Day 25: Truce breaks in Israel-Gaza war, bloodshed continues (LIVE BLOG)

A Palestinian man reacts as he stands on the rubble of his home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on Aug. 1, 2014</p>

A Palestinian man reacts as he stands on the rubble of his home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on Aug. 1, 2014


UPDATE: 8/1/14 5:00 PM ET

Signing off

This live blog is now closed. We will continue coverage tomorrow.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 4:25 PM ET

Reactions to an inflammatory op-ed that was published on the Times of Israel

UPDATE: 8/1/14 3:55 PM ET

How today's events might change the course of the war

GlobalPost's senior correspondent in Jerusalem Noga Tarnopolsky talked about how the capture of an Israeli soldier could shift and prolong the war.

"Today may be a game changer in this conflict," Tarnopolsky said. "And sadly, very possibly, not in a good direction. ... It's very difficult for me to imagine that Israel is going to take Hamas' word or even Qatar's word on a future possible ceasefire."

Watch her interview on MSNBC here:

UPDATE: 8/1/14 3:30 PM ET

'It's going to be very hard to put a ceasefire back together again,' Obama says

Agence France-Presse — US President Barack Obama urged Hamas Friday to show it is serious about wanting a ceasefire and called on Islamic militants to release an Israeli soldier reported captured earlier in the day.

"I think it's going to be very hard to put a ceasefire back together again if Israelis and the international community can't feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a ceasefire commitment," he told reporters.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 2:35 PM ET

Turkey offers help on captured Israeli soldier

Reuters — Turkey will do what it can to help free an Israeli soldier whose capture led to the breakdown of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but the priority should be the reinstatement of a truce, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday.

"What is important is that the ceasefire is reinstated. To ensure this, together with others, we can take any step that could resolve this Israeli soldier issue. If Turkey can do anything, we will do our best," Davutoglu told reporters.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 1:37 PM ET

A community caught in the crosshairs of war

Every day there are news reports and infographics on the number of rockets intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system. Some rockets, however, fall in so-called "open areas" in and near villages that are home to Israel's Bedouin community.

"Iron Dome, which prioritizes strategic or densely populated areas, does not discharge in those locations, and there are no sirens, much less public bomb shelters. ... For the Bedouin of southern Israel — who are Arab, Palestinian, and Israeli all at once — there is nowhere to run," writes Elisheva Goldberg in The Atlantic. Read the full piece here.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 1:29 PM ET

Do attacks in the Israel-Gaza war amount to war crimes?

It's certainly not an easy question to answer given the nuances of the laws of war crimes. In this Al Jazeera piece, legal experts offer their insights on these laws:

There are two key principles of international law at work in assessing charges of war crimes in Gaza: distinction and proportionality. The obligation of distinction requires that military action distinguish between civilian and military targets.

And the principle of proportionality requires that the military advantage gained by such targeting of civilians or civilian infrastructure must outweigh the harm caused by the attack. 

Read the story here.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 12:48 AM ET

US Senate has approved $225 million for Israel's defense system

More from The Associated Press:

The Senate on Friday rushed through a $225 million bill to replenish Israel's missile defense system, and House approval was expected in the final hours before lawmakers began a summer break.

The money will go to restocking Israel's Iron Dome, which has been credited with shooting down dozens of incoming rockets fired by Palestinian militants over three and a half weeks of war.

Full story here.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 11:51 AM ET

An in-depth look at Hamas

Have a look at this explainer from the Council on Foreign Relations:

UPDATE: 8/1/14 11:15 AM ET

Egypt closes Gaza's key Rafah crossing

Egypt has apparently closed its Rafah border crossing with Gaza. As The Los Angeles Times reported last month, Rafah is the "only border crossing that is not controlled by Israel." When it was opened on July 10, critically wounded Palestinians were able to access medical care in Egypt's hospitals, the story noted.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 10:53 AM ET

Clashes break out in the West Bank

There are reports that a Palestinian protester has been killed in protests in the West Bank against Israel's military operation in Gaza.

