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GLOBALPOST LIVE BLOG: ISRAEL-GAZA VIOLENCE ESCALATES
UPDATE: 11/15/12 10:10 PM ET
An online war of misinformation
Hamas and Israel aren't just fighting on the ground. They're also going to battling over winning the public's sympathy on social media.
Amid the competition, Business Insider caught Hamas tweeting what appears to be a bold-faced lie. Alqassam Brigades tweeted one photo of a man crying over the dead body of a young child. Except the picture they tweeted was in fact quite old, and was taken in Syria, not Gaza: Business Insider found an identical picture from October 25 on the Syria & Friends Paris Facebook page.
Another casualty that was questioned was video of a man in a tan jacket, who appeared in a BBC clip about Israeli airstrikes. The man, who is seen being carried by others, appears to be a victim of Israeli fire. But about 20 seconds later in the video, he is seen walking around, perfectly fine. Was it a case of some out-of-order video editing by the BBC, or was he a Hamas supporter faking injuries for the camera?
Neither, says the BBC. After the clip went viral, a BBC spokesperson told the Herald Sun that the footage was not staged. "The footage shown by BBC News was edited from a longer sequence provided by the Reuters news agency in which the man in question is shown being lifted from the ground. He is then given attention at the roadside, before appearing later having recovered."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 9:40 PM ET
Non-stop airstrikes as US Senate shows support for Israel
Hamas says that there was an IDF strike near a graveyard in the Al Shujaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City, Haaretz reported, and IAF shelling in the Strip. No new injuries have been reported yet, according to Haaretz. Locals on the ground say that the violence is non-stop.
"You actually can't even finish the 140 letters of a tweet about an airstrike or explosion before another airstrike hit somewhere else," @WillOuda tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Gaza conflict got the US Senate to actually agree on something. The Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution expressing support for Israel's "inherent right to act in self-defense," the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 7:30 PM ET
A quiet break, and then more violence
@WillOuda reported on Twitter that he was enjoying a rare moment of calm and making himself a cup of tea. Minutes later, AFP reporter Sara Hussein posted that she was going to get some sleep. But the quiet didn't last. About twenty minutes later, Wael heard an an airstrike in Tal Al-Hawa. It's the same area where BBC reporter Rushdi Abualouf said that he heard a massive explosion about an hour ago.
UPDATE: 11/25/12 6:30 PM ET
Locals report hearing massive explosions
A Gaza resident tweeting from the handle @WillOuda, going by the name Wael, reports that he's been hearing explosions in northern and western Gaza City. One massive explosion, he said, caused a door to open by itself. "Explosion after explosion after explosion .....so what?," he wrote.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 6:20 PM ET
Air raid siren in Ashkelon
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Israel Noga Tarnopolsky, now in Ashkelon near the Gaza border, says air raid sirens continue to ring out, forcing her and others to take cover in a stairwell.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 5:50 PM ET
US says Israel has right to self-defense; France calls on Israel to stop fighting
US Department of State Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said in a briefing today, "We’re obviously in close consultation with Israel, as you well know. The President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. Let me finish. Let me be very clear that Israel has a right to self-defense. As of yesterday, I believe the Israeli Government noted that since the beginning of 2012, more than 768 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, and over 12,000 in the past 12 years, and I believe over a hundred today alone. They have a right to self-defense."
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande called directly on the leaders of Israel and Egypt to try and prevent an escalation in the conflict, Reuters reported.
"It's time to stop this escalation, which is dangerous for the security of Israel and its people and for that of the Palestinian people," said Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ayrault, speaking in Berlin. He added, "France will do everything it can to avoid an escalation of the violence."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 5:12 PM ET
Avoiding a "spiral of violence"
Ynetnews reports that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is set to visit Israel on Tuesday to discuss a ceasefire with leaders there.
The outlet said that the meeting was arranged during a private meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday.
"Ban is expected to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, but he will apparently not visit Gaza. The UN chief is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas," it wrote.
Britain's foreign minister on Thursday added his voice to the chorus of international condemnations of the violence, laying "principal responsibility" for the violence with Hamas, according to the BBC.
"I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups," he said.
Hague added, "I also strongly urge Israel to do their utmost to reduce tension, avoid civilian casualties and increase the prospects for both sides to live in peace. It is imperative to avoid the risk of a spiral of violence. The escalation of the conflict would be in no one's interest, particularly at a time of instability in the region."
According to the BBC, Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, echoed the message during a call with Netanyahu:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 4:55 PM ET
Three Palestinians killed in latest round of airstrikes
At least three Palestinians were killed in a new round of airstrikes late on Thursday, according to Agence France Presse.
