LIVE UPDATES: Operation Protective Edge, day 50
Second person succumbs to mortar wounds hours after truce begins; six Palestinians killed in IDF strikes on Tuesday; Ashkelon building, yard of Ashdod kindergarten struck directly.
On the 50th day of the Gaza operation, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. However, rocket sirens continued to sound in Israel's south after 7 P.M., when the cease-fire was said to go into effect.
Earlier, a mortar shell fired from Gaza killed one Israeli in a town on the Gaza border. Six others were wounded, one of whom died of his wounds. The two fatalities raised the Israeli death toll since the operation began to 70. More than 180 rockets and mortar shells were launched from Gaza on Tuesday. The Israeli army, meanwhile, struck 60 targets, killing at least six Palestinian across the Strip. The Palestinian death toll has surpassed 2,100.
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Latest updates Tuesday:
12:50 P.M. The name of the second man who was earlier killed by a mortar shell in kibbutz Nirim is Shachar Melamed, 43. Melamed, was married to Anat, had three children. His family describes him as a dedicated father and family man. (Shirly Seidler)
12:17 P.M. One of the two victims in the mortar attack earlier on kibbutz Nirim, in the Eshkol Regional Council, is Ze'ev Etzion, 55. Etzion was a father of five.
Etzion served as the security officer of the kibbutz. For more than 30 years he volunteered in the Magen David Adom emergency service, and served as the kibbutz's ambulance driver. "Everything he did, he always did with a big smile on his face," members of the kibbutz say. (Shirly Seidler)
11:22 P.M. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcoms the ceasefire and warned Israel and Palestinian militants that any violations of it would be "utterly irresponsible."
"The Secretary-General welcomes today's announcement of an open-ended ceasefire for Gaza, brokered under Egyptian auspices," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "A brighter future for Gaza and for Israel depends on a sustainable ceasefire."
He added that Ban believes peace efforts must get at the root causes of the conflict to avoid future violence: "Gaza must be brought back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to the PLO commitments; the blockade of Gaza must end; Israel's legitimate security concerns must be addressed."
10:54 P.M. Israeli man critically wounded by a mortar shell in Eshkol Regional Council succumbs to his wounds, raising the death toll from the incident to two. (Shirly Seidler)
10:45 P.M. Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On criticized the cease-fire agreement and said its terms prove the war in Gaza ended in Netanyahu's strategic failure. "He went to war without goals and ended it with a huge achievement for Hamas at the expense of the residents of the south," Gal-On said.
Gal-On added that "those some understandings could have been reached months ago with moderates from the Palestinian Authority, not under Hamas fire and without an unnecessary war, for which we're paying a heavy price in human lives, in both physical and mental casualties, and soon in an intolerable economic price. The prime minister has made every possible political mistake over recent months, and he must pay the price and go home." (Barak Ravid)
10:30 P.M. Hamas senior official Mahmoud A-Zahar said in a "victory" rally in Gaza City a short while ago: "We will build a seaport and an airport. We don't need anyone's approval for that." A-Zahar also addressed the Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, and promised they will be released, "by any means necessary." (Jack Khoury)
10:07 P.M. Hamas' senior member Musa Abu Marzouk says that one of the clauses which delayed the reaching of a cease-fire was an Israeli commitment to halt its policy of targeted killings of Palestinian top brass, of both the military and political echelons. According to him, the deal also guarantees Hamas clerks will be paid their salaries by the Palestinian unity government, which will also be responsible for the reconstruction of the Strip. (Jack Khoury)
9:30 P.M. Council heads in southern Israel slam the cease-fire deal, calling it "surrender to terrorism" and accusing the Israeli leadership of forsaking the residents of the Gaza envelope communities. "Any concession to Hamas is a surrender to terrorism," said Itamar Shimoni, mayor of Ashkelon. "The residents of south wanted to see this campaign resolved, but that will probably not happen." Meanwhile, 60 percent of residents of towns near the Gaza border fence have yet to return to their homes. (Shirly Seidler)
9:21 P.M. The Euro 2016 qualifier match between the Israeli and the Belgian soccer teams has been pushed back until March 31, 2015 from its original date in early September, due to the fighting between Israel and Gaza, the Belgian Federation announces, according to AFP. (Haaretz)
9:10 P.M. According to the IDF, during 50 days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian factions 4,562 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip, 3,641 of which exploded in Israeli territory, 224 of which fell in built-up areas. Iron Dome intercepted 735 rockets. The IDF attacked 5,262 targets in the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)
8:57 P.M. The United States cautiously welcomes the latest Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and urges both sides to comply with the terms of the agreement, the State Department said on Tuesday.
