Live Updates, July 3: Rocket Barrage Hits Southern Israel

Netanyahu: If rocket fire continues, Israel will react forcefully; residents called to stay near shelter; Palestinians, police clash in Jerusalem after death of Palestinian boy.

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A man inspects the damage to a house following a rocket attack by militants from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, on July 3, 2014.
A man inspects the damage to a house following a rocket attack by militants from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, on July 3, 2014.Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

The IDF mobilized troops to southern Israel and called up reservists on Thursday after several barrages of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, several of them striking houses in Sderot.

Tensions remained high in Jerusalem as well, as Palestinian rioters clashed with Israeli security forces ahead of the funeral of Muhammed Abu-Khdeir, which has been scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The 16-year-old Palestinian boy was found early Tuesday in a West Jerusalem forest bearing signs of violence, in what is suspected to have been a kidnapping and murder carried out by right-wing Israeli extremists, possibly an act of revenge for the killing of the three Israeli teens last month.

Latest updates:

23:40 P.M. Rocket falls close to a village in the Shaar Hanegev regional council. No injuries reported. (Shirly Seidler)

10:41 P.M. East Jerusalem riots spread to neighbourhoods of Silwan and Issawiya. Large police contingents sent to areas.

Palestinians claim a 7-year-old boy from Beit Hanina was the target of another, failed kidnapping attempt.

Fires blazing in open areas near the Damascus Gate and Hadassah Medical Center, apparently due to hurling of firebombs. (Nir Hasson)

10:02 P.M. Home Front Command cancels order issued earlier to Israelis residing near Gaza to stay inside shelters, but asks civilians to stay near bomb-proof structures.

9:20 P.M. Netanyahu warned Hamas on Thursday against continued rocket fire into Israel, saying that quiet will be reciprocated with quiet but if rocket fire continues, Israel's forces in the area will react with great force.

Netanyahu also condemned the murder of the Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir. He said that the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice, adding that Israeli citizens must show restraint even if their blood is boiling. (Barak Ravid)

9:02 P.M. Home Front Command calls on residents of communities near the Gaza Strip to remain in bomb shelters. (Shirley Seidler)

8:56 P.M. Two Qassam rockets hit Sdot Negev Regional Council, two buildings damaged. No injuries reported.

A house damaged by a rocket in Sderot, July 3, 2014. (Reuters)

Rocket alert sounds also in Eshkol and Shaar Hanegev Regional Councils.

8:25 P.M. IDF soldier lightly injured from shrapnel as nine mortar shells hit Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel. (Shirley Seidler)

8:12 P.M. Rioting in East Jerusalem continues, police arrest six in Shoafat (Nir Hasson)

IDF tanks on the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip border. July 3, 2014. (AFP)

7:57 P.M. More than 30 Gaza rockets have hit southern Israel in 24 hours, IDF officials say. 

7:51 P.M. Slain Palestinian boy's father and Jerusalem police reach agreement to delay funeral to Friday, after end of prayers.

7:35 P.M. IDF officials say rocket fired from Gaza landed in urban area in Sderot, two more rockets landed in open areas. (Gili Cohen)

7:07 P.M. Rocket alerts sound in Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. (Shirley Seidler)

A crater caused by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 3, 2014. Reuters)

6:52 P.M. Hamas "are prepared for all options against Israel," speaker of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades tells press in Gaza. "The threat of an Israeli military action against the Gaza Strip does not scare us. It only hastens the hour of our revenge against Israel, and an opportunity to teach it a lesson. [] Israel will be surprised when it discovers what arms we have. In the past we have fired rockets at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and Rishon Letzion, and a foolish move by Israel at this time will cause further hits to other location in Israel, some of which it does not expect." (Jack Khoury)

6:11 P.M. Several dozen protesters rally in Sderot after rocket strikes, chant "Bibi [Netanyahu] wake up, Jewish blood is not forfeit." (Shirley Seidler)

4:19 P.M. Soldiers from a Nahal Haredi unit sentenced to 10 days in military jail after posting pictures of themselves on Facebook demanding revenge for the murder of the three kidnapped teenagers.

