Egypt has announced that Israel and Hamas had agreed to a cease-fire to end eight days of fighting. Hundreds of rockets were fired into southern Israel, killing killed five Israelis, while IDF strikes in Gaza killed more than 140 Palestinians.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel on Tuesday, to help the sides reach a cease-fire.
05:05 A.M. School canceled Thursday for schools within 40 kilometer range of Gaza Strip (Army Radio)
04:01 A.M. Army Radio reports that rockets fired from Gaza after cease-fire leave Israeli boy in Netivot lightly wounded and house in Be'er Sheva damaged.
03:24 A.M. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice says, "Achieving a two-state solution has been a top priority for President Obama and his administration from the very earliest days of his tenure. And I’m quite certain that it will be a very high priority in his second term. As Secretary Clinton said today in Cairo, now that we have a ceasefire, we all must redouble our efforts to achieve that two-state solution. And I’m confident that whoever President Obama selects to be his next Secretary of State will pursue that objective with vigor."
On the Palestinian UN bid, she says, "We view unilateral steps, including the bid for upgraded status to statehood — observer state status at the General Assembly — to be counterproductive and not take us closer to that goal, and, therefore, we strongly oppose it. (Natasha Mozgovaya)
2:45 A.M. As UN Security Council meeting ends, the council's president this month, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, reads out a press statement adopted by consensus welcoming the Israel-Hamas cease-fire and commending Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for helping achieve it. It also called for more humanitarian aid to be delivered with the cooperation of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. No mention was made of Hamas, which actually governs on the ground in Gaza. (AP)
2:39 A.M. More than 100 demonstrators protest in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip lay the blame on Israel for eight days of fighting that have concluded with the declaration of a cease-fire.
The demonstrators include Venezuelans as well as Palestinian immigrants who waved Palestinian flags and beat drums. One woman held a sign describing Israel's government as "terrorist."
Elsewhere in Latin America, several dozen protesters demonstrate outside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An Israeli flag is burned during the demonstration. (AP)
2:07 A.M. Five rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the declaration of a cease-fire Wednesday night. (Gili Cohen)
1:54 A.M. Haim Waxman, Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, tells media waiting outside UN Security Council that the international community addressing the smuggling of weapons into Gaza will help preserve calm in the region, while discounting the Palestinian Authority's bid for statehood.
"When we sign the agreement, we abide by it and when the other side is not doing it, it's troubling," said Waxman. "Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization, that continued to smuggle weapons. The international community should do whatever it can to stop the smuggling of weapons. That's what eventually will bring calm to the region."
When asked about the PA's UN statehood bid, Waxman said, "We've seen the Palestinian Authority has zero authority in Gaza, so what kind of state are we talking about?" (Natasha Mozgovaya)
1:36 A.M. European Union leaders greet the declaration of an Israel-Gaza ceasefire late Wednesday.
"It is now crucial to ensure (the ceasefire) implementation and to prevent the restart of violence," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy said in a joint statement."
The two also expressed the European Union's determination to continue working to help in reaching the two-state goal.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also praised the role of Egypt in reaching the ceasefire.
"I commend in particular the efforts of Egypt and all those who engaged in mediating between the parties to secure this ceasefire," Ashton said. (DPA)
1:25 A.M. Israeli UN Envoy Ron Prosor sent a formal letter to the UN Security Council President Hardeep Singh Puri asking for the UNSC to condemn Hamas and Iran, despite the recent ceasefire agreement.
"For the sake of peace and security in our region, I call on the Security Council to speak loudly and clearly: condemn terror, condemn Hamas, and condemn Iran and all nations that are providing the tools for terrorists to murder innocents in our region," he wrote."Today’s attack (in Tel-Aviv) was another reminder about the enemies of peace in our region.... No nation, no government, and no people would tolerate such violence against its citizens. Israel will continue to take all necessary measures to defend its population." (Natasha Mozgovaya)
1:05 A.M. In an interview with CNN, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal says that Hamas does not take credit for the bomb blast on a bus in Tel Aviv earlier on Wednesday and instead shifted blame for the bus attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Not Hamas... not other people from Hamas," Meshal told CNN. "No one can announce except those who committed, not me...It is Netanyahu with his crimes, in killing the kids of Gaza, and the continuity of aggression. He create(d) such ramifications everywhere. This could lead to any kind of reaction as retaliation for what happened in Gaza."
