Live Updates: Gaza Cease-fire Holds; Israeli Minister Says No Palestinian Prisoners to Be Released

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A view of houses that were damaged during Israel-Gaza fighting, as ceasefire holds, in Gaza City, Monday.
A view of houses that were damaged during Israel-Gaza fighting, as ceasefire holds, in Gaza City, Monday.Credit: SUHAIB SALEM/ REUTERS
Updates
Jack Khoury

10-year-old girl, policeman succumb to wounds from Israeli attacks

A 10-year-old girl died on Monday, two days after an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Hanin Abu Qaida was seriously wounded when Israeli forces targeted a car in Beit Hanun, according to the ministry, and later succumbed to her wounds.

A Gaza City police officer, Mahmoud Daoud, also died on Monday, a day after an Israeli strike that immediately killed two others.

Ben Samuels

Blinken says U.S. welcomes end to hostilities, sends condolences to bereaved families

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement on Monday that the United States welcomes the agreement to "bring an end to hostilities and restore calm in Gaza and Israel."

The agreement, he said, "will bring a welcome respite to Israeli and Palestinian civilians and permit deliveries of critical fuel and other supplies into Gaza."

The Secretary of State went on to express the U.S.'s condolences to families of civilians who lost their lives or were injured during the fighting.

The United States "remains dedicated to our ironclad commitment to Israel's security," he added, and "will work with partners to improve the quality of life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."

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UN delegation arrived in Gaza to assess situation following ceasefire, Palestinian sources say (Haaretz)

A UN delegation has arrived in Gaza to assess the security situation, Palestinian sources reported on Monday, as Israel and the Islamic Jihad brokered a cease fire Sunday night, after 4 days of fighting. The cease-fire deal contained a promise that Egypt would work for the release of two senior Islamic Jihad prisoners, but Israel denies that the release is part of the Gaza deal.

Jonathan Lis

Israeli President Herzog visits town near Gaza border following cease-fire

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meeting with leaders from the Gaza border communities on Monday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Israel's president Isaac Herzog visited the southern town of Sderot to meet with officials from the Gaza border communities. He opened his visit remarking: "I come here on behalf of the entire people of the country to say thank you to all the citizens of [the Gaza border communities] and Sderot. Without this community, there is no Israel. You are the gate to this country, and you are the wall that protects Israel."

>> In Hard-hit Southern Israeli City, a Quarter of Residents Lack Access to Bomb Shelters

Yaniv Kubovich

Thirty-five Palestinians killed in Gaza operation, over 1,100 rockets fired towards Israel, IDF claims

The Israeli military put the Palestinian death toll at 35 people killed by Israeli airstrikes, including 11 people who were not targeted, such as the wives of Islamic Jihad militants. It also claimed that 15 Palestinians were killed by rockets launched by the Islamic Jihad that mistakenly landed within the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militants launched some 1,100 rockets into Israel, the Israeli military said, 200 of which exploded within the Gaza Strip. 380 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, with the defense system successfully intercepting 95 percent of the rockets that were fired at populated areas, according to the IDF.

Jonathan Lis

Senior Israeli officials: no commitments, but open to discussion of prisoners' release

According to senior Israeli officials, "Israel did not agree to the release of either of the two detainees that the Egyptians mentioned. The Egyptians requested, and we will facilitate a dialogue on this matter. They wanted to know about their situation, to see that everything is okay."

The officials told Haaretz that "the issue of prisoners and detainees is very sensitive. We will talk about it with the Egyptians. The Egyptians did not say we would release them, we did not commit to releasing them."

Amos Harel

Surprised by its achievements, Israel rushed to end Gaza campaign

International mediation efforts aimed at achieving a swift cease-fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip came to fruition on Sunday.

The initial and most pressing need for a cease-fire was humanitarian. Gaza’s power plant is out of fuel, and fuel enters the Strip from Israel. Without more fuel, Gaza’s power supply will be disrupted and hospitals’ ability to function could be severely impaired. This would negatively affect the treatment of hundreds of people wounded in Israeli air strikes.

