IDF strikes houses of senior Hamas officials
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Israeli missile strikes hit the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Photo by AP
The flyers distributed by Israeli aircraft over Gaza City, calling for residents to evacuate. Wednes
The flyers distributed by Israeli aircraft over Gaza City, calling for residents to evacuate. Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

Hamas fire resumed early Wednesday morning, after a relatively quiet night in Israel's south. Since the operation began nine days ago, Israel has launched more than 1,825 air strikes in Gaza, killing 214 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,100. Gaza hospitals are reporting a dire shortage of medicine and equipment, particularly for trauma injuries.

Meanwhile, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have fired more than 1,215 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, reaching the length and breadth of the country, killing one Israeli and sending millions into bomb shelters. Of those missiles, 38 have exploded in built-up spaces and 231 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Reuters)

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Latest updates:

11:20 P.M. Palestinian internal security forces are preventing a group of some 200 Palestinian demonstrators from marching on the settlement of Beit El in support of the people of Gaza. (Amira Hass)

10:55 P.M. Rocket falls in open ground outside a settlement in Eshkol. No injuries or damage reported. (Shirley Seidler)

10:48 P.M. The IDF Spokesperson said that the humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza will take place between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. local time on Thursday. "Any attempt to take advantage of the cease-fire will be retaliated," he said.

10:39 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Eshkol Regional Council.

10:37 P.M. Mortar shell explodes in an open field outside a town in the Eshkol Regional Council, no one was injured and no damage was caused. Iron Dome intercepted five rockets over Ashdod (Shirly Seidler and Gili Cohen)

9:43 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts three rockets over Kiriyat Malachi. Two rockets explode in an open field in the region.

9:36 P.M. Sirens sound in Ashkelon and Ashdod areas. 

9:27 P.M. Israel agreed to the request of Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to hold a cease-fire for several hours in order to allow humanitarian aid to Gaza. The UN had appealed to Israel to halt its strikes in Gaza for six hours in order to allow in humanitarian aid. (Gili Cohen)

9:24 P.M. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: "The IDF's activity is systematic and its objective is to hit the Hamas in such way that its leaders will notice the level of destruction that we have brought on them and will understand that it was a mistake to attack the State of Israel."

9:20 P.M. IDF has launched an initial investigation into the incident in which four Palestinian children were killed in an Israeli bombing on Wednesday afternoon on a Gaza beach. Senior IDF officials told Haaretz that based on initial findings, it appears as though the children were killed by an air strike which targeted Hamas militants. The official said that the possibility that there was misinformation or that the strikes missed their target is being investigated. (Amos Harel)

9:17 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Ashdod area. (Gili Cohen)

8:37 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts four rockets over Ashkelon. A rocket exploded at a school in Ashdod, no casualties reported. (Gili Cohen and and Yaniv Kubovich)

8:27 P.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas political official Moussa Abu Marzouk on Wednesday in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian initiative that has so far failed to halt more than a week of warfare in Gaza. (Jack Khoury)

8:16 P.M. According to Palestinian witnesses, the four boys that were killed in Gaza were playing on the beach when two bombs, likely coming from the sea, exploded on the ground. After the first bombing, the witnesses said that the boys started running away, but they were hit in the second bombing. (Gili Cohen)

8:17 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Ashdod and Ashkelon areas.

8:13 P.M. The Israel Navy is preparing for the possibility of rocket fire targeting drilling rigs off the Gaza coast during Operation Protective Edge. According to a senior navy official, navy ships active in Israel’s southern waters are currently working under “missile defense” orders.

One of the Israel Navy’s duties throughout the operation has been defending the oil rigs while participating in the attacks on targets in the Gaza Strip (according to navy officials, ships have attacked 14 targets in Gaza), and the elite naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, has been engaged in activities as well. Last week, Shayetet 13 commandoes attacked a long-range rocket launching site set up next to the sea, near Sudanya. According to an army official, this rocket launcher fired missiles at northern Israel, Haifa, Herzliya and Tel Aviv. The operation’s objective, according to the navy, was “to disrupt Hamas’s rocket-fire infrastructure in the area.”

7:54 P.M. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said Wednesday in press conference that Hamas feels "alone in the field" with little support from the Arab world.
He said that Hamas will not accept any cease-fire agreement that does not meet the demands the organization had outlined. He called on the international community to intervene in the conflict and on UN chief Ban Ki-moon to denounce the killing of four boys on a Gaza beach earlier Wednesday. (Jack Khoury)

7:30 P.M. Over the last four hours four rockets exploded outside towns in the Eshkol Regional Council; 39 rockets and mortar shells since midnight last night. (Shirly Seidler)

7:18 P.M. Government approves call up of additional 8,000 reserve soldiers.

7:14 P.M. China sends a special envoy, Wu Sike, to mediate in the Israel-Gaza conflict, the South China Morning Post reported.

