Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad reportedly agreed to a cease-fire on Thursday morning, putting a tentative end to two days of hostilities that killed at least 34 Palestinians.
Gaza factions launched massive rocket barrages at Israel for the second straight day on Wednesday, a day after Israel assassinated top Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata and his wife Asma.
Thirty-two more Palestinians, including one Islamic Jihad field commander, were killed and at least 111 were wounded in Israeli strikes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday early morning. It is as yet unclear how many of those killed were non-combatants.
As of the latest estimates, which are likely to go up significantly, Israel's Iron Dome defense system intercepted 90 percent of 300 rockets launched from Gaza. The rockets were fired as far north as Tel Aviv, shutting schools in central and southern Israel and forcing one million children to stay at home.
Read Wednesday's recap here ■Targeted killing may not be a political ploy, but it’s certainly advantageous for Netanyahu ■ For Islamic Jihad, revenge for Israel's killing of Gaza leader isn't a top priority ■ Dangerous games in Gaza: Listen to Haaretz’s military analyst
7:38 A.M. Israeli objectives achieved, official says
An Israeli official said that Jerusalem has "achieved the objectives of the operation in Gaza, including significantly harming Islamic Jihad, destroying many infrastructures, and eliminating over than 20 terrorists."
Israel won't shift its policy of hurting those who hurt us, said the official.
7:46 A.M. Gaza's Health Ministry says death toll rises to 8 in Israeli attack on Deir al-Balah attack, including five youths
7:34 A.M. UN Mideast envoy says both sided must show maximum restraint
UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said that the "United Nations and Egypt worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in an around Gaza from leading to war. The coming hours and days will be critical. All must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The Middle East does not need more wars."
7:30 A.M. Israeli Education Ministry director general says schools will remain closed in Israeli communities near the Gaza border, resume in rest of country
7:25 A.M. Home Front Command removes restrictions for Israeli communities north of Ashkelon
The Home Front Command removed all restrictions for communities north of the southern town of Ashkelon. Southern council heads will hold new situation assessments before deciding on new instructions.
7:02 A.M. Barrage of rocket fired at Gaza border areas
Despite cease-fire announcement, rocket alarm sirens blare in Israeli areas adjacent to the northern Gaza strip.
6:26 A.M. Israelis, Palestinians wake up to mixed signals
Local councils in the Gaza border area have until now decided keep to the original Home Front Command recommendations.
The night has been relatively quiet since 2:30 A.M., but the situation remains tense.
6:11 A.M. Rocket alert sirens sound in the Gaza border area
Minutes after the ceasefire reportedly came into effect, rocket alert sirens rang out in Israeli villages located close to the border with Gaza
6:02 A.M. Islamic Jihad says Israel 'agreed to its conditions'
A spokesman for the movement confirmed to Kan that the cease-fire had come into effect, "after the occupation surrendered to the conditions of the resistance."
5:36 A.M. Cease-fire agreement has been reached between Israel and Islamic Jihad, media report
Israel and Islamic Jihad have reportedly agreed to cease hostilities in and around Gaza, according to reports on Israeli public broadcaster Kan and Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera.
The cesefire, which was reportedly brokered by Egypt, would see the Gaza militant group immediately stop all violence, while Israel agreed to not carry out any more targeted assassinations, and would cease to use live ammunitions to target protesters on the Gaza border.
2:35 A.M. Another barrage of rockets hits Israeli town and villages north-east of Gaza
Alert sirens sounded in and around Sderot
2:14 A.M. Death toll rises to 6, 12 wounded in Deir al-Balah attack
Gaza's Health Ministry said that six Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike on Deir al-Balah and 12 were wounded.
According to medical sources on the ground, all were civilians.
This brings the new aggregated death toll to 32, including 3 children, and the number of the wounded to 97, according to the health ministry count.
Unlike Israelis, Palestinians do not report psychological injuries.
1:35 A.M. Several dead in Israeli strike in central Gaza, Palestinian media report
At least four were killed in a strike in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, according to unconfirmed reports in Palestinian news outlets quoting the Red Crescent. Some mentioned that there were two women among the dead, and perhaps a small child.
At least 10 more were wounded, with responders still attempting to rescue survivors from the rubble.
1:21 A.M. Israel rescue services report eight injured from last volley of rockets on Ashdod
Eight had received medical treatment, Magen David Adom said, including four for psychological trauma, and four injured while seeking shelter, including a young child.
Palestinian authorities do not report psychological injuries.
