LIVE BLOG: Day 4 of Israel-Gaza conflict 2012
IDF prepares for ground invasion as Gaza offensive; Arab League delegation set to arrive in Gaza on Sunday; IDF chief instructs air force to intensify aerial attacks; Barak to Panetta: Israel is determined to achieve operation's goals; 'Anonymous' hackers launch an attack on Israeli websites.
As Operation Pillar of Defense enters its fourth day, the Israel Defense Forces continues to prepare for a ground invasion of Gaza, drafting thousands of army reservists.
The IDF struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including the office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and a police building.
After a relatively quiet night in Israel's south, rockets were fired Saturday morning toward Israel's south. On Friday, rockets that were fired toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem exploded in open areas.
Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, 35 Palestinians were killed, some of them civilians. On the Israeli side three civilians were killed on Friday in a rocket attack.
11:50 P.M. "The Israelis will commit a stupid mistake if they decide to launch a ground operation against Gaza," Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah says during a Shi'ite religious ceremony in Beirut's southern suburbs. "The resistance in Gaza has acquired power, determination and planning capabilities," Nasrallah said, adding that the firepower possessed by Hamas militants was putting Israelis increasingly on edge. (DPA)
11:40 P.M. Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi says his government is in contact with both the Israelis and the Palestinians and that "there are some indications that there could be a ceasefire soon." Morsi made the comments at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but he stressed that there were still "no guarantees." (DPA)
11:30 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with a number of foreign leaders over the weekend, telling them he would be prepared for an immediate, comprehensive ceasefire with Hamas if the latter agrees to halt all rocket fire from Gaza. The leaders asked Netanyahu to refrain from escalating the operation and to give Egyptian attempts to mediate a ceasefire a few days to play out. Netanyahu's office refused to comment. (Barak Ravid)
11:15 P.M. Prime Minister's Office denies media reports that an Israeli government representative has been dispatched to Cairo to conduct ceasefire talks. (Barak Ravid)
11:00 P.M. Fifty-seven rockets were intercepted on Saturday by Israel's Iron Dome air-defense system. Since the beginning of the operation in Gaza, 267 rockets have been intercepted. (Gili Cohen)
10:45 P.M. Hamas is preventing dozens of foreign nationals and journalist from leaving the Gaza Strip into Israel. According to one journalist stationed in Gaza, a group of 22 foreign journalists and Turkish nationals working at the Gaza Strip Red Crescent asked the Hamas authorities for permission to leave the coastal enclave but were denied. According to the reports of news agencies, Israel announced that the Erez Crossing would be open to foreign nationals crossing from Gaza to Israel. (Haaretz)
10:30 P.M. Arab ministers give their backing to Egyptian efforts to secure a truce that would end Israel's offensive on Gaza, according to a statement released after an Arab League meeting in Cairo. The statement condemned Israeli "aggression" and said Arab foreign ministers would form a delegation to travel to Gaza. Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said he would lead the delegation, which will leave for Gaza in the next "one or two days." (Reuters)
9:08 P.M. Israel Police plans to conduct a sweep for Palestinians illegally residing in Israel on Sunday, out of concern that they could carry out attacks in revenge for violence in Gaza. (Haaretz)
9:05 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts three rockets over Ashdod. (Haaretz)
8:45 P.M. Hundreds protest in Tel Aviv's Habima Square against the operation in Gaza. In Ashdod, three rockets are intercepted by Iron Dome.
7:55 P.M. Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel's operation in Gaza: "The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years."
7:38 P.M. Deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for U.S. President Barack Obama: "The Israelis are going to make decisions about their own military tactics and operations. What we want is the same thing the Israelis want, which is an end to the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We wouldn’t comment on specific targeting choices by the Israelis other than to say that we of course always underscore the importance of avoiding civilian casualties. But the Israelis again will make judgments about their military operations." (Haaretz)
7:30 P.M. Tal Russo commander of the IDF Southern Command: "We are going to hit Hamas and all other Gaza terrorist organizations until we destroy Gaza's weapons arsenal and life returns to normal in Israel. We devastated their long range weapons arsenal, but there is still a lot of work left." (Haaretz)
7:05 P.M. Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby is expected to visit the Gaza Strip on Sunday accompanied by four Arab foreign ministers. (Haaretz)
6:45 P.M. According to Yossi Druker, head of Rafael's air defense division, the success rate of the Iron Dome anti-missile system since the start of the current round of hostilities is 85 percent, with the rate improving daily. Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans to propose Israel spend NIS 750 million on the purchase of an additional Iron Dome battery, in Sunday's government meeting. (Haaretz)
6:30 P.M. In a meeting Saturday with Egyptian intelligence officials, senior Hamas officials demanded Egypt ease the blockade on Gaza and Israel provide assurances that it will keep its side of a ceasefire and especially refrain from assassinating Hamas leaders in exchange for a ceasefire. Palestinian sources told Haaretz the Hamas was not asking Israel to lift the naval blockade on the coastal enclave rather that Egypt allow a free flow of goods through the Rafah Crossing. Cairo rejected this. (Haaretz)
6:15 P.M. IAF fires at the home of Senior Hamas commander A-Din Hazaz. It is still not known whether he was home at the time. (Haaretz)
6:10 P.M. Senior Hamas leader Osama Qadi attacked in a joint Shin Bet IDF operation, his condition is still unknown. (Haaretz)
5:32 P.M. Since beginning of Pillar of Defense, 246 rockets fired at residential areas were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries; 57 rockets exploded in Israel on Saturday, bringing the total of rockets exploding in Israel since beginning of operation to 410.