7:02 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Ashkelon, six other rockets explode in open fields in the area. (Gili Cohen)

6:40 P.M. According to Palestinian sources the number of casualties from Israel's operation in Gaza reaches 214. (Jack Khoury)

6:39 P.M. IDF says it is probing the reported killing of four Palestinian children on a Gaza beach. (Gili Cohen)

6:38 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Eshkol Regional Council.

6:33 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon area and the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

6:18 P.M. Government holding a telephone vote to approve call up of additional 8,000 reserve soldiers. (Jonathan Lis and Amos Harel)

6:02 P.M. Hamas has officially told Egypt that it rejects an Egyptian-proposed Gaza ceasefire, a spokesman for the Islamist group said on Wednesday.

"The outcome of discussions within the internal institutions of the movement was to reject the proposal and therefore, Hamas informed Egypt last night it apologises for not accepting it," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Hamas's armed wing had already spurned the Egyptian plan on Tuesday.

Hamas officials told Haaretz that despite the resistance to accepting a deal due to Egypt's and Mahmoud Abbas's handling of the negotiations, Hamas will be willing to discuss any better offer that may come. (Jack Khoury and Reuters)

6:10 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Eshkol Regional Council.

5:37 P.M. Rocket explodes in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)

5:22 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over Netivot. (Shirly Seidler and Gili Cohen)

5:17 P.M. Four Palestinian children were killed on a Gaza beach by a shell fired by an Israeli naval gunboat, Palestinian medical officials said.

The four boys, who were cousins and ages 9 to 11, were killed while playing on a beach off a coastal road west of Gaza City, said Ashraf Al Kedra, a Palestinian doctor. Seven others — adults and children — were wounded in the strike, which Palestinian human rights activist Khaki Au Shamalla came from an Israeli naval vessel operating offshore. (Reuters and AP) 

5:14 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Netivot and the Sdot Negev Regional Council.

5:08 P.M. Four rockets explode in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council. Fire breaks out near Ashkelon due to rocket explosion. (Shirli Seidler)

4:50 P.M. Rocket hits a packing house in a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council. No one was hurt but there was serious damage and a fire broke out. (Shirli Seidler)

4:47 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking before a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Federica Mogherini, says: "Israel accepted the ceasefire, Hamas rejected it. We held our fire for six hours, and during that time Hamas continue to barrage our cities with rockets. Hamas thus shut the door to a diplomatic solution and it therefore bears the sole responsibility for the continuation of the violence. It’s responsible for the civilian deaths, the innocent deaths of Palestinians that it uses as human shields, and it’s responsible for the deaths of Israeli civilians and the terror rocketing of Israeli civilians."

4:31 P.M. Two rockets explode in open fields in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. (Shirli Seidler)

4:28 P.M. IDF spokesman issues a statement saying that since the morning 60 sites were attacked throughout the Gaza Strip. According to the statement these sites included firing sites, tunnels, centers of terrorist activity and Hamas organizational infrastructure.

4:22 P.M. Facebook removes Hamas military wing's Hebrew Facebook page, following user complaints. (Haaretz)

4:13 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Benei Shimon Regional Council.

4:02 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon and the Eshkol Regional Council.

3:50 P.M. Four rockets explode in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirli Seidler)

2:47 P.M. Rocket alerts sound across Gaza-bordering regions; several rockets and mortar shells land in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)

2:25 P.M. Rocket hits residential yard in Ashkelon, causing major damage. Several people treated for shock, but no injuries reported. (Shirley Seidler)

Seven rockets explode in the Dimona region; damage done to structures in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the area.

Most of the Bedouin villages in the Negev lack missile alert systems or shelters of any sort. The IDF have conceded that the Bedouin population is underserved in this respect, but stress that they are working to remedy the problem. (Gili Cohen, Shirley Seidler)

1:39 P.M. Rocket alerts sound at Dimona, Yeruham, Arad, and Wadi Ara regions (Haaretz)

1:25 P.M. Rocket alert sounds across Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza-border regions (Haaretz)

12:46 P.M. Six rockets hit in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, one within limits of town; Iron Dome intercepts six missiles shot toward Be'er Sheva.

IDF spokesman says IAF has bombed rocket launcher situated 300 meters from Wafa Hospital, in the northern Gaza Strip. The hospital was damaged by shrapnel. An advance warning was given before the strike was carried out. (Gili Cohen)

12:15 P.M. Sirens sound in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council

11:57 A.M. Three killed in strike on vehicle in Khan Younis neighborhood of Bnei Sohila. IDF and Shin Bet security services say the three were terrorist operatives, while Palestinians say they were civilians.

11:56 A.M. Siren sounds in Eshkol Regional Council.