From Agence France-Presse:

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man during clashes in the northern West Bank on Friday, security sources told AFP.

They said Tamer Smour, 22, was hit by a live bullet in the chest in the city of Tulkarem.

A spokesman for the Red Crescent told AFP that 39 Palestinians were wounded by live ammunition and rubber bullets fired by Israeli forces during clashes throughout the West Bank.

The Israeli army says it has "launched an investigation into the incident," The Jerusalem Post reports. More details here.

AFP/Getty photographer Hazem Bader took these photos of the demonstrations in Hebron in the West Bank:

And AFP/Getty photographer Abbas Momani captured the scene of protests at the village of Betunia in the West Bank:

UPDATE: 8/1/14 10:26 AM ET

US condemns 'barbaric' ceasefire violation

Agence France-Presse reports:

"The Israelis of course are reporting this morning that that ceasefire was broken," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told CNN.

"And that apparently Hamas individuals used the cover of a humanitarian ceasefire to attack Israeli soldiers and even to take one hostage. That would be a rather barbaric violation of the ceasefire."

UPDATE: 8/1/14 9:53 AM ET

Is history repeating itself?

UPDATE: 8/1/14 9:12 AM ET

A joint Palestinian team is headed to Cairo for talks

Agence France-Presse — A joint Palestinian delegation, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is to travel to Cairo on Saturday for ceasefire talks despite the renewed fighting in Gaza, president Mahmoud Abbas's office announced.

"Abbas has formed the delegation, which will head Saturday for Cairo whatever the circumstances," his office said in a statement, giving the names of the 12-member delegation.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 8:32 AM ET

In Gaza, the number of dead and wounded soars

"Over 50 were killed and 220 wounded in Rafah," the director of Gaza's Ministry of Health Medhat Abbas was quoted by Reuters as saying.


A wounded Palestinian man arrives at al-Najar hospital in the southern of Gaza strip, on Aug. 1, 2014.




A wounded Palestinian woman arrives at al-Najar hospital in the southern of Gaza strip, on Aug. 1, 2014.




Wounded Palestinian children arrive at al-Najar hospital in the southern of Gaza strip, on Aug. 1, 2014.

UPDATE: 8/1/14 8:00 AM ET

Another discouraging development: 72-hour truce collapses 

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a ceasefire which was expected to last 72 hours. It lasted a mere two hours.

The Israel Defense Forces accused Hamas of breaking the ceasefire:

From Reuters:

"Out of a tunnel access point or several, terrorists came out of the ground. At least one was a suicide terrorist who detonated himself. There was an exchange of fire," said Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman. Two of the soldiers were killed.

"The initial indication suggests that a soldier has been abducted by terrorists during the incident," he said in a conference call with reporters.

Asked if the ceasefire was over, Lerner replied: "Yes. We are continuing our activities on the ground." He said Israeli forces were mounting an "extensive effort" to locate the soldier.

UPDATE: 7/31/14 5:00 PM ET

Signing off

This live blog is now closed. We will continue coverage tomorrow.

UPDATE: 7/31/14 4:30 PM ET

A terrifying photo

UPDATE: 7/31/14 3:08 PM ET

US says there's not a lot of doubt about which side was involved in shelling of UN school in Gaza

A United Nations school in Gaza which was housing displaced Palestinians was shelled yesterday, killing at least 16 people and wounding many others. 

GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky talked to an Israeli official about the incident:

Responding to the United Nations claim that its coordinates were transmitted to the Israel Defense Forces 17 times, a senior Israeli official today told GlobalPost it was "immaterial."

"The coordinates matter when the army is planning a targeted action," he said. "The IDF has never targeted a school. Coordinates have no bearing when the area around the school is turned into a battlefield and soldiers are being shot at from the vicinity of the premises."

Earlier today, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse that while the US underscores "the importance of a full and prompt investigation of this tragic incident, as well as a shelling of other UN facilities and schools that have been hit, it does not appear there's a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident."

