GLOBALPOST LIVE BLOG: ISRAEL-GAZA VIOLENCE INTENSIFIES
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:00 PM ET
UN Security Council to vote on Gaza resolution in next 24 hours
SKY News journalist Jessy Elmur says the Security Council is set to vote on a resolution about the violence in Gaza in the next 24 hours:
GlobalPost is signing off our live blog, but stay tuned for continued coverage of the conflict as it unfolds, including original reporting from both our correspondents on the ground, Erin Cunningham in Gaza and Noga Tarnopolsky in Israel.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 5:40 PM ET
Israel's Knesset takes a break from debating ceasefire proposal
Israel's parliament is taking a breather from debating the ceasefire agreement from Cairo, reports GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky:
Gaza's Minister of Religious Affairs said that 25 mosques have been damaged by Israeli strikes over the past six days:
Gershon Baskin, founder of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, told Al Jazeera that Israel's continued airstrikes show it has no intention of reaching an agreement with Hamas.
Baskin speculated that while Hamas and Israel may each enter into separate agreements with Egypt, those would only last for a short period.
Listen to his full analysis here:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 5:07 PM ET
Netanyahu rejects ceasefire initiatives from France, Qatar
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected French-Qatari ceasefire initiatives, Ha'aretz reported.
Netanyahu told France's foreign minister that Israel is not interested in French or Qatari mediation and that he wants to avoid anything that might interfere with the Egyptian mediation of the conflct.
Meanwhile, at the UN, Germany's ambassador to the United Nations Peter Wittig confirmed to Al Jazeera that a Security Council press statement on the crisis in Gaza and Israel was under way.
Germany wants to denounce the casualties on both sides and emphasize that the situation needs to be scaled back as soon as possible.
"There was a clear feeling by the majority of the members that the Security Council has to pronounce itself,'' Wittig told reporters.
However, the sixth day of the conflict came to a close without any major ceasefire agreements or changes being pushed through on either side.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 4:50 PM ET
Deadliest day of conflict, with 34 killed
The Hamas-run Health Ministry reported that 34 people were killed in the Gaza Strip on Monday, making it the deadliest day of the conflict since it began on last Wednesday.
German Ambassador to the UN Peter Wittig confirmed that the Security Council was discussing a press statement about the crisis in Gaza and Israel, according to Al Jazeera. Wittig said Germany would want to deplore the casualties on both sides and call for de-escalation as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo to take part in talks to de-escalate the conflict.
Some pictures out of Israel and Gaza on the sixth day of fighting:
Israeli soldiers prepare weapons in a deployment area.
Israelis take cover in a large concrete pipe used as a bomb shelter during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians carry the bodies of children from the al-Dallu family during a funeral procession in Gaza City.
PlanetPic: Israel-Gaza conflict continues as death toll mounts (PHOTOS)
UPDATE: 11/19/12 4:30 PM ET
Gazans have nowhere to go
GlobalPost's Middle East correspondent Erin Cunningham reports from Gaza:
The death toll from a punishing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip reached 100 Monday night, making it the deadliest day of the conflict according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, and deepening a six-day-long crisis that shows no sign of relenting.
Gazans, who are essentially trapped by a blockade, say they feel nowhere is safe, not even their own homes.
Of the 109 killed so far, 26 are children and 11 are women, health officials here said. It is unclear how many of the casualties include fighters, although another 850 people are injured, including 280 children and 140 women.
“They were children inside the home, they were not fighting. Why did they kill them?” said an emotional Kamal Al Dalu, a 60-year-old cousin of the man whose entire family was wiped out in the strike. “Even if we put a tent where the house was, they would strike us again. They know the people there are civilians.”
Read more: Trapped in Gaza
UPDATE: 11/19/12 4:00 PM ET
More photos from Gaza by Erin Cunningham
Some more images from GlobalPost's correspondent Erin Cunningham, who has been in Gaza since Sunday.
Mourners gather to pay respects at the funeral of two men from the same family, Amin Zohdi Bashir, 40, and Tamer Roshdi Bashir, 22. They were killed in a strike on their car in Deir Al Balah, a city south of Gaza City, Monday morning at 7 a.m. Locals and their family members say they were transporting tomatoes from the greenhouse to the market - however, no verification that they weren't fighters.
Residents of Deir Al Balah look out over their home onto a crater left by an airstrike on an empty lot below. Strike took place on Saturday night, they say.
A young boy stands in front of a massive crater left by a strike on an empty lot in Deir Al Balah on Saturday night.
Two young girls stand outside in Deir Al Balah.
A man walks by the site where two men, Amin Zohdi Bashir and Tamer Roshdi Bashir, were killed while driving in a car in Deir Al Balah on Monday morning.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 3:53 PM ET
Turkey's PM calls Israel a "terrorist state"
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan described Israel as a “terrorist state” in terms of its attacks on Gaza on Monday, Agence France Presse reported.
“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdogan said at a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul. “For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts.”
Ties between the two former allies collapsed in 2010, when Israeli marines stormed an aid ship in accordance with their blocade of the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in clashes on board, AFP reported.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 3:45 PM ET
Hezbollah said Israel has failed to "achieve its objectives in Gaza"
Hezbollah's Lebanese leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Monday that Israel is trying to target civilians, despite claims otherwise.
"The shelling is clearly and deliberately targeting civilians and killing women and children," he told supporters via a video screen in a speech to mark the Shi'ite Muslim holy day of Ashura, Reuters reported.
Gaza-based journalist Mohammed Omer tweeted about more family casualties, including two young boys:
Israel has said that it does not aim to kill innocent civilians, and dropped leaflets urging them to stay away from Hamas facilities.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 3:30 PM ET
Iran may be sending more Fajar rockets to Gaza
A 150-ton freighter reportedly bound for Gaza left Iran’s Bandar Abbas port Sunday, carrying a a cargo of 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajar-5 rockets, according to DEBKAfile's intelligence sources.
Fajars are the types of rockets that have been able to reach Tel Aviv, according to the Blaze, which reports:
Fajr [sic]-5 rockets are as long as a telephone pole and typically have a range of 75 kilometers, however, Hamas has lightened the rockets’ payload, ensuring its range stretches to 85 kilometers.
Iran first supplied the Hezbollah with its Fajr rockets during Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel. Hezbollah militants were able to reach parts of Israel never before accessed with previous rockets. In fact, the Fajr-5 were the longest range rockets of its kind ever launched at Israel from the Lebanese.
Now, as Operation Pillar of Defense is under way, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have launched a series of Fajr-5 rockets towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 3:13 PM ET
Israel's cabinet meets to debate Gaza ceasefire proposal
Israel's cabinet convened Monday evening to debate a ceasefire proposal crafted after indirect negotiations in Cairo, Agence France Presse is reporting.
The plan's specific points were not revealed, but Israeli public radio said Israel "wanted to see a 24- to 48-hour truce take effect that could then be used to negotiate the finer details of the full ceasefire agreement."
Most of the IDF's attacks on Gaza had stopped two to three hours before the meeting began.
Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal said on Monday that he wanted an end to Israel's six-year-old blockade as an essential point to any negotiated truce.
"We are for a ceasefire," Meshaal told reporters in Cairo, according to AFP. "But Israel must stop its aggression."
UPDATE: 11/19/12 3:05 PM ET
American Navy ships head to Mediterranean in event of evacuation
CNN is reporting that the US has sent three Navy amphibious warships to be on standby should they be needed to assist Americans in Israel in the coming days.
"This is due diligence. It is better to be prepared should there be a need," one official said Monday. Both officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ships would not be used in any combat role but merely to assist citizens in the "remote possibilty an evacuation should become necessary.
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky tweets that for now, all is quiet in Ashdod in Israel:
Earlier today, rockets damaged two schools in nearby Ashkelon: a rocket landed in the parking lot of a school and damaged buildings, and another intercepted rocket's debris from the explosion fell onto the roof of a separate school, according to Al Jazeera.
Two more homes in Gaza have also been targeted, reports GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 2:40 PM ET
US is filibustering Security Council Gaza statement, diplomats say
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said Monday that "one country on the 15-nation council indicated quite transparently that they will not be prepared to go along with any reaction of the Security Council," according to Al Jazeera.
Though he did not point the finger at the United States outright, diplomats told Al Jazeera that the US was hindering a statement put forth by Arab nations to the SC.
A forum of nine senior Israeli ministers is also expected to meet shortly to hash out their options in the ongoing operation in Gaza, Ha'aretz reported.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 2:30 PM ET
Polls show Israelis support Operation Pillar of Defense, but not necessarily ground invasion
A series of polls shows that while Israelis support their country's operations in Gaza, they are not necessarily behind the pending ground invasion.
The Jerusalem Post reported that according to a poll by Panels for the Israeli Center for Political Training, 85 percent of Israelis feel starting the operation was the right choice. However, 45 percent believe the right next step is to continue air strikes; 22 percent want a ceasefire; and 25 percent recommended a ground offensive.
Another poll, this one by Ha'aretz and Dialog, find that while 84 percent of Israelis support the operation, 39 percent think it should be continued by air; 19 percent want an immediate ceasefire; and 30 percent are in support of a ground operation.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 2:10 PM ET
Journalist confronts US State Department spokeswoman
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland got into a tense discussion with a journalist over what he called the United States' "quiet diplomacy" in the face of "people dying left and right" in Gaza, Reuters live blog reported.