12:40 A.M. Another, shorter barrage of rockets hits southern Israel
Rocket alert sirens sounded in and around the port city of Ashdod.
This follows sporadic rocket fire on Ashkelon and in other places on the Gaza border.
11:49 P.M. Israeli air strikes targeting Islamic Jihad positions, infrastructure
Strikes conducted by the Israeli air force hit Islamic Jihad positions in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.
A military compound used by the group's navy as a training facility as well as a weapons storage facility were also reportedly hit by Israeli navy, according to a military statement.
11:38 P.M. 'Islamic Jihad’s demands prove that the Israeli action has succeeded,' political source says
An Israeli political source said “the Islamic Jihad wants a cease-fire, and therefore trying to create a false impression of its achievements. The [Islamic] Jihad’s demands prove that the Israeli action has succeeded.”
The source added that “it’s the actions of the ground that will determine” whether quiet returns.
11:20 P.M. IDF resumes strikes on Gaza targets
The Israeli army resumed attacks on Gaza, presumably in response to the latest rocket launches.
11:13 P.M. New barrage of rockets hits as far north as Rehovot, 25 km from Tel Aviv
Another, rather intense, barrage of rockets has hit southern Israel from Gaza, going as far as Rehovot, a city of about 140,000 less than 25 km south of Tel Aviv.
No casualties were reported, according to Israel rescue services.
9:10 Islamic Jihad leader spells out cease-fire conditions from Beirut-based channel
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala spelled out his group's conditions for a cease-fire in Gaza speaking in an interview with the Beirut-based channel Al-Mayadeen TV. He listed the conditions including an end to Israel's targeted killings of militants and Gaza border protesters as well as measures to ease a blockade on the Palestinian enclave. Nahala also said the Egyptians reached out for mediation immediately after the targeted strike that killed Bahaa El-Ata. "There is a draft agreement for the truce and we expect an answer [from the Israelis] tonight," he said, adding that "Egypt is taking positive steps to promote a cease-fire." All of the actions by the organization are preventively approved by the high echelons, he noted.
9:10 Gaza Health Ministry communicates two more casualties from Israeli attacks
The Health Ministry in Gaza said in a statement two more Palestinians were killed as a result of an Israeli strike, adding their bodies were transferred to the hospital in Rafah. The Palestinian death toll thus climbs to 24.
9:00 New barrage of rockets launched toward Israel's south
Rocket alarms sounded yet again in Israel's south. Gaza projectiles triggered the alarms in the mid-size cities of Ashkelon, where a 70-year-old woman was wounded on Tuesday, and Wednesday. The red alert also went off in Netiv HaAssara, an Israeli community right on the border with Gaza, Zikim and Karmia.
8:30 Israeli army says 360 rockets were launched toward Israel since Tuesday morning
The Israeli army said 360 rockets were launched toward Israel from Gaza between Tuesday morning and 5.30 P.M. on Wednesday.
8:20 Netanyahu tells AIPAC delegation Islamic Jihad committing war crimes
"The most basic principle of international humanitarian law is differentiating between combatants and non-combatants," Netanyahu said during a meeting with an AIPAC delegation from the U.S., alluding to the Islamic Jihad attacks from Gaza. "You can cross that line accidentally, but you can't cross it deliberately. If you deliberately target civilians that’s a war crime."
7:50 Israeli army says 20 militants were killed since Tuesday morning
The IDF released a statement saying that since the beginning of hostilities on Tuesday morning 20 militants were killed, "most of them from the Islamic Jihad."
7:40 P.M. Egyptian official to Haaretz: talks ongoing for cease-fire, unlikely to materialize today
An Egyptian official told Haaretz there are ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire but they are unlikely to bear any fruits tonight.
7:10 P.M.: Islamic Jihad Spokesman Abu Hamza says Israel is hiding true extent of destruction caused by Gaza rockets
Islamic Jihad Spokesman Abu Hamza tweeted calling on Israel to release documentation showing the full extent of damage caused by the organization's rockets. "We challenge the Zionist military censorship to reveal pictures and videos showing the extent of the destruction of factories, headquarters and settler houses in the occupied cities," he wrote.
7:00 P.M. Israel culture minister says Israel might have to start targeting Hamas
Culture Minister Miri Regev spoke during a visit to a site that was hit by a rocket in Ashkelon. "If Hamas does not restrain the Islamic Jihad, we will have to embark on a broader operation also targeting them," she said.