The IDF Spokesman's Unit said the soldiers were jailed for "operating against military rules. This is a grave matter that is inconsistent with what is expected of an IDF soldier. Any incident that commanders learn of will be treated with utmost severity." (Gili Cohen)

4:06 P.M. Jerusalem police refuse to allow Abu Khdeir's funeral procession to commence at the Temple Mount, as requested by the murdered boy's father when he met with top police commanders earlier. Police do agree to open access to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat for the funeral. (Nir Hasson)

Abu Khdeir's family seeks to hold the funeral on Thursday evening, unless the body is released from the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine late at night, in which case it will be held Friday afternoon. The family claims that police and the Shin Bet security service are attempting to delay the funeral to a late-night hour in order to minimize potential for friction. The boy will be buried in a family plot not far from his home.

The boy's family says that despite promises to expedite the procedure, their son's body has not yet undergone an autopsy. The Palestinian pathologist taking part in the autopsy, Sabr Al-Alul, was detained for an hour and a half at a checkpoint due to a blockade imposed on Hebron, where he resides.

When Al-Alul finally arrived at Abu Kabit Forensics Institute, the body could not be operated upon since a new autopsy had to be ordered - the procedure was called before the teenager was identified, and a new order had to be issued with his correct identity now verified.

Lawyer Muanad Jabara said the police told the boy's family that the investigation, which has been passed to Jerusalem's central unit, is being treated as the most important investigation currently taking place in Israel.

1:55 P.M. A rocket fired from Gaza hits Sderot industrial zone, damage done to property but no injuries reported. (Shirley Seidler)

1:52 P.M. Despite the tension in the southern front with Gaza and the damage done to residential buildings, a senior military source says Israel is interested in restoring quiet in the region. The source says that "quiet would be met with quiet," adding that actions taken in recent days by Israel are defensive in nature.

The source says that if Hamas will move to prevent rocket fire to the south, Israel would not escalate the situation. However, he warned that Israel would know how to respond if needed.

The source's remarks come after three security cabinet meetings in recent days. A few of the ministers called for expanding the operation in Gaza and it seems that the senior officer's message is coordinated with the political leadership and is intended to give Hamas a last chance to avoid further escalation. (Amos Harel and Gili Cohen)

Abu Khdeir's family seeks to hold the funeral on Thursday evening, unless the body is released from the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine late at night, in which case it will be held Friday afternoon. The family claims that police and the Shin Bet security service are attempting to delay the funeral to a late-night hour in order to minimize potential for friction. The boy will be buried in a family plot not far from his home.

The boy's family says that despite promises to expedite the procedure, their son's body has not yet undergone an autopsy. The Palestinian pathologist taking part in the autopsy, Sabr Al-Alul, was detained for an hour and a half at a checkpoint due to a blockade imposed on Hebron, where he resides.

When Al-Alul finally arrived at Abu Kabit Forensics Institute, the body could not be operated upon since a new autopsy had to be ordered - the procedure was called before the teenager was identified, and a new order had to be issued with his correct identity now verified.

Lawyer Muanad Jabara said the police told the boy's family that the investigation, which has been passed to Jerusalem's central unit, is being treated as the most important investigation currently taking place in Israel.

1:55 P.M. A rocket fired from Gaza hits Sderot industrial zone, damage done to property but no injuries reported. (Shirley Seidler)

1:52 P.M. Despite the tension in the southern front with Gaza and the damage done to residential buildings, a senior military source says Israel is interested in restoring quiet in the region. The source says that "quiet would be met with quiet," adding that actions taken in recent days by Israel are defensive in nature.

The source says that if Hamas will move to prevent rocket fire to the south, Israel would not escalate the situation. However, he warned that Israel would know how to respond if needed.

The source's remarks come after three security cabinet meetings in recent days. A few of the ministers called for expanding the operation in Gaza and it seems that the senior officer's message is coordinated with the political leadership and is intended to give Hamas a last chance to avoid further escalation. (Amos Harel and Gili Cohen)

1:36 P.M. The UN human right chief condemns both Israel and the Palestinians for the latest escalation in Gaza. "From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel's excessive acts of retaliation," UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told journalists in Vienna. She also denounced the killing of a Palestinian teen on Wednesday.