"We call on all parties to fully and completely comply with its terms, and hope very much that the ceasefire will prove to be durable and sustainable," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing.
"We view this as an opportunity, not a certainty," Psaki said. "There is a long road ahead and we're aware of that, and we're going into this eyes wide open," she added. (Reuters)
8:55 P.M. The Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reports that the cease-fire deal between Israel and the Palestinians includes opening all crossing to Gaza and permitting fishing at a distance of between 11 and 22 kilometers from the Strip's shore. (Haaretz)
8:49 P.M. Latest IDF statistics: 182 rockets and mortar shells launched, 148 hit Israeli territory (5 of which hit built-up areas), Iron Dome intercepted 27. The rest fell in the Gaza Strip. Israel struck 60 Gaza targets. (Gili Cohen)
8:13 P.M. Celebratory gunfire erupts in Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon as a long-term truce between Israel and Palestinian militants goes into effect.
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees took to the streets of the Ain el-hilweh and Mieh Mieh camps, witnesses said. Celebratory gunfire and fireworks echoed throughout both camps.
Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags roamed the streets and chanted "God is great, the Palestinian resistance has won." (DPA)
8:00 P.M. A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip says Palestinian militants have secure a victory against Israel after a ceasefire is announced to end more than 50 days of fighting.
"Our armed resistance achieved what the Arab armies had failed to achieve," says Sami Abu Zuhri.
He added that "this besieged weak people defeated the strongest .... army in the Middle East and destroyed the enemy's power of deterrence and the legend of the army that can never be defeated." (DPA)
So far, 161 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel today. Of which, 23 rockets were intercepted, and 132 exploded in Israeli territory. (Shirly Seidler)
7:59 P.M. A senior defense official commented on the Gaza cease-fire, and said Israel has insisted on the Egyptian mediation for the negotiations. "Over the last days Hamas has been under heavy internal pressure to reach cease-fire, due to the price the Gaza Strip and the organization itself paid."
The official said he is not impressed by the victory celebrations in the Strip, saying that "Israel has dealt Hamas a critical blow." (Gili Cohen)
7:32 P.M. Eshkol council head Haim Yellin said in response to the reported cease-fire that he will not instruct residents of the Gaza envelope community to return until calm is definitely restored. "In this situation we don't start the school year, there are unending barrages. It's not a lone mortar shell or rocket, but barrages of 15 rockets at once, sometimes without a rocket siren, so that anyone outside can't take shelter. It's no way to live," he said. (Shirly Seidler)
7:12 P.M. Despite Palestinian President Abbas' announcement that the cease-fire will begin at 7 P.M., rocket alarms were sounded in the Gaza envelope communities. (Haaretz)
7:05 P.M. Over the last half hour 15 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, the IDF said. Two rockets exploded in open areas in Be'er Sheva, three were intercepted by Iron Dome over Ashkelon. (Gili Cohen, Shirly Seidler)
7:04 P.M. Ministers Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, Yitzhak Aharonovich and Gilad Erdan announce their opposition to the cease-fire deal with Hamas. (Barak Ravid)
(Reuters: Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum (C) is carried by Palestinians as they celebrate what they said was a victory over Israel following a ceasefire in Gaza City.)
6:59 P.M. Rocket sirens sound across Gaza border communities, Ashkelon and surrounding areas (Haaretz)
6:53 P.M. Five wounded in strike on house of senior Islamic Jihad operative Nafez Azzam in east Rafah, Gaza. (Jack Khoury)
6:50 P.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announces in a televised statement that the cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip will go into effect at 7 P.M., the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
In his statement, Abbas said the UN will start transferring aid to the Strip immediately, and that he expects nations worldwide will pitch in as well. Abbas also said the Palestinian leadership has decided to change its policy over the diplomatic process with Israel, and that he intends to present a detailed plan aiming to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines.