11:43 A.M. IDF forces are carrying out artillery fire on the area of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip. IDF sources say the action is "an attempt to encourage the population's evacuation." Meanwhile, the Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza has called on the Strip's residents who live near the Israeli border not to heed Israeli calls made earlier Wednesday to evacuate homes, saying the warnings and the audio messages broadcast by Israel "are messages aimed at sowing chaos and confusion among the public. There is no place to respond positively to them.'' (Jack Khouri)

11:40 A.M. The IDF has served notices of demolition to residents of the houses belonging to the Hamas operatives suspected of the murder of the three Israeli boys kidnapped on June 12. (Gili Cohen)

11:31 A.M. IDF has carried out 75 strikes in the Gaza Strip since midnight, raising the number of IDF strikes since the beginning of the operation to 1,825.

Israeli missile strikes hit the northern Gaza Strip, July 16, 2014. (AP)

Seventeen rockets have hit Israel since last night, and 10 have been intercepted, the IDF says. (Gili Cohen)

11:02 A.M. Funeral of Dror Khenin, the Israeli civilian who died yesterday from wounds he sustained in a mortar attack near the Gaza border, will be held at 4:30 P.M. today at the Yehud cemetery (Chaim Levinson)

10:25 A.M. Education Minister Shai Piron visited Maram Alwakili, 11, the Bedouin girl who was wounded Monday when a rocket hit her home in the area south of Lakiya. He met with her family and offered words of support.

Dr. Tzachi Lazar of the pediatric emergency ward described an improvement in the girl's condition. "She has woken up, and is communicating with her surroundings, and breathing on her own. Keep in mind the severity of her wound, a shard of shrapnel had entered interior abdominal organs." (Yarden Skop)

10:20 A.M. Seven rockets and mortar shells land in open areas within Eshkol Regional Council; rocket alerts sounded (Haaretz)

9:42 A.M. Hamas claims responsibility for rocket barrage targeting Tel Aviv area (Gili Cohen)

9:30 A.M. Entire rocket salvo fired at the Tel Aviv metro area intercepted by Iron Dome battery. Several people are being treated for shock, but no injuries have been reported. (Gili Cohen)

An Iron Dome battery in Ashdod. July 15, 2014. (AFP)

9:20 A.M. Rocket alerts sound across the wider Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Ashdod and Coastal Plains regions (Haaretz)

8:51 A.M. Israeli woman lightly wounded by rocket shrapnel, after rocket strikes town on in Be'er Tuvia Regional Council (Shirley Seidler)

8:47 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts rocket over Kiryat Malakhi. Four rockets hit open areas in region (Gili Cohen)

8:26 A.M. Sources in the IDF say they are preparing to increase airstrikes on the Gaza neighborhood of Shuja'iyya. The UN's UNRWA refugee agency has announced that 21 schools will be receiving evacuees. At this hour, no major movement out of the neighborhood is being felt (Jack Khouri, Gili Cohen)

Palestinians sleep at the yard of a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia early on July 16, 2014, after evacuating their houses near the border with Israel (AFP)

Late on Tuesday night, the IDF used recorded telephone messages and printed fliers and to warn on over 100,000 residents of two Gaza neighborhoods, Zeitoun in the south and Shuja'iyya in the east, to evacuate their homes.

8:02 A.M. Rocket salvo targets Ashdod, Ashkelon areas; alerts sounded. Six rockets intercepted over Ashkelon area; two land in open areas (Haaretz)

7:40 A.M. Rocket alerts sound across Ashkelon area. (Haaretz)

7:38 A.M. The number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of Operation Protective edge has risen to 202, the Palestinian health ministry says. (Jack Khouri)

7:10 A.M. The IDF confirms that Israeli aircraft struck the house of top Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar. In addition, the IDF spokesperson said, the IAF also carried out strikes on 24 other targets within the Strip, among them eight missile launchers and two missile-fabrication sites. (Gili Cohen)

Veteran Hamas strategist Mahmoud Al-Zahar at his house in Gaza City April 29, 2014. (Reuters)

7:25 A.M. Rocket alert sounds in Eshkol Regional Council (Haaretz)

4:00 A.M. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reports that Israeli air strikes in Gaza targeted several homes belonging to senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials early on Wednesday, including Islamic Jihad leader Abdullah al-Harazin, former Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, Hamas lawmaker Ismail al-Ashqar, and senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar. The report cites an eye witness as saying that three IAF missiles were fired on the latter's home. (Jack Khoury)

2:55 A.M. The Israel Air Force strikes targets in Gaza. (Gili Cohen)

1:40 A.M. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reports that an Israeli air strike in Rafah has killed two and wounded four.

Palestinian boys stand at site of the el-Zatmah family home which was damaged by an overnight Israeli missile that struck and destroyed a nearby transition center for newly released convicts. July 15, 2014. (AP)

12:40 A.M. The Israeli security cabinet's meeting over Egypt's cease-fire proposal concludes. (Barak Ravid)

12:08 A.M. The Israeli man killed in a mortar shell explosion near the Erez Crossing is identified as Dror Khenin, 37, a resident of Beit Aryeh. He worked as a manager in construction and was a volunteer firefighter. He is survived by his wife and three children. (Chaim Levinson)

For Tuesday's live updates, click here.