Video of Earnest's press conference via The Washington Post:

UPDATE: 7/31/14 1:22 PM ET

How are Palestinians viewing the conflict, especially given talk that this might evolve into a third intifada?

GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky weighs in from Jerusalem: 

I think it's safe to say Palestinians think this conflict is disastrous. The largest number of victims are Palestinians, and it is difficult to see anything positive in this conflict for people on either side.

The Israelis hope to secure their state from the threats posed by Hamas, which before this conflict was losing support among Palestinians. The Palestinian government dominated by Fatah, a secular nationalist movement, hopes to emerge strengthened.

Given the vagaries of war, it still might succeed. What we have been seeing in the past three and a half weeks is an outright war between Israel and Hamas. Last week, after Israeli errant fire killed 15 Gazans who had been taking refuge in a UN run school, violent revolts jolted Jerusalem and the West Bank for a number of days.

Neither the military battle nor the clashes, intense as they were limited, come close to being an intifada, which were sustained popular revolts lasting years.

Some of the talk of an intifada starting has been fueled by activists and pundits who seem to have been itching for an armed revolt for the past two years or so, despite little evidence on the ground for it.

A recent survey by the well-regarded Ramallah pollster Khalil Shikaki shows that Palestinians do not support an intifada, seeing the International Criminal Court — and not the street — as the best venue for their claims against Israel. 

UPDATE: 7/31/14 12:21 PM ET

As the world watches in horror, many Israelis still say this is a necessary war

GlobalPost's senior correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports from Jerusalem, Israel:

A vast majority of Israelis, including those on the left, still support this war, feeling Israel is in an impossible position.

"The settlements surrounding Gaza are all kibbutzim [settlers living communally] — kibbutzim who have traditionally been supporters of the Israeli left," says Marc Schulman in the "Tel Aviv Diary" he is writing for Newsweek, " … in this war when kibbutz residents make up only 2 percent of the population, 13 percent of the casualties have been from kibbutzim."

Stand at kibbutz Nahal Oz, across the divide from Shujaiyah, where some of the worst battles have taken place, and you'll hear the constant background noise of open combat. Rat-tat-tat-boom!

Like many other communities on the Israeli side of the border, Nahal Oz has become a ghost town, with only a few families left on-site and a coterie of older men guarding the fences. All families with children have been dispatched to the center of Israel.

Those remaining insist Israel can’t be blamed for defending itself. Missiles have been raining on their communities for 14 years, mostly far away from the eye of the media. Yesterday, Hamas, the militant Islamic group ruling Gaza, released a video proudly showing its fighters emerging from a tunnel just outside the kibbutz carrying heavy weaponry, and rushing to a military watchtower.

Read the full story here.

UPDATE: 7/31/14 11:34 AM ET

'It is past time for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire,' UN refugee official says

Agence France-Presse — Palestinians are "facing a precipice" in Gaza, the top UN refugee official there told the Security Council on Thursday in a strongly-worded appeal for action.

With more than 220,000 Palestinians already sheltering in UN facilities — four times the number from the last Gaza conflict in 2008-2009 — Philippe Krahenbuhl said he had reached a breaking point.

"I believe the population is facing a precipice and appeal to the international community to take the steps necessary to address this extreme situation," the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA told the 15-member Council.

"We have exceeded the tolerable limit that we can accommodate," Krahenbuhl said, adding that he was "alarmed" by the latest Israeli instructions to civilians to evacuate two areas in Gaza.

Here are some photos which were taken yesterday of the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza:

UPDATE: 7/31/14 10:37 AM ET

'Special stockpile of ammunition' to Israel

Yesterday, the US issued a condemnation regarding the shelling of a UN school which claimed the lives of at least 16 Palestinians, including children. The statement didn't specify which side was responsible for the attack, but UN officials said evidence appears to point to Israeli artillery, Reuters reported:

"Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school," UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a statement after agency representatives visited the scene and examined fragments, craters and other damage.

