Live Updates: Why Israel Agreed to Hamas' Request to End Fighting

Israel carries out 30 strikes on Gaza, including attack tunnel ■ IDF says some Gaza rockets are Iranian-made ■ U.S. calls for emergency Security Council session over Gaza rockets

Smoke billows after a mortar fired from the Gaza Strip hit near a railway track near  Sderot in southern Israel on May 29, 2018
JACK GUEZ/AFP

Explained: Why Israel agreed to Hamas' request to end fighting

CLICK HERE FOR UPDATES: Haaretz's Gaza flare-up live blog for the second day of violence

The Israeli air force struck targets in Gaza in response to rocket barrages fired toward southern Israeli communities Tuesday, also bombing a tunnel which led from Gaza into Egypt and then into Israeli territory.

The first barrage consisted of 28 mortars, with one shell falling in the yard of a kindergarten in an Israeli community close to the border with Gaza. The attacks continued throughout the day triggering dozens of rocket sirens in southern Israel and wounding five Israelis, one of them suffering moderate injuries. Earlier on Sunday and Monday, the Israeli army had killed four militants with strikes on the strip.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have claimed Tuesday's attacks, while the international community has called on the groups to cease firing projectiles immediately.

Live updates:

8:22 A.M.: Senior Hamas official says Gaza ceasefire reached to end violence, AFP reports

House hit in the Eshkol region, May 30, 2018
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

7:22 A.M.: Solider hit by shrapnel in moderate condition (Haaretz)

7:09 A.M.: Eshkol regional council: Direct hit on home in the Eshkol region, no casualties

Israel Army Spokesperson

At least two rockets fired from Gaza exploded in the Eshkol region overnight, the regional council spokesperson said. One hit a house in the area directly. There were no casualties. (Almog Ben Zikri)

1:09 A.M. Israeli army confirms carrying out strikes on 25 Hamas targets in Gaza Strip (Haaretz)

12:48 A.M. Rocket explodes in southern Israeli town, no casualties reported. Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip (Yaniv Kubovich)

Israeli defense system shoots down Gaza mortar fire

Earlier, Israel struck positions in Gaza, Palestinian reports said.

11:18 P.M. Reports: Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have reached cease-fire in Gaza; Israeli official denies

Reports in Arab media say Israel, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have reached understandings to restore the ceasefire in Gaza that was reached in 2014. The reports are quoting a Hamas spokesman as saying that he group will be abide by the deal if Israel does.

The deal was reportedly reached by Egyptian mediation.

An Israeli official denied the reports. (Jack Khoury)

10:27 P.M. Sirens go off in Israeli communities near Gaza border

10:26 P.M. U.S. calls for emergency Security Council session over Gaza rockets

The United States has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council over the firing of rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip. A statement released by the U.S. mission to the UN said it wishes to "discuss the latest attacks on Israel out of the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other militants."

"The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they're allowing to happen in Gaza," it said.

A picture taken from Gaza City on May 29, 2018, shows a smoke billowing in the background following an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian enclave.
THOMAS COEX/AFP

The statement said the U.S. expects the session to take place on Wednesday afternoon. (Haaretz) Read full story

9:35 P.M. Analysis: Israel-Gaza flare-up worst since 2014 – but war could still be avoided

"Things could still get totally out of control and degenerate into an unwanted and unplanned war, just as in the summer of 2014. But there still appear to be ways out the parties can take to avoid a collision course." (Amos Harel)  Read full story

9:33 P.M. U.S. National Security Council 'closely monitoring' situation

The U.S. National Security Council's spokesperson called on those launching the projectiles to cease their attacks. "We are aware of numerous mortar attacks on Israel today and are closely monitoring the situation," read a statement. |"We call on those launching the attacks to cease this destructive violence. We fully support Israel’s right to self-defense and to take action to prevent such provocations." (Noa Landau)

9:24 P.M. Israel's UN ambassador requests condemnation

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon has written to the UN Security Council and the secretary general with a request that they condemn the rocket fire from Gaza. 

“For weeks we have warned that the violent riots along the security fence with Gaza, that included IEDs and the firing of weapons at our security forces, were not spontaneous protests, but rather part of a coordinated violent attack against the State of Israel," he wrote.  "The shells and rockets fired at our citizens leave no doubt to the true intentions of those who incited, encourage, and even paid for those ongoing riots."