The strikes hit Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, according to a spokesman for the Hamas emergency services.
"Three citizens were martyred and 12 injured in an air strike in Beit Hanun," spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said.
The BBC's Jon Donnison wrote from Gaza:
Reuters' correspondent Noah Browning tweeted from Gaza:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 4:30 PM ET
Israeli airstrikes fall in Gaza
A United Nations spokesman said that an Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed a UN school teacher on Wednesday.
Marwan Abu El Qumsan, an Arabic teacher at a UN school, was in a car near the scene of a strike and was killed in the blast, while his brother was severely injured, Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Palestinian refugees agency, said, according to Agence France Presse.
Meanwhile, Ofir Gendelman, Israeli prime minister's spokesperson to the Arab media, tweeted that the Israeli army had targeted "70 underground pads of medium range rockets in the Gaza Strip," according to Al Jazeera.
BuzzFeed reported that the IDF also dropped thousands of leaflets over Gaza, warning its civilian residents to stay away from Hamas facilities.
The leaflets read:
The IDF also posted a video of them being dropped:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 4:05 PM ET
Hamas claims it shot down an Israeli drone
Hamas-controlled Al Aqsa TV has run a video of what they claim is an Israeli drone that they shot down earlier. The report is unconfirmed, and could just be Hamas propaganda.
The Israeli Prime Minister's spokesperson to the Arab media, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted:
Here is the video:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 3:50 PM ET
Sirens in Israel
Reports suggest rockets launched from Gaza have hit suburbs of Tel Aviv, though they landed mostly in uninhabited areas, causing no damage or casualties.
An Israeli resident of Ramat HaSharon, a suburb north of Tel Aviv, told Al Jazeera, "There was an alarm 10 minutes from my house. Scary."
Air raid sirens have been sounding in Tel Aviv, for the first time in 20 years, according to The Washington Post.
The following video was posted on Facebook by Israeli photographer Ron Shoshani, reportedly taken around 7 p.m. local time.
The following picture was posted by journalist Avital Chizhik.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 3:15 PM ET
Hamas' rocket range
The BBC published this map of the missile range of rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Follow GlobalPost's list of reporters and correspondents from media organizations around the world for up-to-the-minute coverage of the conflict.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 3:05 PM ET
Protests in support of Gaza planned around the world
Protests have been planned around the world in support of Gaza, including rallies in New York, Paris, Sydney and Haifa.
GlobalPost's Alex Pearlman wrote:
International outrage over yesterday's Israeli escalation has mobilized activists around the globe who claim that Israel has committed war crimes by breaking a tentative cease fire with Hamas and reopening hostilities.
Emergency actions to protest Israel are being planned at a number of Israeli consulates and embassies in major cities, as well as at colleges and universities, including in Israeli cities Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
More on the protests here.
The Guardian noted that the airstrikes in Gaza have led to two vastly different funerals, one for Hamas' senior military leader Ahmed Jabari, and one for the 11-month-old son of a BBC journalist.
By sunset, the death toll from this mini-war was at least 18, including three Israeli civilians and, according to Hamas health officials, four Palestinian children and a woman pregnant with twins. The operation drew condemnation from Egypt and Jordan and other nearby countries.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 2:56 PM ET
Egypt, US each want the other to intervene in conflict
Egypt has now called on the US to intervene with Israel to halt the violence engulfing the Gaza Strip, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Egypt's prime minister will travel to Gaza Friday. According to the LA Times, its president, Mohamed Morsi, said on television Thursday that Egypt "will stand with all of its resources to end this aggression and to stop the recurring killing and bloodshed of Palestinians. The Israelis must understand that we do not accept this aggression and that it can only negatively affect the stability and safety of the region."
White house press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday reiterated condemnation of violence perpetrated by Hamas.
"We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately in order to allow the situation to de-escalate," Carney said, according to Associated Press and Fox News reports.
"Hamas claims to have the best interest of the Palestinian people at heart. Yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people closer to achieving self determination."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 2:40 PM ET
Troop and tank movements in Israel
Reports from the wires suggest that Israel has begun moving troops toward the Gaza Strip. Earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized the army to draft reservists, a sign that there may be a possible ground invasion of Palestinian territory.
At least a dozen tanks and armored vehicles were spotted moving toward the Israel-Gaza border, late on Thursday.
