Following eight days of warfare in the Gaza Strip and Israel, and a concerted diplomatic effort led by Egypt and the United States to end the fighting, a cease-fire came into effect Wednesday night at 9:00 P.M. Under a memorandum of understanding reached in Egypt Wednesday, the cease-fire will be under the patronage of the Egyptian government, which will oversee its implementation.
10:28 P.M. Israeli security forces apprehended the suspected perpetrators of a bombing attack on a Tel Aviv bus, a lifted gag order revealed on Thursday, with Shin Bet and police saying that the attack was planned and orchestrated by Islamic Jihad and Hamas operatives. (Gili Cohen)
9:26 P.M. Palestinians protest near Gaza border fence, with IDF saying three demonstrators cross into Israel until turned back by soldiers. Palestinian news agency Ma'an cites medical sources in Gaza as saying that one protester was wounded as a result of army fire (Haaretz)
9:17 P.M. Report: Israel agreed to end military operation in Gaza over warnings a ground offensive could endanger peace deals with Egypt and Jordan (Ch. 2)
9:13 P.M. Funeral of IDF officer Boris Yarmolnik, who succumbed to wounds suffered after a Gaza mortar attack in south, to be held in Netanya on Friday (Haaretz)
8:25 P.M. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman: "We didn’t negotiate with Hamas, we negotiated with Egypt…. Hamas, as long as it continued to aim for Israel's destruction, that's not a neighbor we can live with in the long run. But everything has its time" (Haaretz)
8:10 P.M. Defense Minister Ehud Barak: Israel would respond forcibly if Gaza militants fired another rocket (Haaretz)
7:34 P.M. IDF chief Benny Gantz visited troops in south, meeting commanders of reserve units called up for Operation Pillar of Defense. "The IDF achieved the operation's goals and the Hamas was badly hit," Gantz said (Haaretz)
6:30 P.M. Knesset to hold special session during break on Operation Pillar of Defense (Jonathan Lis)
6:25 P.M. Studies in towns and villages near Gaza Strip to resume on Sunday; in other parts of the South, school to resume this Friday (Yanir Yagna)
1:50 P.M. Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, in a statement in wake of cease-fire deal: "We decided to stop the operation after eight days. It is still too early to tell what will happen in the coming months. If nothing comes out of Gaza, it will remain quiet."
Gantz said each and every one of the operation's objectives were achieved, including severe damage to Hamas' military leadership, alongside what he described as "a lethal blow to Hamas' strategic capabilities." Gantz implied that the army is focusing on what is being done in Iran and Libya, since these are the main sources of weapons-supply to the Gaza Strip - evident from the unmanned aerial vehicles that were destroyed, as well as the Fajr rockets and anti-tank missiles.
1:43 P.M. Hamas' military wing claims that throughout Operation Pillar of Defense, 12 long-range rockets were fired at Israel, six Fajr missiles and six M-75 missiles, which are manufactured in the Gaza Strip.
A spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad said his organization fired 600 rockets at Israel in the last week, and that it intends to continue arming itself with rockets and firing them at Israel
12:54 P.M. Netanyahu says he will ensure southern communities in Israel undergo rehabilitation without bureaucracy. He has appointed his director general, Harel Locker, to oversee the staff in charge of treatingresidents affected by the last week's conflict in Gaza. Netanyahu said he is following the situation closely and has instructed the staff to provide residents of the south with both physical and psychological rehabilitation, as well as financial compensation without bureaucratic delays.
10:17 A.M. Rockets alerts sound in Hof Ashkelon and Sderot (Haaretz)
7:46 A.M. In the wake of the Palestinian riots over the last week in the West Bank, the IDF conducted a wave of arrests late Wednesday night. According to the army, 55 Palestinians were arrested.
7:22 A.M. As of the afternoon hours on Thursday, 56,000 reserve soldiers recruited for Operation Pillar of Defense will gradually be released home, leaving only a small number of forces on standby around the Gaza border. The IDF is preparing itself for a possible "day of rage" in the West Bank and Gaza on Friday and emphasized that it will respond immediately to any incidents of terror.
05:05 A.M. School canceled Thursday for schools within 40 kilometer range of Gaza Strip (Army Radio)
04:01 A.M. Army Radio reports that rockets fired from Gaza after cease-fire leave Israeli boy in Netivot lightly wounded and house in Be'er Sheva damaged.
03:24 A.M. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice says, "Achieving a two-state solution has been a top priority for President Obama and his administration from the very earliest days of his tenure. And I’m quite certain that it will be a very high priority in his second term. As Secretary Clinton said today in Cairo, now that we have a ceasefire, we all must redouble our efforts to achieve that two-state solution. And I’m confident that whoever President Obama selects to be his next Secretary of State will pursue that objective with vigor."
On the Palestinian UN bid, she says, "We view unilateral steps, including the bid for upgraded status to statehood — observer state status at the General Assembly — to be counterproductive and not take us closer to that goal, and, therefore, we strongly oppose it. (Natasha Mozgovaya)
2:45 A.M. As UN Security Council meeting ends, the council's president this month, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, reads out a press statement adopted by consensus welcoming the Israel-Hamas cease-fire and commending Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for helping achieve it. It also called for more humanitarian aid to be delivered with the cooperation of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. No mention was made of Hamas, which actually governs on the ground in Gaza. (AP)
2:39 A.M. More than 100 demonstrators protest in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip lay the blame on Israel for eight days of fighting that have concluded with the declaration of a cease-fire.
The demonstrators include Venezuelans as well as Palestinian immigrants who waved Palestinian flags and beat drums. One woman held a sign describing Israel's government as "terrorist."
Elsewhere in Latin America, several dozen protesters demonstrate outside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An Israeli flag is burned during the demonstration. (AP)
2:07 A.M. Five rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the declaration of a cease-fire Wednesday night. (Gili Cohen)
1:54 A.M. Haim Waxman, Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, tells media waiting outside UN Security Council that the international community addressing the smuggling of weapons into Gaza will help preserve calm in the region, while discounting the Palestinian Authority's bid for statehood.
"When we sign the agreement, we abide by it and when the other side is not doing it, it's troubling," said Waxman. "Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization, that continued to smuggle weapons. The international community should do whatever it can to stop the smuggling of weapons. That's what eventually will bring calm to the region."
When asked about the PA's UN statehood bid, Waxman said, "We've seen the Palestinian Authority has zero authority in Gaza, so what kind of state are we talking about?" (Natasha Mozgovaya)
1:36 A.M. European Union leaders greet the declaration of an Israel-Gaza ceasefire late Wednesday.
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