Live blog: Operation Pillar of Defense, Day 5, Part 2

Missile hits home near Be’er Tuvia as fire continues after brief lull

No reports of injuries; Iron Dome misfires near Ashdod; Channel 2 claims Egypt talks fall apart; School canceled in south again; Tel Aviv threatened for second time on Sunday; Obama says ‘preferable’ if escalation can be avoided but backs Israeli defense

A Be'er Tuvia house hit by a grad rocked fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Nov. 17 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
A Be'er Tuvia house hit by a grad rocked fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Nov. 17 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

Our current liveblog, tracking events overnight Sunday and into Monday, is here.

This liveblog, now closed, tracked Sunday afternoon and evening on day five of Operation Pillar of Defense:

For the fourth day in a row, Tel Aviv is the target of Hamas attacks, and Iron Dome carries out successful interceptions. Amid rumors of a halt to fighting, Israeli officials tell The Times of Israel that Jerusalem is not currently interested in a ceasefire. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the IDF’s campaign will be expanded, hinting at a looming ground operation. The IAF, in the meantime, is targeting key Hamas personnel, and killed the chief of Hamas’s rocket program.

Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, the IDF has hit some 1,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, with Palestinians reporting 52 dead. Gazan terrorists have fired some 750 rockets at Israel and Iron Dome has shot down nearly 270, including three aimed at Tel Aviv. Israel’s death toll stands at three, with dozens more injured, including two badly hurt in Ofakim and three in Ashkelon on Sunday.

Click here for all our previous live blog coverage.

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Shimon Peres at his Jerusalem residence, October 4 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

President Shimon Peres was just interviewed by Channel 2. He praises the conduct of the IDF and the government, which he called “very good” during the crisis. He says that he is unsure if national elections (currently set for January 22) will be delayed by the hostilities, and is open to the possibility that if there is a ceasefire soon, elections can proceed as planned.

He says several times that Hamas must cease rocket fire from Gaza in order for a truce to be considered, and adds that “we have received no truce offers” so far. Peres praises Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for taking a “responsible role” in attempting to broker, along with Turkey and Qatar, a truce between Israel and Hamas.

The president explains that the current conflict is also a “technology competition,” with Hamas acquiring long-range missiles than can reach Israel’s heartland, which Israel can counter with the Iron Dome missile defense. Israel is “among the most advanced nations” in this regard, he says.

The national police force is employing school security guards who have been left without work on account of the school closures in all communities within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip.

Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch indicates that the arrangement is beneficial for both the strained police force and the jobless guards.

Reports coming now of a large volley of rockets launched toward communities in the south, Beersheba, and coastal areas.

Ynet reports that two rockets have landed in Beersheba, one damaging a building and one landing in an open area next to an apartment building, and two have landed in Ashdod, one of which damaged a vehicle in a parking lot. No reports of injuries.

Seven injured in Gaza City from bombardment from Israeli helicopters, Ma’an news reports.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s legal adviser calls for the Arab world to announce the establishment of a Palestinian state.

During an interview with  US-based Radio Sawa, Mohammed Fouad says that the Palestinian factions should be armed by Arab countries so that the new country can protect itself. (Source Israel Radio)

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is meeting with Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashal in Cairo to discuss a possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, according to reports in the Hebrew media.

The scene in the Tel Aviv area where a car was set alight by shrapnel that fell from an intercepted rocket fired from Gaza.

Police and security at the scene of where shrapnel from a rocket that was fired from Gaza and intercepted by the Iron Dome missile, hit a car in Holon, near Tel Aviv. November 18, 2012. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/FLASH90)

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is on the verge of being completed, says senior Hamas official Mustafa Sawaf. Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Sawaf says that 90 percent of the agreement has been finalized and that they are waiting to hear from Israel regarding certain security guarantees.

The latest barrage from Gaza consists of 18 missiles fired around 2 p.m., of which Iron Dome intercepted 15, Ynet reports.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius. At a press conference following their meeting, Liberman thanks France for all its efforts to bring about a long-term agreement between Israel and the Hamas-led Gaza Strip.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, October 2012. (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

Liberman emphasizes that no country should have to tolerate a million citizens sitting in bomb shelters, children not attending school and adults not working.