6:40 P.M. Buttigieg, Biden blast Gaza rocket attacks
Democratic presidential hopefuls Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden both condemned rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza - each saying that “Israel has a right to defend itself.”
6:15 P.M. Israel rescue services say they treated 63 people since the beginning of the escalation
Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service said they treated 63 people for injuries incurred as a result of the ongoing escalation with Gaza. Most were lightly injured besides a girl in Holon who lost consciousness and was hospitalized in serious condition, the service said.
5:15 P.M. IDF: We targeted Islamic Jihad fighter preparing for rocket launch
The Israeli army said in a statement its aircraft targeted an Islamic Jihad fighter who was preparing to launch a rocket toward Israel successfully.
5:10 P.M. Ministry of Health in Gaza: One killed in Israeli strike on Gaza City
The Ministry of Health in Gaza has communicated the death of another Palestinian as a result of Israeli strikes on the strip. "A short time ago, a victim was taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after an Israeli strike on Gaza City," the statement said. The new fatality brings the overall Palestinain death toll to 22.
5:00 P.M. Islamic Jihad: next few hours will be crucial
A spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad says the "next few hours will be crucial in terms of the Islamic Jihad response."
4:50 P.M. Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett: Every terrorist has ticking timer hanging on his back
Freshly nominated Defense Minister Naftali Bennett spoke after a situational assessment with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other high-ranking officials at the IDF Southern Command headquarters. "We are at the second day of our Gaza campaign, the achievements are good but the road is still long ahead of us," he said. "We must make every terrorist aware that they are carrying a ticking timer on their back, it's their decision whether to continue engaging in terrorist activity and thus put an end to their lives or stop. We hope the Islamic Jihad will not decide to put Gaza residents in danger"
4:47 P.M. Clash between Netanyahu and Joint List MKs escalates
Prime Minister Netanyahu clashed with MKs from the Joint List, a predominantly Arab grouping in the Knesset, accusing them of sanctioning terrorism in Gaza by expressing their criticism of the current operation. Joint List leaders blamed Netanayhu for his "incitement" and were eventually escorted putside by security.
4:45 P.M. Netanyahu: We hope campaign will be short
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke before a situational assessment at the IDF Southern Command headquarters with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman, NSC Director Meir Ben-Shabbat. "We are in the midst of a campaign. We hope that it will be as short as possible. We are not bent on escalation but we will do whatever is necessary to restore the quiet and security to the residents of Israel, including the residents of the south. I think that we are on the right track," he said.
4:15 P.M. Israeli woman in light to moderate condition in Ashqelon
A 70-year-old Israeli woman was said to be in light to moderate condition after a Gaza rocket hit her house in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. She was wounded by broken glasses. "She suffered minor injuries and was treated for bleeding," Magen David Adom rescue service said.
4:10 P.M. UN Mideast envoy "working to urgently de-escalate"
UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the "indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centers" and added that the UN is working to "urgently de-escalate.”
3:45 P.M. French Foreign Ministry calls on sides to restore quiet
The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for the two sides to restore the quiet and respect international humanitarian law by protecting civilians. "France supports the attempts at a mediation by UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov as well as Egypt's," the statement said.
3:51 P.M. One Israeli lightly wounded after rocket falls in southern Israeli city of Ashkelon
Emergency services said they were treating a 65-year-old woman who suffered lights cuts from glass shards after a rocket fell in the city of Ashkelon.
3:30 P.M. Israel Police receive report of an explosion in Netivot, southern Israel
Israel Police said they received reports of an explosion in an open area in the southern Israeli city of Netivot. Sappers were dispatched to the scene and the area was cordoned off.
No damage or casualties were reported.
2:27 P.M. Gaza's Health Ministry says two killed in an Israeli strike east of Khan Younis
2:21 P.M. Israeli aircraft hits several Islamic Jihad operatives in southern Gaza
An Israeli aircraft struck an Islamic Jihad cell whose members were launching rockets at Israel, the army said.
1:57 P.M. Islamic Jihad says two of its operatives are among fatalities in Israeli strikes
1:42 P.M. Israeli aircraft attacks two Islamic Jihad operatives planning to launch anti-tank missiles, army says
An Israeli aircraft targeted two Islamic Jihad operatives who were preparing to launch anti-tank missiles toward Israel from northern Gaza, the army said, adding the operatives were part of the group's anti-tank missile and sniper division.