8:35 P.M. European Union condemns rocket fire from Gaza

The spokesperson for the European External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic service, has issued a statement on the rocket fire. "The rocket and mortar fire by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards Israel must stop immediately," reads the statement. "Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable under any circumstances. A de-escalation of this dangerous situation is urgently needed to ensure that civilians' lives are protected." (Noa Landau) Read full story

8:25 P.M. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim mortar, rocket fire in joint statement

"The resistance forces are conducting this campaign against the Zionist enemy according to the interests of the Palestinian people and according to the existing balance of power, and will not allow Israel to dictate new formulas that allow the Palestinian people to suffer harm and bloodshed without a response," the statement read in part. "If Israel continues to harm our people, then all the options will be possible from the point of view of the resistance organizations." (Jack Khoury)

8:00 P.M. Rocket fired from Gaza hits site providing power to enclave

A rocket fired from Gaza at Israel struck a building key to supplying power to the southern part of the enclave. (Almog Ben Zikri)

7:50 P.M. Rocket sirens go off in multiple Israeli communities near Gaza border; two projectiles land in unpopulated areas 

7:36 P.M. Opposition chief Herzog urges UN secretary general to condemn mortar and rocket fire

MK Isaac Herzog, head of the opposition in the Knesset, has appealed to the UN's secretary general with a demand for a "public condemnation by the UN of aggressive terrorist activities of the Hamas organization and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip against Israeli citizens in the Gaza border communities." (Noa Landau)

7:08 P.M. MK Zahalka says Israel engineering military conflict

MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) said the Israeli government was responsible for the escalation. "The Israeli government is being pushed into a corner by the non-violent demonstrations in Gaza and is initiating a military confrontation to stop them," he said. (Jonathan Lis)

6:53 P.M. IDF warns of false rumors circulating on social media outlets

Netanyahu tweet about '57 missiles'
Twitter

The military has urged people to refrain from disseminating false rumors on social media outlets that are claiming Israel has decided to launch a full-scale military operation. The IDF said the rumors were false.  (Yaniv Kubovich)

6:36 P.M. President Rivlin: Israel is determined to protect borders

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called the escalation "an open campaign by terrorist groups with Iranian backing, whose goal is ongoing damage to Israel's security. We are determined to protect our borders, daily life and our citizens' lives, and to destroy those who wish us harm." (Haaretz)

6:30 P.M. MK Ahmad Tibi says Israel to blame for escalation

MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) said the Israeli government is responsible for the escalation in Gaza. "The vast majority of those killed and injured in Gaza in recent weeks were Palestinian civilians, and therefore the Israeli government bears responsibility for the escalation," he said. 

Tibi also called for an immediate cessation of the escalation in Gaza and for the international community to intervene and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. "The siege is the root of all evil and is what is driving the tension, friction and confrontation," he said.  (Haaretz)

6:14 P.M. Israeli military shells observation post in the central Gaza Strip, Palestinian reports say

6:08 P.M. Gabbay: Netanyahu government is keeping Hamas alive

Avi Gabbay, chairman of Israel's Labor Party, wrote on Facebook that the Israeli government is instrumental in Hamas's continued survival. "Since the last round, Protective Edge, our government has not made any move to prevent" further escalation, Gabbay said. He added that the lack of a peace process "and the fact that there is no leadership that has succeeded in creating regional alliances to fight terror simply keep Hamas alive."

5:45 P.M. Israel Navy stops Palestinian flotilla attempting to sail From Gaza

The Israel Navy stopped a flotilla of Palestinian activists who set sail from Gaza Tuesday to protest years of a naval blockade by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip.

Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming rockets and artillery shells, fires from southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 29th, 2018
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

The navy prevented the flotilla from crossing the blockade line – six nautical miles off the coast. Navy ships also stopped one of the boats, with some 17 Palestinians aboard, after it crossed out of the area where allowed fishing boats are allowed and violated the blockade, the military said. Read full story

5:29 P.M. Israel instructs diplomats to 'demand strong condemnation' of Gaza attacks

The Foreign Ministry sent a special cable to all Israeli diplomats instructing them to "demand a strong condemnation of the terror attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians." The cable says Israel holds "Hamas responsible." (Noa Landau) Read full story

5:25 P.M. Cleared for publication: Three of the wounded Israelis are soldiers

Three of the wounded by mortar fragments in an open area near the Gaza border were soldiers, the Israel Defense Foreces said. One suffered moderate wounds and two were lightly injured.

5: 02 P.M. Jason Greenblatt criticizes Hamas on Twitter

Jason Greenblatt, the American special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, tweeted condemning the attacks to Israel from the Gaza strip. "Reprehensible – mortars fired from Gaza at a kindergarten and community in Israel!," he wrote, adding "Hamas has failed – all it can offer is terror. Palestinians in Gaza need real leaders to work on Gaza’s real problems with its water, its economy and so much more." Read full story

5:00 P.M. Three Israelis wounded by mortar shrapnel fragments

Three people were lightly wounded by mortar shell fragments in an open area near the Gaza border, including one who suffered head injuries. The total number of Israelis injured in the flare-up with militants in the Gaza Strip is thus up to five. In the border town of Sderot, a man suffered bruises while running to a shelter. Two others suffered from shock. Earlier, one person was wounded by mortar shrapnel.

4:50 P.M. Netanyahu to hold security briefing

Netanyahu to hold security briefing with Defense chief Avigdor Lieberman, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman and senior security officials in Jerusalem. (Noa Landau)

4:31 P.M. Israeli man wounded by mortar fire from Gaza

An Israeli man sustained light injuries after he was hit by shrapnel from mortar fire launched from Gaza.