But the parties quickly moved on from discussing a lull in the fighting for bringing in fuel to talking about an immediate cease-fire. As Egyptian sources said, it came into effect Sunday night. Israeli political and security sources also sounded relatively optimistic. This could work, they said.

Read the full analysis

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Prisoner Khalil Awawdeh will be released to a hospital within a few hours, Islamic Jihad claims

Hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh will be released to a hospital within a few hours, Islamic Jihad spokesperson Daoud Shihab said in an interview to Palestinian radio Al-Shams on Monday morning, while Israel denies that such a deal had been reached.

"Regarding the other prisoner Bassam al-Saadi, we are also sure of his release and even though we don't have a time frame, it will happen as soon as possible and within the next few hours, a UN delegation will visit the Sheikh Saadi in prison," he added.

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Israeli Public Security Minister: Israel didn't agree to release any Islamic Jihad membes from prison

Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev told Kan Bet radio that Islamic Jihad commander Bassam al-Saadi will stay in jail, "like any prisoner."

"This is about him and another security prisoner, an administrative detainee," he said, referring to Khalil Awawdeh, "and like any security prisoner who is under administrative detention ... Towards the end of the period, the Shin Bet decides whether to release him or extend his detention. And many times—most times—the Shin Bet extends the detention period."

Bar-Lev emphasized that Israel "has not committed to anything" on the question of releasing Islamic Jihad-affiliated members from prison.

The Islamic Jihad claimed on Sunday that Israel had agreed to immediately release Awawdeh, who has been on hunger strike for over 140 days over his administrative detention without trial, while the group claimed al-Saadi's release was up for discussion at a later stage.

Read the full report

Jack Khoury

Gaza crossings partially reopened to humanitarian aid, Israel says

Israel is allowing humanitarian aid through to Gaza after Israel closed major crossings into the Strip six days ago, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Rassan Alian announced Monday. The crossings will not return to their "full routine," however, "subject to calm in the area," the statement said.

Ben Samuels

Biden welcomes cease-fire, thanks Egypt

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire between Israel and Islamic Jihad on Monday, saying that "the United States has worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict."

The president went on to thank "Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and the senior Egyptian officials who played a central role in this diplomacy."

Biden added that "Israel has defended its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the United States is proud of our support for Israel’s Iron-Dome, which intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved countless lives."

At the same time, Biden called reported of civilian causalities "a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza."

Jack Khoury

Palestinian hunger striker set to be released, Islamic Jihad leader says

Khalil Awawdeh, an Islamic Jihad leader who is currently on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison, will be released on Monday and taken to a hospital, and afterwards will return to his home, according to Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah.

Awawdeh is being held by Israel without charges, and his hunger strike has been going on since early July, as part of his protest of the detention.

Jack Khoury

All acts of aggression will 'exact a price from Israel,' Hamas spokesperson says

Hamas spokesman Fawzi reacted to the cease-fire on Sunday in a statement, saying that "this is another round of fighting, another stop in the ongoing and fierce struggle against the occupation...a struggle that will not end until the occupation is removed from all Palestinian territory."

He added that no act of aggression will "not exact a price from Israel."

Jack Khoury

Egyptian official confirms cease-fire agreement has been reached

An Egyptian official involved in mediation efforts confirmed on Sunday that a cease-fire agreement has been reached, and Israel agreed "to discuss" the Islamic Jihad's demands that two of its high-ranking officials be released from Israeli prison.

The high-ranking Islamic Jihad officials are Bassam al-Saadi, whose arrest in Jenin last week triggered the current outbreak of violence, and Khalil Awawdeh, who is being held by Israel without charges and has been on a hunger strike for nearly 150 days.

Both sides expressed a desire to move forward and maintain peace, and for Egypt to continue acting as a mediator, the official added.

Jack Khoury

Palestinian Health Ministry: 41 killed in fighting

Forty-one Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the fighting with Israel began, including 15 children and four women, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

According to Palestinian reports, four Palestinians, a father and his three children from the al-Nabahin family, were killed by Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday evening, Palestinian reports say.

