LIVE UPDATES: Operation Protective Edge, day 44
Netanyahu: Hamas commanders legitimate target, no operative is immune; Hamas warns foreign airlines: Avoid Israel starting 6 A.M. Thursday; 22 Palestinians killed in last day; 140 rockets and mortars fired at Israel.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas continued on Wednesday, a day after negotiations in Cairo aiming to secure a long-term truce collapsed.
Hamas claims that Israel violated the truce by attempting to assassinate the group's military chief Mohammed in Deif in Gaza City on Tuesday; Israeli officials say the Israel Defense Forces resumed strikes on Gaza after miltants breached the cease-fire by launching rockets at Israel.
The Israeli delegation to the truce talks left Cairo on Tuesday afternoon and the Palestinian delegation left Wednesday, with no deal and no announcement of an extension of the cease-fire.
Palestinian sources reported 22 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in Israeli strikes since the collapse of the truce on Tuesday. According to the IDF, over 150 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza, targeting the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas as well as the south.
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Latest updates [Wednesday]:
11:52 P.M. A rocket explodes in an open area in Sderot. Another hits an open area in Ashdod. (Shirley Seidler)
11:10 P.M. The Iron Dome intercepts a rocket over Ashdod. (Shirley Seidler)
10:53 P.M. Israeli airstrike kills militant who fired rockets at Gaza envelope communities. (Gili Cohen)
10:48 P.M. Prime Minister Netanyahu reprimanded Economy Minister Naftali Bennett during the cabinet meeting, and demanded him to stop criticizing the cabinet's decision publicly. Ministers who attended the meeting said Netanyahu criticized Bennett and Foreign Minister Lieberman for their statements in the last few days. (Jonathan Lis)
10:42 P.M. Mortar shell explodes in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council near Gaza; no damage caused. (Shirly Seidler)
10:20 P.M. Opposition Leader and Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog accuses Prime Minister Netanyahu of giving no redress to the plight of Israeli citizens, and particularly the residents of southern Israel, in his statements earlier this evening. "We've seen a prime minister who's more concerned with his shaky relationships with his cabinet members than with giving solutions to the Israeli public. There's no horizon in his statements or hope of an accord, and he said nothing new." (Haaretz)
9:58 P.M. Two rockets explode in open areas in Ashdod. No alarm was sounded beforehand. (Shirly Seidler)
9:35 P.M. Foreign and Israeli airlines announced they do not intend to change or suspend their flights despite a Hamas threat to target Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday morning. According to estimations based on similar threats, arriving and departing flights will be halted for up to an hour. (Rina Rozenberg)
9:30 P.M. Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On responded to Prime Minister Netanyahu's statements earlier: "Talk of a diplomatic horizon and long-term calm for southern Israel residents is empty talk, as long as Netanyahu does not head for a comprehensive and final diplomatic treaty with the Palestinian unity government." (Jonathan Lis)
9:20 P.M. Rocket explodes in Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries. (Shirley Seidler)
8:46 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in a press conference in the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv that Operation Protective Edge is not over. "This is a continuous campaign. The struggle against terror lasts for years," he says, adding that Hamas in Gaza is part of the Islamic terror network.
"In recent weeks we've dealt Hamas a harsh blow. We've prevented, via Iron Dome, thousands of rockets from hitting our communities, and we destroyed thousands of rockets.
"We've dismantled its abilities in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and its attempts to stage a coup there. We're determined to pursue the campaign with all means at our disposal and we won't stop.
"The people in Israel is strong, and it [Hamas] will not tire us."
"If they fire, they will be hit back seven-fold," Netanyahu warned. Netanyahu also said that in light of the regional changes, not all of them "bad," he promises a new "diplomatic horizon."
"I hope Abbas will have a significant part in the new diplomatic horizon. I expect to start talks with a Palestinian government which can abandon the path of terror, and that's a part of a big package that I'm talking about," Netanyahu said.
During the question time, Netanyahu said that commanders of Palestinian militant groups are legitimate targets for Israeli attacks. "No Hamas member is immune," he said.
