our boys,” Leah Goldin tells Channel 12 news.

IDF soldiers Goldin and Oron Shaul were killed in the summer 2014 war with Hamas, while civilian Avera Mengistu was captured after he entered Gaza of his own accord in the same year. Mengistu reportedly suffers from mental health issues. Hisham al-Sayed, a second civilian, entered the Strip in 2015.

Goldin recently accused Israel’s leaders of deceiving and misleading the families for years while doing little to pressure Hamas to give back the bodies.

Clockwise from top left: Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. (Flash 90/Times of Israel)

Wedding celebrations move to bomb shelter after rocket siren crashes the party

Guests dance in the bomb shelter as Loren and David's wedding is interrupted by rocket fire, May 19, 2021 (Screen grab, Channel 12)
Guests dance in the bomb shelter as Loren and David's wedding is interrupted by rocket fire, May 19, 2021 (Screen grab, Channel 12)

A newlywed couple tell of their experience of getting married in a celebration interrupted by rocket sirens, which at one stage saw dancing take place not in an elegantly decorated wedding hall, but instead in a bomb shelter.

The couple say that guests were briefed in advance of the procedure if there were sirens during the event.

“We hope there wouldn’t be a siren during the ceremony, says Lauren. “When it happened [after the ceremony] we all just went into the shelter. It didn’t matter. Everyone was happy to celebrate with us.”

Her husband David explains that they decided to go ahead with the wedding because they had already previously postponed it due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports of building in Ashkelon hit by rocket fired from Gaza

Initial reports say a building in the southern city has been hit by a rocket fired from Gaza.

It is not immediately known if there are injuries.

The rocket was fired as part of a number of barrages toward the city and a number of Gaza border communities.

Channel 12 news shows live footage of the rockets being fired from Gaza.

Heavy rocket fire on southern Israel: Sirens sound in Beersheba, Bedouin towns

A barrage of rockets is fired toward the southern city of Beersheba and a number of Bedouin towns and encampments in the surrounding Negev desert.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

1 lightly hurt when rocket hits Ashkelon home

A home hit by a rocket fired from Gaza in the city of Ashkelon, May 20, 2021 (Magen David Adom)
A home hit by a rocket fired from Gaza in the city of Ashkelon, May 20, 2021 (Magen David Adom)

One person is lightly injured in Ashkelon in a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, medics say.

The man, 26, sustained injuries from broken glass and from the blast and has been taken to the city’s Barzilai Medical Center for treatment, the Magen David Adom ambulance service says.

Fresh rocket barrages fired from Gaza toward Beersheba, surrounding towns

The southern city of Beersheba and a number of Bedouin towns and encampments in the surrounding Negev desert come under renewed rocket fire.

Sirens send residents rushing for cover.

A number of projectiles are intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Netanyahu: Drone shot down earlier this week was Iranian UAV armed with explosives

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shows visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas fragments of a drone that Israel says was launched by Iran toward northern Israel, which was brought down by the Israeli military, on May 20, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/Government Press Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shows visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas fragments of a drone that Israel says was launched by Iran toward northern Israel, which was brought down by the Israeli military, on May 20, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/Government Press Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that a drone downed by the Israel Defense Forces earlier this week was an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle armed with explosives.

The IDF until now has largely remained mum on the incident, in which the UAV was brought down as it approached Israeli airspace near the city of Beit Shean.

According to Netanyahu, the drone was made by Iran and launched toward Israel from either Syria or Iraq.

This would be the second time that Iran has sent armed UAVs into Israel.

In a similar case in 2018, a drone was flown from Syria into northern Israel before it was shot down by an Israeli helicopter.

In response, the IDF launched a wave of strikes on Iranian assets in Syria.

Rocket hits building in Beersheba industrial zone, causing extensive damage but no injuries

A building in Beersheba’s industrial zone is hit by a rocket during one of the near-continuous barrages on the south of Israel.

There are no reports of injuries.

Footage from the scene shows extensive damage.

Near-constant barrages fired from Gaza; sirens in Ashdod, Beersheba, southern towns

Rockets are fired at the southern city of Ashdod and numerous southern towns and villages.

It is the first time today that projectiles have been fired at Ashdod.

The rocket fire has been almost nonstop at some locations for a number of hours, sending residents rushing for shelter.

A number of direct hits are recorded over the course of the day, causing extensive damage and light injuries.

Security cabinet to meet at 7 p.m. with possible ceasefire said set to be discussed

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene the security cabinet at 7 p.m.

Hebrew-language reports say that in addition to talks on the ongoing operations in the Gaza Strip and the rocket fire from the enclave, ministers will discuss the possibility of a ceasefire.

Erdogan sues rival for comparing his attempt to hold onto power to that of Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seen in a combination of photos. (Ronen Zvulun and Ozan Kose/ AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seen in a combination of photos. (Ronen Zvulun and Ozan Kose/ AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sues a nationalist rival for comparing him to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, official media reports.

Iyi Party (Good Party) leader Meral Aksener, a conservative nationalist who has been dubbed Turkey’s “Iron Lady,” said in parliament on Tuesday that Netanyahu and Erdogan used similar tactics to hold on to power.

She said Netanyahu’s recent campaign against Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, which Erdogan has furiously opposed, was driven by politics and a desire to gain public support after four inconclusive elections in two years.

“Erdogan’s Israel version, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not hesitate to target the lives of civilians and children to scupper his political rivals and protect his seat,” she said.

In a televised chat with young people late Wednesday, Erdogan called Aksener’s comments “immoral.”