"We'll not enter vague negotiations again," Abbas said.
At the same time, Hamas' spokespersons held a press conference in Gaza, and said Hamas has attained victory and crashed Israeli deterrence. "The Palestinian victory is the result of the firm stance of the people and the courage of the resistance," Sami Abu Zuhri said. Hamas has not detailed the conditions of the cease-fire agreement. (Jack Khoury)
6:49 P.M. Rockets sound in south Israel. (Haaretz)
6:42 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Be'er Sheva, and in Gaza border towns. (Haaretz)
6:38 P.M. Israel has accepted the Egyptian proposal for an unlimited cease-fire, a senior Israeli official says, adding that cabinet ministers have been notified. According to a legal opinion, there was no need for a cabinet vote, the official said.
The senior official said the cease-fire proposal does not include Hamas' demands for a seaport, an airport, the release of prisoners or regarding the issue of funds. In future negotiations, said the official, both sides will present their demands, and Israel will raise the issue of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip. Israel will allow humanitarian aid to enter the Strip, including materials for reconstruction. According to the official, the aid will enter the Strip under supervision. (Barak Ravid)
6:34 P.M. One Israeli killed by mortar attack in Eshkol, Regional Council, south Israel. Another six wounded, one critically, one seriously, one moderatley and three lightly.
Israeli soldiers near the site of the mortar explosion which killed one Israeli (Photo: Eliyahu Hershkovich)
6:30 P.M. Egypt announces cease-fire in Gaza will start at 11 P.M., Egyptian state news agency says. (Reuters)
6:08 P.M. A senior Palestinian official says the cease-fire expected to be announced by Egypt this evening was reached by indirect talks between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Egypt. According to the official, the agreement does not include Israeli guarantees, despite Hamas' demands. The agreement also does not include an Israeli commitment not to target senior Palestinian officials in Gaza, a clause present in the 2012 cease-fire agreement. (Amira Hass)
6:04 P.M. Three Israelis are wounded by mortar shell explosion in Eshkol Regional Council, near the Gaza border: One was critically wounded, and the others suffered serious wounds, Magen David Adom reported. (Shirly Seidler)
5:57 P.M. Egypt will announce new cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by 7 P.M., Egyptian officials tell Reuters. (Reuters)
5:53 P.M. Rocket sirens sound across Gaza envelope towns, Ashdod and surrounding areas (Haaretz)
5:47 P.M. Rocket sirens sound across Gaza border communities (Haaretz)
5:45 P.M. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni responds to reports of an imminent cease-fire in Gaza and says that the end of the operation should not include "any significant political achievements for Hamas, which is a terrorist organization which doesn't accept our existence here."
Livni added that the end of the operation should be "part of an overall accord with those who seek peace." (Revital Hovel)
5:30 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council, near the Gaza border (Haaretz)
5:24 P.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will announce a long-term cease-fire at 7 P.M., a senior Palestinian official tells the Palestinian news agency Ma'an. (Haaretz)
5:08 P.M. The Hamas website cites a senior member of the organization saying that the cease-fire agreement will include an Egyptian call for an immediate stop to hostilities, in return for reopening the crossing in and out of Gaza, humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. A month later, Egypt will convene the sides for negotiations on three core issues: the construction of a sea port and of an airport in the Strip and the arrests of Palestinians released under the Shalit deal after the kidnapping and murder of three Israelis in the West Bank in June.
A senior Egyptian official told Haaretz that the coming month will be a test, mainly for the Palestinians, with regards to the function of the reopened crossings and the reconstruction of the Strip. The official also noted the Rafah Crossing between the Strip and Egypt in particular, and the possibility of manning it with Palestinian Authority forces and reopening it regularly, should trust be restored. (Jack Khoury)
4:59 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Eshkol, Sdot Negev and Sha'ar Hanegev regional councils near the Gaza Strip. (Haaretz)
4:31 P.M. Hamas deputy political leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said Tuesday afternoon: "We are very close to achieving diplomatic understandings that will stand in accordance with our people's steadfast position and befit the conduct of the 'resistance.'"