12:03 P.M. The announcement of a cease-fire agreement is greeted with a sigh of relief among Gaza residents, due both to the cessation of Israeli attacks and the condition in the cease-fire agreement ensuring the end of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
11:32 P.M. Some 30 Sderot residents demonstrate agains the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. The protesters are blocking a road and chanting disparaging remarks directed towards Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
11:08 P.M. Islamic Jihad General-Secretary Ramadan Shallah: "The recent battle was a major failure for Israel. Despite the massive American and European blitz against the resistance, they have failed."
10:47 P.M. Khaled Meshal: Palestinians to respect truce if Israel does. "If [Israel] does not comply, our hands are on the trigger." (Reuters)
10:23 P.M. Gaza militants fire 5 rockets into Israel during hour after cease-fire was announced. The rockets landed in open areas and caused no damage or casualties.
10:06 P.M. Released for publication: IDF reserves officer was critically wounded from a rocket that exploded in Eshkol Regional Council earlier today.
10:03 P.M. Hamas leader Khaled Meshal praises Iran for arming, financing Gaza (Reuters)
10:02 P.M. UN Security Council suspends Gaza debate scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, after cease-fire was announced. (AP)
9:55 P.M. IDF Spokesperson says that the some 55,000 reserve soldiers that were called-up for the operation will be released following an assessment of the situation on Thursday.
9:59 P.M. Rocket alert sounds in Kiryat Malakhi and Ashdod.
9:35 P.M. Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza announce that the resistance won and that all the terms they posed for a cease-fire were fulfilled. IDF Spokesperson says that IDF will not initiate any strikes in Gaza in the coming days.
9:30 P.M. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel and Hamas to keep cease-fire pledges, exercise "maximum restraint." (Reuters)
9:28 P.M. Two rockets fired toward Eshkol Regional Council, land in open areas.
9:13 P.M. IDF and Shin Bet strike home in Khan Younis belonging to a top Islamic Jihad leader. IDF claims it carried out strike before the cease-fire went into effect, while Hamas claims it occured afterward.
9:10 P.M. Four rockets land in open areas in Sha'ar Hanegev and Eshkol Regional Council. Iron Dome intercepts Grad rocket above Be'er Sheva.
9:05 P.M. Four Grad rockets fired toward Be'er Sheva, one intercepted.
9:00 P.M. Gaza-Israel cease-fire goes into effect.
8:49 P.M. Netanyahu: I agreed with Obama that U.S. and Israel will work together against terror in Gaza.
8:48 P.M. Netanyahu: We decided to give a cease-fire a chance
8:48 P.M. Netanyahu: Israel destroyed thousands of rockets intended for Israel.
8:46 P.M. Rocket alert sounds in Kiryat Malakhi and Ashdod.
8:28 P.M. White House: Obama spoke to Morsi, thanked him for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal. Morsi expressed appreciation for President Obama’s efforts in this regard.
8:27 P.M. Two rockets fired toward Ashdod intercepted by Iron Dome. House gets hit by debris from Iron Dome interceptor missile.
8:14 P.M. Rocket alert sounds in Ashdod, Gaza border area
7:58 P.M. Five rockets fired at Be'er Sheva, Iron Dome missile system intercepts four, one rocket hits house, no casualties but damage reported
7:51 P.M. Rocket alert sounds in Be'er Sheva
7:36 P.M. Netanyahu spoke to Obama and took his recommendation to give a chance to the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, the PMO said. Netanyahu's office said that Israel wants to give a chance to the possibility of stabilizing the situation, before exerting more force.
White House: Obama said that the United States would use the opportunity offered by a ceasefire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza.
7:33 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: The people of this region deserve to live without fear. There is no alternative for comprehensive and just peace.
7:27 P.M. Egyptian FM: Israel-Gaza cease-fire to take effect at 9 P.M.
7:22 P.M. Israel has agreed to a truce in the Gaza Strip, but will not lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory, Israeli sources said. (Reuters)
7:09 P.M. Clinton to announce at 8 P.M. that Israel and Hamas agreed on principals for a cease-fire agreement, an Israeli diplomatic source said, noting that there will be no signed agreement, but solely an understanding between the two sides based on the principal of "quiet in exchange for quiet." Only in the second stage, negotiations via Egypt will take place regarding issues in the Gaza Strip.
Reuters reports that Egyptian officials say that a cease-fire agreement has been reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
6:51 P.M. Three rockets land in open areas in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Another rocket lands in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. No reported casualties.