“I have not met Netanyahu,” Erdogan said. “Netanyahu has never been and will never be our friend.”

Erdogan’s lawsuit is seeking 250,000 liras ($30,000) in damages, the Anadolu news agency reports.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Lapid says government can’t ignore US calls for ceasefire

Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, on May 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, on May 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid says the Israeli government must heed calls by the United States for a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror groups, because coordination will be required with Biden administration on bigger challenges.

“[US President Joe] Biden wanted to end the operation after 11 days, when the IDF has already achieved its goals. Israel cannot ignore such a request,” Lapid says according to the Ynet news site.

“We face much greater challenges than Gaza — Iran, the nuclear deal, tensions in Syria and the strengthening of Hezbollah. All of these will require close coordination with the Americans.”

Kim Kardashian under fire for post saying Israelis, Palestinians deserve to live in peace

Kim Kardashian West speaks at the Langham Huntington, Jan. 18, 2020, in Pasadena, California (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Kim Kardashian West speaks at the Langham Huntington, Jan. 18, 2020, in Pasadena, California (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Kim Kardashian posts an image to her Facebook page containing a quote saying that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace and safety, and comes under fire for the statement.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this but both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace and safety,” the quote reads. “Anyone trying to convince you that one must come at the expense of the other does not support human rights for all humans.”

The quote is illustrated with Israeli and Palestinian flags and is not posted to any other social media network, including her wildly popular Instagram page.

Kardashian does not feature the photo in her main feed but it is still picked up on other social media networks, where the star comes under attack.

Much of the criticism centers on the fact that Kardashian was a leading voice calling for the US to recognize the Armenian genocide, with commenters making a false comparison between the current violence and that historical event.

Fresh sirens sound in Ashkelon, Gaza border communities

A technician inspects an unexploded missile fired from the Gaza Strip that landed on the top floor of a high rise apartment building, May 20, 2021, in Ashkelon, southern Israel. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A technician inspects an unexploded missile fired from the Gaza Strip that landed on the top floor of a high rise apartment building, May 20, 2021, in Ashkelon, southern Israel. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Sirens warn of incoming rocket fire in the southern city of Ashkelon as well as a number of communities near the border with Gaza.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

US lawmakers slam Erdogan’s antisemitic remarks: ‘Tantamount to blood libel’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, October 28, 2020.  (AP Photo)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, October 28, 2020. (AP Photo)

The eight co-chairs of the US House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism issue a statement condemning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s antisemitic comments.

“We unequivocally condemn the recent antisemitic remarks of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which are tantamount to blood libel against the Jewish people. We firmly believe the leader of an American partner should not use the same antisemitic tropes that have been used countless times to justify violence against Jews for centuries,” the statement reads. “We call upon President Erdogan to retract and renounce his remarks, which only serve to fuel the dangerous rise in global antisemitism and increase the threat to the Jewish community.”

The co-chairs of the Task Force are US Representatives Ted Deutch of FLorida, New Jersey’s Chris Smith, Marc Veasey of Texas, Kay Granger from Texas, Grace Meng of New York, Randy Weber of Texas, California’s Ted Lieu and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Erdogan has accused Israel of “terrorism” against the Palestinians and recently said, “It is in their nature.”

“They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They only are satisfied by sucking their blood,” he said.

Erdogan on Monday said US President Joe Biden had “bloody hands” because of his support of Israel in the raging conflict in the Gaza Strip.

IDF strike on car in Gaza reportedly kills 2

Palestinian media reports say two people have been killed in an Israeli strike on a car in the northern Gaza Strip.

The two fatalities are not immediately identified.

Merkel backs ‘indirect contacts’ with Hamas to end fighting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that “indirect contacts” with the Hamas terror group, such as those maintained by some Arab countries, are necessary to defuse the situation in the Middle East.

Speaking in Berlin as her foreign minister visited Israel and the West Bank on Thursday, Merkel downplays how much Germany alone can do to help defuse the situation.

Merkel says at an event organized by WDR public television: “Everything we are doing, and the foreign minister is doing, must be seen in the context of American efforts and the efforts of other European states.” She adds: “I don’t think we alone will be the decisive factor there, but we can make a contribution” along with the US, other Europeans and Britain.

Germany has placed the blame for the latest war in the Middle East squarely on Hamas and what it calls the group’s “rocket terror.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, December 16, 2020. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Asked whether she would back someone speaking with the group, Merkel replies: “Of course there have to be indirect contacts with Hamas. Egypt speaks to Hamas and so do other Arab countries.”

She adds that Egypt is a “very, very important quantity” in ceasefire efforts and “that can’t be done without any contact with Hamas — it doesn’t always have to be done directly. But of course Hamas has to be involved in a certain way, because without Hamas there is no ceasefire.”

Hamas releases footage of anti-tank missile attack on empty IDF bus

The Hamas terror group releases video footage of its anti-tank missile attack earlier today, which targeted an empty IDF bus north of the enclave.

A soldier standing nearby the bus was lightly injured by shrapnel in the attack, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Rocket alert sirens sound in Ashdod, Ashkelon

Rocket alert sirens are triggered in the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

WHO issues $7 million emergency appeal for Gaza, West Bank

The UN World Health Organization issues an urgent appeal for $7 million to pay for a “comprehensive emergency response” in Gaza amid the conflict with Israel.

WHO says the funds would “enable a comprehensive emergency response in the next six months” in Gaza as well in the West Bank, which has also seen a surge in protests and violent attacks.

“In the Gaza Strip, the severity of injuries is straining an already overwhelmed health system,” says Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region.