The foreign minister says that the first condition for any ceasefire agreement must be the complete cessation of all rocket fire into Israel. Once all terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip halts their attacks, Liberman said, Israel will be willing to discuss any options that are on the table.

IDF spokesman says 124 trucks carrying supplies crossed from Israel to Gaza since this morning. The trucks are carrying goods, medical supplies, dairy products, and gas.

President Barack Obama reiterates that the US is “fully supportive” of Israel’s right to defend itself, saying that no country would tolerate missiles on its citizens.

Israel under attack:

An elderly Israeli man takes cover on the sidewalk as a warning siren sounds signaling a rocket attack, in the area of Tel Aviv. November 18, 2012. (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90)

Palestinian sources say at least two people were killed in an air strike on a civilian building in the Sheikh Radoan neighborhood in Gaza City. Sources say at least ten people were also injured in the attack.

A building in the southern town of Ofakim has reportedly suffered a direct hit from a Hamas missile. One woman was lightly injured by shrapnel and several other people were treated for shock.

US President Barack Obama says Israel has a right to defend itself from missiles being aimed at the country by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Obama says “no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down” on its people and says any effort to resolve the conflict in Gaza “starts with no missiles being fired into Israel’s territory.”

US President Barack Obama and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra hold a joint news conference at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 18 (photo credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

He says it would be “preferable” if a solution could be achieved without a further escalation.

There’s no apparent red or even yellow light in these remarks for Israel, says Udi Segal on Channel 2.

Obama adds that, “We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours. He adds that he has spoken to Morsi and Erdogan and told them that “those who champion the cause of the Palestinians” need to recognize that further escalation from Gaza is going to push off peace talks and the prospects of a two-state solution.

Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official and member of the Palestinian negotiating team will travel to Gaza this evening to receive the Arab League foreign minister delegation scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

Shaath expressed hope that a ceasefire will be finalized within 48 hours under Egyptian brokerage, but told The Times of Israel he had no official information on that.

He added that the PA is in no way involved in negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas, but he is continuously updated on developments by Hamas political bureau member Moussa Abu-Marzouq, a deputy to Khaled Mashaal, as well as by the Egyptian intelligence.

President Shimon Peres posts on his Twitter account that “the fact that almost no civilians are hit is not because of their defense but because of our care not to hit any civilian.”

Latest Palestinian reports claim that 52 people have been killed since Operation Pillar of Defense commenced five days ago.

Udi Segal on Channel 2 says it seems Netanyahu and Liberman would stop the operation if the Hamas rocket fire stopped — but it hasn’t, so they won’t.

Ehud Yaari describes Egyptian-Turkish ceasefire efforts, which are not yet coming to fruition. He says Hamas is seeking an end to the blockade of Gaza, the opening of the Rafah border crossing to trade, and guarantees that its operatives won’t be targeted and there won’t be IAF strikes in the future.

Dryly, Yaari notes that no Israeli officials have yet gone to Cairo for ceasefire talks.

Channel 2′s military analyst Ronnie Daniel says that “if Hamas is still making demands” it obviously hasn’t been hurt badly enough.

Obviously, says Daniel, this operation was not launched merely for it to end with Hamas able to rebuild. “This operation is intended to create a different reality.” Israel, says Daniel, “must not accept a ceasefire.”

Is that what the IDF is telling the government, the studio anchor asks him? “That’s what i hear from the heads of the army,” says Daniel, “and it happens to be what I think to.”

Next guest is Arab MK Ahmad Tibi. As he begins criticizing the Israeli strikes, news comes in of an IAF strike in Gaza, in which three people are reported killed.

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi lets loose on Channel 2's military analyst Roni Daniel (image capture/Channel 2 News)
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi lets loose on Channel 2′s military analyst Roni Daniel (image capture/Channel 2 News)

“Are you happy now?” Tibi shouts from the studio, to Daniel out in the field. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Daniel: “I’m not happy when innocent people are hurt.”

The screaming match continues, until the presenter restores calm, with news of a direct hit by a Hamas rocket on a house in Ofakim, with reports of several people being treated for shock.

Egyptian security officials announce that a senior Israeli envoy has arrived in Cairo for ceasefire talks.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the Egyptian sources did not name the envoy. Israeli officials decline to comment.