6:35 P.M. Israel mulls declaring unilateral cease-fire, officials say
6:30 P.M. Released for publication: the four Israelis wounded in Eshkol Regional Council are IDF soldiers. Two are lightly to moderately wounded.
5:56 P.M. Forum of nine senior ministers concluded their meeting which discussed the Egyptian proposal for a Gaza cease-fire.
5:43 P.M. Two rockets fired from Gaza land in open area in Eshkol Regional Council.
5:33 P.M. Four Israelis were wounded after a mortar shell from Gaza hit Eshkol Regional Council.
4:56 P.M. State Department: Abbas and Clinton met for half an hour in Ramallah to discuss the situation in Gaza. Clinton indicated that U.S. is working to support ongoing efforts to defuse the crisis, saying she will be visiting Cairo later in the day.
4:45 P.M. Two rockets fired from Gaza Strip land in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. No casualties or damage.
4:33 P.M. Egyptian authorities confiscate trucks carrying 108 warheads intended for Grad rockets, about 430 kilometers northwest of Cairo. Trucks also contained ammunition and likely arrived from Libya.
4:29 P.M. Palestinians report that hundreds of Hamas supporters are protesting in Nablus.
4:34 P.M. An Iranian news agency says the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has disclosed his country has given fighters in Gaza the ability to produce longer-range missiles on their own, without direct shipments.(AP)
3:36 P.M. Two rockets strike open areas in Hof Ashkelon, and two more explode in open areas of Sdot Negev.
3:28 P.M. Iranian Parliament Speaker says Iran has sent military assistance to the Gaza Strip. "We are proud to defense the people of Palestine and Hamas," he says.
3:16 P.M. IDF sources say air force wiped out Islamic Jihad militants in the Jabalya area of the Gaza Strip.
3:00 P.M. Update: Palestinians report two killed in airstrike near al-Khanzandar gas station. The two killed are identified as Mohammad al-Shqar, aged 22, and Mahmoud Abu Khusa, aged 13.
2:54 P.M. Four killed in IDF air strike on Beit Hanoun
2:50 P.M. IDF assassinates Hamas activist in the northern Gaza Strip.
2:48 P.M. Palestinian sources in Cairo say a cease-fire will not be announced on Wednesday, due to disagreement over the Gaza blockade. The source says that Israel refuses to include the lifting of the blockade as a term in the truce agreement.
2:44 P.M. From the State Department on Netanyahu-Clinton meeting: the meeting lasted over two hours, with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, National Security Advisor and other officials. They briefed her on the situation in Gaza and the threat posed by continuing rocket fire to Israeli cities and towns. The Secretary offered condolences for the Israeli citizens killed and wounded in attacks today and over the past several days.
They discussed efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring about a sustainable outcome that protects Israel's security and improves the lives of civilians in Gaza. They also consulted on her impending stops in Ramallah and Cairo, including Egyptian efforts to advance de-escalation. They pledged to stay in close touch as she continues her travels. (Natasha Mozgovaya)
2:41 P.M. Netanyahu's forum of nine senior ministers meeting on Gaza escalation and TA bus blast (Barak Ravid)
2:39 P.M. Palestinians report one killed in airstrike near al-Khazandar gas station in west Gaza City. (Haaretz)
2:27 P.M. West Bank source tells Haaretz that if Al-Aqsa Brigades have claimed responisbility for the attack, then it is an Gaza branch, and not a cell located in the West Bank. He said that in the West Bank there is no activity of the brigades who disarmed and were given pardons in the West Bank. In Fatah's official website, there is no official notice on the Tel Aviv attack, and Arabic websites are citing a brief annoucnment that says the Al-Aqsa Brigades claim responsibility and that the person who carried out the attack has escaped. (Haaretz)
2:26 P.M. Clinton arrives in Egypt for cease-fire talks. (Reuters)
2:00 P.M. IDF: We hit three terrorists launching rockets in Khan Younis, army is back on the offensive in the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)
1:56 P.M. Rocket volley fired at Be'er Sheva. One intercepted by Iron Dome, the rest fell in open areas. No casualties or damage reported. (Haaretz)
1:54 P.M. Tel Aviv municipality says school and kindergarten students can now return home after bus blast (Ilan Lior)
1:51 P.M. Rocket alert in Be'er Sheva and Kerem Shalom (Haaretz)
1:41 P.M. Palestinian news agency Ma'an report Palestinians Israeli strikes on Yarmouk stadium in Gaza City, reports two injuries. (Haaretz)