The health system in the crowded enclave “is facing critical shortages of essential medicines and supplies while also battling the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says in an online press conference.

Before the latest military escalation, the rate of positive Covid tests in Gaza was among the highest in the world, at 28 percent, and hospitals were already overwhelmed by patients.

Bernie Sanders introduces resolution to halt $735 million arms sale to Israel

US Senator Bernie Sanders is leading a long-shot effort to halt a $735 million arms sale to Israel as Democrats in the US Congress raise mounting concerns about the violence in the Middle East.

The Vermont senator introduces a resolution to block the weapons transfer. A similar measure in the House was introduced Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, and liberal lawmakers on Wednesday.

Sanders says that Congress needs to “take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping… or whether it is simply fueling conflict.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chairman of the Budget Committee, speaks during a US Senate Budget Committee hearing regarding wages at large corporations on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Supporters of this effort are unlikely to have the votes needed to reverse the sale, but they’re racing the clock to register opposition under a review period that expires this week.

The opposition to what had been a routine transfer of arms shows the increasing unrest on Capitol Hill from key Democrats over Israel’s handling of the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Residents of Gaza border communities told to shelter until further notice

Residents of communities within four kilometers of the Gaza Strip have been instructed to remain in their shelters until further notice.

British PM condemns ‘intolerable’ surge in antisemitism in UK amid Gaza fighting

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemns an “intolerable” surge in anti-Semitic violence in Britain linked to the Israeli-Palestinian unrest as he assures Jewish leaders of the government’s support.

At Downing Street, Johnson meets in person with British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and virtually with seven other Jewish leaders including Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust.

The trust, which collates reports of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, says there was a sixfold increase to 116 in the 11-day period starting May 8.

Pro-Palestinian activists and supporters in London let off smoke flares, wave flags and carry placards during a demonstration against Israel amid fighting between the Jewish state and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, on May 15, 2021. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

“Whatever the situation is in the Middle East, there is no excuse for the importing of prejudice to the streets of our country,” Johnson says in a statement after the meeting.

Incidents including one assault on a rabbi in London and a “disgusting parade” of vehicles elsewhere in the capital were “intolerable and I take deep, deep exception,” he said.

Police have arrested four people after they were shown on video shouting antisemitic abuse from a car in north London on Sunday.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask to combat the spread of Covid-19, leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 19, 2021. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Two men have been charged in connection with the attack on the rabbi, who was hit over the head with a concrete brick near his synagogue.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom. We must call it out, and be continuously vigilant and emphatic,” Johnson says.

UN chief says Israel-Gaza fighting ‘must stop immediately’

Continued crossfire between Israeli forces and Hamas is “unacceptable,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells the UN General Assembly on Thursday, saying “the fighting must stop immediately.”

“I am deeply shocked by the continued air and artillery bombardment by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza,” Guterres says.

“If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza,” says Guterres.

He adds that “indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas and other militant groups” towards population centers in Israel — which have left 12 dead, including two children — was also “unacceptable.” Thousands of rockets have been fired at Israeli cities and towns from Gaza in the past 11 days.

The General Assembly meeting was requested by Niger and Algeria, respectively the current chairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group at the United Nations.

Palestinians inspect a site hit during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on May 20, 2021 following rocket fire from the Strip toward Israel (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

“It is imperative that we achieve de-escalation, to prevent an uncontainable cross-border security and humanitarian crisis,” Guterres says, calling for the “resumption of negotiations” pursuing “a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines.”

On Wednesday, the 10th day of deadly violence between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, a spokesperson for the Secretary-General said Guterres had had contact with Palestinians and officials in the Middle East, but not yet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Denouncing airstrike damage to “several hospitals,” the UN chief also calls the levelling of media offices as well as the killing of a journalist in Gaza “extremely concerning.” Israel says Hamas was operating inside the media tower that it destroyed.

“I am deeply distressed by damage to United Nations facilities in Gaza,” he says. “United Nations premises are inviolable, including during armed conflict. Humanitarian installations must be respected and protected.”

He says an appeal for humanitarian aid donations would launch “as soon as possible,” specifying that the UN would release $14 million from the Humanitarian Fund for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“There is no justification, including counterterrorism or self-defense, for the abdication by the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Guterres says.

“I am also deeply concerned by the continuation of violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, where several Palestinian families are under the threat of eviction.”

Gantz: We are prepared to expand Gaza operation, if needed

Amid talk of an imminent ceasefire, Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is prepared to expand its air campaign in Gaza, if necessary.

“We are prepared and willing to expand the operation as needed,” says Gantz.

“We are taking Hamas on a journey back in time — a journey from which we will not allow it to return,” adds the defense minister, referring to Israel’s bombing of the terror group’s military infrastructure.

Israel’s UN envoy walks out during Palestinian ambassador’s speech

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan walks out of the General Assembly in protest when his Palestinian counterpart begins to speak.

Rocket sirens sound in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot

Rocket alert sirens sound in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot and Gaza border communities, as the south comes under a heavy barrage from the Gaza Strip.

Schools to remain shut in south, center on Friday

The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command extends the current restrictions — which include school closures throughout southern and central Israel — through Friday evening.

Al-Jazeera: Israel has informed Egypt it’s willing to end Gaza operation

Israel has informed Egypt — which is mediating a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Hamas — that it is willing to halt its military campaign in the Gaza Strip, Al-Jazeera reports.

IDF: Gaza car targeted, passengers were part of Hamas anti-tank missile unit

The IDF confirms it carried out a strike on a car in the northern Gaza Strip, saying its passengers were armed members of Hamas’s anti-tank missile unit.

