LIVE UPDATES: Operation Protective Edge, day 13
Obama to Netanyahu: U.S. seeks immediate cease-fire; IDF death toll rises to 18; Kerry: Israel has right to defend itself; 50 Palestinians killed in Shuja'iyya, Gaza death toll rises to 436; IDF troops uncover 40 tunnels in Gaza, 14 of them whole.
Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday in battle in the Gaza Strip, bringing to 18 the number of Israeli fatalities over the course of the operation, not including two civilians who died in rocket attacks. Eight soldiers have been wounded. At least 130 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its ground incursion last week, raising the death toll in Gaza to 350 since the beginning of the operation 13 days ago, including at least 76 children and 36 women.
The Israel Defense Forces uncovered at least 40 tunnels in Gaza territory over the weekend and arrested 13 Hamas militants, who have been brought to Israel for interrogation. A senior IDF officer said over the weekend the vast majority of the tunnels that Israeli troops are currently trying to locate and neutralize have already been attacked from the air. The goal for the troops on the ground, he said, is to ensure the tunnels cannot be made operational again in the near future.
Diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire have failed to produce a breakthrough, despite initials signs of progress over the weekend. Israeli, Palestinian and American officials that there are signs that the Egyptian cease-fire proposal – rejected last week by Hamas – is back on the table, since it has widespread international support and the backing of the Arab League.
SUBSCRIBE TO HAARETZ AND GET FULL COVERAGE
3:38 A.M. Sirens sound in Sderot.
3:36 A.M. UN Security Council meeting on Gaza crisis begins in New York.
2:27 A.M. Sirens sounded in Sderot and the Shaar Hanegev regional council.
1:30 A.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is meant to meet in the coming hours with Hamas political head Khaled Meshal, according to Osama Khamdan, the Doha-based Hamas head of foreign ties. He said the two would focus on reaching a coordinated position on the terms for a cease-fire. (Jack Khoury)
1:28 A.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will leave Washington early Monday morning en route to Cairo and Jerusalem in an attempt to broker a cease-fire.
In a statement Sunday evening, state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. and its international partners were "deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life."
00:57 A.M. Sirens sounded in Kiryat Gat, Ashkelon, the Bnei Shimon regional council and the Beer Sheva region.
00:41 A.M. The United Nations will hold an emergency session on the Gaza situation on Sunday night, Reuters reports.
00:02 A.M. Three rockets explode in open areas in Sderot. No injusries or damage reported. (Shirley Seidler)
11:54 P.M. The Israel Defense Forces has released the names of five of the Golani Brigade soldiers killed on Thursday. They are: Major Tsafrir Bar-Or,32, from Holon, Captain Zvika Kaplan, 28, from Meirav, Sergeant Oz Mendelovich,21, from Atzmon, Sergeant Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, from Raanana and Sergeant Gilad Yaakobi, 21, from Kiryat Ono.
11:23 P.M. The Hamas' armed wing says it has captured an Israeli soldier during fighting in the Gaza Strip. Speaking on a Hamas television station, spokesman Abu Ubaida said "we have captured a Zionist soldier and the occupation has not admitted that."
IDF sources said that the Hamas claim sounded dubious and the chances that Hamas was holding an IDF soldier were slim (Amos Harel.)
10:07 P.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calls on UN Security Council to hold an emergency session over the "massacre in Shujaiyeh." (Barak Ravid)
9:44 P.M. IDF Spokesperson's Unit says 86 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel on Sunday, 16 of which were intercepted by Iron Dome. (Gili Cohen)
9:37 P.M. In Gaza Strip, 81,000 displaced people had now taken refuge in 61 UNRWA shelters, UN Relief and Works Agency says. (Reuters)
9:25 P.M. U.S. President Barack Obama tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday afternoon that the U.S. seeks "an immediate cessation of hostilities" between Israel and Hamas, based on the cease-fire agreement implemented in November 2012 after Operation Pillar of Defense. (Barak Ravid)
9:04 P.M. Palestinians report at least 100 killed in IDF bombings across the Gaza Strip, at least 60 of which in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood. The Palestinian death toll since the Israeli operation began rises to at least 436. (Jack Khoury)
8:36 P.M. Senior IDF officers criticize use of aging M113 armored personnel carrier, built in 1960s, which was apparently hit by RPG rockets in incident which killed seven Golani Brigade soldiers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. (Amos Harel)
8:25 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in an address aired on Israeli TV that the operation will be extended as necessary. Netanyahu says that after Israel accepted three cease-fire offers, it now has international backing for the ground operation in the Gaza Strip.