Israel's military spokesperson said the deaths were caused by a failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad.

Michael Hauser Tov

Israeli sources: Unclear when cease-fire will begin

Jerusalem says it is unclear when the cease-fire will begin and that Israel is waiting for updates from the Egyptians, who have been mediating between the two sides, Israeli sources say.

Sources added that Israel's position is still in favor of a cease-fire following the latest barrage of rockets fired towards Tel Aviv.

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Rocket alert sounds in Tel Aviv area

Rocket alert sounded in central Israel and the Tel Aviv area, shortly before a cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad was reportedly meant to go into effect.

Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and the central Israeli cities of Rishon Letzion, Bat Yam, Holon, Ramle and Lod, which is adjacent to Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, as well as in the southern cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod and in communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

In Israeli communities near the Gaza border, residents were asked to stay in shelters until further notice.

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Eight killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza Strip, Palestinian reports say

Three people were killed in an Israeli strike that targeted a car in Gaza City, Palestinian reports say, and five others, all children, were killed in a strike in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials claim the children were killed by a failed Islamic Jihad strike. The children were ages 16, 16, 14, 13, and four. Four of them were from the same family.

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Israeli, Palestinian human rights organizations urge Israel to allow Gaza humanitarian access

Israeli and Palestinian human rights organization urged Israel on Sunday in a letter to open the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings to allow for humanitarian access in Gaza and to "put an immediate stop to the killing and harming of Gaza's civilian population."

Gisha, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Adalah and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights sent the letter to Israel's Minister of Defense, Attorney General, and Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories.

"The existence of security threats, including risks posed during hostilities, do no absolve Israel of its humanitarian obligations towards residents of the Gaza Strip," the organizations said.

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Rocket alerts sound across southern Israel

Rocket alerts blasted in multiple Israeli cities and towns in the Gaza border area, including Ashkelon, a major coastal city north of the Strip.

Police said a man was lightly wounded after a rocket part landed outside his house. Residents in some border communities were asked to stay in shelters until further notice.

The Islamic Jihad said its forces launched a "massive" barrage targeting Israel's south.

Nati Yefet

Lapid tells southern mayors Israel is ready to end fighting, source says

Prime Minister Yair Lapid told a group of mayors and council heads along the Gaza border that Israel has "achieved its goals" and is ready to end the fighting, according to a person who attended the meeting in Sderot.

"That was his main message," the source added. "The meeting was to set the ground for the cease-fire to go into effect."

Jack Khoury

Islamic Jihad demands Israel release senior militant before it agrees to cease-fire

The Islamic Jihad demands that Israel release Bassam al-Saadi, a senior member of the Palestinian militant group apprehended by Israeli forces in the West Bank last week, before it agrees to a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, a senior official said.

Anwar Abu Taha, a member of the Islamic Jihad political bureau, told Palestinian media that the organization's demands also include the release of hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh, who is held by Israel without charges, and a stop to assassinations and arrests of the group's members in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Another senior Islamic Jihad official, Khader Adnan, told Nazaretz-based Alshams radio that he is aware of "intense" negotiations throughout the day, but stressed that the decision on agreeing to a cease-fire lies with the Islamic Jihad's top leadership in Gaza and abroad.

Reuters

Israel-Gaza Erez crossing damaged by Palestinian mortar, Israel says

A Palestinian mortar attack damaged the shuttered Israel-Gaza Erez border crossing on Sunday, the Israeli Defense Ministry said.

"The terminal roof was damaged as a result of the fire, and shrapnel fell into the entrance hall, an area that is used to facilitate the daily passage of thousands of Gazans that work in Israel," the Defense Ministry said.

There were no reports of any casualties.

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IDF destroys two Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza, military says

The Israel Defense Forces attacked and destroyed two Islamic Jihad positions in the Gaza Strip on Sunday from which rockets have been fired at Israel, a military spokesperson said.

Nine other such positions were targeted by Israel on Saturday, and the military is continuing to hit terror targets at this time, the spokesperson added.