IDF says target of building bombed in Gaza City was Yihya Abiya, who, as commander of Hamas’s rocket brigades, was directly responsible for the missile attacks on southern Israel this morning. Reports say Abiya was injured although his condition is not known.

A car in Ofakim has taken a direct hit from a missile fired from Gaza. Four people are reported injured, two seriously and two lightly, according to initial media reports.

A house in the city was hit by a rocket about half an hour earlier, injuring one woman lightly.

Earlier in the day three people in Ashkelon were injured when a missile hit their home.

Israeli media reports that Yihya Abiya, commander of Hamas’s rocket firing brigades, was killed during the airstrike on a house in Gaza City less than an hour ago.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak thanks US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for US role in providing Israel with the Iron Dome defense system. Barak cites the nearly 90% success rate of Iron Dome batteries, which have so far taken out some 300 missiles fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since the onset of Operation Pillar of Defense five days ago.

Barak thanks US President Barack Obama and former US defense secretary Robert Gates for the funds that enabled Israel to defend its citizens during the current conflict, and announces that the US Congress has approved funding for additional Iron Dome batteries.

Within the next few years, Israel will have the capability of defending the entire country against most missiles.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweets that “We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organizations. The IDF is prepared for a significant expansion of its operations.”

Four rockets have fallen in the Eshkol region. No damages or injuries were reported.

A senior member of Fatah, sent to Gaza as part of a delegation ahead of an Arab League visit, tells the Times of Israel that he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will be signed soon.

“We hope that a ceasefire will be finalized within 48 hours, by the time the Arab League delegation arrives in Gaza,” Nabil Shaath said. “I have no final information on this, but I’m sure that if it were left to the Egyptians and the residents of Gaza, a ceasefire would be reached within an hour.”

IDF Spokesperson’s Office says that 99 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip in the past four days have exploded in Gaza, injuring locals. It gave no indication of how many Palestinians have been injured or killed on account of stray Hamas rockets.

Fact: 99 rockets fired from #Gaza have crashed back into Gaza in the last 4 days. Hamas fires from civilian areas…and hits its own people.

BBC correspondent Wyre Davis reports that 10 Palestinians are confirmed killed in a house that was bombed earlier on Sunday in Gaza City.

The Gaza Health Ministry says that 18 Palestinians have been killed on Sunday, including 9 children. A total of 64 have reportedly been killed since Operation Pillar of Defense started on Wednesday, 24 of whom, it claims, were children.

UPDATE: Channel Two reports that two parents and an infant were taking cover next to their car in Ofakim when a rocket landed 10 to 15 meters away, spraying them with shrapnel. The mother and father are listed in moderate to serious condition and the infant suffered light injuries. The three were taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

Two more people in the area suffered light injuries from the rocket attack.

A rocket struck an open area near Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported. Seventy rockets have been shot at Israel since Sunday morning.

40 of the 70 rockets fired into Israel on Sunday so far were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, Channel 2 reports

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday morning that in addition to Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel is waging a war on a second front – against anti-Israel cyber attacks.

According to Steinitz, Israel has successfully deflected some 44 million attacks against government websites in the past four days.

Steinitz made no reference to the group “Anonymous,” an online activist group that claimed on Saturday that it successfully attacked dozens of state agencies’ websites and that of the Bank of Israel, in addition to having downed or erased the databases of some 700 private and public websites in Israel.

On Saturday, “Anonymous” released a statement saying “For far too long, Anonymous has stood by with the rest of the world and watched in despair the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people in the so called ‘Occupied Territories’ by the Israel Defence Force…but when the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand.”

Steinitz said that the government has developed backup for “essential websites” in case they are successfully disabled by hackers.

Maan News reports that an IAF airstrike on a vehicle in the Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabaliya, outside Gaza City. The Palestinian news site says that two people were killed, but gave no indication of their identity. Gaza-based Twitter user Samah Saleh identifies them as Suhail Hamada and his 10-year-old son Momen.

Magen David Adom reports that rocket attacks on Israel on Sunday severely injured two, moderately injured one, lightly injured nine, and 10 were treated for shock.

Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades vows vengeance against Israel the “massacre against Ad-Dalo family,” and says it ”will not go unpunished.” The terrorist group is referring to the IAF strike on a house in Gaza City targeting Yihya Abiya, commander of Hamas’s rocket firing brigades, who was killed earlier on Sunday. As many as nine others were  reportedly killed in the airstrike, according to Palestinian sources.