1:34 P.M. Palestinian factions say Israel 'will be taught a lesson'
The joint war room of the Palestinian factions in Gaza issued a statement saying Israel "will be taught a lesson" and that Israelis who are in the shelters "must understand the ramifications of their government's stupid policy."
The factions added that they are fully coordinated regarding the rocket launches at Israel, and that they will never accept an Israeli policy of targeted assassinations.
1:37 P.M. Gaza rocket falls near a factory in Sha'ar Hanegev regional council
A rocket launched from Gaza fell near an Osem factory in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council. Light damage was caused to property, no casualties were reported.
Police sappers removed the rocket from the scene.
1:28 P.M. Gaza rocket falls in southern moshav, no casualties reported
1:04 P.M. Islamic Jihad spokesperson says it's not the time to talk about cease-fire with Israel
The spokesperson for Islamic Jihad said that now it's not the time to discuss mediation efforts, although "we respect every effort invested by the Arab world. Nevertheless, we are sending Israel a message and once we finish, it will be the time to speak about calm."
12:59 P.M. Gaza's Health Ministry says 19 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes since Tuesday, 69 wounded
12:28 P.M. Lieberman slams Netanyahu, accusing him of strengthening Hamas
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he is only "strengthening Hamas rule in Gaza."
Lieberman also said he sought to assassin Baha Abu al-Ata a year ago. "Instead of finding a real solution, Netanyahu and his friends have no answers or solutions, and are refusing to hold a serious discussion on the matter."
12:22 P.M. Gaza rocket falls near a kibbutz dining room
A rocket launched from Gaza toward Israel fell near a dining room at a Kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council. No casualties were reported.
12:07 A.M. Israeli army says it concluded extensive strike of Islamic Jihad targets
The Israeli army said it has struck several Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, including a factory that manufactures warheads for long-range rockets. Other targets included a military headquarters and a munitions storage site, and the Israeli navy attacked a vessel belonging to the group, as well as a marine training facility.
11:57 A.M. Interception missile hits chicken coop in southern Israel, no casualties reported
11:50 A.M. Palestinians report one killed, two seriously wounded in eastern Gaza
Palestinians reported that one man was killed and two seriously wounded after a motorcycle was targeted by Israeli fire in Gaza City's eastern suburb of Al-Shejaiya.
11:35 A.M. Fate of Argentina-Uruguay friendly match remains uncertain
Argentinian news outlets reported that the Argentine Football Association approved the delegation's arrival to Israel after being promised that the venue of the match is safe. However, no such official statement has been issued yet.
11:37 A.M. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for rocket barrages
In a statement, the organization said the launches were a response for the assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata and the attempt to kill Akram Al-Ajouri in Damascus, for which Israel is held accountable for.
The response is ongoing, the statement said, and the 'tab is open.'
11:07 A.M. Army deploys commando unit to secure Gaza border communities
The Israeli army said it deployed a commando divison to secure communities along the Gaza border against possible infiltrations.
10:51 A.M. Gaza officials say rocket fire resumed after Israel refused to ease blockade
Senior Palestinian officials in the coastal enclave told Haaretz that the Gaza-Israel calm that prevailed overnight Tuesday was due to intensive mediation talks headed by Hamas to achieve cease-fire with Israel.
According to the Palestinian factions in Gaza headed by Hamas, the organization demanded to significantly alleviate the siege imposed on the Strip, while Israel only offered calm for calm, which led to the resumption of rocket fire Wednesday early morning.
10:52 Gaza rocket barrage fired at Sderot, Ashkelon Israeli communities near Gaza border
10:39 A.M. Netanyahu says Israel doesn't seek escalation, but will respond if necessary
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel does not seek an escalation but will respond to any attacks. Speaking at the start of a government meeting, Netanyahu added that the Islamic Jihad has one choice: "To stop these attacks or to be dealt more and more blows."
10:22 A.M. Israel army confirms striking several Islamic Jihad operatives planning to launch rockets
10:04 A.M. Gaza's Health Ministry says four killed in Israeli strike on Strip
Gaza's Health Ministry said four Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike near a mosque in Gaza City. Three of the them were identified as Rafat Mouhamad Ihad, and his two children Rafat and Amir.
Concurrently, the Israeli army said it struck several Islamic Jihad militants that were preparing to launch a rocket.
10:01 A.M. IDF spokesperson says central Israel is no less threatened by Gaza rockets than the country's southern communities
IDF spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman said that Islamic Jihad might continue firing rockets at Israel in coming days, adding that central Israel is no less affected by the escalation than southern communities near the Gaza border.