4:30 P.M. France declares that it is 'unconditionally committed to Israel's security' and condemns firing of mortar shells into populated areas of Israel

In response to the firing of mortar shells into populated areas of Israel on Tuesday, the French embassy in Tel Aviv released a statement from the French Foreign Ministry saying: "France roundly condemns the firing at a civilian population, which fortunately has not claimed victims. France is unconditionally committed to Israel's security. France condemns the renewed violence, which is inconsistent with a peaceable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  A renewal of a credible diplomatic process requires all of the sides to forgo the use of violence." Read full story

4:26 P.M. Sirens sound 50 times in Israeli communities

Rocket sirens went off 50 times since the morning in Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip since the morning.

4:17 P.M. IDF tells residents of Gaza border communities to remain within 15 seconds of shelters

4:15 P.M. Defense Minister LIeberman says Israel has no intention to  let the situation pass

Speaking about the situation, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "Today at midday, we massively and powerfully attacked terrorist infrastructure, including an additional tunnel, across the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have already paid a heavy price and the bill has just been presented to them. We have no intention to let it pass," he said, indicating that Israel would not take Tuesday incidents lightly.

4:10 P.M. Iron Dome carried out more than 25 interceptions

During the course of the day, the army reported more than 25 interceptions by Iron Dome, adding that the system's "capacity to deal with mortar shells is not hermetic, despite the successes."

"From our standpoint, Hamas is responsible for what happens in the strip. Just as it permitted quiet, now it is permitting noise. It was in fact Islamic Jihad that fired but Hamas bears responsibility," the army said.

3:48 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in southern Israeli communities

3:27 P.M. Israel strikes Gaza 30 times; target includes 'terror tunnel'

The IDF said it launched 30 missiles on seven targets in the Gaza Strip, including what it described as a "terror tunnel" reaching 900 meters into Israeli territory. Some of the rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel are Iranian-made, the IDF said. The military called this the worst incident since the Israel-Gaza war of 2014.

According to the IDF, the tunnel was discovered 10 days ago and is two kilometers long. It originates in the Gaza Strip, extends into Egyptian territory for a kilometer and then winds back into Israeli territory for 900 meters. The army added that the tunnel was used both for smuggling and terror activities. (Yaniv Kubovich) Read full story

3:14 P.M. Israel intercepts rockets as second barrage launched from Gaza

The IDF intercepted several rockets from Gaza, the second such barrage launched toward Israel in hours. Parts of a rocket fell in the yard of a school in Sderot, the community's city hall said. No casualties were reported. (Yaniv Kubovich, Almog Ben-Zikri)

2:53 P.M. Rocket sirens blare again across Israeli south; Iron Dome triggered

Numerous rocket sirens sounded in the southern Israeli communities of Sderot, Hof Ashkelon, Shaar Hanegev and Eshkol. The IDF activated Iron Dome missile defense systems. (Yaniv Kubovich)

1:36 P.M. Israel strikes Islamic Jihad target in Gaza City, report says

The Israeli military carried out strikes on an Islamic Jihad facility in Gaza and attacked targets in Khan Younis, Dir al-Balah and Al-Nasirat. (Jack Khoury)

12:52 P.M. Israel Air Force strikes Gaza

The Israeli air force struck targets in Gaza in retaliation for the rocket barrage. The IDF said it is carrying out an operation in the Strip and that explosions could be heard in the vicinity. (Yaniv Kubovich)

12:39 P.M. Hamas says Israel striking central Gaza

According to reports in Khan Yunis, Israeli warplanes fired at least 10 missiles on Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. (Jack Khoury)

12:27 P.M. Egypt in talks with Israel, Hamas, Islamic Jihad to avoid Gaza conflict

A Palestinian official in Gaza told Haaretz that Egypt is in touch with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel in an effort to head off a deterioration of the situation into a wider conflict. The talks with Islamic Jihad are being conducted at a high level and include the group's leadership abroad, the source said. According to assessments in Gaza, if Israel's response does not result in fatalities in Gaza, all of the parties to the conflict will act with restraint. (Jack Khoury)

12:20 P.M. Netanyahu tweets, deletes that '57 missiles' fired toward Israel

"Let the world know: Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip continue to attack Israel. Share the truth!," Netanyahu tweeted, despite the fact that 28 mortar shells – not 57 missiles – were fired from Gaza. Less than an hour later, the prime minister deleted the tweet. (Haaretz)

11:50 A.M. Netanyahu vows 'forceful' response to Gaza barrage

"The Israeli army will respond with great force to these attacks. Israel will exact a heavy price from anyone who tries to harm it and we view Hamas as having responsibility to prevent these attacks against us," Netanyahu said at a conference in the Galilee.

Netanyahu also discussed Iran's presence on Syria's border with Israel. "We are not making do with an Iranian withdrawal from just southern Syria," Netanyahu said. "The Iranian missiles have a range that endangers us even if they are in other areas. Iran needs to leave all of Syria. We have not agreed to less than that." (Noa Shpigel, Noa Landau)

10:52 A.M. Lieberman, senior defense officials hold security meeting

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other senior defense officials met at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv Tuesday for an urgently convened meeting to consider the latest developments on the Gaza border. (Yaniv Kubovich)