Alqassam Brigades

Al Qassam Brigades to #IDF: ” Massacre against Ad-Dalo family will not go unpunished”#Gaza #GazaUnderAttack #Humanrights #WarCrimes #Israel

President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet with Special Envoy of the Quartet to the Middle East Tony Blair on Monday morning. According to a press release from the President’s office, the two will discuss the situation in southern Israel.

Peres is also scheduled to meet with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

Reuters reports that Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have wounded eight journalists. One employee from Lebanese al Quds TV lost his leg earlier on Sunday. The IDF says it hit two Gaza media buildings.

The IDF, according to Reuters, said the attacks “were pinpoint strikes on Hamas communication devices located on the buildings’ roofs,” and accused Hamas of using journalists as human shields.

The two buildings in Gaza City are home to British Sky News, German ARD, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, Beirut-based al Quds television and other broadcasters.

Two rockets have been shot down by Iron Dome over Ashkelon.

The missile defense battery, which was praised by Defense Minister Ehud Barak just hours earlier as the only system with such capabilities in the world, has now shot down over 300 rockets since the start of the conflict last week, including over 40 on Sunday.

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon has struck back at British Foreign Secretary William Hague for saying Israel would lose international support if it embarked on a ground-based offensive. Ya’alon told reporters he expected Israel’s allies to support it unconditionally and that he didn’t appreciate Hague’s statement.

He added that the army did not launch Operation Pillar of Defense to topple Hamas, but rather to return calm to the rocket-stricken south.

Ya’alon said that Israel had killed Hamas rocket chief, Yihya Abiya, and that the IDF considered every official from the terror group fair game.

Eighty trucks bearing medical supplies and food entered the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot says.

The unit has reopened the crossing for the first time since the escalation began on Wednesday, and has coordinated the exit of 35 diplomats from the Gaza Strip, as well as 26 Palestinians seeking hospital treatment in Israel, and their families.

Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claims it shot down an IDF helicopter over the northern Gaza Strip.


Alqassam Brigades

Al Qassam Brigades shot down an Israeli chopper north of #Gaza Strip.#GazaUnderAttack #ShaleStones #resistance #Hamas #Palestine #Israel

Red-alert sirens are going off in the Greater Tel Aviv area. Two explosions are reported by Channel 2. Iron Dome fired interception missiles, and both were shot down.

Channel 10 reports another Iron Dome interception over the coastal city of Ashkelon.

The Iron Dome defense system fires to intercept incoming rockets from Gaza. (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

The IDF Spokesperson tells The Times of Israel that the Hamas claims — that it shot down a helicopter over the northern Gaza Strip — are false. Earlier in Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas claimed to have shot down an IAF F-16 fighter jet, but the IDF dismissed the report as false and Hamas never provided evidence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that Israel would only be willing to consider ending its Pillar of Defense operation once rocket fire from Gaza completely ceased.

“First the shooting must stop, then we can discuss everything else,” he said, referring to diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire.

President Shimon Peres told Fabius that Hamas cannot claim to be fighting the occupation, because there is no occupation.

“We voluntarily left Gaza (during the 2005 disengagement),” said the president, “and they fire at us when our children are leaving school.” He added that “Israel has set itself a goal to end the rocket fire and to allow the mothers in the south a good night’s sleep, something that hasn’t happened for too long.”

In addition to the prime minister and the president, Fabius also met on Sunday with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip explode in the Eshkol border region, no injuries or damage reported, according to Ynet.

Senior Hamas officials say that talks with Israel through Egypt are “positive” and that they are focused on providing guarantees for a ceasefire, according to AFP. A Hamas official adds that they are interested in the assurance that “the aggression and killing stop.”

Reporters Without Borders has condemned Israeli missile attacks on two media centers in Gaza that wounded six Palestinian journalists Sunday and damaged the equipment of foreign media outlets, according to an AP report.

The attacks on the two high-rise buildings damaged offices of the Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, and a Lebanese-based broadcaster, Al Quds TV, seen as sympathetic to the Islamists. Germany’s public broadcaster ARD; Russia Today, a state TV network that broadcasts in English; and Sky News Arabia said they lost equipment in the attacks.