8:21 P.M. COGAT states that 256 trucks entered the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom Crossing on Wednesday, carrying mostly food and medicine. (Gili Cohen)
8:19 P.M. Rocket fragments fall in Bnei Shimon Regional Council, causing no damage. Four mortar shells explode in Eshkol Regional Council, one inside a town, causing no damage. One rocket was intercepted over Sderot. (Shirly Seidler)
7:50 P.M. The Israeli army attacked a concealed rocket launcher in the southern Gaza Strip. According to the IDF, since Tuesday the Air Force bombed over 110 targets in the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)
7:14 P.M. Hamas says in an official statement that Israel "failed" to kill the group's military wing's commander Mohammed Deif, and that he will continue to lead the Palestinian struggle. Earlier, Fox News reported that an Israeli intelligence source said Deif was killed in an Israel airstrike on Tuesday.
"The leaders of the enemy were behind their offices looking at the screens and their intelligence and apparatuses made them believe that the moment of celebration was imminent," the Hamas spokesman said. "You have failed and you have missed."
The spokesman said the Palestinian delegation has been instructed not to return to Cairo. "The enemy missed a golden opportunity to reach a truce deal," he said, adding that "the Egyptian offer was a stillborn, and it was buried today together with Mohammed Deif's son."
The Hamas' spokesman also warned foreign airline carriers to stop flying to Ben Gurion International Airport starting on 6:00 A.M. Thursday. (Haaretz, Reuters)
6:55 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts two rockets above greater Tel Aviv area. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in the area.
A Rocket explodes in an open area outside Be'er Sheva, and another rocket was intercepted. Two rockets were intercepted above Ashkelon. Firefighters are heading to the explosion site of a rocket in Hof Ashkelon, where a brush fire has erupted. (Shirly Seidler)
6:45 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in central Israel. Earlier, rocket sirens sounded in Ashkelon and its surrounding areas. (Haaretz)
6:32 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket above Be'er Sheva. (Shirly Seidler)
6:14 P.M. Security cabinet meeting ends after four hours.
Four mortar shells explode in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip. (Shirly Seidler)
6:08 P.M. Israeli Air Force strikes kill two militants who fired rockets at Israel in the central Gaza Strip and target a rocket launcher in the northern Strip. (Gili Cohen)
5:54 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Be'er Sheva and surrounding areas.
Two rockets intercepted over Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
5:46 P.M. Magen David Adom ambulances took 21 Palestinians wounded in Gaza from the Erez Crossing to Ben Gurion International Airport, from which they will board a flight to Turkey to receive medical treatment. (Gili Cohen)
5:29 P.M. Fox News reports that an Israeli intelligence source confirms Mohammed Deif was killed in an Israeli strike on Wednesday. (Haaretz)
5:21 P.M. Hamas said it fired two rockets at an Israeli gas installation about 30 km (19 miles) off the coast of Gaza on Wednesday in the first apparent attack of its kind.
The Israeli military said it no information of missiles striking any gas platforms at sea. Read full story here (Gili Cohen, Reuters)
5:00 P.M. Two Palestinians aged 11 and 16 were killed in an Israeli strike on Deir al-Balach in the central Gaza Strip, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported medical officials in Gaza as saying. Since the collapse of the truce on Wednesday, 22 people were killed in the Gaza Strip and over 100 were wounded. (Haaretz)
4:50 P.M. Since midnight 110 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, 81 of which either exploded in Israel or were intercepted by Iron Dome. The average daily number of launches at Israel during Operation Protective Edge was 85. Since 3:30 P.M. on Wednesday, when the truce collapsed, about 160 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel. (Gili Cohen)
4:42 P.M. Two mortar shells explode in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council near Gaza Strip. Earlier, sirens were sounded in the area. (Shirly Seidler)
4:30 P.M. A mortar shell explodes in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip. A rocket explodes in an open area in the Bnei Shimon Regional Council and two more rockets explode in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Earlier, rocket sirens sounded in the area. (Shirly Seidler)