"It can't be claimed that Israel chose the escalation. Hamas is paying the price for its aggression. We regret any harm to innocent parties, but Hamas is to blame," Netanyahu says.
Netanyahu discussed Sunday's IDF casualties: "The entire nation mourns with the families of the fallen. We lower our heads for our sons, who have fallen so that we could continue to live here, in our land. I wish to convey in the name of the Israeli government the deep pain we feel. We send our condolences to the parents, the children, the spouses, the families of IDF soldiers who have fallen in combat for the defense of the State of Israel. There is no war more just than the one in which your sons, our sons, have bravely fallen. We'll restore calm across the country."
8:10 P.M. Two of the 13 soldiers killed on Sunday in the Gaza Strip are U.S. citizens, IDF confirms. (Haaretz)
7:45 P.M. Palestinian report: Eight killed in IDF attack on western Gaza City. (Haaretz)
7:30 P.M. The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 405 Palestinians have been killed and 2,600 wounded since the Israeli operation began on July 8. (Reuters)
7:08 P.M. Israeli army forces uncover six tunnels in the Gaza Strip, three of which leading into Israeli territory, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated. According to the IDF data, since the ground incursion into the Strip began the IDF struck over 110 militants, bombed 1,032 targets, 341 of which since Sunday morning. (Gili Cohen)
6:54 P.M. IDF Chief Benny Gantz says combat is some of the areas in Gaza is difficult and complex, but forces are determined to accomplish the mission. "There are casualties in a fight, but we have a mission," Gantz said Sunday in a press conference on the Gaza border.
Gantz said that despite the operation's complexity, he is certain of its success. "Overall I'm very pleased with what I've been seeing," Gantz said. "We'll continue to act until we achieve the totality of our aims."
Regarding civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, Gantz said: Resident of [the Gaza neighborhood of] Shujaiyeh should know that they are victims of Hamas setting up in their areas. I regret citizens being hurt. It hurts me to see wounded children and wounded women." (Haaretz)
6:24 P.M. 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday night and early Sunday in several incidents across the Gaza Strip, bringing to a total 18 troop fatalities in less than two days. According to the IDF, all the soldiers were from the Golani Brigade. (Gili Cohen)
5:52 P.M. The head of the Cairo-based Arab League, Nabil el-Araby, described Israeli attacks on Gaza that killed at least 60 Palestinians on Sunday as a "war crime".
"El-Araby (...) considered Israel's terrible shelling and ground attack operations in the neighborhood of Shujaiyeh as a war crime against Palestinian civilians and a dangerous escalation," the Arab League says in a statement. (Reuters)
5:30 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket above Be'er Sheva. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in the area, and in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
5:21 P.M. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 89 Palestinians were killed today in the Gaza Strip, 60 of which in the Shuja'iyya neighborhood. (Jack Khoury)
5:15 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was caught on open mic speaking to one of his advisors on Sunday, saying sarcastically "It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," referring to Israel's operation in Gaza.
"We've got to get over there," he said. "We ought to go tonight. I think it's crazy to be sitting around." (Barak Ravid)
5:12 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts four rockets above Netivot, and another rocket above Ashkelon. Five other rockets exploded in open areas, one in the Ashkelon area and four in the Be'er Sheva area. Rocket sirens were sounded in Be'er Sheva, Netivot, and in the Sha'ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev, and Bnei Shimon regional councils. (Shirly Seidler)
5:10 P.M. IDF extends humanitarian cease-fire until 5:30 P.M. Military sources say that so far, the cease-fire has been kept on both sides. (Gili Cohen)
4:46 P.M. Hundreds of Palestinians march in Ramallah and Jenin in protest of the Israeli military operation in Gaza. Protesters call on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to turn to the UN and to the International Criminal Court and charge Israel for war crimes. Protesters also call on the Arab world to immediately intervene. (Jack Khoury)
4:30 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in an interview with CNN that Israel has no plans to occupy Gaza, but that the operation would continue until quiet was restored to the citizens of Israel.
"Nobody wants to go to excessive military lengths," he said. "But what is happening here is excessive." Asked how long it will take to complete the mission to destroy the tunnels inside the Gaza Strip, some of which said to lead into Israeli territory, Netanyahu answered that the mission is progressing "fairly quickly."
Regarding the civilian casualties in Gaza, Netanyahu says that Israel targets military sites, but that sometimes civilians are hurt, to Israel's regret. "We don't have any battle with the Palestinians in Gaza. Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields," Netanyahu says. (Haaretz, Reuters)
4:15 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to arrive in the Middle East on Monday to promote efforts for a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza. Kerry is slated to land in Cairo, and head for Israel on Tuesday.
In an interview for NBC's "Meet the Press," Kerry says Israel "has every right in the world to defend itself" from attacks by Hamas militants in Gaza, but the U.S. is working diligently to get an immediate cease-fire in place.
Kerry says Israel long has endured rocket attack by Hamas, and no nation "would sit there while rockets are bombarding it."
Kerry also cites tunnels constructed by Hamas in what he says is "an obvious effort" to try to kidnap Israelis.
Kerry tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that it's "unacceptable by any standard anywhere in the world" and that Israel must protect its citizens.
3:55 P.M. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says during a tour of the south with Rwanda's foreign minister that "we'll create the greatest diplomatic credit we can, to enable the IDF to pursue the mission." (Yaniv Kubovich)
3:30 P.M. The IDF will extend the cease-fire in the Shuja'iyya neighborhood in Gaza, set to expire at 3:30 P.M., by another hour until 4:30 P.M., the IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated.
Israeli soldiers fired at two militants seen emerging from a tunnel shaft in the south of the Strip. According to the IDF, the militants were hit, and there were no Israeli casualties.
Two mortar shells explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council (Gili Cohen, Shirly Seidler)
3:08 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convene security cabinet at 9 P.M. to discuss expanding operation in Gaza. (Barak Ravid)
2:40 P.M. Pope Francis on Sunday called for an end to the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, and expressed solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. (DPA)
2:30 P.M. Fighting resumed in the Gaza neighborhood of Shuja'iyya less than an hour after a "humanitarian cease-fire" was agreed to allow the evacuation of wounded from the area.
The IDF said its forces were shot at shortly after the two-hour truce, facilitated by the Red Cross, had begun at 1:30 P.M., and that it had resumed combat operations. Hamas had no immediate comment on Israeli allegations it had breached the cease-fire. (Reuters and Gili Cohen)
2:19 P.M. Local Gaza rescue services have evacuated 50 Palestinian bodies from the Shuja'iyya neighborhood east of Gaza City. The Gaza Health Ministry says that the dead included 17 children and 14 women, and that hundreds more wounded were beings treated. The Rafah crossing has been opened for humanitarian emergencies only. (Jack Khoury)
1:46 P.M. IDF says 140 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza neighborhood of Shuja'iyya since start of Israel's operation. (Gili Cohen)
1:39 P.M. Two rockets hit open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. Another rocket explodes in an open area in Sdot Negev. (Shirley Seidler)
Due to the security situation, incoming president Reuven Rivlin's swear-in ceremony on Thursday will be smaller than planned. (Jonathan Lis)
1:30 P.M. Israel has agreed to allow a two-hour humanitarian truce in the Shuja'iyya neighborhood near Gaza City, at the request of the Red Cross. The cease-fire will begin at 1:30 P.M. and last until 3:30 P.M. (Haaretz)
12:45 P.M. The IDF announces it will set up a field hospital near the Erez Crossing to treat wounded Palestinians. (Gili Cohen)
12:34 P.M. The High Court of Justice rejects a petition demanding the state to place shelters in Bedouin villages. (Ravital Hovel)
12:26 P.M. Commissioner Yohanan Danino says the police will not allow for rallies to be held without a proper permit. "We will show zero tolerance for incitement and violence toward officers," he adds. (Yaniv Kubovich)
12:16 P.M. Four rockets explode in open areas in Be'er Sheva. Four others hit open areas in the Eshkol and Sha'ar Hanegev regional councils. (Shirley Seidler)
12:01 P.M. Rocket sirens sound across Be'er Sheva region and in Gaza vicinity communities.
11:37 A.M. Israeli officials confirm that the Red Cross has requested a three-hour humanitarian cease-fire, agreed to by Hamas, following reports of dozens of Palestinian fatalities overnight. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claims Israel has refused the request, but there has been no official Israel response as of yet. Nonetheless, it appears that Israel will in fact reject. (Gili Cohen)
11:36 A.M. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit announces that the funeral of Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav is to take place at 5 P.M. in Tivon on Sunday, while Sergeant Bnaya Rubel is to be laid to rest at 7 P.M. in Holon. The funeral of Major Amotz Greenberg (res.) is to take place at 5 P.M. in Hod Hasharon. The three were killed in Gaza on Saturday. (Gili Cohen)
11:34 A.M. Twelve soldiers are hospitalized in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Four were brought in by helicopter: two in serious condition, one in moderate-to-serious condition and one in moderate condition.
Two soldiers are treated in Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem for light wounds.
The Ministry of Health added Sheba and Beilinson hospitals as designated centers for the evacuation of wounded and raised alert levels accordingly. These join Soroka and Barzilai hospitals which were on high alert from the start of the Gaza operation. (Ido Efrati)
11:23 A.M. The Israel Defense Forces says 130 Palestinians, more than 110 of them militants. Some 800 Palestinians have been wounded since the IDF began its ground operation in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to army records. The army has found 26 tunnel entrances, among them 14 full tunnel. The Israeli forces are currently operation to bomb some of these tunnels. (Gili Cohen)
11:11 A.M. Eleven soldiers are hospitalized in the Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva: one in serious condition, five in moderate condition and the rest lightly wounded. Three are being treated for injuries sustained in Saturday's rocket explosion near Dimona: A baby in serious condition, as well as a child and a woman who were lightly hurt. (Ido Efrati)
11:10 A.M. Fire breaks out in home in central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion, possibly as a result of rocket shrapnel. (Yaniv Kubovich)
10:59 A.M. IDF confirms at least one rocket was intercepted in latest barrage over central Israel. (Gili Cohen)
10:58 A.M. Forty-three people wounded as result of the Gaza operation have been treated in the past 24 hours in Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Currently, 17 are hospitalized, 13 of them soldiers. (Ido Efrati)
10:47 A.M. Rocket siren sounds in central Israeli cities of Rehovot, Rishon Letzion and Nes Tziona. (Haaretz)
10:41 A.M. Two soldiers lightly wounded in Gaza, evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem. (Ido Efrati)
10:34 A.M. Health Ministry raises alert at Hadassah and Beilinson hospitals, designates them centers for evacuated wounded (Ido Efrati)
10:13 A.M. Backstreet Boys cancel their scheduled shows in Israel due to the security situation, will appear in spring 2015. (Ben Shalev)
10:12 A.M. Barrage of rockets fired toward Israeli towns near Gaza border.
9:55 A.M. Golani Brigade Commander Ghassan Alian sustains light to moderate wounds in Gaza early on Sunday.
9:50 A.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting Sunday with Hamas' political chief Khaled Meshal in Qatar. after a visit to Bahrain and to Turkey over the weekend. Associates of Abbas said that the goal of the meeting is to reach an agreement on the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, while Qatar is proposing an international conference for a ceasefire and for raising funds for construction in Gaza. (Jack Khoury)
9:46 A.M. The IDF confirms that the Iron Dome has intercepted a rocket over the Tel Aviv region.
9:40 A.M. Rocket fragments are found in Tel Aviv region. (Gili Cohen)
Rocket explodes between two homes in Ashkelon. (Yaniv Kubovich)
Israel's emergency services have treated 400 people, 283 of them suffering from shock, since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8. (Ido Efrati)
9:15 A.M. According to Palestinian reports, the death toll in the Israeli shelling on the Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja'iyya on Sunday has reached 20. Dozens have been wounded; emergency services are having trouble reaching the shelled area due to continued Israeli strikes.
According to the report, those killed include the son of Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya, the son's wife and their two children.
The latest strikes bring the death count in the Israeli operation in Gaza to 350. (Jack Khoury)
9:11 A.M. Seventeen wounded Israeli soldiers were hospitalized at the Barzilai Medical Center overnight. Nine have since been released. (Ido Efrati)
9:09 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Saturday lambasted his Turkish counterpart, Tayyep Recep Erdogan, over the latter's "anti-Semitic" remarks, in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Netanyahu told Kerry that Erdogan's recent remarks, accusing Israel of massacring Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and carrying out war crimes worse than those if Hitler and the Nazis, were anti-Semitic and desecrated the memory of the Holocaust.
Kerry's spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday called Erdogan's statements "offensive and wrong," adding that "of course, this kind of provocative rhetoric is unhelpful and distracts from urgent efforts to bring about a cease-fire."
Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gul added Sunday: "Not only Mr. Erdogan, but all of us, the Turkish people condemned Israel’s attacks." Read the full article
9:00 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in central Israel and Sharon Plain, including Herzliya and Ra'anana. Moments before, sirens sounded in Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva.
8:40 A.M. A rocket explodes in an open area in the Sdot Negev council, bringing the number of launches from Gaza – including both rocket and mortar shells – to 15, in areas near towns. No injuries or damages have been reported. (Shirly Seidler)
8:30 A.M. At least 10 Palestinians were killed on Sunday morning in heavy Israeli shelling on homes in Gaza City's east, in the neighborhood of Shuja'iyya. Some 70 wounded were brought to Gaza's Shifa Hospital. Officials in Gaza fear that the number of casualties will rise since rescue forces cannot access the area due to continued Israeli strikes. The media report destruction of major scope. (Amira Hass)
8:20 A.M. The IDF expands its ground operation in Gaza overnight, sending troops deeper into the Strip. The Palestinians report intensive fighting. (Amos Harel)
A senior Israeli officer says that troops deployed in Gaza "are making great efforts to destroy tunnels, and most of the friction has stemmed from this mission."
According to the IDF, another tunnel was uncovered on Sunday morning, bringing the total to 14 since Israel launched its ground incursion.
The officer says soldiers have discovered anesthetics, explosives, several RPG missiles, and other weapons in the tunnels. One tunnel in the Gaza Strip's north was destroyed ahead of Operation Protective Edge's launch. Additional tunnels are to be bombed in the coming hours.
The officer adds that the military is deploying additional units in the south in preparation for the possibility that the operation is expanded. (Gili Cohen)
7:26 A.M. Hamas says it has ambushed an Israeli tank and armored personnel carrier near Gaza City, and has attacked it with antitank missiles and explosives. According to the report, militants also fired on another Israeli armored vehicle and a ground patrol unit in two separate incidents. (Gili Cohen)
6:09 A.M. An Israeli airstrike on the home of Hamas movement leader Khalil al-Hayyah killed three members of his family and a neighbour in eastern Gaza city on Sunday, medics said.
Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said al-Hayyah's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were killed and his wife seriously wounded by the missile strike.
Witnesses said the Hamas leader was not home when the airstrike occurred. (DPA)
5:58 A.M. Gaza officials said at least 345 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed in the 13-day conflict. (Reuters)
5:24 A.M. Cleared for publication: Two more soldiers were killed in action on Saturday, bringing the total number of IDF fatalities to five since the military began its ground incursion on Thursday.
The fourth soldier to have died was Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav, a 21-year-old from Ramat Yishai who served in an engineering combat unit. He was hit when an antitank missile was fired at his "Puma" armored personnel carrier during activity in refugee camps in central Gaza. He was critically wounded and evacuated from the area, but later succumed to his wounds.
The fifth soldier, Sergeant Bnaya Rubel, a 20-year-old from Holon, was also killed in action on Saturday.
5:13 A.M. IDF has expanded ground operation in Gaza to include more ground forces, IDF spokesperson confirms. (Gili Cohen)
2:52 A.M. Rocket alarm sirens heard in Hof Ashkelon Regional and Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. (Haaretz)
2:23 A.M. Rocket alert sirens sound in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council (Haaretz)
1:17 A.M. Qatar will host a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday in attempt to reach a cease-fire agreement with Israel to bring an end to the conflict in Gaza, a senior Qatari source told Reuters.
Due to take place in Doha, the meeting will be headed by the Gulf state's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who has been acting as a "channel of communication" between Hamas and the international community, said the senior source familiar with the matter.
"Qatar has presented Hamas's requests to the international community, the list has been presented to France and to the UN, the talks tomorrow will be to further negotiate these conditions."
The senior Qatari source added that Abbas is also due to meet with Meshaal following his meeting with the United Nations chief.
"Qatar will not put any pressure on Hamas to bring reduce or change their demands, Qatar is only acting as a communication channel," the source said. (Reuters)
1:01 A.M. Rocket falls in open area in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council; no injuries. (Shirly Seidler)
12:54 A.M. Rocket explodes in an open area in Sdot Negev Regional Council; no casualties or damages. (Shirly Seidler)
11:49 P.M. Clashes continue between left-wing and right-wing activits in Haifa.
Rioters throw stones and bottles at the left-wing protesters, forcing police to use water cannons and stun grenades in an attempt to extract the left-wing demonstrators from the clashes.
Earlier, MK Mohammad Baraka of the Arab Hadash party, who was present at the demonstrations, said the protests were against fascism in Israel.
In a separate demonstration in Tel Aviv, police arrested four right-wing protesters. (Jack Khoury, Roy "Chicky" Arad, Yaniv Kubovich)
Like us on Facebook and get articles directly in your news feed