Two people were killed in the strike, according to Palestinian media reports.

The army also says it destroyed the Hamas launchpad in Beit Lahiya where an anti-tank missile was fired at an empty IDF bus earlier today.

IDF says it struck two Hamas tunnel shafts in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces says it struck two Hamas tunnel openings in the Gaza Strip in the past few hours.

There are no immediate reports of casualties.

Security cabinet meets over ceasefire

The high-level security cabinet is now meeting to discuss a possible ceasefire agreement with the Hamas terror group in Gaza, following 11 days of fighting.

The meeting comes as rockets continue to be fired at Gaza border communities in southern Israel.

Hamas-run health ministry says Gaza death toll climbs to 232

The number of people killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes since May 10 has risen to 232, the Hamas-run health ministry says as it confirms five new deaths.

According to the updated tally, the toll includes 65 children and 1,900 wounded.

According to the IDF, more than 120 of those killed were members of Hamas and over 25 were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as of Monday night. The IDF says some of the Gaza civilian fatalities were killed by the terror groups’ own rockets falling short and exploding in Gaza.

Twelve people — including a five-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl — have been killed in Israel from Palestinian rocket fire, according to Israeli authorities.

Dozens rally in Bahrain in support of Palestinians

Dozens of Bahrainis demonstrate in solidarity with Palestinians in a move approved by the authorities of the kingdom, which last year normalized ties with Israel.

“Down, down with Israel… down, down with normalization,” some protesters cry, many waving Palestinian flags.

“Stop the aggression on Gaza,” signs held by protesters in the capital Manama read.

Last year, shortly after the United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel in a US-brokered accord, Bahrain followed suit.

Report: Hamas agrees to ceasefire with Israel

The Hamas terror group has informed Hezbollah that it agrees to a ceasefire with Israel from tomorrow, according to Lebanese media.

The unsourced report comes after Al-Jazeera and the BBC say Israel has told Egyptian mediators it supports a truce in Gaza.

The reports are not confirmed by either side.

And Channel 12 reports that Hamas has hardened its bargaining position in recent hours, demanding Israel partake in the rehabilitation of the Strip from the airstrike damage and issuing demands on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem that Israel won’t meet.

Girl, 12, dies from post-COVID complications

A 12-year-old girl from Bnei Brak who recovered from COVID-19 has died as a result of lingering complications from the virus, Hebrew media reports say.

The girl has not been identified.

Ministers to vote on unilateral ceasefire, starting within 24 hours — report

The high-level security cabinet will vote in favor of a unilateral ceasefire that will go into effect some time in the next 24 hours, an unnamed official tells the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The Ynet news site reports that Egypt will likely declare the hour marking the start of the ceasefire.

IDF: 299 rockets fired at Israel since this morning

The Israel Defense Forces says 299 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since 7 a.m.

The military says 42 of the rockets fell in Gaza. The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system successfully intercepted 90 percent of the projectiles, it says.

The army says it struck 30 rocket-launching sites in Gaza since this morning. The IDF says it carried out 430 strikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket-launching sites in the past several days, killing 20 terrorists involved.

Biden speaks to Egyptian president on Gaza ceasefire

US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speak on the phone. The two leaders discuss Cairo’s efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

“The two leaders discussed efforts to achieve a ceasefire that will bring an end to the current hostilities in Israel and Gaza. They agreed that their teams would stay in constant communication toward that end and the two leaders would stay closely in touch,” according to a US readout on the call.

Firefighters battle fire sparked by rocket in national park

A wildfire sparked by a rocket fired from Gaza is raging in Habesor national park in southern Israel.

Firefighters say the blaze has been partially extinguished and efforts are ongoing.

A fire rages in Park Habesor in southern Israel after rocket fire in the area (courtesy of Israel Fire and Rescue Services)

At UN, Erdan likens Hamas charter to Nazis, lashes international ‘hypocrisy’

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan likens the Hamas charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction, to the genocidal aims of Nazi Germany.

“Sadly, in today’s debate, we are not seeing a defense of the goals laid out for the UN, but rather an indifference to Hamas’s charter, which, like the Nazis, is committed to the genocide of the Jewish people,” he says.

“We see an attempt to create a false moral equivalence, an immoral equivalence, between Israel, a democracy that seeks peace and abides by international law, and a murderous terrorist organization with an ideology similar to ISIS, that is carrying out the double war crime of firing at Israeli civilians while hiding its weapons behind Palestinian civilians, using them as human shields,” adds Erdan.

Likud’s Gilad Erdan in Jerusalem, May 18, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He adds: “Every speaker here today, that fails to unequivocally condemn Hamas, that fails to distinguish between Hamas’s war crimes and Israel’s self-defense, that chooses to demonize Israel, rather than supporting its heroic efforts to dismantle Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure, is strengthening extremist forces, encouraging terrorist groups to use civilians as human shields, and undermining the chances for peace.”

Erdan says the IDF goes “above and beyond” the demands of international law.

“While Hamas rockets are indiscriminate, Israel’s strikes are precise, surgical. We go above and beyond the demands of international law,” he says.

He accuses the UN of “hypocrisy” and says: “We will never apologize for defending our citizens, even if some of the countries here might be happy to see a greater number of dead Jews.”

Analyst: Israel, Hamas likely to end fighting without formal ceasefire deal

Former head of IDF military intelligence Amos Yadlin estimates that Israel and Hamas are unlikely to reach an official ceasefire deal since their respective demands are irreconcilable.