4:13 P.M. Mortar shell explodes in open area in Eshkol Regional Council, rocket explodes in open area in Bnei Shimon Regional Council. No damage caused. (Shirly Seidler)
3:40 P.M. Rocket explodes in open area outside city of Ashkelon. No damage caused. Another rocket explodes in and open area in Sdot Negev Regional Council near Gaza. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in city of Ashkelon and in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
3:30 P.M. The Israeli Air Force fires at two militants who fired rockets at Sderot, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said. Several other militants were wounded in strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)
3:04 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Three rockets explode in open areas. Another rocket intercepted over Bnei Shimon Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
3:00 P.M. Qatar recently threatened it would expel Hamas chief Khaled Meshel if Hamas were to accept the Egyptian proposal for a long-term truce in Gaza, Al-Hayat daily reported on Wednesday. The report speculated that this was the reason Meshal refused every compromise. An unnamed source in the Palestinian delegation to Cairo said in the report that Qatar worked to undermine the talks by pressuring Hamas officials, including Meshal, not to advance negotiations. (Jack Khoury)
2:59 P.M. Rocket siren sounds in Eshkol Regional Council, two mortar shells explode in open areas. (Shirly Seidler)
2:44 P.M. Since midnight 87 mortar shells and rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza, of which 59 exploded in Israeli territory and 12 were intercepted. Since the cease-fire was violated 140 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel. (Gili Cohen)
2:16 P.M. Five mortar shells fall in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. 35 rockets and mortar shells fell in the council's jurisdiction since midnight. (Haaretz)
2:07 P.M. Security cabinet meets in Tel Aviv. Funeral of Mohammed Deif's wife and son in Gaza ends. (Jonathan Lis and Jack Khoury)
2:06 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket north of Kiryat Malakhi and over the Sderot area; three rockets exploded in open area in the southern Eshkol Regional Council. (Gili Cohen and Gili Seidler)
2:00 P.M. The IDF says it has no knowledge of rocket fire from Gaza at an Israeli offshore drilling platform. (Gili Cohen)
1:56 P.M. Sirens sound in the Ashkelon area (Haaretz)
1:52 P.M. Hamas' military wing claims it fired rockets at a drilling platform off the Israeli coast. (Jack Khoury)
1:50 P.M. Sirens go off in Sderot, Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
1:48 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts two Gaza rockets over the Ashkelon area; rocket shrapnel found in one of the communities. (Gili Cohen)
1:28 P.M. Heavy rocket barrage fired at Israel: sirens go off in Ashkelon, the Kiryat Malakhi are and communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
1:21 P.M. French President Francois Hollande calls on Israel and the Palestinians to resume truce talks. "We are at a critical point. France supports the Egyptian mediation," Hollande tells Le Monde in an interview. "Gaza can no longer remain like it is. The objective must be a demilitarization and a lifting of the blockade."
"Demilitarization can only be done under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. France with Europe can be useful in lifting the blockade at the Rafah crossing. Gaza must neither be an open prison or a military base," Hollande says.
Hollande says if negotiations failed then the international community would have to take the lead to find a solution. "We must do everything to ensure negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority resume to find a solution to the conflict. We know the parameters, the only solution is a two states living side by side," he said. (Reuters)
1:16 P.M. Sirens go off in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Haaretz)
Iron Dome intercepts two rockets over Ashdod. (Gili Cohen and Shirly Seidler)
1:07 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Ashdod and the Ashkelon region. (Haaretz)
12:52 P.M. Since midnight, 47 rockets and mortar shells were launched from Gaza at Israel. Out of the 47 detected, 38 hit Israeli territory and one of the rockets exploded in a residential area.
Since the cease-fire was broken Tuesday at 3:30 P.M., some 100 rockets and mortar shells have been launched from Gaza at Israel. During this time-frame, the IDF struck 50 targets in Gaza.