Then news reports emerged that the US had given Israel "access to a special stockpile of ammunition," as reported by Circa:

This Guardian piece gives more context on the two stories:

Washington's implied condemnation of Israel marked the strongest language used by the US since the conflict in Gaza began. The US also strongly criticized the hiding of weapons at UN facilities in Gaza, although officials acknowledged they did not know if rockets had been stored at the UNRWA school. ... At the same time however, there was little evidence of Washington using its leverage with Israel, including record levels of military aid, to apply pressure on Jerusalem to curtail its offensive.

UPDATE: 7/31/14 9:28 AM ET

The number of lives lost in the 24-day-old war 

UPDATE: 7/31/14 8:45 AM ET

Netanyahu vows to complete Gaza tunnels destruction

Reuters and Agence France-Presse — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing international alarm over a rising civilian death toll in Gaza, said on Thursday he would not accept any ceasefire that stopped Israel completing the destruction of militants' infiltration tunnels.

The Israeli military estimated on Wednesday that accomplishing that task, already into its fourth week, would take several more days.

"We are determined to complete this mission, with or without a ceasefire," Netanyahu said in public remarks at the start of a meeting of his full cabinet in Tel Aviv.

"I won't agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to finish this important task, for the sake of Israel's security."

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) attend the cabinet meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, on July 31, 2014.

His remarks came after the army confirmed mobilizing another 16,000 additional reservists, hiking the total number called up to 86,000. Israel does not say how many troops are currently engaged in the fighting inside the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli soldier carries a shell as he and his comrades prepare their Merkava tanks stationed at an army deployment area along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on July 31, 2014

UPDATE: 7/30/14 5:00 PM ET

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UPDATE: 7/30/14 4:22 PM ET

Understanding the rise of Hamas

The Washington Post's Ishaan Tharoor wrote an interesting piece on the role Israel played in creating Hamas.

Tharoor writes:

To a certain degree, the Islamist organization whose militant wing has rained rockets on Israel the past few weeks has the Jewish state to thank for its existence. Hamas launched in 1988 in Gaza at the time of the first intifada, or uprising, with a charter now infamous for its anti-Semitism and its refusal to accept the existence of the Israeli state. But for more than a decade prior, Israeli authorities actively enabled its rise.

Read the full piece here

UPDATE: 7/30/14 3:41 PM ET

Why are Latin American diplomats pulling out of Israel?

GlobalPost's Simeon Tegel, Alex Leff and Noga Tarnopolsky report:

Latin American nations are expressing their revulsion at the bloodshed in Gaza — and squarely pinning the blame on Israel.

Chile, Peru and El Salvador said this week they are recalling their ambassadors from Israel for consultation.

That was after Ecuador and Brazil did the same last week. And on Wednesday, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared Israel a "terrorist state." 

Lots of world leaders have denounced the violence on both sides of Israel’s 3-week-old war against Hamas in Gaza. Palestinian casualties have reached 1,250, according to Gaza health authorities, while the Israeli death toll is a little over 50.

But the Latin Americans appear to be leading a diplomatic storm, flying envoys out of Tel Aviv. Recalling an ambassador for consultation falls short of breaking off relations outright, but it can lead to that.

So, why are they doing it?

Read on here

UPDATE: 7/30/14 1:22 PM ET

US issues condemnation of attack on UN school in Gaza

UPDATE | 2:02 p.m.:

While The Associated Press' tweet mentioned that the US is condemning "Israel's shelling" of the UN school in Gaza, the news agency later noted that "the US didn't assign responsibility for the shelling, but Gaza officials say Israel struck the school, killing 15 and wounding 90."

From the piece:

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan also said the US is "extremely concerned" that thousands of Palestinians aren't safe in UN-designated shelters, despite being told by Israel's military to leave their homes.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International also issued a condemnation of the attack, calling it "a likely war crime."

The statement reads:

"If the strike on this school was the result of Israeli artillery fire it would constitute an indiscriminate attack and a likely war crime. Artillery should never be used against targets in crowded civilian areas and its use in such a manner would never be considered a 'surgical' strike," said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

Read it in full here.