The journalist was identified as Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee. The AP released a video of the exchange here:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 2:05 PM ET
Tony Blair, Quartet envoy, encourages ceasefire
Tony Blair, former British prime minister and now the Middle Eastern envoy for the Quartet— comprised of the United Nations, Russia, the European Union, and the US — is in Tel Aviv, where he says he fully supports Egypt's ceasefire efforts.
"The most important thing is to get a ceasefire," Blair told Al Jazeera. "Then, once that happen, you can start to go through the issues."
Blair said that the main issues are to stop Palestinian rocket fire and to open up Gaza.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 1:50 PM ET
Photos from Gaza by Erin Cunningham
GlobalPost's Middle East correspondent Erin Cunningham has been in Gaza since Sunday. She took these pictures.
Mourners at a funeral for the children of Al Dalu family, with Hamas' green flags:
Mourners at a funeral for the children of Al Dalu family, with Hamas' green flags:
Mourners gather at the burial site of Imad Abu Hamada, 25, killed in an airstrike on the Shati (beach) camp north of Gaza City. He may have been a fighter, but there is no confirmation:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 1:47 PM ET
Hezbollah's head slams Arab leaders for "ingratitude" towards Iran
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, spoke out against Arab leaders' ungrateful attitudes towards the organization:
“I affirm to you that even in a ground operation by Israel, the resistance in Gaza, thank God, has sufficient capabilities, will and plans, which were formulated after the 2008 war to fill in gaps, [to face Israel],” Nasrallah said Saturday during a televised speech, Lebanon's the Daily Star reported.
“I think that the Israelis would be engaging in a folly and making a very big mistake if they decide to launch a ground military operation against Gaza,” Nasrallah added.
He also argued that Arab leaders were not adequately supporting Hamas with their requests for a ceasefire.
“We fear that some Arab countries will pressure the Palestinian resistance to abandon its rightful demands so that they can say that they played a role in calming the situation in front of the US administration and Obama,” Nasrallah said, according to the Daily Star.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 1:35 PM ET
The Guardian maps all conflict-related incidents
The Guardian is putting together a map of all the reported incidents since Jabari's assasination, which kicked off the violence between Israel and Gaza last week.
Their interactive map also allows users to upload new locations that have been bombed or attacked.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 1:25 PM ET
Security Council to meet behind closed doors
Members of the United Nations Security Council are having a closed-door meeting in New York to discuss the latest violence in Gaza, Al Jazeera reported.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's staff are meeting with the Council members at the UN headquarters on Monday.
Meanwhile, Ban Ki-Moon is in Cairo, where he will meet with Netanyahu and Abbas as part of ceasefire negotiations.
"The secretary-general wishes to add his diplomatic weight to these efforts, which are considerable and extremely important," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters, according to Al Jazeera.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 1:15 PM ET
Israeli army postpones invasion for ceasefire negotiations
The Israeli government has agreed to postpone its ground invasion of Gaza by 24 hours to allow for ceasefire negotiations to continue, according to Israel's Channel 2.
"Israel is prepared and has taken steps, and is ready for a ground incursion which will deal severely with the Hamas military machine," a senior official close to Netanyahu told Reuters.
"We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel's population in the south. If that is possible, then a ground operation would no longer be required. If diplomacy fails, we may well have no alternative but to send in ground forces," he added.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 12:35 AM ET
Anderson Cooper's report interrupted by explosion
CNN anchor and correspondent Anderson Cooper was reporting from Gaza when an explosion interrupted the broadcast.
Meanwhile, the bloc of 27 European Union foreign ministers called for an immediate end to hostilities in Gaza and Israel on Monday.
"An immediate cessation of hostilities is in everyone's interest, particularly at a time of instability in the region," said the bloc in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.
"All attacks must end immediately as they cause unjustifiable suffering of innocent civilians."
UPDATE: 11/19/12 12:20 AM ET
Majority of Americans think Israel's airstrikes are justified
A CNN/ORC International poll published on Monday showed that 57 percent of those surveyed thought Israel's military action in Gaza against Hamas was justified. One in four said the attacks were unjustified.
"Although most Americans think the Israeli actions are justified, there are key segments of the public who don't necessarily feel that way," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
"Only four in ten Democrats think the Israeli actions in Gaza are justified, compared to 74 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents. Support for Israel's military action is 13 points higher among men than among women, and 15 points higher among older Americans than among younger Americans."
The survey also showed nearly 60 percent declaring their sympathies for Israelis, while 13 percent said they sided more with the Palestinians and 11 percent said they sympathized with neither side.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 12:10 AM ET
Death toll reaches 100
The estimated death toll for Palestinians killed in Gaza since Wednesday has reached 100, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said the dead included 24 children and 10 women, according to Reuters.
The mininstry said 850 people have been wounded since hostilities began, including 260 children and 140 women.
The IDF's estimates for the death toll in Gaza are similar, with 95 people dead, and around one-third of them uninvolved in the conflict, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Three Israeli civilians have died in rocket attacks launched from Gaza.
The UN's relief and works agency has been operating in Gaza, keeping health centers open and delivering food to more than 12,000 people on Sunday alone, according to its director Robert Turner, the BBC reported.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 11:30 AM ET
Demands for ceasefire
Each side in the conflict has outlined demands that would have to be met in order to institute a ceasefire.
Israeli officials told the BBC that the following conditions would have to be met for a ceasefire to be put in place:
- No hostile fire of any kind to come from Gaza into Israel, including small arms fire at Israeli troops near the border
- Hamas fighters must be stopped from traveling to the Sinai to carry out attacks against Israel at the Sinai/Israel border
- Hamas must not be able to rearm
- The ceasefire must not simply be a "time-out" for Hamas, it must be an extended period of quiet for Southern Israel
Hamas' deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad outlined his government's demands, according to Reuters:
We have to cancel the buffer zone; they have to stop the assassination policy; they have to stop targeting civilians. This is very important. And also to lift the siege on Gaza.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 11:20 AM ET
Key events so far
Another intense round of airstrikes continued in Gaza on Monday, as Israel said it was prepared to step up the offensive by sending in troops.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Reuters, "We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel's population in the south. If that is possible, then a ground operation would no longer be required. If diplomacy fails, we may well have no alternative but to send in ground forces."
Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshaal hinted at his group's demands for a ceasefire with Israel. "We are not against calm... but there must be specific demands... in summary that the Israeli thuggery and aggression stop... and the siege on Gaza be lifted," he said, according to the BBC.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to arrive in Cairo for further ceasefire efforts, with the Muslim Brotherhood-led government hosting leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, according to Reuters.
Egypt, which has acted as mediator in this conflict, indicated that a deal for a truce could be within reach, Reuters reported. International pressure to end the fighting mounted, as the death toll in Gaza climbed to 100 by Monday. According to local officials, more than half of those killed in Gaza were non-combatants.
So far, three Israeli civilians have been killed.
The IDF said it struck nearly 80 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, killing at least 14 Palestinians.
Rocket fire launched from Gaza towards Israel resumed on Monday morning, said Haaretz, turning into a "full-blown barrage" by early afternoon.
An Israeli airstrike on a media center in Gaza killed one of the leading figures of Islamic Jihad's militant wing, the Al Quds Brigades. Islamic Jihad sent a message to reporters that Ramez Harb had been killed in the attack.
The IDF claimed that three additional top militants were killed in the attack, including Baha Abu al-Ata, commander of the Islamic Jihad Gaza City Brigage, Tissir Mahmoud Mahmed Jabari and Halil Batini, both senior operatives.
On its Twitter account, the IDF said, "The senior PIJ cadre was operating in a media building. They weren't there to be interviewed. They were using reporters as human shields." It added, "We targeted only the 2nd floor, which is where the senior terrorists were. The rest of the building was unharmed. Direct hit confirmed."
Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza reported, "Gaza city’s streets have become a place where an air strike can hit at any time."
UPDATE: 11/19/12 10:15 AM ET
Another front in Lebanon?
Lebanese security forces said on Monday that two Katyusha rockets were found in south Lebanon, aimed at Israel. An official told the Associated Press that the rockets were around 2.5 miles from the Israeli border, equipped with timers, according to the BBC. They have been dismantled.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 10:30 AM ET
Israeli strike on media center caught on video
RT has a video of the media center being bombed.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 9:43 AM ET
Israeli strike on media center killed top militant:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 9:34 AM ET
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports from Tel Aviv:
It's a day without sirens in Tel Aviv. The city's life continues uninterrupted with all businesses open and restaurants and cafes full. Scratch just beneath the surface, however, and you find a nervousness decidedly unTel Avivi.
At a popular restaurant, Gaza and Israel's predicament seems to be all anyone is talking about. A car siren goes off and three young women smoking on a bench start-- before sitting back down and laughing it off.
Life in the south may as well be on another planet, but its another planet very much on people's minds.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 9:28 AM ET
BBC reporter tweets picture of media building in Gaza city
UPDATE: 11/19/12 9:22 AM ET
Israel’s miraculous missile defense system is saving both a lot of lives and political careers [revised]
GlobalPost's correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky reports on the Iron Dome from Jerusalem:
Israel's touted Iron Dome anti-missile system has taken on the aura of a semi-superhuman piece of machinery — as if it were something out of Skyfall — during the rain of missiles that have come during its conflict with Gaza.