The Associated Press said, "Israeli forces move toward Gaza border in prelude to possible ground offensive."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 2:30 PM ET
Hamas uses pictures of Syrian conflict
Hamas and Israel have engaged not just in physical airstrikes but in a social media war since the airstrikes yesterday. Business Insider noted that Hamas seemed to use pictures from the Syrian conflict, spreading misinformation.
"Amid its tweets about the Israeli strikes, Alqassam Brigades tweeted at least one photo showing Syrian casualties and not injuries on the ground in Gaza," said Business Insider.
The picture below was originally posted in October on the Syrians & Friends Facebook page.
The Washington Post noted that at least by one metric, Twitter hashtags, Gaza was winning the social media war.
"On the Israeli side: #PillarofDefense, the name of the latest military operation, which appears to have been started by the IDF account. For the Palestinians, if not necessarily for Hamas: #GazaUnderAttack, #Gazzeateşaltında (Turkish for the same) and several other foreign-language derivatives. As of 5 p.m., the IDF’s tag had received 808 mentions, while the #GazaUnderAttack derivations had around 120,000," reported The Post.
BuzzFeed examined whether the IDF's use of social media to cover its assault on Gaza was an infringement of their terms of service. "The terms of service for most social media sites and services almost universally ban prohibit violence. Which makes the Israeli Defense Force's live-tweeting, YouTubing and Flickring of its assault on Gaza potentially problematic," wrote BuzzFeed.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 2:18 PM ET
10-month-old reported to be 16th to have died in Gaza; 150 wounded
An Al Jazeera reporter in Gaza says that the death toll from Israeli attacks is now 16, according to hospital sources. The latest casualty was said to have been a "10-month-old baby who sustained wounds in an earlier attack" who later died in Gaza city's Shifa hospital.
An 11-month-old, the son of a BBC journalist in Gaza, Jihad Misharawi, was also tragically killed in yesterday's strikes.
"A chilling photo showing Misharawi carrying his son's body through al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City was published by the Associated Press and printed on the front page of Thursday's Washington Post," Yahoo news wrote. The AP's image:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 2:05 PM ET
US calls on Egypt to negotiate peace
US Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, "We ask Egypt to use its influence in the region to help de-escalate the situation," according to Agence France Presse.
Toner also added that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had spoken with her Egyptian counterpart. A visit by Egypt's prime minister to Gaza on Friday has been confirmed.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said in a broadcast statement, "Your threats cannot intimidate us. We have been praying continuously to God to reward us with martyrdom," according to Reuters.
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham explains:
Haniya did not really say anything new. He spoke a lot about the fact that today is the Islamic New Year, and how those killed by Israeli forces on this day will be, in particular, rewarded by God. He talked about the 'defiance' and 'steadfastness' of the Palestinian people. The one sort of political issue he touched on was Gaza's relationship with Egypt. He commended Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for taking swift decisions on Gaza, one of which was to recall Egypt's ambassador to Israel. Haniya also called on Egypt to open the Rafah border with Gaza around the clock. But it's still unclear if that's something Morsi is willing to do given the recent rise in militancy in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula - and which borders Gaza.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 1:40 PM ET
Timeline of major events between Israel and Gaza
Check out GlobalPost's timeline of major events in the history of Israel and Gaza's relationship:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 1:30 PM ET
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak warns Gaza
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced on Thursday that 30,000 Israeli army soldiers are being called up. GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky, reporting from Israel, said it was a sign of "either ground war coming or Israel upping the ante in its warnings of a possible ground war."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 1:20 PM ET
Video of IDF airstrike on Fajr infrastructure
The Israel Defense Forces YouTube channel uploaded this video, which supposedly shows the Israeli Air Force targeting a Fajr missile infrastructure site in Gaza:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 1:10 PM ET
Tony Blair calls on Hamas to stop firing rockets
Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair on Thursday called on Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.
"If the rocket fire carries on out of Gaza, targeted at Israeli towns and villages, then the retaliation will increase," said the former British prime minister, speaking in London, according to Al Jazeera.
So far, the death toll stands at 3 Israelis and 15 Palestinians killed in the conflict.
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky, who is in southern Israel at the moment, tweeted this image of an anti-war demonstration outside Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 12:55 PM ET
Rockets did land in Tel Aviv
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli police confirmed two missiles aimed at Tel Aviv landing in open areas. There were no reports of casualties or damage. "In total, there have been 274 rockets fired and 105 intercepted. The IDF has attacked 250 targets in Gaza," said Haaretz.
The Jerusalem Post said an explosion was heard in the Bat Yam area of south Tel Aviv. Israel police said there was a strong possibility that a rocket landed in the streets of the southern Gush Dan area.
Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for a Fajr missile fired at Tel Aviv.
Here is an image of the building hit this morning in Kiryat Malakhi, from Ben Hartman, a reporter for The Jerusalem Post.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 12:35 PM ET
Conflicting reports on rocket fire in Tel Aviv
There have been conflicting reports on whether rocket fire from Gaza hit Tel Aviv. GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports from southern Israel:
To the best of my understanding, rockets did hit, possibly not technically within Tel Aviv municipal borders. Possibly in immediate suburb like Bat Yam. People in TA definitely heard and felt missile landings. IDF spokesperson saying no one hurt, no damage, playing coy with where exactly missile fell. Probably because they don't want to give Hamas that little victory.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 12:20 PM ET
Anonymous vows support for Palestinians
Anonymous, the mysterious hacker group, threw its weight behind the Palestinians on Thursday, releasing a manifesto that vowed revenge on Israel for its airstrikes in Gaza.
"For far to 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 Defense Force," said the statement.
"To the people of Gaza and the "Occupied Territories", know that Anonymous stands with you in this fight."
In a separate incident, Likud member of the Knesset Danny Danon's website was shut down by Kuwaiti hackers on Thursday after he announced a petition to cut off electricity to Gaza, according to The Jerusalem Post.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 12:00 PM ET
Egyptian PM's visit confirmed by cabinet official
Reuters, citing a cabinet official, confirmed Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil's planned visit to Gaza:
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham examines the impact of the Israel-Gaza conflict on Egypt and its new leader:
Morsi is under international pressure to safeguard Egypt’s decades-long peace treaty with Israel. But he is also facing calls at home, and even from within his own party, to take a harsher stance on Israel in light of the ongoing strikes.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 11:50 AM ET
UPDATE: 11/15/12 11:45 AM ET
Hamas rules out truce and Israeli PM says "whatever action is necessary" will be taken
Hamas ruled out a truce with Israel on Thursday.
"We will not be exposed to further tricks by the occupation. We consider talk of a truce at this time an attempt to provide more cover for the continuation of the escalation on Gaza," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, according to Al Jazeera. "Talk of a truce is another attempt by the occupation at deception."
Across the border, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would take "whatever action is necessary" to defend its citizens from the rocket launches in Gaza. He said the army was prepared to "significantly expand the action" in Gaza, according to Agence France Presse.
Meanwhile, AFP reported that the United States White House spokesman Jay Carney expressed regret for victims on both sides, but said there was "no justification" for the violence on Hamas' side, saying it "does nothing to help the Palestinians."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 11:35 AM ET
Rocket hits outskirts of Tel Aviv
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit an Israeli city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, according to Reuters. The rocket exploded in an open, uninhabited area of Rishon LeZion, the army said.
There were no reports of damage or casualties from the city, located around seven miles south of Tel Aviv, with a population of 300,000 people.
The city is the northernmost point struck by Gaza since the attacks began on Wednesday.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 11:25 AM ET
Israel faces a changed Hamas
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Erin Cunningham reports from inside Gaza that Israel now faces a changed a Hamas, one with more money and more allies.
As Israel unleashes a wave of air strikes and modern firepower against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, the fresh military offensive threatens to undo what was an unlikely economic boom taking hold in the war-battered territory.
The combination of a growing construction sector — fostered by raw materials flowing through smuggling tunnels at the Gaza-Egypt border — and eased Israeli economic restrictions beginning in 2010, boosted employment. And it promised to advance the recovery of one of the world’s most stunted economies.
Read more of her series of reports.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 11:15 AM ET
Egyptian PM to visit Gaza
Al Jazeera's correspondent on the ground in Gaza reported that the Hamas government spokesperson said Egypt's Prime Minister Hesham Kandil will head a delegation on a visit to Gaza on Friday.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 11:00 AM ET
Non-Aligned Movement releases statement
The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents 120 states which are not formally aligned with or against any bloc and includes many Asian, African and South American nations, released a statement condemning Israel's airstrikes.
"The Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement strongly condemns this latest military campaign against the Palestinian people and believes that this act of aggression by the Israelis and their resort to force against the defenseless people demand the immediate attention of the whole international community and require decisive action by the UN Security Council, which is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security," the statement read.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 10:45 AM ET
Israeli spokesman discusses latest attacks
Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev spoke with Al Jazeera about the Hamas rocket attacks that killed three Israelis.