UPDATE: 7/30/14 12:49 PM ET

More details on the strikes on the market

Reuters reports:

Israeli strikes near a market in the eastern Gaza Strip killed 15 Palestinians on Wednesday, the local health ministry said. Residents said that Israeli shelling and two missiles from the air hit the area in Shejaia, on the fringes of the city of Gaza. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of the Gaza Health Ministry, said 160 people were also wounded.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report. Ninety people were killed in the enclave on Wednesday, according to the ministry.

UPDATE: 7/30/14 11:35 AM ET

Reports of shelling on a market in Gaza

UPDATE: 7/30/14 10:46 AM ET

Behind the lens of war and destruction

The photographs of the Israel-Gaza war are visceral and moving — blood-stained parents staring helplessly at their wounded children, dust-covered civilians being pulled from rubble and tear-soaked faces of relatives at funerals.

Below, two photographers who have been documenting the current war weigh in on what it's like to cover the conflict. 

Agence France-Presse photographer Sara Hussein writes about her experience reporting at a morgue in Gaza:

It was hard to remain composed in the morgue as the staff flitted around the three children, and a fourth who had been transferred after dying at another hospital. I slipped inside before the scrum of journalists entered, and I stood quietly in the corner as the team worked and three family members inside swung between anger and extreme pain. I continued to take notes and observe, but I cried as I did so. And when I wrote about it later, I cried again.

Read her gripping account here.

The New York Times freelance photographer Sergey Ponomarev sheds light on why covering the conflict in Ukraine is different from covering the war in Gaza:

This conflict is easier to cover than Ukraine because there are only two different sides and you can clearly understand the motivations of both sides.

There is a clear front line between them, and you understand the threats coming from one side and threats coming from the other side. You should be aware of rockets in Israel and you should be aware of ground attacks or shellings in Gaza.

There are different layers of Ukrainian-held territories and separatist territories, and almost everyone speaks Russian and Ukrainian. It’s just a matter of your accent. So you can be O.K. crossing one checkpoint but not be O.K. crossing another checkpoint because you speak with a slightly different accent. For foreigners it was even tougher because both sides don’t like foreigners.

Read the full Q&A here

UPDATE: 7/30/14 9:42 AM ET

A momentary humanitarian pause

Agence France-Presse — Israel agreed Wednesday to observe a four-hour lull in Gaza several hours after a deadly strike on a school killed 16, drawing a furious response from a UN refugee agency. In a statement, the army said it had agreed to a humanitarian pause which was to begin at 1200 GMT.

But it said the lull would not apply in areas where the army was "currently operating" and warned those who had fled their homes not to return.

UPDATE: 7/30/14 8:30 AM ET

Grim early morning developments

At least 19 people were killed and another 125 were wounded after Israeli shells hit a UN school in Gaza which was providing shelter for Palestinians displaced by the war, a UN official said, as reported by Reuters. From the piece:

Khalil al-Halabi, director of UNRWA's northern Gaza operations, said some 3,000 Palestinians were taking refuge in the school, in Jebalya refugee camp, when it came under fire around dawn.

"There were five shells — Israeli tank shells — which struck the people and killed many of them as they slept. Those people came to the school because it is a designated UN shelter," he said. 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl issued a strong statement in response to the attacks on its school:

"The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling. I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces." 

Read the full statement here.

Palestinian civilians wounded during Israeli shelling in a UN school wait at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia on July 30, 2014.

A Palestinian man hugs his father who was wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a UN school in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, following their arrival at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia early on July 30, 2014.

A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a UN school in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, receives treatment at Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia early on July 30, 2014.

UPDATE: 7/29/14 6:00 PM ET

Signing off

This live blog is now closed. We will pick up coverage tomorrow.

UPDATE: 7/29/14 5:48 PM ET

A longterm truce might just be wishful thinking

Since the conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted three weeks ago, there's been constant talk of ceasefires and a couple of official halts in fighting, but few signs of a longterm truce.