Instead, both sides will likely halt fire in a non-formal truce, he tells Channel 12.

Yadlin says Hamas is seeking to cast itself as the defender of Jerusalem and is demanding an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. It is seeking a commitment that its leaders won’t be attacked by Israel and safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank.

Institute for National Security Studies chairman Amos Yadlin, a former head of IDF Military Intelligence (Tomer Neuberg/ FLASH90)

Israel will not want to agree to any of these conditions, says Yadlin, who is the executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Israel wants complete quiet, including the cessation of incendiary devices fired from Gaza; the disarming of Gaza, or at least that Hamas not rearm now, the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers, and freedom for Israeli civilians held in the enclave, says Yadlin.

US held more than 60 high-level diplomatic meetings to end Gaza violence

The US ambassador to the United Nations says the United States will continue “to relentlessly push for peace” between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says the US has held more than 60 diplomatic meetings at the highest levels over the past two weeks, including at least five by President Joe Biden, to try to quickly end the conflict.

She speaks on Thursday at an emergency in-person meeting of the UN General Assembly and underscores that the US administration is committed to working with Israelis, Palestinians and parties across the Middle East to stop the hostilities.

She says: “I don’t believe there is any country working more urgently or fervently toward peace.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to reporters during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, March 1, 2021. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Thomas-Greenfield reiterates that in Biden’s phone call with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, the president said “we believe Israel is now in a position to begin winding down the conflict, and that we expect a significant de-escalation to begin.”

She says the Biden administration is committed to working with other countries “to bring a rapid end to the current violence and, over the longer term, create the conditions for a lasting, sustainable peace.”

Seeking to join Palestinians, busloads of Iraqis head to Jordan border

Busloads of Iraqi pro-Palestinian protesters are making their way to the Jordanian border, in an attempt to cross through the Hashemite kingdom to the West Bank and Gaza, according to Arabic-language media reports.

It’s unclear whether Jordan will allow the Iraqi demonstrators to enter the country, but it remains highly unlikely they’ll be allowed into the West Bank.

Sa’ar: A unilateral ceasefire will harm Israeli deterrence

New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar criticizes the government plan to declare a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza.

He says such a move “would seriously harm Israeli deterrence” for Hamas and other terror groups.

“The cessation of Israeli military activity without imposing any restrictions preventing the arming and strengthening of Hamas and without the return of the soldiers and civilians held in Gaza will be a political failure, the price of which will be paid, with interest, in the future,” says Sa’ar.

New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar at party headquarters in Tel Aviv on March 23, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

White House says reports of emerging ceasefire are ‘encouraging’

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki says reports of a move toward a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are “clearly encouraging.”

“Obviously we can’t get ahead of any agreements that may be brokered,” she adds.

Psaki says the US is trying “to do everything we can to bring an end to the conflict.”

AP contributed to this report.

Rocket alert sirens in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza periphery

Rocket alert sirens are triggered in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza border communities.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the latest bombardment.

 

Hamas official: We have no shortage of missiles; ceasefire is close

A senior Hamas official says in an interview that he expects a ceasefire between the group’s Gaza branch and Israel within a day, but warns that Hamas has “no shortage of missiles.”

Osama Hamdan also tells The Associated Press that Mohammed Deif, an elusive Hamas commander who has been hunted by Israel for decades, is alive and remains in charge of Gaza military operations.

Hamas official Osama Hamdan (AP/Bilal Hussein)

Deif, also known as Abu Khaled, is by far Israel’s most wanted target in Gaza. He has survived multiple Israeli assassination attempts and is rarely seen in public. Israeli media have said there were two more failed attempts during the current Israel-Hamas war, the fourth in just over a decade.

Hamdan tells the AP that Deif is “still heading the operation and directing the joint operations” of Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades, and other factions. He provides no evidence for that statement.

Since the conflict began, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they house elements of the Hamas military infrastructure.

On Saturday, an Israeli strike destroyed the 12-story al-Jalaa Building, an office and residential tower where the offices of the AP and the TV network Al-Jazeera were located. The military gave a warning ahead of the strike and occupants evacuated safely.

Hamdan denies there was any military presence belonging to Hamas or any other armed group in the building.

In the interview, Hamdan says his group could continue bombarding Israel for months if it chose to do so.

“I can assure that what we saw during the first days in terms of bombarding Tel Aviv and some areas in Jerusalem, can continue not only for days or weeks but for months,” says Hamdan. But he adds that he believes a ceasefire announcement is near.

Hamdan, who is based in Beirut, is a member of Hamas’s powerful decision-making political bureau.

Hamdan says Egypt and Qatar have been involved in ceasefire negotiations and suggested that progress was being made. “This is the tentative vision that I believe that within 24 hours will lead to an understanding or an agreement,” he adds.

During the current fighting, Hamas missiles have been hitting deeper inside Israel and with greater accuracy than ever before, including several barrages on Tel Aviv.

Hamdan says the arsenal was far from being depleted. “There is no shortage of missiles,” he says, without elaborating.

Air traffic to and from Ben Gurion Airport said halted

Flights departing from Ben Gurion Airport have been grounded, with arriving aircraft redirected to Ramon Airport in Eilat, according to Hebrew media reports.

Residents of Israeli communities near Gaza told they can leave shelters

Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip are told they can leave their bomb shelters, some four hours after they were instructed to enter them amid regular mortar fire from the enclave.

However, the military calls on residents of communities within four kilometers (2.5 miles) of the border to still remain within close proximity of a bomb shelter.

