Israel kicks off promised escalation (LIVE BLOG)

A Palestinian woman wounded in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City is taken to the hospital on July 11, 2014.</p>

A Palestinian woman wounded in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City is taken to the hospital on July 11, 2014.



UPDATE: 7/14/14 12:00 AM ET

Israel kicks off its promised escalation

Israel was slow to ramp up the attacks they promised on northern Gaza Monday, but start they did.

Aircraft struck three training facilities of Hamas' military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, around the coastal territory. No casualties were reported. 

They also hit buildings in Gaza City, Deir el-Balah in the southern part of the strip, and in the northern town of Jabaliya, injuring many.

There was shelling reported in Beit Lahiya, in the far north of the strip, where Israel had earlier warned residents of an impending assault. Around a quarter of Beit Lahiya's 70,000 residents fled Sunday.

UPDATE: 7/13/14 9:30 PM ET

17,000 Palestinians have sought refuge with UN

UPDATE: 7/13/14 3:20 PM ET

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu defends offensive on CBS

"...the difference between us is that we're using missile defense to protect our civilians and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles. So naturally, they're responsible for all the civilian deaths that occur accidentally. We're sorry for any accidental civilian death, but it's the Hamas that bears complete responsibility for such civilian casualties."

Here is a complete transcript of his remarks on "Face of the Nation."

UPDATE: 7/13/14 1:42 PM ET

Abbas asks for UN protection

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is to ask the United Nations to put the state of Palestine under "international protection" due to the worsening violence in Gaza, the PLO said Sunday.

UPDATE: 7/13/14 11:25 AM ET

IDF's "knock on roof" policy

Israel's "knock on roof" technique consists of shooting a building with a warhead-less rocket as a final warning before blowing it to bits.


Read more here.

UPDATE: 7/13/14 10:18 AM ET

American citizens among those fleeing Gaza

About 300 Palestinian-Americans evacuated the Gaza Strip Sunday.

Below is a young Palestinian boy at Beit Hanoun-Erez Crossing, getting emotional as his bus pulls away. He is one of 800 foreign nationals (Palestinians with dual passports) evacuated by embassies and the UN.

Picture from the Instagram feed of Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News Foreign Correspondent.

UPDATE: 7/13/14 9:10 AM ET

Palestinian death toll reaches 165

Israeli strikes on Gaza killed a teenage boy and a woman on Sunday, medics said, raising the overall death toll to 165 as the punishing air campaign entered its sixth day.

According to emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, one strike on the northern town of Jabaliya struck a house, killing a 14-year-old boy.

Shortly afterwards, another strike killed a woman in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, he said. Read more.

UPDATE: 7/13/14 8:40 AM ET

Israeli teen critically injured by Gaza rocket

GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports from Ashkelon, the southern Israeli seaside town that became the focus of Gazan attacks on Sunday: 

ASHKELON, Israel — Sunday, the first day of the work week, started with a boom in this quiet seaside town. Not a boom, actually, more like: Boom! Boom! Boom! BOOM!

The first three were the heart-stopping but by now familiar and comforting sounds of Israel's anti-missile system, Iron Dome, intercepting rockets launched from Gaza high up in the sky.

The last, more like a small earthquake, was a rocket the system missed, hitting ground in the middle of town.

According to Radio of the South, an 16-year-old boy was critically injured, with several others wounded. A few hours later, another rocket hit ground. Then, another hit a home. 

Read the rest of her piece here.

UPDATE: 7/12/14 11:00 PM ET

Israeli troops enter Gaza, 4 are wounded

Israeli troops raided a facility in northern Gaza believed to be a missile launch site, Haaretz reports. The special forces team exchanged fire with militants and four Israeli soldiers were wounded.

It is the first time that Israeli ground troops are known to have entered Gaza, but the operation was carried out by special forces and did not appear to be the beginning of a broad ground offensive.

UPDATE: 7/12/14 10:40 PM ET

Gaza's bloodiest day yet

The toll from Israeli strikes rose to 157 Saturday. It was the bloodiest day since the conflict erupted on Tuesday, with 52 Palestinians killed.

Gaza continued firing more salvos, and both sides have dismissed calls for a truce.

Read more at AFP.

UPDATE: 7/12/14 10:00 PM ET

Israeli air strike hits police chief's home, killing 15

An Israeli air strike on the home of Gaza's police chief killed 15 Palestinians on Saturday, the Gaza health ministry said, the deadliest attack since Israel launched an offensive in the enclave five days ago.

A source in Gaza's dominant Hamas group said the police chief, Tayseer Al-Batsh, was in a critical condition and most of the dead were from the same family.