In 22 days, thousands of people have lost their lives and livelihoods. News and social media outlets have been flooded with images of bloodied children and adults, as well as mourning friends and relatives.

Earlier today, Agence France-Presse quoted the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abed Rabbo as saying, "After consultations between the Palestinian leadership and the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, we declare our readiness for a humanitarian truce of 24 hours." That humanitarian truce didn't materialize.

Hayes Brown, an editor at ThinkProgress, summed up the diplomatic back-and-forth about the elusive ceasefire succinctly in this piece:

Only rarely have all three main parties to the conflict — Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization — agreed to halt the fighting simultaneously, though each of them has proposed their own version of a ceasefire over the course of the last three weeks. But in the end, at least one side acts as a spoiler, leaving the door open for the next proposal. On and on it goes, like a slot machine where the lever keeps getting pulled but all three sections steadfastly refuse to line up, leaving the prize tantalizingly out of reach and observers forced to ask why if everyone agrees that a ceasefire is needed, nobody wants to be the first to lay down their arms.

Read Brown's insightful piece here.

And Tel-Aviv-based freelance journalist Gregg Carlstrom captured the sentiment in 140 characters:

UPDATE: 7/29/14 4:00 PM ET

Israel's Iron Dome defense system might get some help from the US

GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky wrote an in-depth piece on Israel's Iron Dome a few years ago.

From her piece: 

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.

Read the full story here.

UPDATE: 7/29/14 3:39 PM ET

An observation on two separate attacks on refugee zones in Gaza

GlobalPost senior correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky sends in this update from Jerusalem, Israel:

It is difficult to read between the lines of tragedies, but once you've witnessed a few similar disasters in the same combat zone, patterns start to emerge.

According to the United Nations, about 77 percent of the people killed in the current conflict are civilians. The Gaza war is taking place in intensely populated areas, with bombing, rocket launches, tank warfare and gunfights taking place among residential homes, school and beaches.

Two cases of civilian deaths stand out, and the principal difference between them is how quickly and decisively the Israeli Army spokesman responded.

In the first case — on July 24 — shelling killed at least 16 Gazans who had sought refuge from the war in a school run by the UN.

While Palestinian sources immediately claimed Israel had bombed the school, the Israel Defense Forces said the matter was being investigated. Finally, after some 48 hours, Col. Peter Lerner held a conference call with journalists in which he claimed that while an errant IDF mortar did hit the yard, no one had been there.

Few, if any journalists, were convinced.

Yesterday, another tragedy. Mortar fire hit an outpatient clinic of Gaza's Shifa hospital and Al-Shati refugee camp.

Within minutes, the IDF spokesperson unequivocally claimed Hamas was responsible.

Close observers of the conflict reacted to what appeared, this time, to be a credible reaction.

We may never know for sure which side is responsible for the attacks. 

UPDATE: 7/29/14 11:13 AM ET

German police arrest 18-year-old after attack on synagogue

Reuters — German police arrested an 18-year-old man after petrol bombs were thrown at a synagogue in the western town of Wuppertal overnight, they said in a statement on Wednesday.

"According to investigations, three suspects threw several incendiary devices at the entrance," police said.

No one was hurt and it appears no damage was done to the synagogue, they said. A local resident had alerted them when she saw a fire close to the building.

Prosecutor Hans-Joachim Kiskel said the nationality of the arrested suspect was not clear but added that the man had told authorities he was Palestinian.

The other two suspects fled.

The German government last week reassured Jews living in Germany that they should feel safe in the face of anti-Semitic chants and threats heard at some of the protests against Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza, and said such behavior would not be tolerated.

German media have expressed shock at the tenor of anti-Israel chants at some of the demonstrations, in a country which is ultra-sensitive about anti-Semitism because of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis.

UPDATE: 7/29/14 10:01 AM ET

No ceasefire?

There are news reports that Hamas hasn't agreed to the ceasefire. 