Regev said that Israel's airstrikes, which have killed 15 Palestinians so far, were "surgical strikes," but that unfortunately innocent civilians got caught in the crossfire.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 10:40 AM ET
Egyptian President Morsi condemns airstrikes
In the harshest criticism of Israel since he took office, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi condemned the airstrikes on Gaza on Thursday.
Reuters noted that Morsi looked more subdued and downcast as he made a televised address, outlining the steps he has taken including recalling Egypt's ambassador to Israel and appealing to the United Nations Security Council.
We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression," he said. "The Israelis must realize that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region"
Read more at Reuters.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 10:25 AM ET
#HamasBumperStickers has become the second most popular hashtag on Twitter
As soon as Operation Pillar of Defense began, netizens around the world took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Of the top trending tweets on Twitter, the second-most popular tweet subject in the world Thursday was #HamasBumperStickers — a series of inflammatory tweets launched at the Gaza-based militant faction.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 10:09 AM ET
Alarms, explosions along Israel-Gaza border
GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky, currently in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, reports explosions and alarms in several towns there.
"No alarm, but 5 major booms just heard here in Ashkelon. Alarms over neighboring Ashdod. Also, missiles falling in Sderot just minutes ago," she said.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 9:57 AM ET
"Jabari was killed just in front of our partner office"
Andres Miguel España, an American humanitarian worker in Gaza originally from Los Angeles, shared his observations with GlobalPost's Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky, after Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was killed in a targeted strike yesterday:
"I crossed back from Israel into Gaza on Sunday morning, early. The bus was full of soldiers. We got to the Erez crossing and it was hit by 2 rockets. We were rushed into some secure room. Very day since then has been violent. You hear it when the rockets are launched, especially the Grads that are really loud.
Jabari was killed just in front of our partner office. They called me and said 'we're going home. There's going to be a war. You have to figure out what you're going to do.'
"Since then, there have been airstrikes pretty much every 20 minutes. You hear them, then feel their impact. It rolls at you."
UPDATE: 11/15/12 9:42 AM ET
The conflict plays out on social media
GlobalPost's Egypt correspondent, Erin Cunningham, is keeping the world informed via Twitter of the latest developments in the Israel-Gaza violence as well as historical context:
Meanwhile, battles continue between rival parties on social media:
UPDATE: 11/15/12 9:37 AM ET
Three Israeli soldiers wounded
GlobalPost's Israel correspondent has confirmed reports that three Israeli soldiers have been wounded in the ongoing violence. Earlier today, three Israelis were killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/15/12 9:16 AM ET
Rocket strike kills three in "scary as hell" attack in Israel
GlobalPost's senior correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, reports that rocket fire from Gaza hit Israel's Kiryat Malachi early Thursday morning, claiming the first Israeli victims in the clash.
Tarnopolsky said the rocket fire left Israeli residents terrified as violence continues to mount after Israel's assassination of Hamas's military leader on Wednesday.
Tomer Nadau, who lives two buildings down from the Kiryat Malachi apartment building that was hit, told GlobalPost that the attack was "scary as hell."
The strikes today come a day after the launch of an Israeli military campaign against militants in Gaza, with Israeli jet and drone attacks reportedly slamming the region overnight, according to The Washington Post. The Israelis launched the offensive in retaliation for more than one hundred missiled fired into southern Israel by Gaza militants earlier in the week.
Thirteen have been killed in Gaza since the campaign began Wednesday, according to health ministry officials in Gaza, the Post reported.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 5:45 PM ET
Gaza: So does this mean war?
Amnesty International today issued a statement cautioning that Israeli action in Gaza risks "re-igniting the armed conflict" there and puts civilian lives in danger.
The watchdog's warning raises the question: Could Israel's strike on Hamas military leader actually lead to all-out war?
GlobalPost's Priyanka Boghani took the question to Tufts University's William Martel of the Fletcher School of International Affairs' International Security Studies.
"The two wild cards are that Egypt is a very different geopolitical space than it was a year ago," Martel told GlobalPost. "The other wildcard is Iran, and its increasing geopolitical influence in the Middle East."
And what else? What're the odds this will lead to war? Why is this happening? Find out by reading the full exchange here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 4:53 PM ET
US raps Palestinians over Gaza flare-up
Here is the full statement from the US State Department on the Gaza conflict:
"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.
Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 4:43 PM ET
Israel OKs sending reserve forces to Gaza if necessary
Israeli ministers today authorized the military "to mobilize reserve units" as necessary for the success of Israel's anti-Hamas "Pillar of Defense" operation, according to this statement from the Foreign Ministry.