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Morocco says it follows Gaza violence 'with great concern'

Morocco is "following with great concern the serious deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip, due to the return of acts of violence and fighting, which have caused casualties and material damage," according to a tweet by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday. The statement fails to condemn either Israel or the Palestinians for the renewed violence.

Michael Hauser Tov

Israeli official confirms talks for cease-fire on Sunday evening

An Israeli official confirmed talks for a cease-fire that would go into effect on Sunday evening, but said its details are still being finalized.

Reuters, Al Jazeera and several Palestinian media outlets reported an agreement was reached for a cease-fire that would start at 8 P.M., citing Palestinian and Egyptian sources. An Islamic Jihad spokesman confirmed talks are happening, but would not immediately say whether they were successful.

Reuters

Truce to begin at 8 P.M., reports say

A Palestinian official told Reuters Israel and Islamic Jihad have agreed to a truce in Gaza fighting proposed in Cairo, which will go into effect at 8 P.M. Separately, Al Jazeera reported that Egypt is set to formally announce the cease-fire agreement, also saying, citing unidentified sources, it would start 8 P.M. and will include Israeli concessions to alleviate the Gaza Strip's fuel shortage.

An Egyptian security source said Israel had agreed to the truce offer. Spokespeople for Israel and Islamic Jihad, the faction it has been fighting in Gaza since clashes erupted on Friday, did not confirm this, saying only that they were in contact with Cairo.

Reuters

Egyptian mediators propose truce to begin at 10 P.M.

Egyptian mediators have proposed a Gaza truce that would take effect at 10 P.M. on Sunday, an Egyptian security source said, adding that Israel had agreed while Cairo was still seeking a Palestinian response.

There was no immediate confirmation from Israel or Palestinian Islamist Jihad militants. The sides have been exchanging fire across the Gaza border since Friday.

Jonathan Shamir

Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli Jews' Temple Mount visits

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned "the storming of the courtyards of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli settlers,” in light of the uptick in Jews visiting the Temple Mount for the fast of Tisha B’Av.

The Saudis, recently touted as potential partner to a normalization agreement with Israel, censured the “grave violation of international law and the historical and legal status quo.”

Without referring to the Gaza Strip directly, the Kingdom also called on the international community to take steps to "end the escalation by the Israeli occupation, and to provide the required protection for civilians and to make all efforts to end this long conflict."

Jack Khoury

Thousands attend funeral of Islamic Jihad commander, Gaza victims

Thousands of people took part in the funeral of Islamic Jihad officer Khaled Mansour on Sunday in Gaza. Mansour was killed during the night in an attack along with two fellow militants, also senior officers, and was the last top Islamic Jihad official in Gaza.

Khaled Mansour's funeral in Gaza on Sunday.
Khaled Mansour's funeral in Gaza on Sunday.
Khaled Mansour's funeral in Gaza on Sunday.
Gaza funerals

Funeral processions were also held for other victims killed in the Rafah area.

During the processions calls for revenge and the continuation of aggression against Israel could be heard.

Jack Khoury

Gaza medical services to shut down in 48 hours due to power outage, fuel shortage

The Palestinian Health Ministry said that they have roughly 48 hours until medical services in the Gaza Strip are shut down due to the power outage and the lack of fuel used to operate generators in the hospitals. This report comes after the enclave's electricity authority announced the strip's lone power plant was shut down for twelve hours on Saturday because of the fuel shortage, caused by Israel's ongoing blockade.

Last Thursday, Gaza’s power company announced that it was cutting the electricity supply from eight hours a day to just two or three, after Israel halted the supply of diesel fuel into Gaza following the closing of border crossings. It also warned that the power plant would shut down completely if more fuel didn’t arrive.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.

In Gaza fighting, Israel and Hamas have a common interest | Analysis

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhaleh has reason to worry. So far, Hamas has made do with supportive rhetoric and avoided military involvement. Islamic Jihad has announced that it does not intend to stop fighting, it denies reports that it asked Egypt to broker a cease-fire and it has declared: “We have no red lines... There will be no truce and no mediation.” Hamas has evinced a more flexible position that reveals its misgivings. The group is still holding talks with Egyptian mediators, whom it asked not to close the Rafah border, and it wants these efforts to extricate it from the need to publicly face off against Islamic Jihad.