The IDF says it attacked and killed two militants who took part in rocket fire at Ashkelon and Israeli communities near the Gaza border. (Gili Cohen)
12:35 P.M. A house in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council sustains a direct hit by a Gaza rocket; no casualties, but heavy damage reported. (Shirly Seidler)
12:29 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts four rockets over Ashdod, southern Israel. (Shirly Seidler)
12:22 P.M. Palestinian President Abbas due to meet Emir of Qatari and Hamas leader in Doha (Reuters)
12:20 P.M. Rocket siren sounds in Ashdod and Yavneh area, south Israel. A rocket was intercepted over the western Negev. Another rocket exploded in Eshkol Regional Council and caused light damage to property. (Shirley Seidler)
12:03 P.M. Hamas is keeping silent, and Israel still has no confirmation, but the odds are that Mohammed Deif survived the assassination attempt. (Amos Harel)
11:57 A.M. Following the collapse of the cease-fire in Gaza, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that Israel's policy on Gaza has failed. In a Facebook post, he says that if Israel does not crush Hamas, it is leaving itself open to rocket fire on the first day of school, the eve of Rosh Hashanah or any time Hamas chooses. Read full story here
"I hope it is now clear to everyone that the policy of 'quiet will be met with quiet' means that Hamas is the initiator and it is the one that decides when, where and how much it will fire on Israeli residents, while we make do with solely a response, which, even if it is a harsh one, is still just a response," he says, adding that Israel has no other choice left but to defeat Hamas. Liberman has repeatedly called for a full-scale Israeli military campaign aimed at defeating Hamas. (Jonathan Lis)
11:46 A.M. A source in Hamas says Israel was seeking to paint a picture of a military victory and assassinating Mohammed Deif would have provided such an impression, ahead of any future agreement between the sides.
Based on this, he says, as well as the timing of the rockets Israel says the Palestinians fired during the cease-fire on Tuesday and the fact that it says that the rockets exploded in open areas, strengthens Hamas' claim that Israel fabricated the reports of the rocket fire. (Jack Khoury)
11:38 A.M. A rocket exploded near the fence of a community in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
11:15 A.M. Kais Abdel Karim, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the talks in Cairo, says that the sides failed to reach an agreement on any of the points suggested in the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. He says that the sides did exchange drafts, but added that Israel was reluctant to present a serious proposal that could have led to a discussion within the Palestinian delegation.
The Palestinians have presented Egypt with a final proposal for Israel to consider before leaving Cairo, Abdel Karim says, however, he adds that the escalation in Gaza on Tuesday proves that Israel is not interested in reaching a deal at this time. (Jack Khoury)
11:09 A.M. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the resumption of hostilities Tuesday. He said he was "gravely disappointed" by the breach of the cease-fire, but refrained from explicitly mentioning the rocket attacks with which Hamas violated the truce or the air strikes with which Israel responded.
The secretary-general said both sides have a responsibility not to let the situation escalate and called for an "immediate understanding on a durable cease-fire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza." He said Gazans' hopes for a better future and Israelis' hopes for sustainable security both rest on the cease-fire talks that had been taking place in Cairo, though negotiators on both sides had left by Wednesday. (Haaretz)
10:46 A.M. Sirens sound again in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)
10:43 P.M. Sirens sound in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)
10:31 P.M. Israel's security cabinet to meet at 2:00 P.M.
10:28 A.M. An 18-year-old Palestinian man was also killed in the overnight aerial strike on the al-Dalou family home in Gaza city's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood that Hamas said targeted Mouhammed Deif. (Jack Khoury)
10:21 A.M. Sirens sound in communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
10:09 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
10:08 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council (Haaretz)
10:03 A.M. Three rockets explode in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council (Shirly Seidler)
10:00 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, south Israel.
9:36 A.M. Rocket sirens in Eshkol Regional Council and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, south Israel.
9:28 A.M. Rocket fragments found in parking lot of commercial area in Ashkelon, no damage or injuries reported. (Shirly Seidler)
9:21 A.M. Sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council, south Israel. Residents of Gaza border communities told they must stay within 15 seconds of a shelter. (Shirly Seidler)
8:24 A.M. Iron Dome intercepts one rocket over Ashdod and two others over the Ashkelon region. One rocket explodes in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
8:16 A.M. Gaza rocket fire resumes: sirens sound across southern Israel. (Haaretz)
8:09 A.M. Gaza rocket expolodes in an open area in the Hod Ashkelon Regional Council (Shirly Seidler)
8:02 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
7:32 A.M. Sirens go off in Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils. One rocket explodes outside a community in Sdot Negev, no damage reported. (Haaretz)
7:29 A.M. IDF calls up some 2,000 reserve soldiers, ordering them to immediately report to their units. (Gili Cohen)
7:20 A.M. The Israeli military overnight struck some 30 targets in Gaza. Seven rockets were fired overnight.