More here:

UPDATE: 7/29/14 9:30 AM ET

Quick roundup of key events

From Agence France-Presse:

The Palestinian leadership along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad are willing to observe a 24-hour ceasefire in the war-torn Gaza Strip, a senior PLO official said on Tuesday.

"After consultations between the Palestinian leadership and the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, we declare our readiness for a humanitarian truce of 24 hours," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants raged on unabated on Tuesday with scores more Palestinians killed as the death toll in Gaza rose to well over 1,100, most of them civilians.

On the Israeli side, 56 people have been killed, most of them soldiers.

The Palestinian leadership was also considering "positively" a UN call for a 72-hour halt to the fighting, he said.

"There is also a suggestion from the United Nations to extend this truce for 72 hours and we are dealing positively with this suggestion," Abed Rabbo said.

And after an uneasy truce to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Monday, a deluge of bombs rained down on Gaza throughout the night.

Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky of Gaza City on early on July 29, 2014.

From Reuters:

Israeli tank fire hit the fuel depot of the Gaza Strip's only power plant on Tuesday, witnesses said, cutting electricity to Gaza City and many other parts of the Palestinian enclave of 1.8 million people. 

A thick column of black smoke rose from the facility, which supplies the territory with two-thirds of its energy needs, and the fuel containers were in flames.


A Palestinian man looks on as flames engulf the fuel tanks of the only power plant supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip after it was hit by overnight Israeli shelling, on July 29, 2014, in the south of Gaza City.

"The power plant is finished," said its director, Mohammed al-Sharif. He said the local fire brigade was not equipped to extinguish the blaze.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment and said she was checking the report. The plant had already been hit last week and was working at a reduced capacity of about 20 percent, allowing only a few hours of electricity a day for Gaza's residents.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 4:30 PM ET

Signing off

This live blog is now closed. We will continue coverage tomorrow.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 4:28 PM ET

Israel warns of long Gaza war as Palestinian fighters cross border

Reuters — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday of a protracted war in Gaza, dashing any hopes of a swift end to the three-week conflict as Palestinian fighters launched an audacious cross-border raid. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pauses during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2014.

"It has been a difficult, painful day," Netanyahu said in a televised address to the nation. "We need to be prepared for a protracted campaign.

"We will continue to act with force and discretion until our mission is accomplished," he said, adding that Israeli troops would not leave Gaza until they had destroyed Hamas's tunnel network.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 4:22 PM ET

Satellite imagery of the destruction in Gaza

Via The Washington Post:

UPDATE: 7/28/14 3:27 PM ET

Israeli army says 5 soldiers were killed in and around Gaza

Agence France-Presse — The Israeli army said five of its soldiers have been killed in and around the wartorn Gaza Strip on Monday.

The number included four soldiers killed by a mortar shell in southern Israel who media reports had initially identified as civilians.

"Over the course of the day, 5 IDF soldiers were killed," a statement said, indicating that four of them "were killed along the border of the Gaza Strip as a result of mortar fire."

Their deaths raised to 48 the total number of Israeli soldiers killed since July 17 when troops began the ground phase of a major military operation against Gaza militants.

Israeli soldiers evacuate their wounded comrades at an army deployment area along the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on July 28, 2014.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 3:16 PM ET

Three children among 10 people dead in raids across Gaza, medics say

Agence France-Presse — Three children were among 10 people killed in Israeli raids across Gazalate on Monday, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Five people, including three children, were killed when a tank shell slammed into a house in the northern town of Jabaliya, said Qudra.

Another person died in a strike on central Gaza, and four more were killed in and around the southern city of Khan Yunis, he added.

The strikes came as Israel began an intensive bombardment of the battered Palestinian enclave after four soldiers were killed in a mortar attack on southern Israel and a fifth died in fighting in southern Gaza, the army said.