While Hamas sees the rebuilding of Gaza, the economic improvement of its citizens and the building of broad public support as essential stages on the way to achieving its ideological goal, Jihad has no interest in rebuilding the Strip, establishing public institutions and welfare or conducting foreign policy beyond what is required to provide it with money and weapons. Against this backdrop, serious differences have emerged over the years between the two organizations, even as they have been forced to cooperate. While Hamas has a major military and economic advantage, Islamic Jihad has the ability to strike at the Hamas monopoly and undermine its control by taking advantage of Israel’s knee-jerk military responses.

Read Zvi Bar'el's full analysis

Michael Hauser Tov

Israeli diplomatic source confirms talk of Gaza cease-fire

An Israeli diplomatic source confirmed talks are being held by Egyptian mediators for a cease fire in Gaza.

An Israeli political source confirmed that talks are being held by Egyptian mediators to reach a cease-fire and end Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip. But time is limited, an Egyptian diplomatic source warned, adding that "as time passes and the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens, the chance that Hamas will join the fight increases." According to their estimation, "if there is no cease-fire within 48 hours, Hamas will join the fighting."

Lapid meets with Netanyahu for security briefing

Lapid meets with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office Sunday morning for a security update.

Netanyahu said after the meeting that he "fully supports" the government and security forces and urged southern Israeli residents to continue following the Home Front Command's directives. He added that he offered advice during the meeting about handling the current conflict.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu during a security briefing, Jerusalem, on Sunday.Credit: Haim Tzach/ GPO

Jack Khoury

Palestinian media: Two dead in attack on northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian rescuers search for victims at the site of an Israeli air strike on a house, Gaza Strip, Sunday.Credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Palestinian media says an Israeli strike hit a house in the Jabalya area of northern Gaza, killing two. Reports say one of the dead had been struck while attempting to attend to wounded people.

Nir Hasson

AFP photographer Ahmad Gharabli briefly detained by Israeli police on the Temple Mount

AFP photographer Ahmad Gharabli was arrested on the Temple Mount while documenting right-wing lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir's visit. Gharabli says he was beaten by the police both during the arrest and inside the police station. He was released after about half an hour. According to the police, he did not listen to the policemen who secured the visit, but in the video he took himself, the footage shows him filming Ben Gvir from a distance, and not a single policeman addressed him before one attacked him and dragged him away by force.

In another video, it appears that he raises his hands and does not resist the police. He was taken to the police station near the Western Wall. At first an officer told him that they just wanted to keep him away from the temple for a period of between one and six months, but he was finally released unconditionally a short time later. Immediately after his arrest, several media outlets, including Haaretz, contacted the police regarding his arrest. Gharabli suffered many times from police violence. In Jerusalem last May he was beaten on the Temple Mount and was shot last year with a sponge bullet.

Two homes hit by Gaza rocket in southern Israel, no casualties reported

One rocket fell in a backyard in Sderot on Sunday morning. No one was injured and no casualties were reported. Another direct hit took place on Sunday in the Eshkol council, while the residents, a couple in their 50s and their dog were in the house. No one was injured but minor damage was caused to the building.

The rocket that landed in a private backyard, in Sderot on Sunday.

Lapid: 'Operation will continue as long as necessary'

Lapid said on Sunday that the IDF operation in Gaza will "continue as long as necessary" in the wake of the assassination of the Islamic Jihad's Gaza commander Khaled Mansour.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz added that "security forces will continue to act against the Islamic Jihad until we restore quiet."

Lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives at the Temple Mount

Along with hundreds of Jews that also arrived at the Temple Mount Sunday morning, with the gates of the holy site opening for the holiday of Tisha B'Av events.

Lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir ascends the Temple Mount on Sunday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Yaniv Kubovich

Two militants killed with top Islamic Jihad commander, attack tunnel targeted

The IDF confirms that Khaled Mansour was killed during the night in an attack along with two fellow militants, also senior officers, and was the last top Islamic Jihad official in Gaza. He was the counterpart of Jabari, the southern commander of the organization. In addition, an attack tunnel, reportedly built by the Islamic jihad, was targeted by the Israeli army during the night, although it did not cross into Israeli territory, but was located near the Rafah area.