Hamas' deputy leader in Cairo, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said: "The negotiations have ended and we have reached understandings that underscore the steadfast stance of the Palestinian people with the victory of the resistance. We are waiting for an official announcement to set the final hour and announce a cease-fire and an end to Israeli aggression."
Haaretz has learned that Abu Marzoul met with Hamas' political bureau officials, including Khaled Meshal in Doha, Qatar yesterday, and has returned to Cairo this morning. (Jack Khoury)
4:12 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council near Gaza border. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in Ashkelon and surrounding areas (Haaretz)
3:40 P.M. Israel Air Force attacked four militants at two sites in the northern Gaza Strip. In one of the incidents, the army said the aircraft hit two militants positioned to launch rockets at Israel. The army said it identified direct hits in both incidents. (Gili Cohen)
3:38 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts five rockets above Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegv, in southern Israel (Shirly Seidler)
3:29 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in communities on Gaza border, including Sderot.
2:56 P.M. 22 mortar shells landed in the last half hour in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. One of the mortars landed inside of a community; none wounded. (Shirley Seidler)
2:38 P.M. Four Palestinians were killed in IDF strikes in the last hour, Palestinian medical officials said. Two of the dead were electrical company employees killed when a missile struck their car in the northern Gaza village of Beit Lahia. Another two were killed in a bombing in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood east of Gaza City. Six people have been killed altogether since midnight, including two overnight in the IDF attack on a Gaza City high rise. (Jack Khoury)
(AFP: A resident of a partially destroyed house across the street from a high rise apartment building in Gaza City that was targeted by Israeli air strikes)
2:31 P.M. Israel Defense Forces have carried out more than 40 strikes on the Gaza Strip since midnight. (Gili Cohen)
2:20 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
2:16 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Kerem Shalom, along the Israel-Gaza border. (Haaretz)
2:11 P.M. One rocket intercepted over Ashkelon, one lands in a yard of a kindergarten in Ashdod. The kindergarten was empty at the time of impact, there were no injuries. (Shirly Seidler)
(Rocket fragments in Ashdod kindergarten, Photo by Ilan Assayag)
2:07 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)
2:02 P.M. Sirens sound throughout Ashdod, Ashkelon and surrounding areas. (Haaretz)
1:57 A.M. Gaza militants have fired 69 rockets and mortar shells at Israel since midnight. Sixty-one of them have landed in Israeli territory, six rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome. (Gili Cohen)
1:46 P.M. Israeli Air Force struck the launch site from the morning's rocket attack on Tel Aviv area, IDF says. IDF identified a direct hit. (Gili Cohen)
1:41 P.M. Three rockets intercepted over Sdot Negev Regional Council, one lands in an open area. (Shirly Seidler)
1:30 P.M. Some 70 people, including seven children, were taken to hospitals for medical treatment after a rocket hit the a family home in Ashkelon early Tuesday morning. Twenty-five were lightly wounded and 45 were treated for shock. Most of the 70 have already been released to their homes. (Shirley Seidler)
12:58 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border communities. (Haaretz)
12:48 P.M. Two rockets intercepted over Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
11:56 A.M. Eleven mortar shells fired at Eshkol Regional Council in last hour. No report yet on damages. (Shirley Seidler)
11:38 A.M. Sirens sound in Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
11:32 A.M. Sirens sound again in Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
11:23 A.M. Sirens sound again in Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
11:20 A.M. Hamas official Abu Marzouk tells Al-Hayat that the most recent Egyptian cease-fire initiative is acceptable, but that certain wording still requires clarification. Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed added that a cease-fire agreement could be reached immediately, but that an "invisible hand" prevents any signature. (Jack Khoury)
Rocket sirens sound in Kerem Shalom. (Jack Khoury and Haaretz)
11:13 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Kerem Shalom, along the Israel-Gaza border. (Haaretz)
11:06 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border, seven times in a matter of minutes. (Haaretz)
11:02 A.M. Eight mortar shells explode in Eshkol Regional Council, one near a community, damaging a power line. More sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler and Haaretz)
11:01 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)