A Gaza press association said six Palestinian journalists were wounded, including one who lost a leg.

Christophe Deloire, the director of Reporters Without Borders’ international headquarters in Paris, called the attacks unjustified and a threat to freedom of information. He demanded an investigation into the circumstances of the raid.

“Even though the outlets targeted are linked to Hamas, it does not legitimize the attacks,” he said. “Attacks against civilian targets constitute war crimes.”

The Israeli military said the strikes targeted Hamas communications equipment on the buildings’ rooftops and accused the group of using journalists as “human shields.”

Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claims responsibility for the rockets fired in the past hour at Tel Aviv, saying it was in response to the “Israeli massacre against Ad-Dalo family” earlier today.


Alqassam Brigades

In response on the #Israeli massacre against Ad-Dalo family, Al Qassam brigades shelling Tel El Rabee city with Fajer 5 missile.#Gaza

Hamas officials say that Sunday’s meeting in Cairo with an Israeli envoy and Egyptian mediators failed to produce any results.

Arab affairs commentator Ehud Ya’ari told Channel 2 News that Hamas sources cited a lack of support for their positions among Arab states as one of the reasons for the failure of Sunday’s negotiations.

The hacking collective Anonymous publishes what it claims is the personal information of 35,000 Israelis, including their names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and ID numbers.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is working in conjunction with Hamas to bring about an end to Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas says that “the Palestinian people need to continue to protest in a non-violent manner against the Israeli aggression against Gaza.” Abbas also calls for Palestinian national unity.

Abbas called on Arab countries to take any necessary steps to bring an end to Operation Pillar of Defense, now in its fifth day. He also praised the Arab leaders who have visited the Gaza Strip since the onset of the recent wave of violence.

According to Abbas, Hamas, like all Palestinian factions, supports the Palestinian Authority’s appeal to the UN to upgrade its status to that of a “nonmember observer state.”

Four rockets explode in an open area outside of the community in the Eshkol region. No casualties or damage have been reported.

On Sunday alone, more than 40 rockets were fired into the Eshkol region.

A missile fired from an Israeli Navy warship off the Gaza coast killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander, Channel 2 reports. The IDF Spokesperson identified the man as Ahmed Nahel, who it says was responsible for carrying out terrorist attacks, and says it carried out the missile strike this afternoon.

Ynet reports, based on Arabic media, that the Israeli sent to Cairo for ceasefire negotiations has returned to Israel with the list of Hamas demands for a truce.

The report is unconfirmed.

Israel has refused to confirm that it even sent an official to Egypt, though Cairo indicated a ceasefire was near. On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that the army was ready to widen the operation against Hamas in Gaza.

AP reports that about 500 Egyptian activists crossed into Gaza on Sunday to deliver medical supplies and show support for the Palestinians living there.

“We are telling the Palestinians that we are on their side,” says activist Adam Mubarak. “Our visit is a message to Israel that we will not abandon the Palestinians in Gaza.”

The Education Ministry has announced the cancellation of classes in all schools situated within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip. The list includes the cities of Beersheba (population 190,000), Ashdod (200,000), Kiryat Gat (48,000) and Ashkelon (110,000). Classes are expected to be held as scheduled in the Greater Tel Aviv area.

The air force has struck the house of Marwan Issa, the replacement for  late Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari, Channel 2 reports.

The Ashdod soccer team continues to train despite the rockets hitting the city. The players visited the Iron Dome battery stationed near the city and brought the soldiers drinks and snacks, and even got to see the Iron Dome in action, Channel 2 reports. Foreign players on the team are taking the situation in stride, and all but one have stayed in Israel in spite of the security situation.

Some rockets fired far into Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the past several days have been stripped of their warheads so they’ll travel farther, an Israeli security source tells Reuters.

“Our assessment is that the prestige of setting off alarms deep in Israel, and being perceived as fighting on, is as important to them now as spilling our blood,” the news agency quotes a senior security official saying. ”They’re pipes, basically.”

Hamas and Islamic Jihad did not respond to the report, but the Popular Resistance Committees dismissed Israel’s claim. “Israeli leaders are trying to assure their terrified public that those rockets are not dangerous, to minimize their fear. They will never succeed, and time will tell they lied to their people,” PRC spokesman Abu Mujahed said.