Israel Airports Authority denies Ben Gurion Airport closed

A spokesperson for the Israel Airports Authority denies reports that the Ben Gurion International Airport has been closed to incoming and outgoing flights.

“Planes are landing and taking off from Ben Gurion,” he says.

According to the spokesperson, two planes were initially diverted to the Ramon Airport north of Eilat, but were then permitted to land at Ben Gurion Airport as planned.

Ben Gurion Airport has been closed to incoming commercial flights since May 13 in light of rocket attacks at central Israel from the Gaza Strip, with flights being diverted to Ramon Airport.

Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Security cabinet meeting on ceasefire ends

The high-level security cabinet meeting on a ceasefire in Gaza ends after three hours.

There is no immediate announcement on the ministers’ decision.

Security cabinet votes in favor of Gaza ceasefire

Israel’s high-level security cabinet votes in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza, according to Hebrew media reports.

It’s not immediately clear when the truce, said to be unilateral, will come into effect. Channel 12 says it’ll begin at 2 a.m.

Ministers voted unanimously for ceasefire after being told Hamas ‘deterred’

Ministers in the high-level security cabinet voted unanimously in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza, reports say.

Defense officials briefing the ministers told them Israel has “exhausted” all of its possible military achievements in the conflict with Palestinian terror groups in the coastal enclave, according to the Ynet news site.

“Hamas is deterred and suffered serious blows,” an official is quoted as telling the ministers.

Hamas official confirms ceasefire with Israel, says it’ll begin at 2 a.m.

A Hamas official confirms to Reuters a “mutual and simultaneous” ceasefire with Israel has been reached, ending the 11-day conflict in Gaza.

The ceasefire begins at 2 a.m. on Friday.

Netanyahu’s office confirms ceasefire with Hamas, says time to be determined

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirms the security cabinet has unanimously approved a ceasefire in Gaza.

A statement says the ministers agreed to “accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without any conditions, which will go into effect at an hour that will be determined later.”

Before the vote, defense officials presented the ministers with Israel’s military achievements in the campaign, some of them “unprecedented,” the statement says.

As ceasefire approved, rocket alert sirens sound in south

As a ceasefire deal in Gaza is confirmed, rocket alert sirens go off in Israeli communities near the Strip, signaling an incoming barrage.

The alarms are heard in the communities of Netiv Ha’asara, Erez and Yad Mordechai.

There are no immediate reports of injuries.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

US VP Harris spoke to Jordan’s king on Gaza ceasefire

US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke earlier today with Jordan’s King Abdullah II about Washington’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups.

Hamas official: We received assurances on Israeli policies in Jerusalem

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan tells Al-Mayadeen that the ceasefire will go into effect at 2 a.m.

“The resistance has forged a new equation and a new victory,” Hamdan says.

Hamdan says Hamas has received assurances regarding Israeli policy toward the Temple Mount, as well as Sheikh Jarrah, where dozens of Palestinian families face eviction in a property dispute with right-wing Jews in a court fight.

Israeli officials, speaking to Army Radio, deny any agreements have been reached with Hamas on the issues roiling Jerusalem, calling it “absurd and false.” The ceasefire is free of any conditions, an official emphasizes.

Gantz applauds IDF for ‘unprecedented’ military gains in Gaza

Defense Minister Benny Gantz cheers the Israel Defense Forces, praising the “unprecedented military achievements in terms of forcefulness, precision and strategic importance in the fight against terror groups in the Gaza Strip” during Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Gantz says the army remains on high alert for additional attacks from Gaza and says “the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the operation.”

He urges Israelis to continue to heed the Home Front Command’s security instructions.

Sa’ar derides ’embarrassing’ ceasefire with Hamas

New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar criticizes the ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

“With the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu managed to extract from Hamas an ‘unconditional ceasefire’ — embarrassing,” tweets the right-wing rival of the prime minister.

Blinken ‘prepared to travel to Israel’ and Mideast

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he would be prepared to travel to the Middle East, as he headed home from an Arctic tour overshadowed by Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

“I am prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to work on improving lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Blinken says at a press conference in Greenland.

His comments come as Israel and Palestinian terror groups agree to a ceasefire.

Blinken says that he had pushed for a “de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire” in a phone call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

IDF instructs residents of Gaza border towns to remain at home, near shelters

Residents of Israeli towns close to the Gaza border are ordered by the military to remain in their homes until further notice out of concern for further attacks from the Strip prior to the start of a ceasefire in a few hours.

The military says anyone within seven kilometers (4.3 miles) of the Gaza border should remain within close proximity of their bomb shelter until further notice.

“Travel and activities are totally forbidden in open areas in this region,” the Israel Defense Forces says.

Egypt to send security delegations to monitor Israel-Gaza truce

Two Egyptian security delegations will be sent to monitor a ceasefire deal aimed at bringing an end to 11 days of fighting, diplomatic sources tell AFP.

The delegations will be sent to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories to “monitor (the ceasefire’s) implementation and procedures to maintain stable conditions permanently.”

The Egyptian-mediated “simultaneous and mutual ceasefire” is to come into force at 2 a.m. Friday, the sources say, confirming announcements by Israel and Palestinian terror groups.

Mayor of rocket-battered Sderot denounces ceasefire

The mayor of Sderot, whose town has been heavily targeted by Gaza rocket fire in the current round of fighting and in years past, harshly denounces the government’s decision to enter into an unconditional ceasefire with the Hamas terror group.