Ministers also approved a possible air operation in Gaza "in accordance with the need and the authorization of the defense minister," Reuters cited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office as saying.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 4:19 PM ET
Casualty counts start rolling in as Gazans take safety precautions
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told reporters today the "number of Palestinians killed in Gaza so far is nine and the number is increasing," reported Agence-France Presse.
Given the level of hostility there, Gazans are advised to be on their guard. Israel's Defense Forces Spokesperson Avital Leibovich tweeted:
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Tel Aviv today issued an "emergency message" instructing Americans there to "exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security in light of the escalating level of violence in Gaza and southern Israel."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 3:46 PM ET
Can you declare war on Twitter? Israel begs the question
Israel's military (IDF) has been religiously live-blogging its role in ongoing violence with the Palestinians following their killing of Hamas's leader earlier today, even going so far as to announce the start of an all-out military operation on Twitter:
Can you declare war on Twitter? Like, actually? We've come to the point where we're asking that question, says Slate's Fruzsina Eordogh:
"Wars are started via Twitter now. I am not talking about flame wars, but actual wars with actual bombs with in-real-life targets."
She points out that, according to FastCompany, this is the first time a military campaign has been made public on a platform like Twitter. The name of the Israeli operation is reportedly Pillar Of Defense (for more on its matching Twitter hashtag, see the post immediately following this one).
Foreign Policy is astounded by Israel's tech-savvy military, telling readers, "go to the IDF's website, you'll find a post with live, time-stamped updates on the operation," highlighting what they call a "jaw-dropping" video on the Jabari killing. Watch it here:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 3:20 PM ET
Gaza conflict sees spillover between rival groups on Twitter
In the midst of intense missile exchanges between Israel and Gaza, competing hashags have broken out on Twitter between the pro-Israel #Pillarofdefense and pro-Palestinian #GazaUnderAttack, leading to some nasty exchanges. Here's a quick snapshot of the microblog back-and-forth:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 3:05 PM ET
Egypt requests emergency UN Security Council meeting
Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting over the grave situation in Gaza:
Meanwhile, Abbas' calls for an Arab League meeting have been answered, with Al Arabiya reporting that they will convene on Saturday to discuss Gaza. Tweets are already pouring in mocking the long wait:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:51 PM ET
Egypt lashes out at Israel over Gaza violence
Egypt has reportedly recalled its ambassador to Egypt over the killing of Jabari today, reports BBC:
The move follows a strong statement from their foreign ministry warning that Israel "must take into account the changes in the Arab region and especially Egypt," because Cairo "will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past," reports Al Jazeera.
The statement from Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr called for an end to the violence, noting its "escalation and its possible negative effects on regional stability."
The party of Egypt's new president, the Muslim Brotherhood (FJP), also issued a statement of protest, according to the Jewish Journal. "Israel's return to the policy of assignation of leaders from the Palestinian struggle groups shows that the Israeli occupation wants to drag the region towards instability," the report cited FJP as saying.
"But the occupying state has to understand that the changes the Arab region, and especially Egypt, have witnessed will not permit that the Palestinian people be put under the hold of the Israeli offence in the same way as the past," it added.
GlobalPost's Egypt senior correspondent Erin Cunningham says the Egyptian President's response is likely to say a great deal about his Mideast policy objectives:
"It's a big test for Morsi. The Brotherhood and its political arm can make these statements, but it's still unclear what position Morsi will take as president. He can condemn the attacks, but there's not a whole lot he can do to back up the rhetoric. He doesn't have full control over the security forces, and any unilateral cancelation of the peace treaty would most likely prompt the US to cut its military and other aid. It all really depends on to what extent popular opinion against the operation rises."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:36 PM ET
Israel continues to intercept missiles from Gaza
The Israeli Air Force is focused on attacking long-range Fajr missiles, which can reach the Tel Aviv region, according to our correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky.
So far, 40 missiles have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Almost all incoming missiles have been intercepted.
Meanwhile, the Alqassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas that was led by Jabari, continues to chronicle their retaliation on Twitter:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:30 PM ET
Correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reported that missiles and rockets have been launched in general direction of Israeli south including, for the first time, a grad missile towards the city of Dimona, where Israel's unacknowledged nuclear reactor resides.
Israelis are tense waiting to see if any cities beyond the "bordering cities" are hit tonight.