Hamas spokesperson Ghazi Hamad tells al-Jazeera TV that Israel and Hamas agreed to 90% of the conditions for a ceasefire in meetings in Cairo.

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook said on Sunday evening that the terror group rejected two of Israel’s ceasefire demands out of hand, sinking talks in Egypt.

The first demand was that Hamas commit to creating a 1-kilometer buffer zone along the border with Gaza, beyond which people cannot enter. The width of the “no-man’s-land” currently varies at different points along the border, and averages about 300 meters.

The second condition laid down by Israel was that Hamas put an end to all weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

Abu Marzook said that Israel’s conditions are meaningless and that Hamas demands an immediate ceasefire without any conditions.

An Israeli drone strike targets Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades leader Rafi Salameh in Khan Yunis, Maan News reports. There is no indication as of yet of Salameh’s condition.

Channel 2 is interviewing a young female blogger in Gaza — quite a brave move from her to agree to be interviewed for Israeli television. Ilana Dayan, the anchor, presents her as a courageous writer who has had the guts to write blog posts criticizing Hamas.

Dayan asks her whether there are any Gazans who, amid the chaos and destruction, are saying they wish Hamas would stop firing rockets into Israel. Her response is to describe the aggression of the Israeli forces, and how cut off Gaza feels.

Dayan presses again, asking whether she has any criticisms of Hamas. “We are all Hamas” at times like this, she says.

Oh well, sighs Dayan, cutting short the interview, “that attempt was a failure.”

Two explosions are reported in the southern resort city of Eilat, situated on the border of both Egypt and Jordan, according to Ynet.

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai says that a very high percentage of the reservists called up over the last three days arrived as ordered, and have very high morale.

Mordechai also reports that while fewer rockets fell in Israel today than in previous days, Israel cannot afford to be complacent, noting that some 30 rockets did fall on Sunday in populated areas, with some damage and injuries being reported.

Israeli airstrikes have been extremely effective, Mordechai said, and the scope, volume and effectiveness of Hamas’s rocket fire have been severely damaged, which resulted in far fewer rockets falling in Israel on Sunday.

Sirens are sounding in the port city of Ashdod as two rockets fired from Gaza approach. Iron Dome intercepts both rockets, according to Channel 10. Channel 2 reports that one rocket exploded in the vicinity of Ashdod.

Red-alert sirens are also sounding in Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat.

A rocket fired from Gaza scores a direct hit on a home in the Beer Tuvia region of southern Israel, according to Channel 2. No injuries are reported.

Another two rockets explode in open areas near the southern towns of Gan Yavne and Kiryat Malachi. No injuries or damage is reported.

Iron Dome battery next to Ashdod misfires, and one of its missiles crash-lands shortly after launch. No report of injuries or damage. Channel 10 captures the moment.

Several rockets have fallen in the Eshkol region. No injuries or damage have been reported.

The area has been among the hardest hit on Sunday, with over 50 rockets targeting the regional council, which lies adjacent to the southern Gaza Strip.

Reports are emerging in the Israeli press that the Israel Defense Forces accidentally hit a family in Gaza, killing 12, and not the terror chief they were aiming for.

Earlier today, Israeli officials reported the IDF had killed Hamas rocket chief Yihya Abiya. At the same time, reports emerged in Palestinian media of the deaths of 12 members of the A Dallo family, including several young children. Pictures from the scene showed a home reduced to rubble.

Israeli media are reporting that the army hit the A Dallo home instead of Abiya’s house nearby. They also report that Abiya escaped the attack with only injuries.

The IDF spokesperson could not confirm whether Abiya was killed, but said the army hit the house it was aiming for.

Reports on Channel 2 News that reserve soldiers in the Sderot area do not have enough food and may have not received rations.

Residents have reportedly taken up the cause and prepared meals for the soldiers. No confirmation at this point.

Palestinian sources are saying that Israel has a team in Cairo, not just a representative as was rumored before. According to the sources, serious negotiations are taking place and there are indications that an agreement may be possible in the next few days.

The Israeli administration and the IDF have given no indication that an end to hostilities is imminent. With President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman stating Sunday that an end to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip must precede any de-escalation or ceasefire.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, left, and his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman deliver statements to the media in Jerusalem on Sunday (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

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