5:15 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts five rockets over Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)
4:57 P.M. Rocket explodes in open field at the Bnei Shimon Regional council; Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Sderot (Yanir Yagna)
4:50 P.M. Rocket warning sirens sound in Be'er Sheva.
4:44 P.M. Rocket intercepted over Tel Aviv area. No wounded or damage reported.
4:35 P.M. Two explosions heard in Tel Aviv area after rocket warning sirens sound.
4:17 P.M. Minister Avi Dichter: Only a few rockets threaten Tel Aviv, unlike greater danger facing towns in Israel's south (Ilan Lior)
4:01 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets fired by Gaza militants at Be'er Sheva (Yanir Yagna)
4:00 P.M. Social protest leader Stav Shaffir: "The coming together of Israeli citizens in the face of security threats shows how strong our society is. But, without strong social standing there is no strong security standing."
3:28 P.M. 500 people marching in Nazareth parade organized by Hadash party to protest IDF operation in Gaza (Jack Khoury)
2:53 P.M. 5 rockets fall in open spaces in the Eshkol Regional Council; none wounded (Yanir Yagna)
2:32 P.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts 4 Gaza rockets over southern city of Netivot (Yanir Yagna)
2:31 P.M. Meretz party chairwoman Zahava Gal-On warns of ground invasion of Gaza, saying that the Israeli leadership is "trying to drag us into another war of deception… Experience shows that ground operations are an assurance for a bloody chaos." Gal-On says the Israeli government must set in motion negotiations with Hamas via Egyptian or international mediators. "This is the correct, effective way to guard the citizens of Israel" (Haaretz)
2:30 P.M. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar's Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi are holding a meeting in Cairo. Hamas head Khaled Meshla and Islamic Jihad leader Ramdan Shalah (Avi Issacharoff)
2:13 P.M. Defense Minister Ehud Barak holds consultation meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and army officials in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)
1:52 P.M. Hamas prevents foreign nationals, including 22 journalists, from leaving Gaza Strip, report says (DPA)
1:25 P.M. Iron dome battery intercepts 8 rockets over Be'er Sheva and Ashdod; two rockets explode in open areas near Be'er Sheva (Yanir Yagna)
1:25 P.M. Hamas' al-Aqtsa Brigades sign text messages sent to many Israelis, reading: "We will turn Gaza into a cemetery for your soldiers" (Haaretz)
1:24 P.M. Rocket hits a 10-story residential building in the center of Ashdod. Home Front Command seals the building to assess damages (Yanir Yagna)
1:13 P.M. Gaza militants shoot volley of rockets toward Ashdod, reports of rockets exploding in city (Yanir Yagna)
12:51 P.M. Senior Egyptian sources to Haaretz: Cairo leading intensive attempts to reach ceasefire between Hamas and Israel (Avi Issacharoff)
12:38 P.M. After meeting in IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, army chief Benny Gantz says instructs air force to intensify aerial attacks on Gaza (Gili Cohen)
12:26 P.M. Rocket hits Be'er Tuvia house, destroying home of two elderly women, and damaging two others; none wounded (Chaim Levinson)
12:14 A.M. Gaza rocket hits a home in the Eshkol Regional Council, no casualties reported (Yanir Yagna)
12:08 A.M. Another rocket explodes in a town in the Eshkol Regional Council, damage done to vehicle (Yanir Yagna)
12:07 A.M. Seven rockets explode in open areas in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and Eshkol Regional Council; one rocket explodes in a town in Eshkol, no casualties reported (Yanir Yagna)
11:56 A.M. Rocket barrage fired from Gaza toward Ashkelon area, Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and Eshkol Regional Council; at least three intercepted by Iron Dome battery (Yanir Yagna)
11:46 A.M. Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem during Gaza visit: We will act immediately in the Arab League and the UN to stop Israeli aggression (Jack Khoury)
11:18 A.M. Iron Dome intercepts two rockets fired at Ashdod (Yanir Yagna)
11:11 A.M. Palestinians report 5 killed in IAF attack on Rafah, raising the reported death toll in Gaza to 39 since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense (Jack Khoury)
11:04 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts a rocket fired from Gaza toward Be'er Sheva; three rockets intercepted over Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)
11:00 A.M. IDF: Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense Out of 650 rockets fired into Israel 27 explode in residential areas; Iron Dome intercepted 219 rockets; IAF craft attack over 800 targets in Gaza; 79 launches fail, resulting in rockets exploding inside the Strip.