The IDF has also confirmed that navy warships are now involved in the operation. Channel 10 has reported Egypt requested Israel stop the opertaion, and Israel refused.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:11 PM ET
Gaza City: WATCH: Jabari's body is carried through the streets
Watch as an agitated crowd accompanies Jabari's body to a Gaza City morgue today, courtesy of Reuters as per The Guardian:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:55 PM ET
Israel's US ambassador Michael Oren reacts
"We are sending an unequivocal message that our citizens will not be hostage to terrorist missile fire and cross-border attacks," Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren said in a press release about the Gaza mission.
"The scope of the IDF's defensive operation depends on Hamas and whether it takes the decision to cease firing missiles on our neighborhoods and homes. The IAF has been surgical and restrained in its response to the Hamas missile escalations, and has not targeted the long-range missiles stored in mosques, schools, and hospitals."
President Shimon Peres also spoke to Obama this afternoon to "explain Israel's motives," saying:
"The head of the military force of Hamas was killed half an hour ago. He was a most extreme man and was in charge of all the attacks and assassinations from Gaza against Israel. We shall handle it with great care. Our intension is not to raise the flames, but already for days, day and night, they are shooting rockets at Israel. Women cannot fall asleep. I was today there with the children. You know, there are limits. So I want you to know and I wanted to explain our motives."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:50 PM ET
Netanyahu, Barak press conference: "We are obliged to react"
"Terror organizations hit our citizens on purpose, while hiding behind their own civillians," Netanyahu said in a brief press conference this evening.
"We hit military targets, while attempting to diminish as much as possible any damage to civillians."
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: "Israel does not want war, but the ongoing provokactions of the last few weeks and many more obliged us to react."
Analyst Emanuel Rosen on Israel's Channel 10 distilled the brief press conference, saying: "The main message is: to Israeli citizens, be prepared. not necessarilly just for now, but terror attacks and other acts in the future. To Gaza: if you dare hit us beyind the 40 kilometer line, we are ready to invade."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:45 PM ET
IDF reports that they have hit terror sites in Gaza
The Israeli Defense Force has announced on Twitter that they have struck "terror sites" in Gaza:
Fast Company and other sources have called the IDF's earlier tweet "the world's first announcement of a military campaign via Twitter." The Twitter announcement was made before a press conference was held:
They also released a video of their targeted attack on Ahmed Jabari:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:33 PM ET
Israeli warships bombing Gaza from the sea
Sources are reporting on Twitter that Israeli warships are attacking Gaza from the Mediteranean sea:
BBC is also reporting that retaliation has begun and that rockets are being fired from Gaza the southern Israeli town of Be'er Sheva, though these reports have yet to be confirmed:
So far, 15 incoming missiles have been shot down by Israel's Iron Dome system. Read more about the system here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:18 PM ET
Hamas asks Egypt to get involved, "not act like Mubarak"
Hamas has requested that the Egyptian government to get involved in their retaliation against Israel and "not act like Mubarak did," Egyptian cabinet apparently considering its response at the moment.
Ban Ki-Moon, UN secretary general, has called on Israel and Palestinian Hamas fighters to stop the violence from escalating and ensure civilians are out of harm's way, Al Jazeera reported.
"The Secretary-General calls for an immediate de-escalation of tensions," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said, adding that it was a reiteration of Ban Ki Moon's already-stated position. "Both sides should do everything to avoid further escalation and they must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times,"
However, the bombings continue: GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports that a car just blew up in Sabra neighborhood in Gaza, apparently another attempted strike.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:12 PM ET
Bombing continues in Gaza
Erin Cunningham, GlobalPost's correspondent in Cairo, says her contacts in the region continue to hear bombing in Gaza:
Meanwhile, air raid warnings are being sounded in city of Be'er Sheva, where a major boom was reported, our correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports. Residents in all of southern Israel have been ordered to remain within 15 seconds of shelter at all times.
Barak and Netanyahu will be holding a press conference around 1:30 EST, when Obama is scheduled to speak about the ongoing Petraeus scandal.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:05 PM ET
Israeli-Arab Knesset member calls bombing "Deja-vu"
Israeli Arab Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi calls Operation Pillar of Defense "Deja-vu all over again two months before the elections."
"Terrible days are coming both to residents of the south and of Gaza," he said, our correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:53 PM ET
New reports say commander Raed Attar was not hit by Israeli strikes
Raed Attar, the commander of Hamas's Khan Yunis unit, was earlier reported to have been killed Wednesday in strikes that took the lives of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari and his son. However, new reports say that is not the case.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:44 PM ET
Gilad Shalit's father asks, "What do we do once the canons are silent?"
Noam Shalit, the father of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier formerly held by Hamas, told Israel Radio that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was one of the men who escorted his son to freedom.