Speaking to reporters, Zilberman said that restrictions on the civil population had been reduced to avoid long days of paralysis.
9:18 A.M. Israel army strikes Islamic Jihad senior official's home in Rafah, Palestinians report
9:14 A.M. Islamic Jihad's military wing identifies slain Palestinian as Ala'a Jabar Ashtivi
Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said 32-year-old Ala'a Jabar Ashtivi was killed earlier this morning in an Israeli strike on the Zeitun neighborhood in Gaza.
8:49 A.M. Israeli army confirms striking Islamic Jihad commander
The Israeli army confirmed it struck an Islamic Jihad commander who was preparing to launch rockets toward Israel from northern Gaza.
8:33 A.M. Schools closed south of the Israeli city of Rehovot
8:25 A.M. Palestinian killed in Israeli strike on Gaza City
8:10 A.M. As rocket siren alerts sound in Israel, army strikes Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza
8:03 A.M. Some 220 Gaza rockets fired at Israel since Tuesday, 90 percent intercepted
Some 220 rockets were launched from Gaza toward Israel since Tuesday morning, with 90 percent of the projectiles. Sixty percent of the rockets fell in open areas.
7:45 Israeli aircraft fires at Gaza cell that launched rockets at Israel, army says
7:37 41 Israelis evacuated to the hospital in light condition
Some 23 Israelis were admitted to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon in light condition, and 18 were treated for anxiety. Five people were hospitalized.
7:25 Islamic Jihad field commander killed in Israeli strike on central Gaza, Gaza's Health Ministry says
Khaled Farag, 38, a field commander of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, was killed in an Israeli strike on the Strip, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. Farag was killed in an agricultural area in central Gaza, the Shehab News Agency reported.
7:08 Gaza's Education Ministry says schools in the Strip will be closed Wednesday
7:06 A.M. Rocket alert sirens blare in southern Israel
6:59 A.M. Military spokesman says assessment is that Islamic Jihad will continue firing rockets today
6:52 A.M. Reports in Gaza of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City
6:43 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in several communities near Gaza border
6:31 A.M. Sirens sound in Latrun, Beit Shemesh areas
Sirens sound in the Latrun and Beit Shemesh areas, some 20 kilometers west of Jerusalem, marking the furthest east that sirens have been heard since the flare-up began.
6:06 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Israeli communities near Gaza border
5:55 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in southern Israel after hours-long lull
Sirens are heard in the area of the kibbutz of Kerem Shalom, after hours in which no rockets were fired from Gaza and Israel conducted no airstrikes.
12:50 A.M. Israel strikes more Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza
The military says it has conducted airstrikes on a number of Islamic Jihad targets, including positions used for launching rockets. It also says that earlier in the night, an airstrike targeted three of the group's members after they launched rockets at Israel.
11:43 P.M. Biden: 'Intolerable' for Israelis to live under fear of rockets
Former Vice President Joe Biden has reacted to news of the flare-up, sharing an article about it on Twitter with the comment: " Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist threats. It is intolerable that Israeli civilians live their lives under the constant fear of rocket attacks. That's why our administration was such a strong supporter of Israel's life-saving Iron Dome."
11:37 P.M. Israel avoids striking Hamas targets
As of Tuesday evening, Israel has not attacked any Hamas targets during the day's flare-up, in an effort to prevent that organization from joining the fight.
Defense officials said any attack that caused mass casualties or significant damage to Hamas infrastructure would lead Hamas to enter the fray, but that it has no interest in doing so. Hamas intervening would significantly change the nature of the fighting, as the group's military capabilities are far greater than Islamic Jihad’s.
11:25 P.M. Pence: Gaza groups put violence ahead of their people
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has condemned the rocket fire, writing on Twitter: "The United States condemns the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians. It's clear Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza. America strongly affirms Israel's right to defend itself."
11:23 Ministry of Health in Gaza says 7-year-old killed by Israeli strike
A father with his 7-year-old and 24-year-old sons was killed in an Israeli strike, the Gaza Health Ministry says. Another man was also killed in the same incident, it added.
10:21 P.M. Israeli army strikes several Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza
The Israeli army said it struck several Islamic Jihad terror targets in the Gaza Strip.
10:03 P.M. Netanyahu, Foreign and Defense Committee head meet to discuss security situation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Gabi Ashkenazi met to discuss latest Israel-Gaza escalation.