The Islamic Jihad confirmed the death of the three officials, and added that four more civilians were killed in the attack, "including two women and a child who were taken out from under the rubble."

About 20 members of the Islamic Jihad were arrested throughout the West Bank, in the Jenin refugee camp and one of the organization's senior officers was arrested in the West Bank.

Nir Hasson

Jews ascend the Temple Mount as part of holiday of Tisha B'Av

Hundreds of Jews arrived at the Temple Mount Sunday morning, with the gates of the holy site opening for the holiday of Tisha B'Av events. Palestinian residents say that the security forces have placed many roadblocks across the Old City.

Jews visit the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, during the annual mourning ritual of Tisha B'Av on Sunday.Credit: Mahmoud Illean/ AP

Jack Khoury

Israel Denies Involvement in Deadly Gaza Strike That Left Five Dead

At least five Palestinians were killed, including four children, and several more injured by a strike near a mosque in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces said that it did not carry out any attacks on Jabalya refugee camps at the time, and said that the deaths were caused by an errant Islamic Jihad rocket.

"We have videos that prove beyond doubt that this is not an Israeli attack," the head of Israel's public diplomacy said, though he said he will not imminently publish the evidence.

It distributed a video which appeared to show a rocket being launched from Gaza at night and then veering immediately off course down into a built-up area, but the footage could not be independently verified.

Read the full report.

Yossi Verter

Lapid and Gantz surprise Islamic Jihad, and Netanyahu too | Analysis

Another election approaches, with another Gaza operation in progress. The feeling is that we’ve already been there. A military confrontation in the midst of an election campaign, with the operation managed by two political rivals striving to be prime minister, is often accompanied by other elements which aren’t useful. The friction usually comes later, when events enter the water-treading stage. We’ve learned on many occasions that what begins with 170 seconds of everlasting glory may end up as 170 days or weeks of frustration, sometimes leading to a commission of inquiry.

It’s too early to try and estimate the political ramifications of this. What can be said at this stage is: 1. The operation disrupts a campaign planned by Netanyahu, based on claims that Lapid and Gantz are captives of the “Muslim Brotherhood.” 2. If things don’t get out of hand, and they usually do, Lapid will shake off the epithet of immaturity and inexperience which got in the way of his assumption of the prime ministerial mantle. 3. Already by its second day, the operation has yielded some roiling political news: the head of the opposition has deigned to come for a security briefing by the prime minister.

Read Yossi Verter's full analysis

Anshel Pfeffer

What Lapid stands to gain or lose from Gaza op | Analysis

A day into Operation Breaking Dawn, Yair Lapid is in the position known in the Israeli Defense Forces as either tzalash, or tarash – either you get a citation for bravery, or you get demoted to the lowest rank. There’s nothing in between. Exactly five weeks since he took office, the prime minister is facing his first security crisis and at this point it could be the perfect boost to the credibility of a leader who has no real military record or experience in senior security posts. Or it could fatally brand him as an eternal civilian who should leave these matters to the real professionals.

Read Anshel Pfeffer's full analysis

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Gaza flare-up, day 3

The latest flare-up in Gaza was rooted in the arrest earlier this week of a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank. Israel then closed roads around Gaza and sent reinforcements to the border, bracing for retaliation.

On Friday, Israel assassinated an Islamic Jihad’s commander for northern Gaza, Taiseer al-Jabari, in a strike on a Gaza City apartment building. An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles.

On Saturday, Israel killed a second top Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, who led the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad's operations in the southern Gaza Strip.

The fighting has killed at least 29 Palestinians and seen hundreds of rockets fired toward Israel in the worst violence between Israel and Palestinian militants since the end of an 11-day war in 2021.

Hamas seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew from the coastal strip. Its most recent war with Israel was in May 2021.

Iran-backed Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups oppose Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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