“This proves that despite the full support and perseverance and heroism that the residents of the south have shown for the past 20 years, it appears that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and the Israeli government are not interested in defeating Hamas and prefer temporary quiet for residents of central Israel at the expense of residents of the Gaza periphery and the south, who will continue to suffer from terrorism,” Mayor Alon Davidi says.

An Israeli inspects the damage to his house following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on May 15, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Hamas armed wing: We ‘humiliated the enemy’

A spokesperson for Hamas’s armed wing says that the terror group has succeeded in “humiliating the enemy.”

“We had prepared strikes which could cover all of Palestine… but we have said yes to the ceasefire,” the spokesperson claims.

A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City’s Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during Israeli strikes on the Hamas-controlled enclave in response to rocket fire (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Rocket sirens sound in Israeli communities south of Gaza

Fresh rocket sirens sound in Israeli communities just south of the Gaza Strip, some two hours before a ceasefire is due to go into effect.

The alarms are heard in towns throughout the Eshkol region of southern Israel.

Residents of the area were ordered by the military to remain in close proximity of bomb shelters out of concern for attacks in the lead up to the ceasefire.

Reports: Israel carrying out strikes in Gaza

Palestinian media reports say Israeli aircraft are carrying out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, ahead of the start of the ceasefire in two hours.

Gantz informs US defense secretary that ceasefire reached

Defense Minister Benny Gantz informs US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin of the ceasefire between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, Gantz’s office says.

“Gantz thanked the defense secretary for the United States’ support for Israel’s actions to protects its civilians and expressed his hope that the ceasefire will be honored,” his office says.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, fist-bumps US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel on April 12, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Hamas threatens rocket fire from Haifa to Eilat if Israel escalates

Hamas’s armed wing says it will closely what Israel does in the next two hours.

“We had prepared a major blow, from Haifa to Ramon [airport in Eilat]… We will closely watch the behavior of the enemy until 2 a.m. and we will hold off the enormous strike we had prepared for our enemy,” says a spokesperson for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border communities

Rocket alert sirens are going off in Gaza border communities, signaling an incoming barrage.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Biden speaks to Netanyahu for 5th time — CNN

US President Joe Biden holds another phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, CNN reports, quoting a White House official.

If confirmed, it would be the fifth conversation between the leaders since the start of the fighting.

Biden is set to make televised remarks on the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups shortly.

WATCH: Biden delivers remarks on Israel-Hamas conflict

US President Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks on the conflict between Israel and Gaza terror groups. His speech can be watched below.

 

Mortar shell strikes building near Gaza border, lightly injuring man

One person is lightly injured as mortar shell strikes a print shop in the community of Be’eri near the Gaza border, Israeli authorities say.

The shell directly hit the building, according to Fire and Rescue Services. The victim is 53 years old and is being taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, medics say.

Biden to send diplomat Michael Ratney to Jerusalem until new ambassador tapped

US President Joe Biden is slated to send senior diplomat Michael Ratney to Jerusalem next month to serve as the interim head of the US embassy in Jerusalem until a full-time ambassador is confirmed, a source familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel, confirming Axios’ reporting.

The Biden administration has been accused of de-prioritizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there is growing understanding among officials — particularly against the backdrop of the latest flareup in Gaza — that it needs more senior diplomats on the ground, the source says.

Michael Ratney (State Department)

From 2012 to 2015, Ratney headed the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, which served as the de-facto representative to the Palestinians while monitoring and reporting on developments in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He then served as former president Barak Obama’s special envoy to Syria. In the next administration, Ratney served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs and special envoy before shifting to training diplomats at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute after former president Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump’s decision to move the embassy was coupled with another move to shutter the US Consulate in the city. Ratney’s wife Karen Sasahara was consul general at the time and was transferred to a new post in Jordan.

Jonathan Shreier has been heading the US Embassy in Jerusalem as chargé d’affaires since former Ambassador David Friedman stepped down on Trump’s final day in January. Shreier will stay on as deputy head of mission once Ratney arrives.

Biden is expected to name a full-time ambassador to Israel in the coming month.

Sources familiar with the matter tell The Times of Israel the issue remains a toss-up between former State Department official Thomas Nides and former Florida Congressman Robert Wexler.

Both have familiarity with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Wexler particularly so, currently serving as the head of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington. Nides served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources in the Obama administration before becoming a managing director at Morgan Stanley. He has close ties with several key Biden officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken; but Wexler also has a growing list of backers including Congressman Ted Deutch and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Biden commends Netanyahu for ending Gaza fighting, vows future Iron Dome support

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 20, 2021, soon after Israel and the two main Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced a ceasefire (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 20, 2021, soon after Israel and the two main Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced a ceasefire (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

US President Joe Biden, speaking at the White House, confirms he spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the ceasefire was announced, in the sixth conversation between the two leaders.

“In my conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I commended him for bringing the current hostilities to a close within less than 11 days. I also emphasized what I’ve said throughout this conflict: The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent civilians in Israel.”

Biden also says he assured Netanyahu that the US will replenish its Iron Dome missile supply in the future.

Biden thanks Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi for brokering the ceasefire.

He laments the high death toll from the conflict, noting the child casualties on both sides.

“I send my sincere condolences to all the families, Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost loved ones and my hope for a full recovery for the wounded,” says Biden.

Biden: US to work with PA to rehabilitate Gaza, won’t let Hamas restock arsenal

Biden says the United States “remains committed to working with the United Nations” in providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza and in reconstruction efforts in the enclave.

“We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, the Authority, in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal,” he emphasizes.

“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” he says.