Estimates vary, but experts agree the Iron Dome has been highly successful in intercepting incoming rockets. The system has five anti-missile batteries defending residential areas. These have destroyed 307 out of a total 877 rockets fired, according to a recent tally by Israel's Defense Forces. Experts say that of missiles headed for civilian targets, between 75 and 90 percent have been blocked.
Now, a Hebrew University professor says the game-changing device may also be safeguarding Israel's political panorama — and even its immediate military future.
Two question marks loom over Israel's political life today. The first question is whether the Gaza operation will expand into a ground invasion. The second, how will the conflict affect the electoral campaign, which has virtually been suspended since the beginning of hostilities. Elections are scheduled for Jan. 22.
Read more: Iron Dome: Israel’s game-changer
UPDATE: 11/19/12 9:15 AM ET
Israeli forces hit Shurooq media building
At least one person has been killed in an attack on the Shurooq media building in Gaza City, al Jazeera reported.
The building was also hit yesterday. According to Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, said that "bombing the civilian media building constitutes a war crime".
UPDATE: 11/19/12 8:53 AM ET
Khaled Meshaal, political leader of Hamas, speaks in Cairo
During a press conference in Cairo, Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, said that he is proud of the Palestinian people, and of the Egyptian people.
"We are people of a just cause," Meshaal said. "We are not aggressors against anyone. Whoever attacks Palestine will be killed and buried."
UPDATE: 11/19/12 8:35 AM ET
Yedioth Ahronoth reports details of ceasefire agreement
The Israeli government has six key demands:
- A lull in hostilities for a period of more than 15 years
- An immediate cessation of arms smuggling and transfer of weapons to Gaza
- Cessation of rocket-fire from all armed Palestinian faction and an end to attacks on Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border
- Israel maintains the right to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack
- The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will remain open but the Gaza-Israel border crossing will remain closed
-Egypt's leaders will be the guarantors of any ceasefire agreement
Hamas' demands include:
- Lifting the naval blockade of Gaza
- Guarantees from the international community for the cessation of targeted killins
- Ending cross border raids by Israeli military
- Cessation of attacks on fishermen off the coast
UPDATE: 11/19/12 8:21 AM ET
Ceasefire negotiations continue
News outlets are reporting that there are "encouraging signs" from discussions taking place in Cairo. According to the BBC, which cited a senior Egyptian official, an announcement about a ceasefire would be made either today, or Tuesday.
Israel's Haaretz newspaper too has reported that Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, have agreed "to give international efforts to bring about a ceasefire more time".
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres tweeted:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 8:10 AM ET
Mourners at Dalu family funeral
GlobalPost's senior correspondent Erin Cunningham sent this photograph from the funeral of a family killed by an Israeli strike on Sunday.
She writes that the green flags are Hamas, and that the children were buried in green Hamas and Palestinian flags.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 8:02 AM ET
Video shows Palestinians clashing with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank
A Reuters video shows Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers in the West bank on Sunday as part of a protest against the Israeli air strikes in gaza.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 7:45 AM ET
Death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 94
According to Hamas-run health ministry officials, the death toll in the Gaza Strip since fighting began on Wednesday has reached 94. At least 740 people have been injured. Twenty-five people were killed so far today, including three children and an old man.
Meanwhile, in Israel rockets have hit Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne and near Beersheba.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 7:35 AM ET
Tony Blair would like to see a sustained ceasefire
Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister and representative of the Middle East Quartet said:
I very much hope that over the coming days we can achieve cessation on a basis that is sustainable, on a basis that stops the threat of missiles coming from Gaza targeted at Israeli civilians and also then relieves the people of Gaza who also suffered of course.
Blair was meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 7:30 AM ET
Israeli military intended to hit Dalu family house
The IDF believed that Yahio Rabiya, a senior Hamas militant was hiding in the Dalu family house that was hit yesterday. However, Israel didn't have confirmation of Rabiya's location when the house was hit, BBC reported.
Eleven people, including four children were killed in what is the single deadliest attack since fighting in the Gaza Strip began last week.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 7:13 AM ET
Poll finds that majority of Israel supports Operation Pillar of Defense
According to a Haaretz-Dialog poll taken on Sunday, 84 percent of the Israeli public supports the Gaza war, with 12 percent opposing it.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 7:07 AM ET
IDF: Gazan militants are firing rockets from densely populated civilian areas
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:56 AM ET
Has the 'state of readiness' been called down?
NPR's Sheera Frenkel tweeted:
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:44 AM ET
Israel would prefer a diplomatic solution to a ground invasion, says senior official
An anonymous senior Israeli official "close to Netanyahu" has stated that "We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel's population in the south. If that is possible, then a ground operation would no longer be required," Reuters reported.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:38 AM ET
Reporting from Gaza
GlobalPost's Egypt correspondent Erin Cunningham visited Gaza City's al Shifa hospital and attended the funeral of the children that were killed in the strike on the Dalu family house.
There were several funerals at the Sheikh Radwan cemetary near Jabaliya. Hundreds of mourners were there, waving Hamas flags and crying out "Allahu akhbar", or God is great. Celebratory gunfire, and also a nearby airstrike that reverberated across the cemetery. It was very close and a loud grey plume of smoke rose up several blocks away. Two rockets from Gaza were fired that we could see from the cemetery, and mourners cried out "Allahu Akhbar."
The streets of Gaza City are empty though there are some people out. Zero traffic and vast majority of shops are closed. Streets smell of rotting garbage as trash has not been picked-up in several days.
Went by to see to the sight of the Al Abbas police station that was targeted last night in a massive explosion in central Gaza. The station was targeted on the first day of Operation Cast Lead. When I was here last summer, it had been rebuilt. Now it's a pile of cement rubble.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:20 AM ET
US lawmakers respond to Gaza conflict by admonishing Egypt
American senators have criticized Egypt's response to the conflict in Gaza, the Associated Press reported this morning.
Among the most vocal was Republican senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina:
"Egypt, watch what you do and how you do it," said Graham on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. ‘’You’re teetering with the Congress on having your aid cut off if you keep inciting violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:11 AM ET
Egypt Foreign Minister to travel to Gaza
Mohamed Kamel Amr, the Egyptian foreign minister, is expected to go Gaza tomorrow along with other Arab ministers to "express solidarity" with the Palestinians, said a spokesperson for the ministry, Reuters reported.
UPDATE: 11/19/12 6:00 AM ET
War in Gaza in holding pattern
Stuck between the alternatives of a ceasefire or a ground offensive, the war in Gaza appears to be in a holding pattern. Overnight, the Israeli Defence Forces reported that it had struck 80 targets overnight. According to the Guardian, there was a lull in rocket fire out of Gaza, indicating that Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip have been affected by IDF bombing.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 7:28 PM ET
Police station hit as shelling continues overnight in Gaza; death toll reaches 75
It's now after 2 a.m. in Gaza, where five days of strikes have claimed a reported 75 lives, and overnight shelling continues. Journalists on the ground reported that one strike hit the Al Abbas police station in the Rimal neighborhood.
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham, in Gaza, said the same station was one of the first targets of the 2008 operation Cast Lead.
AFP's Sara Hussein reported via Twiter that the strike "leveled" the station.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 4:50 PM ET
Shelling begins on Gaza
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham is in Gaza at the moment:
Other journalists in the area have confirmed the shelling:
Here is a picture of the house that was hit in Gaza City earlier today, resulting in the deaths of 11 people, all members of one family, including children.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 4:30 PM ET
Direct hit in Kiryat Malakhi; explosions heard in Eilat
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky in Israel reported that a home in Kiryat Malakhi has been hit directly. There are no reports of injuries at the moment.
Residents in the Israeli city of Eilat also reported hearing an explosion, although the source is still unclear. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a ground search had been launched, but so far there was no indication of a rocket impact, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Tarnopolsky confirmed the news and added that it could possibly be from a Salafist or Sinai source, though reports are currently muddled.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 4:20 PM ET
Reports from Gaza
The Guardian's Harriet Sherwood reported on the deaths of at least 11 members of one family in Gaza City.
The bodies of the children were pulled from the rubble and taken to the morgue at the Shifa hospital. The dead also included an 80-year-old woman.
Ismael Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, described the deaths as an “ugly massacre” and its military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, said: “The massacre of the Dalou family will not pass without punishment.”
With one of the youngest populations in the world, over half of Gaza's 1.7 million residents are aged under 18 and they have little to comfort them beside the heady local culture of armed struggle against Israel.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 3:50 PM ET
Death toll rises; Israel shells Syrian fighters; Egyptians cross into Gaza
According to Al Jazeera, the death toll as of late Sunday has risen to 72, including 20 children, 8 women, 9 elderly and 34 adults. More than 660 people have been wounded, including 224 children.
Meanwhile, Israel shelled Syrian fighters after a spillover from their civil war saw stray gunfire coming into Israel. The Associated Press noted that despite a hostile relationship, Syria has been careful to keep its border with Israel calm since the 1973 Mideast war.
There were also reports of around 500 Egyptian activists crossing into Gaza to deliver medical supplies and show their support for the Palestinians, according to the AP.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 3:35 PM ET
UPDATE: 11/18/12 3:25 PM ET
First targeted killing from the sea; man ID'ed
GlobalPost's Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reported, "Man killed today in precision hit from warship was Islamic Jihad man Ahmad Nahal."