10:30 A.M. Rocket explodes in open area in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
10:22 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev Regional Councils. (Haaretz)
10:19 A.M. 14 projectiles fired at Israel since midnight, according to the IDF. 12 landed in Israel, one rocket was intercepted, and one landed in Gaza. (Gili Cohen)
10:00 A.M. Mortar shell lands in community in Eshkol Regional Council, three others land in open areas. No reports of damage. (Shirley Seidler)
9:46 A.M. Rocket siren sounds in an Eshkol Regional Council community near Gaza border. (Haaretz)
9:40 A.M. Rocket siren sounds in community in Eshkol Regional Council, near Gaza border. (Haaretz)
8:46 A.M. Two mortar shells land in Eshkol Regional Council, one of which lands near a community. No injuries. (Shirly Seidler)
8:34 A.M. Projectile falls in open area in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
8:32 A.M. Twenty people sustain minor injuries from broken glass in Ashkelon following earlier rocket fire. (Shirly Seidler)
House in Ashkelon, suffers direct hit from Gaza rocket, August 26, 2014. Photo by Ilan Assayag
8:24 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)
8:19 A.M. Rocket sirens sounds in a community near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)
7:40 A.M. Six people lightly wounded by glass shrapnel in Ashkelon following rocket fire. (Shirly Seidler)
7:36 A.M. The IDF attacked more than 15 targets in Gaza overnight, including buildings used as central command centers and weapons manufacturing sites.
The IDF additionally attacked enclosures located in two schools in central and north Gaza, where mortar shells were fired toward Israel. According to the army, the mortar shell that killed Daniel Tragerman and rockets fired at Ashdod were launched from one of the schools, located in the Zeitoun neighborhood, and surrounding areas.
Prior to the attack, the army sent warnings to those taking shelter at the school, telling them to leave the area. (Gili Cohen)
7:33 A.M. Four mortar shells explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
6:42 A.M. No injuries reported from the rocket strike on a building in Ashkelon. One rocket intercepted over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Two rockets explode in open areas over the Ashdod area, no damage caused. (Shirly Seidler)
6:30 A.M. Sirens sound throughout much of the center and south of the country, including Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ashdod and Ashkelon.
4:28 A.M. Israeli air craft bomb and partially destroy the Basha tower in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza city. The 12-storey building comprised offices, most of them belonging to media outlets. There were no apartments in that building. (Jack Khoury)
1:52 A.M. The U.S. has prepared its own draft outline for a UN resolution demanding a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and is now working with European powers and Jordan on a joint text, diplomats said on Monday. (Reuters)
1:41 A.M. Israeli air strikes launched before dawn on Tuesday killed two Palestinians and wounded 20, destroying much of one of Gaza's tallest apartment and office buildings, Palestinian health officials said.
Approximately 70 families lived in the 13-story building in the Little Italy compound which also served as a commercial center. According to the IDF, Hamas used the building for its operations unit, with activists hiding in apartments there. Prior to the attack, Israeli forces fired two "knock-on-roof" warning mortars, followed by four missiles which directly struck the building. The building was mostly empty at the time of the attack, after residents evacuated. Five medics were among the wounded. (Jack Khoury)
Posted to Instagram by khalilhamra, with caption "What left from the #Italian tower in #gaza"
11:27 P.M. Security sources in Lebanon told the Daily Star that the IDF fired dozens of rounds of artillery in response to the rocket. The artillery landed near Jarmaq on the Litani River. The Lebanese army has raised its alert in the area. (Jack Khoury)
11:10 P.M. More than 120 rockets and mortars have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel so far on Monday, according to the IDF. Ninety-nine targeted the Israeli communities along the Gaza border. 102 of the rockets and mortars landed in Israel, four of them in built-up areas. The Iron Dome system intercepted 16 rockets. The Israel Air Force attacked some 60 targets in Gaza on Monday. (Gili Cohen)
11:02 P.M. Three children have been lightly injured by stones thrown at an Israeli car in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz. They were taken for treatment. Border Police captured one of the masked assailants, who admitted to being involved in the incident, according to police.
There have also been clashes between police and Palestinians youths in Silwan and Shoefat, according to Palestinian sources. Operations of the light railway in Shoefat have been suspended after three incidents, including one in which a molotov cocktail was thrown. (Nir Hasson)
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