A Palestinian man mourns over the bodies of two children, killed in an explosion in a public playground on the beachfront of Shati refugee camp, as they are wheeled into al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 28, 2014.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 2:55 PM ET

Conflicting reports of who bears responsibility for hospital and refugee camp attacks in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces has blamed Gaza militants for firing rockets at Israel which it says struck Al Shifa hospital and Al Shati refugee camp in Gaza, as per this tweet from the army's official Twitter account:

Initial reports — including Agence France-Presse's story a few posts down — said it was an Israeli missile that hit the hospital.

Hamas reportedly said Israel is responsible for the attack, according to the BBC.

From the story:

"Hamas says the children were hit by an Israeli strike. But Israel denies this — saying the blast was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket."

Read the full piece here

The facts are not clear at the moment. We will continue to update the blog as new details emerge.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 12:48 PM ET

IDF warns Palestinians around Gaza City to flee

Agence France-Presse — The Israeli army on Monday sent messages to thousands of Palestinians living near Gaza City to flee shortly after a mortar shell killed at least four people in Israel.

"A short while ago, phone calls were made and text messages were sent out to the civilian population of Shejaiya, Zeitun and eastern Jabaliya calling them to evacuate immediately towards central Gaza City," a statement from the army said, referring to three areas to the north, south and east of Gaza City.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 12:24 PM ET

Reports of Israeli casualties

There are reports of Israeli casualties near the Israel-Gaza border:

UPDATE: 7/28/14 10:58 AM ET

Missile hits compound housing Gaza's largest hospital

Agence France-Presse — An Israeli missile struck a building inside the compound housing Gaza's largest hospital on Monday, medics and an AFP correspondent said.

The attack hit a building close to the main gate of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, medics said, with an AFP correspondent reporting damage to the inside of the gate itself.

The Israel Defense Forces is reportedly stating that it didn't fire at the hospital, Haaretz reports:

IDF: We did not fire at Gaza clinic, fire believed to have been Hamas'

— (@haaretzcom) July 28, 2014

UPDATE: 7/28/14 10:18 AM ET

The diplomatic back and forth continues

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon once again stressed the need to end fighting in Gaza and called for a ceasefire, the BBC reports.

From the story:

Gaza is in a "critical condition" and violence there must stop "in the name of humanity," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says.

Read the full piece here.


UPDATE: 7/28/14 10:05 AM ET

A short-lived lull

There are reports of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

UPDATE: 7/28/14 9:30 AM ET

Gaza fighting eases as diplomatic pressure rises

Reuters — Israel eased its offensive in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave declined sharply on Monday, with both the United States and United Nations calling for a durable ceasefire.

As international pressure mounted to end a 21-day conflict in which more than 1,000 people have been killed, anIsraeli military official said the army would only respond to attacks for an indefinite period.

"The situation now is an unlimited truce," Israel's chief military spokesman, Brigadier General Motti Almoz, told Israel Radio. "The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is free to attack after any fire if there is any."

The Islamist Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip said on Sunday it wanted a 24-hour truce to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Monday.

Palestinian children play near a damaged mini ferris wheel in the war-torn Shejaiya district of Gaza City on July 28, 2014 on the first day of Eid al-Fitr holiday.

In the hours after its announcement, Gaza gradually fell quiet. However, the lull appeared fragile amid diplomatic tension between Israel and its main sponsor, the United States.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said parties to the fighting had "expressed serious interest" in his request for a further 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire, but "have not yet agreed on the timing of its implementation."

Israeli troops continued to hunt and destroy cross-border militant tunnels inside Gaza, and it was not clear if Hamas was ready to agree to a prolonged pause.

An Israeli army Merkava tank rolls along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on July 28, 2014.

At least 12 rockets were fired out of the battered coastal territory at Israeli towns on Monday, according to the Israeli military, which said it struck two rocket launchers and a weapon manufacturing site in the northern and central Gaza strip.

Gaza residents reported Israeli shelling in east and northern Gaza and the health ministry said two people, including a five-year-old boy, were killed in one of the attacks. An army spokeswoman said she would look into the incident.

UPDATE: 2/21/14 9:15 AM ET

Earlier developments

Read about earlier developments on our live blogs from the weekend and previous weeks.