10:55 A.M. Three Israelis lightly wounded are IDF soldiers, IDF reports (GIli Cohen)
10:43 A.M. IDF deploys new Iron Dome anti-missile battery in the Tel Aviv area (Gili Cohen)
10:40 A.M. Rocket fired by Gaza militants toward Ashkelon intercepted by Iron Dome system (Yanir Yagna)
10:28 A.M. Three Israeli wounded after Gaza rocket explodes in the Eshkol Regional Council (Gili Cohen)
10:20 A.M. More than 20 rockets were fired Saturday morning from Gaza at Israel. Four rockets recently exploded in open areas in Eshkil Regional Council. Eight of the rockets were intercepted by an Iron Dome Dome battery (Yanir Yagna)
10:15 A.M. Defense Minister Ehud Barak tells U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that Israel is determined to achieve Operation Pillar of Defense's goals (Haaretz)
9:50 A.M. A house in the Be'er Tuvia Regional Council suffers a direct rocket hit, no casualties reported, damage done to three houses (Chaim Levinson)
9:48 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts two rockets fired from Gaza toward Hazerim and Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)
9:20 A.M. The IDF struck overnight Friday three government buildings in Gaza. The most significant assault was carried out at the Hamas government building in the center of Gaza, where Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's bureau is located.
Since Friday at 6 P.M., the IDF attacked 200 targets in the Gaza Strip, including some 120 underground rocket launch sites and 20 smuggling tunnels in Rafah. Ammunition stockpiles were also targeted during the night assaults. The IDF also says it hit several high-ranking Hamas officials.
Twelve Palestinians were killed overnight in the attacks. Several civilians were reported wounded.
A high-ranking source in the IDF says that despite the talk concerning a cease fire, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered to prepare for a ground invasion (Gili Cohen)
9:15 A.M. IDF strikes Gaza squad preparing to launch rockets at Be'er Sheva (Gili Cohen)
9:08 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts Gaza rocket over Ashdod (Yanir Yagna)
8:40 A.M. Rocket explodes in the yard of a house near Ashdod, no reports of casualties. Second rocket explodes in open area (Yanir Yagna)
8:09 A.M. Rocket explodes in Bnei Shimon Regional Council. No casualties or damage reported (Yanir Yagna)
7:48 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts two rockets fired from Gaza toward Be'er Sheva and Ofaqim; five rockets explode in Eshkol Regional Council, one in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council (Yanir Yagna)
7:33 A.M. Israel Air Forces strike in Khan Younis kills Palestinian. 25 Palestinians wounded in aerial assault on a house of a top Hamas military official near Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Other strikes targeted Gaza police headquarters, government buildings, smuggling tunnels and a mosque in Rafah (Avi Issacharoff)
7:28 A.M. Deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, says initial attempts are made to bring a temporary cease fire between Israel and Hamas. Abu Marzouk, who is currently in Cairo and is considered a key negotiator for Hamas, adds that such the sides are still far from reaching such agreement.
7:13 A.M. After a relatively quiet night, sirens sound in Ashkelon area, Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council. No reports of casualties or damage (Haaretz)
6:15 A.M. Anonymous activists launch an attack on Israeli websites, defacing and disabling many of them, including the political party Kadima's website. Activists claim they have wiped databases of the Foreign Ministry and Bank of Jerusalem clean. (Haaretz)
6:00 A.M. IDF reports it has targeted 85 more terror sites in the Gaza Strip over the past six hours. (Haaretz)
6:00 A.M. Israel Air Force strikes the office building of Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The IDF says the bureau was also used as Hamas' headquarters. Three days ago the IDF bombed a generator near Haniya's house in Gaza (Gili Cohen)
4:00 A.M. Red Alert siren goes off in Ashkelon. (Army Radio)
1:55 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the situation in Israel and Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, during which he reiterated U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself. (Reuters)