Fifty-seven rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza since the cease-fire broke Tuesday afternoon. Israel Air Force carried out attacks on some 60 targets during the same time frame. (Gili Cohen)
6:40 A.M. Palestinians report seven were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Deir al-Balah, in the Gaza Strip's center. According to the report, a girl and a pregnant woman were among the dead. (Jack Khoury)
6:35 A.M. The Hamas-affiliated Al-Rasallah website quotes Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk as accusing Israel of fabricating reports of rockets that violated the Gaza cease-fire in order to try to assassinate the group's military chief, Mohammed Deif.
Abu Marzouk made remarks in a Facebook post, according to the report. (Jack Khoury)
Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas' military wing, claimed in a tweet that Mohammed Dief survived an Israeli assassination attempt.
"Mohammed Deif is alive and healthy. At his command we will destroy every ionist city and will take over the entire land of Palestine," the tweet said. (Haaretz)
Mohammed Deif is alive and healthy. At his command we will destroy every zionist city and will take over the entire land of Palestine.— Ezzedeen Al-Qassam (@qassamenglish) August 19, 2014
6:07 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Eshkol Regional Council.
3:00 A.M. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader, said the dead in the Israeli strike on Gaza City included the wife and a child of Mohammed Deif, the group's military chief, who has escaped numerous Israeli assassination attempts in the past. There was no immediate confirmation from Hamas leaders in Gaza. (AP)
"The wife of the great leader was martyred with his daughter," Marzouk wrote on Facebook. He did not mention whether Deif was at the house during that attack.
2:20 A.M. Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk says Israel had targeted the group's armed wing leader Mohammed Deif in one of its air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday.
The Israeli military has not specified any of the targets of some 30 attacks across the enclave in response to rocket fire aimed at Israel. Marzouk said Israel had ruptured the truce in order "to assassinate Mohammed Deif," but that civilians were killed at the site of the attack.
Palestinian health officials said a child and a woman were killed in a strike on a house in Gaza City. (Reuters)
1:30 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.
12:43 A.M. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Palestinian charges that Israel was to blame for a breakdown in ceasefire talks in Cairo, saying rocket fire from Gaza "made continuation of talks impossible."
Spokesman Mark Regev responded to Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed's charge that Israel had thwarted the talks that broke down on Tuesday after Israel recalled its negotiators from Egypt, accusing Hamas of violating a truce.
"The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the ceasefire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based," Regev said.
Al-Ahmed, the head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, said earlier that "Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace ... there was an Israeli decision to make the Cairo talks fail." (Reuters)
12:38 A.M. According to IDF figures, some 50 rockets and mortar shells have been fired toward Israel since Tuesday afternoon. The Iron Dome evidently intercepted eight rockets.
Home Front Command has forbidden gatherings of more than 1,000 people within 80 kilometers of the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)
12:09 A.M. A rocket explodes in an open area in the Jerusalem region (Gili Cohen)
A Gaza rocket intercepted near Rishon Letzion, August 19 2014.
12:08 A.M. Hamas' military wing announces that the rocket fire comes in response to an Israeli strike that tageted a house in Gaza's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood and violated the cease-fire.
12:06 A.M. Three rockets are intercepted over Ashdod. A rocket explodes in an open area within a town in the Eshkol Regional Council; none wounded. (Shirley Seidler).
12:05 A.M. Despite the collapse of the talks, officials at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office say he intends to travel to Qatar and meet Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal. On Friday, Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Cairo and meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.
A Palestinian official told Haaretz that Ramallah is no longer convinced that Hamas – especially its leadership outside Gaza – can make independent decisions. "The estimates are that the organization is dependent on the decisions of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, with its center in Turkey," he said.
The official also said that the Palestinian leadership has reliable information pointing to talks held in the past two days between Meshal and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Despite all this, Ramallah also believes that Israel is to blame for the breakdown of the talks, refusing to engage in a political process with the Palestinians and especially with Hamas, due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political considerations.
The Palestinian Authority is already losing hope in an American intervention, and is therefore considering turning to other international actors, namely Russia. This shift was also evident in the meeting Tuesday in Moscow between Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Jack Khoury)
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