"The goal is to bring normalcy back to a million people who want to live in peace and quite. That's the goal. Eveything else is just part of the process. We have to think a step ahead, one step after the war, once the canons are silent, what do we do then?"
The interviewer on Israel Radio pointed out that Israel did not hit Jabari as long as Gilad Shalit was held hostage. Reactions inside Israel have pointed out the protection that holding Shalit hostage essentially provided Jabari. Shalit was released.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:32 PM ET
Israel mobilizes reserve forces, shutters schools along southern border
The Israeli army is calling up Homeland Command reserve soldiers in the wake of ongoing strikes as part of an operation that killed the military leader of Hamas, his son, and another commander, GlobalPost's Israel correspondent reports.
Additionally, no educational institutions within 40 kilometers of Israel's southern border will be in operation tomorrow.
The country remains on high alert.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:19 PM ET
Ten confirmed dead in Gaza; strikes ongoing
Israel has confirmed that ten people have died in strikes on Gaza as part of the operation that killed the military leader of Hamas, his son, and another commander. The remaining seven individuals have not yet been identified.
Israel strikes against Gaza are ongoing, with "booms loudly audible on Israeli side of the border," reports GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky. She added that six Gaza-launched missiles have hit Israel today.
Israel Army Radio reported that some of the explosions emanating from Gaza were the result of stockpiles of ammunition and missiles being struck.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:07 PM ET
Hamas promises retaliation for Operation Pillar of Defense, aka "Cloud Column"
The Israeli strike that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was part of an operation known in English as Operation Pillar of Defense, or in Hebrew as Cloud Column or Cloud Pillar.
GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky said, "It appears that the plan is only for an aerial operation, though, as the military analyst on Israel Army Radio has just said, 'you go into something like this knowing that it can take you in different directions.'"
An IDF spokesman said, "If I was high up in Hamas, I would be looking for shelter deep underground right now."
Meanwhile, via Israel Radio, Hamas swore retaliation, saying, "Tel Aviv will be on fire tonight."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 11:57 AM ET
Israel Defense Forces targeting Hamas rocket sites
In a statement released Wednesday, military sources in Israel said:
"The IDF has targeted a significant number of long range rockets sites (over 40km) owned by Hamas. This deals a significant blow to the terror organizations underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions ware houses owned by Hamas and other terror organizations.
The aim of targeting these sites is to hamper their rocket launching weapons build up capabilities.
The Gaza strip, has turned it into a frontal base for Iran firing rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.
The IDF will continue to target terrorist sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 11:50 AM ET
Israel on nationwide "high alert"
Israeli police have put the nation on high alert, GlobalPost Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports, and the foreign ministry has shifted to emergency footing in the wake of a strike that killed the military leader of Hamas, his son, and another commander.
Israel has confirmed that 6 have been killed in Gaza so far, though the remaining three have yet to be identified.
IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai told Israel Radio, "The operation has just started. Residents of the south were waiting for this."
Israel's cabinet has convened in Tel Aviv.
Read more on the conflict here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 11:24 AM ET
Hamas leader's son and commander of Khan Yunis unit also killed
The son of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, as well as the commander of Hamas's Khan Yunis unit, Raed Attar, were also killed Wednesday in the strike that took the leader's life.
The IDF website said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz had “approved an expansive strike against terrorist organizations in Gaza.”
“As a part of the program, a short while ago, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck Ahmed Jabari and other senior officers of Hamas' Military Wing, who were involved in planning and implementing dozens of attacks, including the kidnapping of SFC [Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit,” it said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, via Dr. Saeb Erekat, issued at statement deploring the strike.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this new Israeli assassination which aims to initiate a bloody escalation," it said.
"We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the consequences that this new act of aggression would bring to the region.” “This exposes that Israel has an agenda for war but not for peace.”
Hamas has sworn retaliation aganist Tel Aviv.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 10:12 AM ET
Ahmed Jabari, Hamas military chief of staff, killed in Israeli strike
Israel Defense Forces killed the head of Hamas's military wing, sources confirmed Wednesday to GlobalPost's correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky.
"In the past hour, the IDF targeted Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas's military wing, in the Gaza Strip," a military source said. "Jabari was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas' command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against the State of Israel in the past number of years."
The death of Jabari, who ran the Ezzidine Al-Qassam Brigades, is a serious blow to Hamas's chain of command.
"The IDF will continue to target sites that are used for carrying out terror attacks against the citizens of Israel while improving their daily security," the source added.
Read more here.