Here is some horrifying video from the aftermath of the attack. Please be forewarned this is very graphic video:

UPDATE: 7/12/14 6:25 PM ET

Gaza having trouble dealing with its dead and wounded

UPDATE: 7/12/14 5:42 PM ET

IDF tells Palestinians in north Gaza to evacuate

The Israeli army is warning Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip to "leave their homes for their own safety," the military said in a statement on Saturday night.

"Tonight we will send messages to northern Gaza residents urging them to leave their homes for their own safety. It's unsafe to be near Hamas," the statement said.

UPDATE: 7/12/14 5:30 PM ET

Night watch in Sderot 

Israeli residents, mostly from the southern Israeli city of Sderot, stand on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip, on July 12, 2014, to watch the fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants.


UPDATE: 7/12/14 4:20 PM ET

Tel Aviv on high alert

It's a noisy evening for GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky, who is near Israel's border with Gaza as bombs explode overhead.

She is constantly tweeting updates. 

UPDATE: 7/12/14 3:30 PM ET

UN calls for ceasefire

AFP reports:

In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member Security Council called for a de-escalation of the crisis that has claimed well over a hundred lives, and urged a return to the "calm and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire."

The council expressed "serious concern" over the "protection and welfare of civilians on both sides."

It also called for a return to the negotiating table by Israelis and Palestinians "with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution."

UPDATE: 7/12/14 1:40 PM ET

Gaza death toll at 30 for Saturday, including 2 disabled women

Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed 30 people Saturday, including two severely handicapped women in a care facility.

The violence brought the toll on the fifth day of the conflict to 135, with nearly 950 people wounded.

Smoke billows from buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 12, 2014. 

UPDATE: 7/12/14 12:20 PM ET

Bomb shelter selfies are a thing now in Israel

I suppose it was just a matter of time before this happened. War + the internet = #BombShelterSelfies

But that doesn't mean we have to like it. We're not sure how to feel about these pictures.

What do you think? Are you horrified that something related to such a deadly conflict can be taken so lightly? Do you applaud their resilience?

Here's more bomb shelter selfies

UPDATE: 7/12/14 10:20 AM ET

Bombs make ghost towns in southern Israel near the Gaza border

GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky visits Ashkelon and Ashdod along southern Israel's coast near the Gaza border, where she finds a pervasive aura of danger.

ASHKELON — For six months, Ido Ozeri worked to turn an old gym into a sparkling new restaurant/bar on Ashkelon's Delilah Beach. Thanks to Israel's economic boom, this pretty Mediterranean seaside town had begun to emerge from decades of sleepiness, and Ozeri was sure his chic tasteful pub, called Archie, would be a success.

But on Friday — a relatively quiet day in Ashkelon, with only two or three air raid sirens — Ozeri, an intense 27-year-old, looked around at his sparsely filled bar with the eyes of a worried parent.

"We're down 90 percent I'd say," he said. "Marin, what do you say?" he asked his No. 1 waitress, carrying a tray full of beers. "At least 70 percent down," she replied.

Read more here.

UPDATE: 7/12/14 9:10 AM ET

Israel struck a mosque containing weapons

The Israeli military said it struck a mosque in central Gaza that held a concealed weapons cache.

The New York Times reports that the move was likely meant to fan Palestinian outrage during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The military said that Hamas and the militant group Islamic Jihad “systematically use mosques to conceal weaponry and establish underground tunnel networks, abusing the holy nature of these sites for their own terror-oriented agendas.”

“These sites are part of a vast terror network embedded deep within civilian populations purposefully, by these terror organizations.” 

UPDATE: 7/12/14 8:39 AM ET

Israel vows no letup as Palestinian death toll tops 120

Operation Protective Edge enters its fifth day Saturday. Israel hit more than 60 terror targets overnight, upping the total of targets hit in Gaza to 1,160.

Sixteen Palestinians died, making the overall death toll to 121, according to medics.

So far, no one in Israel has been killed. Two have been seriously wounded.

A defiant Hamas fired more rockets into Israel and rejected calls for a halt to hostilities, insisting Israel must do so first.

Netanyahu said the military campaign would continue until Hamas fire stopped. "No international pressure will prevent us from striking, with all force, against the terrorist organization which calls for our destruction," he told a news conference on Friday. "No terrorist target in Gaza is immune."

Israel is preparing a possible ground attack, with tanks and artillery massed along the border and some 33,000 reservists mobilized out of 40,000 approved by the cabinet.

AFP journalists saw large numbers of armored vehicles being transported south on Saturday morning and troops arriving at the border. Read more here.

UPDATE: 7/12/14 8:00 AM ET

Catch up on events in Israel and Gaza

Check out our live blog from this past week for earlier coverage of the conflict.