1:10 P.M. Rocket sirens go off in southern city of Sderot. (Shirley Seidler)

1:06 P.M. IDF mobilizes tanks and infantry forces to south following the escalation in Gaza. (Gili Cohen)

11:45 A.M. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon visits the families of the kidnapped teens to personally update them on the progress in the investigation. (Gili Cohen)

11:32 A.M. A Palestinian pathologist is en route from Ramallah to the Abu Kabir forensics institute in Tel Aviv, to take part in the autopsy on16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The procedure will begin in the afternoon, after which the body will be released for burial. The funeral will take place in the evening in his East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat.

11:30 A.M. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni response to incitement and calls for revenge: "This is not the way of Zionism, this is not the way of the State of Israel. We cannot let extremism win." (Revital Hovel)

10:54 The rocket that hit a Sderot house earlier Thursday did not explode, but penetrated a wall and caused extensive damage. The woman of the house was in a protected room with her four children at the time of the strike. "We heard an explosion, and then a really strong explosion," she said. "I know it was close, but I didn't think it was actually inside the house."

10:30 A.M. Jerusalem light rail to operate on limited route Thursday following severe damages caused Wednesday during the clashes. Light rail franchisee City Pass says repairs could last months. (Nir Hasson)

9:35 A.M. Family of slain Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu-Khdeir says coroner has concluded checking the body and that the autopsy could begin. A  Ramallah pathologist will part in the autopsy on behalf of the family. It is still not clear when the body will be transferred to the family. Police fear that the 16-year-old's funeral will spark renewed violence. National police forces have been deployed in the capital and are on high alert. (Nir Hasson)

8:43 A.M. Gaza rockets hits two houses in Sderot, causing damage to the buildings and a nearby vehicle. There are no reports of casualties. Three other rockets explode in open areas. (Shirley Seidler)

8:06 A.M. Israeli forces overnight arrest 13 Palestinians and raid two institutions affiliated to the Dawa, Hamas' social welfare network, in the Hebron area.

Eleven rockets were fired overnight from Gaza at southern Israel. An Iron Dome defense battery intercepted two over Netivot, three exploded in Sderot and six fell in open areas. A residential building in Sderot was hit by one of the rockets; no injuries were reported. (Gili Cohen)

6:28 A.M. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed his condolonces to Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon regarding the three teens in a Wednesday phone conversation.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Hagel pledged U.S. support to Ya'alon for finding the perpetrators, while urging all parties to avoid any destabilizing action. (Haaretz)

5:16 A.M. The UN Security Council "condemned in the strongest terms" the abduction and killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen found dead in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday.

Its members "underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of this deplorable act to justice," and "called for immediate calm." (DPA)

4:42 A.M. At least 10 civilians were injured in the northern Gaza Strip, including a woman in critical condition, Gaza emergency chief Ashraf al-Qedra told reporters. Witnesses reported hearing explosions in the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza city. (DPA)

3:37 A.M. IAF strikes 15 targets in Gaza, according to a statement released by the IDF spokesperson, "in light of constant and continued fire into Israeli territory." Among the Hamas-affiliated targets were hidden rocket launchers, training compounds and weapons storage sites. (Gili Cohen)

3:13 A.M. The IAF is currently striking targets in Gaza following late Wednesday night's rocket fire into Sderot. There are reportedly casualties. (Gili Cohen)

1:12 A.M. A rocket fired from Gaza lands in Sderot. Additional explosions have been heard, and electricity in the city is cut off. (Shirly Seidler)

12:15 A.M. State Departement spokeswoman Jen Psaki says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday night and said that anyone who is found to have been involved in taking another person's life will be punished.

During the call, Psaki says, Netanyahu made clear to Kerry "that he had asked for an investigation to find out who was responsible for the despicable murder as soon as possible, that anyone who takes a life will be punished severely." (Barak Ravid)

For Wednesday's live updates, click here

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