Earlier, she reported, "Israeli warships shot a super hi-tech missile bearing camera at a Gaza figure in the first known targeted killing from the sea."
UPDATE: 11/18/12 3:20 PM ET
Truce is in the works, says diplomatic source
A diplomatic source in Israel told GlobalPost's Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky, "Looks like truce is in the works might be more realistic around Wednesday."
Tarnopolsky said that reports in Israel show the airstrikes are constant and hard at the moment.
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham, currently in Gaza, said, "I heard an explosion not too long ago, and some jets. Drones are a constant. But not successive blasts, they may be happening more to the north of where I am (am near the Gaza seaport)."
Tarnopolsky noted that IDF's spokesman Lt. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, appearing on TV, gave no response to the question, "What are the chances of a ground invasion?"
UPDATE: 11/18/12 3:05 PM ET
Anonymous takes down AIPAC
Anonymous, the hacker group, has taken credit for downing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's website.
On Thursday, Anonymous released a manifesto, 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 Defense Force."
It continued, "To the people of Gaza and the 'Occupied Territories', know that Anonymous stands with you in this fight."
More on Anonymous' pledge here.
Meanwhile, media magnate Rupert Murdoch attracted criticism for his tweets about coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Here is a full re-telling of the incident.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 2:45 PM ET
GlobalPost's correspondent Erin Cunningham entered Gaza earlier today. Here are some pictures from her journey:
"An Egyptian army APC guarding the Rafah border on the Egyptian side."
"Deserted Rafah terminal on the Egyptian side (but this was before the Egyptian activists got in). Normally it's much busier."
"Our first meal in Gaza, in Khan Younes, after the power came back on. A wonderful family, living in the Khan Younis refugee camp, hosted us, fed us and gave us water before we headed off to Gaza City."
UPDATE: 11/18/12 2:30 PM ET
Conflicting reports about ceasefire
Earlier, there were confirmed reports that Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said talks of a ceasefire had collapsed in Cairo. However, conflicting reports have emerged, with Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad telling Al Jazeera that 90 percent of the terms for a ceasefire have been agreed upon in Cairo.
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky said Israeli TV commented on the two conflicting reports, suggesting that both reports were confirmed as legitimate.
The Guardian noted that Israeli officials have declined to confirm or deny reports of an Israeli negotiator flying to Cairo to discuss a ceasefire.
Morsi said earlier that "there are some indications that there is a possibility of a ceasefire soon, but we do not yet have firm guarantees."
Meanwhile, Lebanese TV Al- Miadin reported that Egyptian President Morsi plans to meet the leader of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Salah, in the coming days, according to Tarnopolsky.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 2:10 PM ET
Reporting from Gaza
GlobalPost's Egypt correspondent Erin Cunningham made it into Gaza today. She wrote:
We arrived at Rafah. A pretty large airstrike - the loudest I've heard so far - hit Rafah at about 3pm and shook the terminal. Wasn't able to confirm what it hit. Hamas was keeping us at the border, normal bureaucratic procedures and we were pushing them to let us go so we could get to Gaza City before nightfall, as it's dangerous to drive at night.
The Hamas operative running the border said: "You are safe with Qassam" [Qassam being a reference to Hamas' military wing]. We didn't really have the heart to tell him we feel LESS safe with Qassam around. We didn't get on the road until after dark and were worried about traveling to Gaza City, about a 45-minute drive from the border. We persuaded our driver to stop in Khan Younis, a major town in the south of the strip that has seen strikes and casualties but not as heavy as Gaza City.
We arrived and while drones were circling overhead, life appeared to be going on somewhat normally. Shops were open - from food carts to supermarkets, mosques and auto mechanics. The power was out, so the loud whir of generators was drowning out some of the roars of the F16s. We spoke with a few of our contacts in Gaza City who said it was okay to travel.
We would prefer to be in Gaza City, with other journalists, in our hotel with an internet connection, and perhaps closer to where some of the devastation is. We hopped in the car and nobody else was on the road. We arrived in record time, hearing the dull thud of shells, seeing the bright orange flashes from strikes, and at one point we were very close to a mortar landing in Gaza City - but we're okay.
We're plopped down at our hotel now. The neighborhood around us is completely dark but we have power. We're right near the sea and can hear the ocean, a bit of rain, drones, and the low rumble of the fighter jets. Even though cease-fire talks collapsed, Gazans often talk about how the rain gives them some respite from the attacks. Hoping for an (unlikely) quiet night here in Gaza.
Follow her Twitter for updates.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 1:45 PM ET
UN situation report
The latest situation report on Gaza, which was released by the UN on Saturday, noted:
"While the number of displaced families has increased, there hasn’t been any need to provide emergency humanitarian assistance or to open UNRWA facilities as emergency shelters. Families who left their houses are hosted by friends and relatives. The primary reason for displacement is damage caused to homes by nearby airstrikes."
More on the UN report.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that hundreds of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv to protest against their government's military operations. The protests, which were initially organized by a Facebook group, said they opposed "the election war."
UPDATE: 11/18/12 1:20 PM ET
The rumor mill churns
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky has been hearing unconfirmed rumors in Israel:
1. Again, swelling talk of a possible ground invasion. Limited, small-scale, but something happening.
2. More details about the problems in achieving truce. Israel wants ceasefire of Gaza missiles in exchange for an end to airstrikes, followed by negotiations on a long-term "big" truce.
3. Israel is stuck because it has lost its Turkish ally, and therefore has no trusted ally that it can deploy in talks with Hamas.
In the US, Sen. John McCain suggested that former President Bill Clinton would be a good person to lead ceasefire talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to The Hill blog.
Speaking on CBS News' "Face the Nation," he said, "We need a person of enormous prestige and influence to have these parties sit down together as an honest broker."
Tarnopolsky said there is "merriment" in Israel over the prospect of Clinton leading talks.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 1:00 PM ET
Hamas deputy foreign minister speaks of support for Gaza
Ghazi Hamad, Hamas deputy foreign minister, spoke with Al Jazeera, saying that Arab countries wanted to show that Gaza is not alone.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 12:42 PM ET
Reports that attempts to negotiate a truce have failed
Israel's Channel Two is reporting that attempts to negotiate a truce have failed, citing Israeli, Hamas and Egyptian sources. GlobalPost's Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky said there were no denials from anyone.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 12:02 PM ET
Israel intercepts Tel Aviv-bound missiles, militants claim downing of Israeli helicopter
Israel today intercepted two Hamas rockets aimed Tel Aviv, the military said, reported Reuters.
The Palestinian militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which Israel's military said were sucessfully blocked by its anti-missile "Iron Dome" system. There were no reported casualties.
Meanwhile, an unconfirmed report from Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya cites Palestinian militants as saying they took down an Israeli Apache helicopter over Gaza. There was no immediate confirmation of the report, but Hamas' military wing, The al-Qassam Brigades, tweeted:
UPDATE: 11/18/12 11:40 AM ET
Israeli airstrikes target journalists in Gaza
Israeli missiles today hit two media buildings used by local and foreign news agencies in Gaza in attack that left several people wounded, reported NPR:
Journalists were warned to evacuate the buildings hours before of the attack, CNN's Sara Sidner reported from Gaza. On Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces warned, "Advice to reporters in #Gaza, just like any person in Gaza: For your own safety, stay away from #Hamas positions and operatives."
The New York Times also reported two press offices in Gaza had been struck, while NPR ran this photo showing one of the buildings in flames:
UPDATE: 11/18/12 11:28 AM ET
Al Jazeera: Palestinian death toll rises to 68
Al Jazeera reports that the deaths of 11 family members in Gaza today brings the number of Palestinians killed since the Israeli offense began there on Wedesday to 68. BBC cited the Palestinian health minister as putting the most recent toll at 67.
The agency's Gaza correspondent, Nadim Baba, said the Israeli airstrike completely destroyed the Dalla family home, prompting the Gazan health minister to reportedly denounce the attack as "a massacre." The strike left some 30 wounded, said Al Jazeera.
The New York Times also reported 11 Palestinians had been killed, among them four young children and five women, citing Israel as saying the strike on the Gaza home was intended to kill a militant.
Meanwhile, pictures of an increasingly ruined Gaza are pouring in on Twitter:
UPDATE: 11/18/12 11:12 AM ET
Egyptian writer: Arab Spring countries see Palestinian uprising as part of region's revolt
Writing in The Guardian, Ahdaf Soueif, author of "Cairo: My City, Our Revolution," says the Gaza narrative is joining that of the Arab Spring:
In every Arab country where the people rise up to demand their rights, they demand action on Palestinian rights as well. Tunis has just announced that its foreign minister is heading for Gaza. In Jordan today, hundreds of thousands were on the streets and, as well as demanding the fall of their own regime, they're also calling for justice for Palestine. Protesters are out in Libya. In Egypt, people are heading for Rafah. We are heading for true representation of the people's will in the region and, in the coming years, governments will need to follow the road shown to them by their people.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 10:26 AM ET
Israel's military spokesman said military ordered to go after Hamas commanders
Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel's chief military spokesman, said the military was specifically targeting Hamas commanders on Sunday in "more targeted, more surgical and more deadly" attacks, the AP reported.
He said that in the next few hours, targeted attacks will continue. Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, another Israeli military spokeswoman, said the military has identified "hundreds" of additional targets.
"One of the strategies of Hamas, not only Hamas, but Islamic Jihad as well, is locating large amounts of munitions underneath civilian homes. Many times this is the reason for this big damage or collateral damage," she said.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 10:20 AM ET
In Pakistan, pro-Palestine Shiites burn effigy of Obama at anti-US, anti-Israeli protests
Activists of hardline Shiite group Palestine Foundation of Pakistan burn an effigy of US President Barack Obama at an anti-US and Israel protest in Karachi on November 18, 2012. Pakistan condemned Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, calling on the international community to stop the 'Israeli aggression'. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP)
UPDATE: 11/18/12 10:16 AM ET
Israeli envoy in Egypt, discusses possible ceasefire
An Israeli envoy in Cairo for talks about ceasefire was whisked away directly from the Tarmac to Egyptian authorities, the Associated Press reported. He has not been identified.
Egypt has been leading international efforts to broker a truce since Israel launched its offensive five days earlier, however Hamas officials and Israel are divided on terms.
Reports the AP:
Hamas is linking a truce deal to a complete lifting of the border blockade on Gaza imposed since Islamists seized the territory by force. Hamas also seeks Israeli guarantees to halt targeted killings of its leaders and military commanders. Israeli officials reject such demands. They say they are not interested in a ‘‘timeout,’’ and want firm guarantees that the rocket fire will finally end. Past ceasefires have been short lived.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 9:47 AM ET
BBC reporter in Gaza tweets from al Shifa hospital
UPDATE: 11/18/12 9:34 AM ET
Rocket fired from Gaza hits Israeli town of Ofakim
Four people were injured when a Grad rocket hit a vehicle at the entrance. There were no casualties:
The IDF has also confirmed that Yahia Abia, head of Hamas' rocket unit, has been killed after the Air Force bombed his house. AFP reported that four other people were also killed in the attack, raising the death toll to 58 Palestinians killed since Wednesday.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 8:53 AM ET
UK Foreign Secretary comments on Israel-Gaza conflict
Speaking to Sky News, William Hague, UK's foreign secretary said that a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip would lose Israel international sympathy and support.
Hague joined a chorus of European leaders including Catherine Ashton and Angela Merkel who blamed Hamas for the violence in the Gaza Strip, but said that a ground invasion would make it harder to limit civilian casualties.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 8:35 AM ET
Obama says he fully backs Israel's right to defend itself
US President Barack Obama said that he fully supported Israel's right to defend itself, Reuters reported. Obama, who was speaking at a news conference in Thailand, called for an end to the firing of missiles into Israel by militants in Gaza.
"There's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders," he said.
UPDATE: 11/18/12 8:23 AM ET
PLO official Nabeel Shaath on his way to Gaza
GlobalPost's Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports from Jerusalem that senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Dr. Nabeel Shaath is on his way to Gaza.
According to a press release from the PLO, Shaath has been instructed by President Mahmoud Abbas to join efforts to prevent a ground invasion against Gaza.
Xavier Abu Eid, an adviser to PLO tweeted:
UPDATE: 11/18/12 8:04 AM ET
Gaza City media center hit by Israeli forces
An Israeli airstrike on a media compound in Gaza City has injured at least six journalist, affecting foreign and local journalists, RT reported.
According to medical officials, one journalist had his leg amputated following the attack.
UPDATE 11/18/12 7:39 AM ET
Latest death toll from conflict reaches 52 Palestinians and three Israelis
The Palestinian death toll since the conflict began on Wednesday has reached 50 with 7 civilians, including five children, killed in Gaza during sustained bombing overnight.
News outlets report that for an hour in the middle of the night, shells fired from Israeli gunboats pummeled Gaza, and two Israeli war planes hit a media building in Gaza city.
According to the Guardian, as the bombardment entered its fifth day, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said it is prepared for a "significant" widening of its Gaza offensive.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 5:20 PM ET
Al Qassam spokesperson warns of "surprises" should Israel invade
Al Qassam held a press conference tonight detailing its sucesses, including firing 900 rockets and shooting down an Israeli F-16.
They posted a video of the supposed downing of the jet:
Spokesperson Abu Obeida also called the Iron Dome "the Paper Dome," apparently in ridicule of Israel's protective shield that has been downing their rockets.
Both our correspondents called it a largely "empty" press conference. There was also no mention of the rumored ceasefire.
Hamas' Moshir el Masri said "As long as violence continues, there will be no negotiations on stopping. All the talk about a cease-fire has to be connected to the resistance's conditions. The continuing Israeli strikes on Gaza proove that Israel is not serious," Noga Tarnopolsky reports for GlobalPost.
For a more succinct summary of the conference, in 140 characters or less:
UPDATE: 11/17/12 4:15 PM ET
Gaza hospitals out of supplies
Overloaded hospitals in Gaza are rapidly running out of medical supplies, the Guardian's Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood and others report:
"Before the hostilities began, health facilities were severely over stretched mainly as a result of the siege of Gaza," the World Health Organization told Reuters.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said that many of its supplies of life-saving drugs and disposable equipment were at "zero stock."
"The Ministry of Health has postponed all elective surgeries due to the emergency and shortages in anaesthesia drugs," it said.
The WHO is appealing for $10 million in help from donors to restock Gaza's hospitals.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 3:48 PM ET
Israeli official denies ceasefire, continues Gaza offensive
Rumors of a ceasefire have reportedly been denied by an as-yet unnamed Israeli official:
BBC News' state department correspondent Kim Ghattas reported that American officials are privately urging Israel not to go forwardwith their ground invasion of Gaza.
Publicly, however, Israel's Washington ambassador Michael Oren said that the US had given Israel its full backing to take whatever measures necessary.
Israel has continued to fire rockets into Gaza, including as many as 200 on Saturday, CBC News reported.
"Most of their capabilities have been destroyed," he told reporters. Asked whether Israel is ready to send ground troops into Gaza, he said: "Absolutely."
UPDATE: 11/17/12 3:30 PM ET
Senior Israeli official may be en route to Cairo
An Israeli official may be on their way to Cairo to join discussions of a potential ceasefire, Israel's Channel 2 reported:
There is speculation that the official in question is Amos Gilad, director of policy and political military affairs at the Defense Ministry in Jerusalem, whom GlobalPost's correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky calls "an interesting choice."
"We can't stop the terrorists from being motivated from arming themselves with long-range Iranian rockets," Gilad told Channel 2 on Thursday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
"Israel is not content with a situation of periodic ceasefire in between murderous attacks. The IDF will work toward a situation wherein there is a long-term quiet, based on deterrence," he added.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 3:20 PM ET
Ceasefire discussions may have been undercut by Jabari assasination
GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports that senior officials may have been negotiating a truce before Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari was assasinated by Israeli forces:
Palestinian leaders may have been negotiating a truce earlier this week that would have halted the launching of missiles from Gaza, but were undercut by the Israeli assassination of Ahmed Jabari, Hamas' military chief, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told GlobalPost.
Jabari was killed by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday in Gaza.
Husam Zomlot, the executive deputy commissioner for the Fatah Commission for International Relations, told GlobalPost he was party to high-level negotiations, which included the Egyptian government.
Read the full report here.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 3:05 PM ET
Arab League says it will back Egypt to stop Israeli strikes
The Arab League will back Egypt's efforts to work with the Palestinians and stop Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to a statement picked up by Reuters.
The League's Secretary General Nabil el-Arabi is also scheduled to lead a delegation of Arab foreign ministers to Gaza in the next "one or two days," BBC News is reporting on their live blog.
Al Jazeera correspondent Jamal el-Shayyal said the inclusion of the Palestinian foreign minister in that delegation could be a positive sign of "unity among the Palestinian factions."
UPDATE: 11/17/12 2:55 PM ET
Hamas military wing calls press conference for tonight
Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has announced they will hold a press conference tonight about the developing situation in Gaza:
GlobalPost's Middle East correspondents Erin Cunningham and Noga Tarnopolsky both report rumors of a ceasefire to take effect at midnight. We'll be tuning in and bringing you the latest.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 2:43 PM ET
Anonymous downs 'hundreds' of Israeli sites, including Bank of Jerusalem
The hacking collective Anonymous has announced that its operation "OpIsrael" has damaged or completely erased the sites of over 650 private and public institutions, including included the Bank of Jerusalem, one of Israel's main banks, the Daily Star Lebanon reported.
Anonymous also claimed responsibility for briefly taking down Israel's foreign ministry website in protest over an alleged Israeli threat to cut off communication in Gaza.
"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," Anonymous said in a statement.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 2:28 PM ET
Two more rockets hit Tel Aviv; police plan sweep of illegal Palestinians
Two more rockets have been fired Tel Aviv, Agence France Presse has reported. One hit open ground without causing casualties and the other being intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defence system, according to officials.
The Iron Dome, Israel's security system, has also intercepted three rockets over Ashdod, according to Ha'aretz. It has intercepted 245 of the 600 rockets fired over the border in the past 72 hours, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, Israeli police forces are planning to hold a sweep Sunday to round up Palestinians illegally residing in the country "due to security concerns," Ha'aretz reported.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 2:10 PM ET
Protesters against Gaza operation gather in Habima Square
Hundreds gathers in Tel Aviv's Habima Square to protest against the operation in Gaza, Ha'aretz is reporting.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, meanwhile, had strong words to describe Israel's mission in Gaza.
"The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages," Yishai said, according to Ha'aretz. "Only then will Israel be calm for forty years."
UPDATE: 11/17/12 1:55 PM ET
Ceasefire being discussed in Cairo
Hamas' delegation in Cairo is reportedly considering a ceasefire offer made by Turkey, BBC correspondent Rushdi Abualouf tweeted:
Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal headed the delegation to Cairo on Saturday to discuss ways to de-escalate the violence, Palestine's Ma'an News Agency reported.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 1:15 PM ET
PM Netanyahu Speaks with European leaders
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today rspoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas today, GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports, according to Israel's media advisor.
During his conversation with German Chancellor Merkel, the Prime Minister said that no country in the world would agree to a situation in which its population lives under a constant missile threat.
Chuck Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel under Likud and Labor governments, argued a similar philosophy in a commentary piece for GlobalPost:
Imagine life in Manhattan if Brooklyn repeatedly fired rockets on it, bringing normal life to a halt, people unable to go to work, children to school, hospital wards evacuated, the very act of stepping out of one's home a source of fear. No government in the world would tolerate this, no matter what the ostensible justification.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 12:53 PM ET
Regional heavyweights meet in Cairo over Gaza conflict
Arab foreign ministers are meeting in Egypt to discuss ways to end the violence in Gaza, including possibly sending an Arab League delegation to the region and potentially backing truce efforts mediated by Cairo, according to Al Jazeera.
The exact agenda was not immediately clear, but BBC's Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abdualouf tweeted:
The Arab meeting comes as Hamas's exiled head Khaled Meshaal is also reportedly in Cairo for talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and Egypt's head of intelligence, according to The Australian, going on to cite the militant leader as warning:
"'Egypt now cannot say: "I guarantee a truce,"' [Meshaal] said, adding it would require a stronger effort by the "international community.'"
As the Qatari emir is also in Cairo, his government today said it will give Egypt $10 million to be used in helping Palestinians hurt in the conflict, according to state media, said Lebanon's Daily Star.
Finally, elswhere in the Egyptian capital, Erdogan issued a strong statement of support for the Palestinians, comparing their calls for independence to the uprising that toppled Egypt's leader Hosni Mubarak last year, according to the Associated Press, citing a speech delivered today at a Cairo university.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 12:01 PM ET
PHOTOS: Pro-Palestinian protests held worldwide
Anti-Israel rallies were seen in a number of countries today as violence continues in Gaza. Some visuals:
Outside London's Israeli embassy:
Outside the US embassy in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur (more here):
And here's video of demonstrators outside the White House today, per Britain's The Telegraph:
UPDATE: 11/17/12 11:38 AM ET
Israel and Palestine: How did it comes to this?
What's fuelling the Gaza standoff? Emnity in the region has had a lot of time to fester, the aggression fed by deeply-rooted divisions going way back:
UPDATE: 11/17/12 11:12 AM ET
World leaders mobilize on Gaza
Obama today spoke with the Israeli, Egyptian and Turkish leaders about the situation in Gaza, according to the Associated Press, while The Guardian's Peter Beaumont says emergency meetings are expected soon in the Middle East:
Mehsaal refers to Hamas's chief-in-exile, Khalid Mashaal, whom local reports say is on the way to Egypt.
Obama told Egypt's leader today that the US supports Israel's right to exist and discussed ways to end the violence, according to The White House, said AP, with Reuters tweeting:
The US leader also addressed the conflict with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a vocal defender of the Palestinian side, Reuters said, citing a White House official.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 10:35 AM ET
UPDATE: 11/17/12 10:15 AM ET
Is the Obama Administration privately urging Israel to back down?
The New York Times reported that US President Barack Obama phoned Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, urging Israeli officials not to extend the conflict to a ground invasion.
The newspaper says this could play into the hands of Hamas and further damage Israel's standing in the region.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 9:57 AM ET
Iron Dome successfully intercepts rocket headed towards Tel Aviv
Following air raid sirens over Tel Aviv, witnesses heard an explosion and witnesses smoke in the Israeli city.
Israel Radio confirmed that the missile was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 9:44 AM ET
How's the Iron Dome doing?
The Israel Defence Force tweeted some numbers earlier:
The Iron Dome missile defense system uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up rockets with ranges of between 3 and 45 miles in mid-air. It was partially funded by the United States.
For a breakdown to see US funding for Israel vs. Palestine check out GlobalPost's interactive chart here.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 9:36 AM ET
Israeli soldiers are seen gathering gather near armored bulldozers along the Gaza border:
According to the BBC, the Israeli military has continued its build-up on the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion.
The United States has already urged Israel to avoid escalation of a "very, very dangerous situation", and Britain has warned Israel that a ground invasion could result in Israel losing international support.
However, Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, told CNN that a ground invasion could occur before the end of the weekend if rocket attacks continue.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 9:09 AM ET
Egypt to hold talks with Qatar, Turkey and Hamas over Gaza
Egypt's President Mohammad Morsi will hold four-way talks with the Qatari emir, the prime minister of Turkey and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo today to discuss the Gaza crisis, Reuters reported.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has been an outspoken critic of Israel, arrived in Egypt on Saturday.
According to Haaretz, Cairo is leading intense efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 8:50 AM ET
Iran's Defense Minister wants Islamic countries to respond to Israel's attack on Gaza
Iran's Defense Minister Ahman Vahidi said that Islamic countries must close ranks and respond to the Israel's deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Israel is "massacring the oppressed Palestinian people, including women and children" and its strikes amount to a "clear example of war crimes," Vahidi said, state news reported.
On Thursday, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi urged the United Nations and the European Union to pressure Israel to halt its offensive. Salehi also announced that he was ready to visit Gaza, following in the footsteps of Egyptian PM Hisham Kandil and Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Ben Abdessalem.
UPDATE: 11/17/12 8:40 AM ET
Al Jazeera video shows Hamas PM's HQ after Israeli fire
UPDATE: 11/17/12 8:26 AM ET
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemns Israel
Calling for an immediate end to the violence against civilians in Gaza, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the strikes by Israel against the Palestinian territory.
"Harming civilians is unjustifiable on any side and anywhere," the president was quoted as saying, AFP reported. "Afghanistan fully supports any efforts that can ensure a ceasefire."
UPDATE: 11/17/12 8:22 AM ET
UPDATE: 11/17/12 8:00 AM ET
IAF bombs Hamas PM's Gaza HQ overnight; Haniyeh unhurt
The Israel Air Force struck Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh's headquarters in the northern Gaza Strip early Saturday morning, according to the IDF Spokesman's Office. There have been no reports of casualties.
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham reported from Cairo that the headquarters are where Haniyeh received Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 7:31 PM ET
IDF issues daily recap of airstrikes
The IDF has issued a video recap of the airstrikes they have launched in Gaza on day three of Operation Pillar of Defense on their blog.
"[The operation] is coming to a close," the post reads. "Throughout the day, the IDF carried out extensive air strikes, targeting over 230 terror sites in the Gaza Strip."
Here, a video from the Defense Forces' blog about the mission:
They are also keeping track of the rockets that have hit Israel from Gaza since the conflict began:
UPDATE: 11/16/12 7:08 PM ET
Renewed airstrikes across Gaza
A new round of drones are being dropped throughout Gaza:
Harry Fear, a documentary filmmaker based in West Gaza, also reported several strikes early Saturday morning, including one that hit Gaza City which reportedly caused no casualties.
He is streaming live on UStream here. The left side of the screen shows a view of Gaza City, right is Tel Aviv. Blanks in the stream mean an Internet or electricity shortage:
Live Video streaming by Ustream
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:56 PM ET
Anonymous takes down Tel Aviv website
Tel Aviv's government website has gone offline, reportedly the work of Anonymous.
As GlobalPost reported, Anonymous released a manifesto Thursday vowing revenge on Israel for an escalating offensive 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," read the statement.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:35 PM ET
ReadWriteWeb says IDF has "gamified war"
Tech website ReadWriteWeb has been keeping a close eye on the IDF's social media and online campaigns, and has this to say about the Defense Forces' blog:
Yesterday, when I wrote about the social media campaign that Israel was waging alongside its attack on Hamas, I thought it was interesting. ... Whether you thought the offensive was right or wrong, you had to admit the propaganda's effectiveness.
Well, day two has changed matters. The IDF Blog now has atrocious gamification badges with points and rewards for sharing the content to social media. For example, if you visit the site 10 times, you get the "Consistent" badge. If you search the blog multiple times, you're promoted to "Research Officer." Yes, Israel has gamified war. This is absolutely horrendous.
The IDF responded to ReadWriteWeb, saying "In no way is 'IDF Ranks' meant to gamify Operation Pillar of Defense or any military actions during the operation."
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:05 PM ET
Noam Chomsky speaks on his experiences in Gaza
Noam Chomsky is currently on BlogTalkRadio speaking about his recent visit to Gaza.
"It's always on the edge of explosion," the professor and political activist said of the situation in Gaza. "It's like a powder keg."
"Israel hasn't exhausted peace efforts. It hasn't even tried them," Chomsky contends.
Listen live here.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 5:50 PM ET
Iran pledges voluntary military support to Gaza
Iran has reportedly offered the aid of 20,000 volunteer Basij forces to be deployed to Gaza.
On Friday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani held phone calls with his counterparts in Lebanon, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq, urging them to take action in support of Gaza, according to Xinhua.
The Basij resistance force is a volunteer paramilitary organization that operates under Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and are stationed in many towns and cities across Iran. Read more about the forces here.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 5:25 PM ET
Keep children out of the conflict, urges UNICEF
Since the conflict in Gaza began, at least six Palestinian children between the ages of 10 months and 15 years old have been reported killed in airstrikes on Gaza, and 60 more have been injured, UNICEF reported.
The organization released a statement on Friday urging for the protection of children on both sides:
Gaza is under closure making it difficult for civilians to flee.
In Southern Israel, schools within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip remained closed due to indiscriminate rocket fire.
Both rocket attacks and airstrikes are putting children and their families at risk, leaving them exposed to physical harm and mental distress.
UNICEF calls on all parties to do everything to exercise the utmost restraint and to protect the rights and well-being of all children.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 5:10 PM ET
Lull short-lived as bombs heard over Gaza
So much for a break. An explosion was reported over Gaza at 12:03 a.m. by Radio France correspondent in the Middle East Emilie Baujard and others:
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, said in an interview that though Israel was planning a ground offensive in the coming days, its goal was not to "topple Hamas," Al Jazeera reported.
"We are definitely considering a ground operation, but toppling Hamas, I think that's something that the next government will have to decide," Lieberman said.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 5:05 PM ET
IDF pilot from downed plane rumored to have been captured
At least one of the pilots who were flying the F-16 shot down over Gaza earlier on Friday has been rumored to have been captured, Egyptian newspaper "Al-Shuruk" reported.
Twitchy has a round-up of other tweets suggesting that one or both pilots have been taken prisoner by Hamas.
Meanwhile, civilians in Gaza are experiencing a brief respite from airstrikes, with no explosions or bombings reported within the hour.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 4:35 PM ET
Filmmaker captures peace protest and counter protest
David Sheen, a filmmaker in Jaffa, captured a Tel Aviv peace protest on Thursday night, as well as a counter protest, according to the Guardian.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 4:15 PM ET
Israeli cabinet approves 75,000 reservists
Reuters reported that the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to mobilize up to 75,000 reservists to the Gaza conflict, citing political sources.
Israeli news site YNetNews reported that local authorities were instructed to prepare for a seven-week period of combat at a meeting between Home Front Command Chief Major-General Eyal Eisenberg and regional and local authorities.
The instructions came as part of Operation Pillar of Defense and authorities were instructed to prepare emergency supplies. The Home Front Command estimated that Hamas will still be capable of launching rockets with a range exceeding 75 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 3:32 PM ET
Hamas militants killed, two deaths confirmed; Israeli soldiers moving south
Reports are now saying that three or four militants in Gaza were killed by rocket fire. Israel Defense Forces confirmed the death of Ahmad Abu Jalal, identified in reports as a district commander of Hamas's military wing. Khaled Sha'er, a Hamas lieutenant, has also been confirmed killed, according to GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky.
The New York Times reported that Ashraf Ouaida, "a suspected collaborator with Israel," was executed on a Gaza street Friday. He was accused of helping Israelis in the killing of 15 Palestinian leaders, the Times wrote.
Tarnopolsky reported that IDF soldiers stationed at the Lebanese border were apparently transferred to the southern command, while reserve duty soldiers replaced them in the north.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 3:00 PM ET
Warning sirens in Ashkelon, Israel
The Associated Press posted this raw video of sirens warning of incoming rockets in Ashkelon, Israel.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz posted a map pointing out all the locations that have been hit by rocket fire and airstrikes in Gaza and Israel.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 2:45 PM ET
Israel warns Gaza residents
Israeli military is reportedly sending text messages to resident in Gaza with a warning in Arabic: "The next phase is on the way. Stay away from Hamas elements," according to the BBC. One Instagram user posted a picture of the text her father received.
The Israeli army also announced on Friday that it is closing civilian traffic on three roads that lead to or are near the Gaza Strip. Reuters said the move was a likely indication of a military build-up in the area.
"Tanks and self-propelled guns were seen near the border area on Friday, and the military said it had already called 16,000 reservists to active duty," Reuters reported.
Israeli cabinet ministers were also asked to approve the calling up of up to 75,000 reservists, a much higher number than the earlier request for 30,000.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 2:25 PM ET
UN chief calls for restraint; US defends Israel's right to self-defense
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged Hamas to stop launching rockets at Israel, and called on Israeli leaders to exercise restraint.
The UN chief's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban "is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives," according to the Associated Press.
"He urgently appeals to all concerned to do everything under their command to stop this dangerous escalation and restore calm. Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint," said Nesirky.
Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland responded to a question about a potential ground invasion in Gaza with: "Israel has the right to self defense," according to the Guardian live blog.
She said there was no indication that there was any difficulty over the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
"We consider the Egyptian role key in any effort to deescalate. They have influence with Hamas, with the Palestinians in general. We appreciate the fact that minister Kandil went personally to try to ameliorate the situation," Nuland said, referring to Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to Gaza.
She added, "We are urging a deescalation of this conflict. We are urging those countries with influence on Hamas to use that influence to achieve a deescalation. We obviously regret the loss of life on both sides."
UPDATE: 11/16/12 2:00 PM ET
Three Hamas militants killed
The Hamas health ministry said 3 militants were killed in airstrikes on Friday evening, bringing the total death toll in Gaza to 27, including 7 children, according to the BBC's Jon Donnison.
The identity of one the militants killed in the Al Maghazi refugee camp might make him a high-ranking leader in the Qassam Brigades:
Reports suggest the other men killed were relatives, maybe even brothers of his. The identity of the militants has not yet been confirmed.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 1:50 PM ET
Bombs interrupt interview
CNN was interviewing two civilians, residents of Gaza and Israel respectively, when the interview was interrupted by explosions in Gaza.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 1:39 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: 11/16/12 1:25 PM ET
UPDATE: 11/16/12 1:07 PM ET
80,000 reservists approved by cabinet
GlobalPost's Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky said, "I'm getting that the inner cabinet has approved 80,000 reservists."
It remains unclear whether Israel intends to launch a ground offensive in this conflict, although previous reports from witnesses suggested the movement of tanks and armored vehicles towards the border.
Reuters' Dan Williams caught an update while listening to Israeli Army Radio:
UPDATE: 11/16/12 12:50 PM ET
UPDATE: 11/16/12 12:40 PM ET
UPDATE: 11/16/12 12:30 PM ET
PA President Abbas says Israel's attack undermines plans for Palestinian state
Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah on Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, "We felt from the start the Israelis had a plan to undermine our people, and ultimately undermining the national agenda and our cause....There is no doubt that massacres have already started, and we have seen on our TV screens that young children have fallen dead," according to Al Jazeera.
Abbas said he had urged the United States and the European countries to do all they could to "avert the aggression on Gaza."
"We should bear in mind this is an aggression against the Palestinian people, and we should stand united. In these days we should exert maximum effort for national unity and reconciliation....Time is opportune. It is time for mending with our own fences," he said.
"We hope Israel understands that security cannot be established without peace....They must work towards ending the bloodshed, and being convinced that peace is a necessity," Abbas added.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 11:50 AM ET
Video shows Israel's Iron Dome defense
This video, found on the Guardian's live blog, shows Israel's "Iron Dome" missile interception system at work.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 10:51 AM ET
Gaza residents scramble for food, electricity and safety
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham reports from Cairo:
Hani Jaber says the explosion he heard Wednesday evening in the heart of Gaza City was relatively small, “like a gas canister or maybe a loud firework,” he said.
But it was to be something much bigger than that. An Israeli airstrike had killed the commander of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed Al Jabari, kicking off the fiercest Israeli offensive in four years.
It comes on the heels of a recent weeks-long uptick in violence with both sides firing salvos.
“People were running and screaming everywhere,” Jaber said in a telephone interview from his home in Al Burj refugee camp in central Gaza. Exploding bombs could be heard through the telephone line as he spoke. “When I heard Jabari was assassinated, I thought ‘this is the beginning.’”
Read more: Gaza: Life during wartime
UPDATE: 11/16/12 10:41 AM ET
AFP photo shows Egypt PM Kandil hold the body of Palestinian boy
Palestinian Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniya (R) and Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil (L) hold the body of a Palestinian baby boy who was killed in an Israeli air strike on November 16, 2012 during a visit to the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 10:18 AM ET
Hamas rocket lands in Jerusalem, no casualties
Israel radio says a rocket landed in the Jerusalem area, but that according to the ambulance service says there were no casualties.
An IDF spokeswoman confirms via Twitter:
UPDATE: 11/16/12 10:11 AM ET
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Shimon Peres
In an appearance posted to YouTube, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres addressed the military’s assault on Gaza and the exchanges of fire between Gaza and Israel. Both characterized actors in Gaza as the instigators of the violence.
Netanyahu said he has spoken to “key world leaders” in recent days about the conflict.
“They all expressed understanding for Israel’s right, and indeed Israel’s duty to defend its citizens,” he said.
Netanyahu went on:
“There is one basic difference between us and our enemies: they deliberately target civilians, and deliberately hide behind civilians, and we do everything in our power to minimize civilian casualties while we exercise our legitimate right of self-defense. I think this is the most important moral distinction, and I’m glad to see that most of the governments of the world don’t fall into the false symmetry of equating the terrorist aggressors with their civilian victims.”
“I think this is not a typical war, but an attempt to introduce justice. We are very attentive to what people are saying abroad as well as leaders in other countries. We care very much.”
“How to stop it?.... What can and should be done to enable millions of mothers to have a night’s sleep, something which is elemental?”
UPDATE: 11/16/12 10:05 AM ET
Hamas takes responsibility for missile launched at Jerusalem
Hamas's military wing said it had fired a long-range rocket at Jerusalem, which is located about 40 miles from Gaza, Reuters reported.
The move is surprising, as Jerusalem is home to the al-Aqsa mosque, which is Islam's third holiest site, and is home to many Palestinians, who envision Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports:
UPDATE: 11/16/12 9:56 AM ET
Witnesses report hearing air raid sirens in Jerusalem
UPDATE: 11/16/12 9:25 AM ET
IDF: Iron dome has intercepted 86 rockets
In a tweet, the Israel Defence Forces confirm that their Iron Dome defense system has intercepted 86 rockets fired from Gaza.
The iron dome defence missile system is designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 9:19 AM ET
Death toll in Gaza has reached 23
According to BBC's Jon Donnison, officials at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City say at least 23 Palestinians have died since Wednesday.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 9:07 AM ET
Turkey's Erdogan: Gaza operation a deadly election stunt
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan today blamed the Gaza violence on Israel's upcoming January election and said he would "share these thoughts" when he discusses the conflict with US President Barack Obama, according to Turkey's Hürriyet.
Turkey's relations with Israel are strained at best. Or as Erdogan put it, "[w]e don't have any relations with Israel left," telling journalists in Istanbul today "countries which have relations with Israel should talk to them."
"I hope [a] decision of the UN Security Council and the attitude of the dominant powers will end Israel's offensive attitude," the Turkish leader also said, accusing Israel of killing "these innocent people in Gaza for reasons they fabricated," reported Reuters.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 8:37 AM ET
Tweeting from Jerusalem:
Noga Tarnopolsky covers Israel and the Palestinian territories for GlobalPost and just arrived in Jerusalem after spending the night in Israel's southern city of Ashkelon. Here's her latest:
UPDATE: 11/16 8:19 AM ET
IDF takes to Twitter with propaganda
The IDF tweeted the following image to defend their position in the conflict:
Responses to the picture have been anything but one-sided. Some users say that the right to self-defense is protects the Palestinians from the Israelis, while others criticize the IDF for tweeting during the offensive.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 8:09 AM ET
Associated Press headline raises questions
Seriously, AP? Latest headline: "Egypt's PM Rushes to Hamas' Aid in Gaza."
To be clear: The Egyptian prime minister's goal in visiting Gaza today was to explore mediating a possible ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants -- or at least an attempt to do so, even though rocket fire greeted his arrival.
The situation in Gaza is not only worrying, it is often a highly emotional issue for readers given the decades-long history of violence between the two sides. Even-handed reporting on the events there is therefore all the more critical. But AP's latest dispatch hits off with:
"Egypt's prime minister rushed to the aid of the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers Friday in the midst of an Israeli offensive there, calling for an end to the operation. Palestinian militants took advantage of an Israeli halt in fire during the visit to rain rockets on Israel, including a strike on the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv for a second straight day."
Framing it like that makes it sound like a calculated effort on the part of Egypt to arrive during a barrage of Israeli missiles -- but Israel fired over 150 rockets into Gaza overnight, so that doesn't really follow. These kinds of editorial decisions leave the press wide open to accusations like these and hurt the important mediation role served by the press in conflict situations.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 7:50 AM ET
Chief Rabbi blames Iran for conflict in Gaza
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks accidentally blamed Iran for the conflict in Gaza while speaking during a Radio 4 interview this morning.
According to the Telegraph, because Lord Sacks is the most prominent Orthodox Jew in Britain, his comments on the Middle East are met with close scrutinization.
BBC has since apologized to Lord Sacks for the incident, saying that the Chief Rabbi hadn't realized that he was still on air.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 7:29 AM ET
Egypt's Morsi slams Israel attacks, says loyal to Gaza
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, whose response to the conflict in Gaza is being closely watched for signs of change to Egypt's mideast policy, today condemned Israeli attacks there as "a blatant aggression against humanity," vowing that Egypt "would not leave Gaza on its own," according to Reuters, citing state media.
The Egyptian leaders made the comments after Friday prayers in a mosque in central Cairo as his Prime Minister visits Gaza Strip in what turned out to be a failed attempt to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants after days of violence.
"Egypt today is not the Egypt of yesterday, and Arabs today are not the Arabs of yesterday," Morsi added, reported Reuters.
GlobalPost's Cairo correspondent, Erin Cunningham, said a lot hangs on the Egyptian leader's response:
"It's a big test for Morsi. ... 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."
Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz reportedly spoke with Morsi by phone earlier and plead caution, according to Agence-France Press.
The Saudi King told Egypt's new leader “that things must calm down and reason and wisdom must reign over passionate reactions,” said AFP.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 7:04 AM ET
Hamas's military wing confirms rockets have been launched at Tel Aviv
According to a tweet by Hamas's military wing, two rockets have been fired at Tel Aviv:
However there have been no casualties, say Israeli forces, also via Twitter
UPDATE: 11/16/12 7:00 AM ET
Loud explosion heard in Tel Aviv
Air raid sirens have sounded in Tel Aviv after a loud explosion was heard in the Israeli city, Reuters reported.
BBC's Jon Donnison tweeted that a long range missile was launched from Gaza minutes before the explosion was heard.
David Sheen, who is currently in Jaffa, tweeted that he had felt and heard the rocket hit.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:53 AM ET
UPDATE: Will we know if they invade? CBS says Israel sending media away from Gaza
Israel has already drafted some 16,000 reserve troops, a move Reuters earlier warned "could be a precursor to invasion" while The Associated Press described the likelihood of a ground invasion "imminent."
Violence between the two sides is becoming increasingly fierce, with Israel hitting Gaza with hundreds of rockets overnight and Hamas-led attacks spreading as far as Israel's Tel Aviv. Palestinian militants have resorted to "the most powerful weapons in their arsenal – Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets," said AP, while Israel's overnight offensive decimated the Gaza Interior Ministry, said The Telegraph.
The Israeli military can call up to 30,000 reserve soldiers, according to NBC.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:38 AM ET
Israel's military denies it attacked Gaza during Egyptian Prime Minister's visit
Despite claims from Hamas that Israel launched air strikes kiling two people during Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to Gaza City, the Israeli military denied carrying out any attacks, Reuters reported.
According to a military spokesperson, about 50 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel while Kandil was in the enclave.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:36 AM ET
Will they invade? Israel mobilizes reserves in the tens of thousands
Israel has drafted some 16,000 reserve troops, a move Reuters said "could be a precursor to invasion."
The Associated Press was similarly wary, writing today that "Israeli troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers [have] massed near the Palestinian territory, signaling a ground invasion might be imminent."
The Israeli military can call up to 30,000 reserve soldiers, according to NBC.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:32 AM ET
Tunisia's Foreign Minister to visit Gaza
Following in the footsteps of Egypt, a high-level delegation including Tunisian Foreign MInister Rafik Ben Abdessalem will visit Gaza on Saturday, AFP reported.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, who expressed solidarity with the Palestianian people, has also called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, for adoption of "necessary sanctions against Israel."
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:20 AM ET
European leaders express concern over violence in Israel and Gaza, blame Hamas
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have expressed concern over the violence in the Middle East, and have blamed Hamas for the outbreak of violence, Reuters reported.
"The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop," Ashton said in a statement. "Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks. I urge Israel to ensure that its response is proportionate."
A spokesman from Merkel's office offered similar sentiments.
"Hamas in Gaza is responsible for the outbreak of violence," Georg Streiter told a news conference. "There is no justification for the shooting of rockets at Israel, which has led to massive suffering of the civilian population.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 6:00 AM ET
Israel pounds Gaza with rocket fire overnight
Some 150 medium-range Israeli rockets slammed Gaza overnight Thursday and attacks continued into early today, according to Reuters, citing the Israeli military.
Watch as they explode throughout Gaza, video courtesy of Reuters:
Meanwhile, in Israel, rockets struck Tel Aviv for the first time in 20 years, said the Guardian, furthering fears of spreading violence.
UPDATE: 11/16/12 5:41 AM ET
Egypt Prime Minister Hisham Qandil visits Gaza hospital, decries Gaza 'disaster'
Despite promises that there would be a suspension of military action during Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian forces accused each other of violating the temporary truce.
According to Agence France Presse, a strike killed two in Gaza during Kandil's visit.
"Egypt is taking the necessary steps to end this [Israeli] aggression," said Kandil, at a press conference at Al Shifa hospital along with Hamas senior official Ismail Haniya.
While at the hospital Kandil and Hisham held the body of Mohammed Yasser, one of eight Palestinian children who were killed in since the conflict began on Wednesday.
“This is the blood of our children on our clothes,” Haniyeh said as he showed spatters on his clothing, The New York Times reported. “These are the Egyptian and the Palestinian blood united together.”
Kandil's visit marks the first time a high-ranking Egyptian official has visited Gaza since Hamas gained control in 2007.
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham contributed reporting from Cairo.
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 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's 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 1:30 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.