US President Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks on the Middle East in the Cross Hall of the White House, in Washington, DC on May 20, 2021. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

Fresh rocket sirens sound near Gaza

Fresh rocket sirens sound in the community of Kfar Azza, east of northern Gaza, less than an hour before a ceasefire is due to go into effect in the region.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

30 minutes to ceasefire, rocket sirens triggered in south

Air raid sirens sound in Israeli communities throughout the Eshkol region of southern Israel, half an hour before a ceasefire is due to go into effect in the region.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Britain welcomes Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Britain welcomes a ceasefire announced by Israel and Hamas and calls on all sides to work to make it durable and “end the unacceptable cycle of violence” in the region.

“All sides must work to make the ceasefire durable and end the unacceptable cycle of violence and loss of civilian life,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says on Twitter, adding that Britain supports “efforts to bring about peace.”

 

Mortar shells fired at Gaza border communities ahead of truce

Fresh sirens blare in Israeli communities near the Gaza border, as mortar shells are fired toward the area from the Strip, less than 15 minutes before a ceasefire is due to go into effect in the region.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups goes into effect

A general view of Gaza City prior to the start of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Israel and the two main Palestinian terror groups in Gaza on May 20, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
A general view of Gaza City prior to the start of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Israel and the two main Palestinian terror groups in Gaza on May 20, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)

The Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza officially goes into effect.

In the hours since the truce was announced on Thursday night, Israeli towns near Gaza were bombarded with rockets and mortar shells, causing one injury, but no major volleys were fired at large Israeli cities.

A picture taken on May 20, 2021 shows the destroyed interior of a house hit by a rocket that was fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on May 20, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

It remains unclear if the ceasefire will stick, bringing the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls to a close, or if the violence will continue.

Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, have been killed by rocket fire during the conflict, and hundreds have been injured.

Some of the victims of the Gaza rocket fire: Top row (L) Omer Tabib (R) Ido Avigal; 2nd row (L) Leah Yom-Tov (R) Soumya Santosh; 3rd row (L) Nadeen Awwad (R) Khalil Awwad; 4th row (R) Nela Gurvitch (L) Ramat Gan after the rocket strike (Oren ZIV / AFP)

On Thursday, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry updated the death toll in the Strip to 232, including 65 minors. It was not immediately clear if the ministry tally included all of those killed or if there were Hamas operatives not included in the count.

According to the IDF, more than 120 of those killed were members of Hamas and over 25 were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as of Monday night. The IDF says some of the Gaza civilian fatalities were killed by the terror groups’ own rockets falling short and exploding in Gaza.

UN secretary-general hails ceasefire, calls to help rebuild Gaza

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres welcomes the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“I welcome the ceasefire between Gaza and Israel, after 11 days of deadly hostilities. I extend my deepest condolences to the victims of the violence and their loved ones,” says Guterres.

“I commend Egypt and Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close coordination with the UN, to help restore calm to Gaza and Israel. I call on all sides to observe the ceasefire.”

He calls on the international community to “work with the United Nations on developing an integrated, robust package of support for a swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery that supports the Palestinian people and strengthens their institutions.”

Arab Israelis, Palestinians celebrate ceasefire, claim victory

Arab Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza celebrate as a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas goes into effect.

In East Jerusalem and West Bank towns, people set off fireworks.

In Gaza, people come out onto the streets chanting Allahu Akbar and mosques claimed victory on their loudspeakers.

In the Arab Israeli town of Um el-Fahm, a convoy of cars drove through the streets, honking their horns and waving Palestinian flags.

Hamas claims victory in conflict with Israel after ceasefire

A senior Hamas figure claims victory in the conflict with Israel in a speech to thousands of people celebrating in Gaza City after a ceasefire came into place.

“This is the euphoria of victory,” said Khalil al-Hayya, the second most senior member of the Islamist terror group’s political bureau in the Gaza Strip. He also promises to reconstruct homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City on May 21, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

AFP

Blinken to visit Mideast in wake of ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East in the wake of a ceasefire agreed between Israel and Hamas.

Blinken spoke twice today with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, says State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

“The Foreign Minister welcomed Secretary Blinken’s planned travel to the region, where the Secretary will meet with Israeli, Palestinian, and regional counterparts in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians,” Price says.

UN Mideast envoy welcomes truce, says time to start ‘building Palestine’

The top United Nations envoy to Israel and the Palestinian territories is welcoming the cease-fire in the latest war between Israel and the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza.

Tor Wennesland tweets that he extends his “deepest condolences to the victims of the violence & their loved ones.”

He also thanks Egypt and Qatar for their work with the U.N. in brokering the deal that ended 11 days of fighting.

He adds that now “the work of building #Palestine can start.”

AP

Egyptian delegations to monitor ceasefire

Diplomatic sources tell AFP in Cairo that “two Egyptian delegations will be dispatched to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories to monitor its (the ceasefire) implementation and procedures to maintain stable conditions permanently.”

AFP

No rockets fired from 2 a.m. as ceasefire appears to be holding

By dawn, no rockets have been fired at Israel since a ceasefire went into effect at 2 a.m, indicating an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and the Gaza terror groups is holding.

There are also no reports of Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Jews attacked in New York City amid pro-Palestinian protest

One person is burned when two fireworks were thrown from a car amid an altercation with anti-Zionist protesters in a heavily Jewish New York City business district, according to police.

The fights came on Thursday evening, on what appeared to be the final day of the conflict between Hamas and Israel, before a ceasefire that took effect overnight.

Additional videos circulating on social media appear to show other physical altercations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in New York City Thursday.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed