Southern Gaza Strip, August 3, 2014.
Palestinian women walk past a mosque and water tower damaged by what police said were Israeli air strikes and shelling in Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, August 3, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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Israel entered day 27 of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza on Sunday, after beginning to scale back its offensive the day before, pulling some forces out of the enclave. The army continued its attacks into the Strip overnight, striking 13 targets. At least 17 Palestinians were killed in the overnight strikes.

The IDF declared late Saturday that 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, previously thought to be captured in Gaza, had been killed in action. Goldin's death brings the number of IDF fatalities to 64.

The security cabinet has decided that Israel will no longer attempt to reach a cease-fire agreement through negotiations with Hamas and the Palestinian factions in Gaza, but is instead considering unilaterally withdrawing from the Strip and relying on restored deterrence.

In a press conference, Netanyahu said that after the tunnels in Gaza are destroyed, the IDF will continue in its mission to restore security to Israeli communities. "All the options are on the table to restore security," he said.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israeli operation has passed 1,700, including about 400 children. At least 9,000 have been wounded, the Gaza health ministry said. Rights groups have estimated that more than 10,000 houses have been destroyed in the Israeli offensive.

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Live updates [Sunday]:

11:29 P.M. Knesset members on both the right and left have criticized the security cabinet’s decision to start winding down the Gaza offensive without sealing any agreements with Hamas or the international community.

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and MK Danny Danon all attacked the decision, while Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) warned Netanyahu of a diplomatic collapse if the prime minister didn’t ignore his right-wing coalition partners. (Jonathan Lis) Read full article here

11:22 P.M. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel on Sunday of deliberately killing Palestinian mothers and warned it would "drown in the blood it sheds", pulling foreign policy to centre stage as a presidential race enters its final week.

Addressing hundreds of thousands of supporters at his biggest rally so far ahead of the August 10 election, Erdogan again likened Israel's actions to those of Hitler, comments that have already led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse him of anti-Semitism and drawn rebuke from Washington.

"Just like Hitler, who sought to establish a race free of all faults, Israel is chasing after the same target," Erdogan told the sea of cheering supporters at an Istanbul arena.

"They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won't grow up; they kill men so they can't defend their country ... They will drown in the blood they shed," he said. (Reuters) Read full story here

11:20 P.M. 108 rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel since midnight. Five landed in urban areas and eight were intercepted. IDF has attacked more than 60 targets in Gaza. (Gili Cohen)

10:34 P.M. A Military source said regarding the bombing of the UN school in Rafah that an Israeli Air Force strike targeted three Islamic Jihad militants on a motorcycle near the school. According to a preliminary investigation by the IDF, it was not evident that the damage to the school is due to the strike. The IDF intends to examine video footage from the event, based on surveillance at the area. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that "the matter is under investigation." (Gili Cohen)

10:09 P.M. Gaza Health Ministry reports eight have been killed in an Israeli Air Force strike on a residential building in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Strip, and that over 20 have been wounded, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported. According to Palestinian reports, the victims were all members of the Najam family. The bombing raises the Palestinian death toll today to 130, and the overall deatht toll since fighting began to 1803. (Jack Khoury)

9:50 P.M. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar calls for a tightening of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and says the operation's goals cannot be achieved without toppling the Hamas regime.

"The blockade on Gaza must be tightened because all raw materials hauled into the Strip are being used by the Hamas terror regime to rehabilitate its military systems, aimed to harm Israeli citizens and soldiers," Sa'ar said in a speech in Jerusalem. Minister Sa'ar is the most senior government official so far to criticize the accomplishment of the operation's goals. (Jonathan Lis) 

9:38 P.M. IDF says 88 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel between midnight and 9 P.M. Four other rockets were shot down by Iron Dome interceptor missiles. During this time, the military struck 63 sites in the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)

9:32 P.M. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz distributes memo to soldiers ahead of Tisha BeAv fast, which starts on Monday evening. According to the memo, soldiers participating in the operation will not be released from duty during the fast. However, the Military Rabbinate ruled that combat soldiers are exempt from fasting. (Gili Cohen)

8:53 P.M. U.S. State Department says in a statement that the U.S. is 'appalled' by the 'disgraceful shelling' outside UN school in Gaza, and urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also called for an investigation into recent attacks on UN schools.

"The United States is appalled by today's disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed," Psaki said in a statement. (Reuters)

8:28 P.M. Three rockets explode in Sdot Negev Regional Council, causing some damage to property. Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Ashdod. (Gili Cohen, Shirly Seidler)

8:00 P.M. The Shin Bet says Ahmed Hassan Raouf Mabhouh, nephew of Mahmoud Mabhouh who was assassinated in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, was killed in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Mabhouh was considered a prominent Hamas member, and served as an engineering and sapper officer for Hamas in Jabalya. According to the Shin Bet, Mabhouh was involved in setting up rockets and preparing complex explosives.

COGAT spokesperson says 186 trucks carrying food and water, as well as humanitarian equipment have went through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip. The trucks were carrying medicine, blood transfusions, water tanks, generators for hospitals and for water pumps, and clothing. In addition, the transfer of 71,000 liters gasoline, 180,000 liters diesel fuel and 87.8 tons of gas into the Strip has been approved.

In Erez Crossing, the entry of 24 Palestinians into Israel for medical care has been approved, and 15 wounded have been taken to Israeli hospitals. (Gili Cohen) 

7:54 P.M. Additional details revealed about Friday morning's incident, in which Lt. Hadar Goldin, Major Banaya Sarel and Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni were killed in Gaza: Contrary to initial reports, the militant who fired at the Israeli forces did not detonate an explosive belt, but several other militants open massive fire at the soldiers which wounded the three. One militant, whose body was found in the area, was wearing an IDF uniform. The defense establishment has no conclusive information as to the militants' whereabouts, and whether they're alive or not. (Gili Cohen)

7:50 P.M. The European Union is urging an end to the "bloodshed" in Gaza and calling for negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders toward a political solution as the only way to "bring lasting peace."

The leaders of the 28-nation bloc's executive branch, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Council President Herman Van Rompuy, said Sunday that the EU stands ready to support negotiations and reconstruction. (AP)

7:29 P.M. Six mortar shells explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. No damage was reported. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in the area. (Haaretz)

7:07 P.M. The Hamas' military wing states that "the rocket fire toward Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva and Kiryat Malachi is in response to the continued Israeli massacres, the last of which was the attack on the UN school in Rafah." So far, said the statement, Hamas has tried to focus on targeting the Israeli military and "avoid damage to civilians as much as possible." The statement blamed Israel for targeting Palestinian civilians even after it was "defeated."

It was also stated that "Israel will cause that all Zionist cities will from now on be a target for Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades… The enemy will not enjoy quiet, stability and security until all the Palestinian people's justified demands." (Jack Khoury)

7:03 P.M. Sirens sound in the southern Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)

6:53 P.M. Six mortar shells fall in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council; a house in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council damaged by rocket shrapnel. (Shirley Seidler)

6:25 P.M. Call for residents of towns in Zikim to stay indoors canceled. Announcement made due to fears, now refuted, of suspected security-related incident. (Shirly Seidler, Gili Cohen)

6:21 P.M. A senior IDF officer says that "Operation Protective Edge, contrary to previous operations, may bring about a basic change in the situation." According to him, the IDF will complete its mission in the coming hours. "The security situation in the Gaza vicinity will be much better in following days," he said, adding the severe blow dealt to Hamas has the potential for a significant change.

However, the IDF estimates that more tunnels will be dug reaching into Israel. According to an Army Intelligence officer, Hamas suffered significant damage, and "the Gaza Strip starts its reconstruction at a much lower point than Lebanon in 2006." (Gili Cohen) 

6:13 P.M. UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls attack on UN school on Sunday a "moral outrage and a criminal act," and called for those responsible for the "gross violation of international humanitarian law" to be held accountable.

In a statement, Ban strongly condemned the shelling of the school in Rafah in southern Gaza that killed at least 10 civilians. The school was sheltering 3,000 displaced persons and Ban said the "Israel Defense Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites." (Reuters) 

6:07 P.M. Two Israeli civilians were lightly wounded by mortar shell shrapnel in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. Six mortar shells were fired into the area. Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Kiryat Malachi, two other rockets explode in Be'er Tuvia Regional Council. No one was wounded, but damage was caused to a truck which passed by. (Shirly Seidler, Gili Cohen)

6:03 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over Ashdod. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in the city, as well as in the Hof Ashkelon, Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional council. (Shirly Seidler)

5:53 P.M. Three rockets explode in open areas in Sdot Negev Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)

5:45 P.M. Thousands attend the funeral of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin in Kfar Saba. Entrance to the cemetery has been granted to invitees alone. The crowd, which arrived in buses organized by the municipality, is gathering outside the cemetery. (Ofer Aderet)

5:32 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Tel Aviv, additional rockets fall in open areas (Gili Cohen)

5:18 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Hof Ashkelon; another rocket falls near border fence (Shirly Seidler)

5:06 P.M. As Israel withdraws the bulk of its troops from Gaza, Haaretz analyst Barak Ravid says Netanyahu and many in his government now have a profound understanding of the difference between Abbas and Hamas. Read the full article

After the unilateral withdrawal, the next step would depend on Hamas, Haaretz analyst Amos Harel writes. Read the full article

5:00 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in greater Tel Aviv area. (Haaretz)

4:59 P.M. Palestinian sources report that Palestinian delegation in Cairo will present a list of demands in meeting with Egyptian representatives this evening, including: A ceasefire and IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip; removing the blockade over Gaza and opening fishing zones; releasing the Palestinian freed under the Shalit deal, and imprisoned again, and releasing the prisoners as discussed in the last peace talks; and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

According to reports in Cairo, a low-tier American delegation is expected to arrive in Cairo, as well as Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

At the same time, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri says the Egyptian initiative will lead to negotiations between Israel and Hamas, which will address the legitimate demands and the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians in Gaza, and will prevent military escalation in the future. In a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart in Cairo, Shukri condemned Israeli military actions, which caused an "unacceptable casualty rate." (Jack Khoury)

4:44 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked with Simcha and Lea Goldin, the parents of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin who was killed in action on Friday in the Gaza Strip. The PM said: "Hadar was a magnificent person, a great hero. I know you're going through hell, a feeling that a part of you has been taken and that you are no longer whole. It's a pain which doesn’t let go for a second. I hope you'll find consolation in that his death has served the people of Israel in our battle for independence." (Barak Ravid)

4:35 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils near Gaza border. Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Be'er Sheva, and two other rockets explode in open areas. In Sdot Negev, one rocket exploded in an open area, causing no damage. (Shirly Seidler)

3:54 P.M. Preliminary report: An escape attempt by security prisoners from the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel has been thwarted. Prison staff searched the cells and found evidence of tunnel digging in a cell occupied by eight inmates, members of Islamic Jihad, some of them serving long sentences. Neighboring cells have been evacuated and a thorough inspection is underway. The length of the tunnel and its destination are still unknown. (Yaniv Kubovich)

3:50 P.M. Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri accuses Israel of "tricking" the world by saying that 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin had been abducted, responding to the army's announcement Sunday that Goldin had fallen in battle: "Israel tricked and deceived the world when it claimed Friday that a soldier had been abducted and then admitted that he had actually been killed in battle in Rafah. It did this only in order to breach the 72-hour cease-fire agreed upon with the UN and the U.S., in order to commit massacre in Rafah." The organization called on UN Chief Ban Ki-moon and the international community to change the position it took on the matter, not that the "Zionist lies have been exposed." (Jack Khoury)

 

Video from aftermath in bombed UNRWA school

3:44 P.M. Two mortar shells explode in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip. One mortar caused some property damage. Several rockets fired at the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council fall inside the Gaza Strip. (Shirly Seidler)

3:24 P.M. Rocket explodes in open area near Sderot in southern Israel, sparking a fire. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in Sderot and in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council near the Gaza border. (Shirly Seidler)

3:10 P.M. Four rockets explode in open areas in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near the Gaza border. Another rocket explodes in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)

2:55 P.M. A Paratroopers force spotted four militants about to fire an anti-tank rocket at them from a building in the central Gaza Strip. Tanks opened fire and demolished the building. The militants are believed to have been killed. In another incident, a Givati force found a weapons stash with some 150 mortar rounds in the southern Strip, near a tunnel shaft.

Since the morning, the Israeli Air Force killed eight militants in airstrikes. According to the IDF, 40 targets have been bombed since midnight. Around noon fire was exchanged in Jabalya. An armored unit took some mortar fire, and fired back. No casualties were reported. (Gili Cohen) 

2:30 P.M. Two mortar shells explode in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council (Shirly Seidler)

2:00 P.M. The IDF has withdrawn most of its troops from Gaza on Sunday, although no official order has been issued to end Operation Protective Edge. Read full article here

The military's Southern Command is concerned over possible sniper attacks on soldiers near the enclave's border.

Israeli forces that remain in Gaza are working on destroying one more tunnel near Rafah. Other units are operating in Beit Hanun. The IDF has decided to keep some forces within Gaza to protect Israeli communities near the border. (Gili Cohen)

Photo by Reuters

1:57 P.M. At least 48 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip since midnight. The Israeli Air Force is attacking in the northern Gaza Strip. According to the IDF, 13 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza to Israeli territory so far on Sunday. (Jack Khoury, Gili Cohen)

1:25 P.M. Israel Defense Forces warns of 'security incident' in the area of Zikim near the Gaza border. Residents told to stay inside their homes. (Shirley Seidler)

1:10 P.M. Two mortar shells explode in an open area in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. A rocket hits an open area in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. No injuries reported. (Shirley Seidler)

12:53 P.M. The United Nations has warned that a health disaster of "widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding in the Gaza Strip as a direct result of the ongoing conflict."

James W. Rawley, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Gaza said: “We are now looking at a health and humanitarian disaster… the fighting must stop immediately." 

12:40 P.M. An Israeli aircraft strikes a getaway vehicle transporting militants who previously fired on Israeli troops from a home in the Gaza Strip. A direct him was identified. (Gili Cohen)

A rocket explodes in an open area in Sdot Negev Regional Council. (Shirley Seidler)

12:15 P.M. In a tweet, Defense Minister Ya'alon conveys his condolences to the families of fallen soldiers.

"[Second Lt.] Hadar Goldin is a member of my family," he writes. "I have known him since he was born. He and the fallen IDF fighters have gone to battle to restore calm and security to Israel. I hug their families." (Gili Cohen)

12:10 P.M. An IDF soldier is moderately wounded in Gaza's north, apparently by sniper fire. (Gili Cohen)   

11:38 A.M. At least 10 killed and several wounded in an Israeli strike on a United Nations school east of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics say.

A spokesman for the Palestinian health ministry says in a Facebook post that thousands of refugees displaced by the fighting were staying at the school. Hamas is urging the United Nations to intervene immediately.

The IDF is investigating the claims. (Jack Khoury and Gili Cohen)

Photo by Reuters

11:17 A.M. A delegation of the Palestinian Hamas movement and the Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo for indirect cease-fire talks with Israel, to be conducted through Egyptian and U.S. officials, Egyptian sources said.

The six-member delegation, led by Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior member of the political bureau of Hamas, arrived from Doha as members in Gaza were unable to cross the Rafah border.Other members from the strip might arrive in the coming hours, an official receiving the delegate at the Cairo airport said.

Truce talks would include Hamas' demand that Egypt ease movement across its border with blockaded Gaza. Israel said on Saturday it would not send envoys as scheduled, accusing enemy Palestinian Islamists of misleading international mediators.

10:58 A.M. A rocket explodes in an open area in Sdot Negev. (Shirley Seidler) 

10:36 A.M. Released for publication: Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was initially feared captured in Gaza but was later declared dead, is a relative of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

His funeral is to take place at 5:30 P.M. in Kfar Sava.

10:18 A.M. Mortar shell explodes near town in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirley Seidler)

10:00 A.M. Two rockets explode in open areas in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Shirley Seidler) 

9:44 A.M. Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On voices support for Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, but criticizes the decision to boycott negotiations in Cairo:

"A unilateral withdrawal without a cease-fire agreement, which would include an outline for diplomatic negotiations, is a return to Netanyahu's good old strategy: controlled military conflict, just as long as there are no peace negotiations. Instead of bolstering the moderate Palestinian forces, and operating within the framework of cease-fire talks that put pressure on Hamas and instead of internalizing that the road to a solution in Gaza passes through Ramallah, the [government is] rejecting the diplomatic process and as such, strengthening Hamas rather than weakening it. (Barak Ravid)

9:20 A.M. Palestinian medical official report that 17 were killed and more than 50 were wounded in Israeli air strikes in several parts of the Gaza Strip overnight. A strike on the home of the Abu Jazar family in Rafah killed four and wounded 10. Ten others were killed in a strike on the home of the Al-Ghol family in the city; more than 20 were wounded. Two houses were attacked in the Strip's north, in the Jabalya refugee camp, killing three and wounding 10.

Photo by Reuters

According to the health ministry in Gaza, 1,730 were killed and 9,130 were wounded since the Israeli operation in Gaza began. (Jack Khoury)

9:14 A.M. Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over Hof Ashkelon Regional Council (Shirley Seidler)

8:53 A.M. Rocket alert sounds in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. 

8:15 A.M. Four rockets explode in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council overnight; two others hit open areas in Sdot Negev Regional Council. No damage reported. (Shirley Seidler)

7:55 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Sderot and Gaza vicinity towns.

7:20 A.M. A rocket alert sounds in a town near the Gaza border.

6:58 A.M. The IDF has struck 13 targets in Gaza since midnight. Addressing the military's withdrawal of troops from the Strip, a senior officer says that a security zone within the enclave "should be maintained for defense purposes, and we are prepared to attack as well."

According to the officer, the forces are prepared for continued the operation in Gaza even after the tunnels are destroyed.

"There isn't a decision to stop," he said. "The operation continues. We will assess the situation and see where it's going… On our part, it doesn't feel like it's over. The forces are preparing to continue the operation as reality dictates."  

6:52 A.M. Unlike Staff Sgt. Oron, who was defined by the IDF as "a soldier killed in action whose burial site is unknown" after an RPG hit an armored personnel carrier he was riding in Shujaiyeh, 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin is to have a funeral. A senior IDF officer said the military decided to declare Goldin dead based on evidence found on the battlefield in Rafah, but refused to specify which findings led to the decision. (Gili Cohen)

5:38 A.M. At least seven Palestinian civilians were killed Sunday in the latest Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics say. Four Palestinians were killed in an air strike on a house in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Three others were killed in a strike on the northern refugee camp of Jabalia, where 10 were injured, according to a spokesman for the Palestinian health ministry. Among the dead, he said, was a 4-year-old girl. (DPA)

4:36 A.M. Sirens sound in two communities near the Gaza border.

4:13 A.M. Sirens sound in two communities near the Gaza border.

1:53 A.M. IDF determines 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, previously considered captured, is dead. Read full article here

A statement issued by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that a special panel led by IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz arrived to the conclusion, based on evidence found at the scene of the attack. It added that prior to the decision, religious, medical and other relevant issues were taken under consideration.

The IDF said that the soldier's family was notified of the decision by the Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai and the Chief Military Rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz. (Gili Cohen)

1:40 A.M. Britain believes the situation in the Gaza Strip has become intolerable and could lead to an increase in anti-Semitic attacks on British Jews, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in an interview to be published on Sunday.

"The British public has a strong sense that the situation of the civilian population in Gaza is intolerable and must be addressed - and we agree with them," Hammond said. "We understand that Israel has concerns, we understand that Hamas has concerns. We are not saying we're not interested in those," he told the paper in an interview conducted on Thursday. "But we cannot allow them to stand in the way of a humanitarian ceasefire. We have to get the killing to stop."

Asked if the fighting in Gaza could lead to more attacks on British Jews, Hammond told the Telegraph: "Of course it's a concern and we have already seen certainly an upturn in anti-Semitic rhetoric."

12:18 A.M. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, head of personnel directorate, and Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, the chief military rabbi, arrive at the home of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was captured on Friday by Hamas in Gaza.

A similar delegation of IDF officers arrived at the home of Givati Brigade Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul last week, on the day the military declared him a soldier killed in action whose burial site is unknown. (Amos Harel and Ofer Aderet)