1:35 P.M. Western diplomat who is updated on the Hamas-Israel cease-fire efforts says that a cease-fire declaration is expected later on Wednesday. The diplomat said this shortly before the bus blast in Tel Aviv. The decision to stop the fire is expected to be taken at a meeting of the forum of Prime Minister Netanyahu's nine senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday afternoon in Jerusalem. It is still not clear whether or not the Tel Aviv blast will reverse this and postpone the cease-fire. (Barak Ravid)
1:30 P.M. Update: At least 21 wounded in Tel Aviv bus blast, one person seriously wounded, most are lightly to moderatley hurt. (Haaretz)
1:26 P.M. IDF says it has struck more than 1,500 sites in Gaza since start of Operation Pillar of Defense (Haaretz)
1:22 P.M. Tel Aviv municipality not allowing students to leave school buildings in wake of blast (Haaretz)
1:11 P.M. The Shin Bet security service earlier this week received intelligence information regarding dozens of "terror plots" currently being planned, Haaretz learned soon after the attack. The central suspicion was that terrorists were going to try to assassinate a senior member of the government or military echelon, using either explosives or a high-trajectory weapon.(Haaretz)
1:09 P.M. Pope urges Israel, Palestinians to end Gaza conflict (Reuters)
1:08 P.M. Rocket alert in Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)
1:02 P.M. Israeli media reports that Hamas is lauding Tel Aviv bus attack, and that Hamas says attack is retaliation for IAF strike on police in Gaza. (Haaretz)
12:57 P.M. Israel Police does not have anyone in custody, manhunt still open for two suspects. (Haaretz)
12:47 P.M. Update: 17 wounded in blast, 2 moderatley to seriously, three moderately, three lightly. (Dan Even)
12:47 P.M. Israel Police arrest suspect in Tel Aviv bus blast. (Haaretz)
Operation Pillar of Defense - day 5
12:40 P.M. Update: None seriously wounded in Tel Aviv blast. Only moderate to light injuries. (Dan Even)
12:36 P.M. Police confirm no more explosive devices found on Tel Aviv bus. (Haaretz)
12:30 P.M. Two rockets explode in Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage reported (Haaretz)
12:15 P.M. Israeli media reports Police searching for suspect in Tel Aviv bus blast. Road blocks set up in the area. (Haaretz)
12:11 P.M. At least 10 people wounded in Tel Aviv bus blast, evacuated to Ichilov Hospital. At least five seriously to moderatley wounded, the rest lightly. Police suspect blast was terror-related. (Haaretz)
12:05 P.M. Explosion reported on bus line 142 in Tel Aviv, on corner of Shaul Hamelech and Henrietta Szold, near Ichilov Hospital. Report has not yet been confirmed, and it is not yet clear what caused the blast or if it was terror-related. Eyewitnesses say bus was empty at time of explosion.
11:50 A.M. Death toll in Gaza since beginning of operation rises to 140 (DPA)
11:45 A.M. Woman lightly wounded from shrapnel after rocket attack in Be'er Tuvia (Haaretz)
11:20 A.M. Rocket alert in Ashkelon area and Be'er Tuvia Regional Council. (Haaretz)
11:09 A.M. Six rockets have hit Eshkol Regional Council in last half an hour. No casualties or damages are reported.
10:57 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in southern Israel (Haaretz)
10:36 A.M. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold a second meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the premier's official residence in Jerusalem. The four held three hours of talks late Tuesday, concluding their meeting only at 1 A.M.
Clinton met Wednesday morning with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is also visiting the region, in order to coordinate their positions and compare notes from their meetings with the Israeli leaders.
Clinton and Ban will travel to Cairo later Wednesday to meet with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and try to push forward an agreement on a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
10:20 A.M. Around 50 Palestinian activists gather outside the presidential compound in Ramallah where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to protest her visit. (DPA)
10:30 A.M. Ma'an reporter identifies civilian killed in Jabalya strike as Abdullah Asaliyeh.
10:23 A.M. Rocket strikes open area in Sderot and scores direct hit on house in Be'er Tuvia (Haaretz)
10:08 A.M. Rockets fired towards Ashkelon. (Haaretz)
10:06 A.M. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz completed an assessment of the situation and said that the dialogue in Egypt does not influence IDF operations. Gantz instructed the IAF to continue strikes on terror sites and rocket-launching squads in Gaza. (Gili Cohen)
09:58 A.M. Rocket alert sounds in a number of southern Israeli cities, including Ashkelon. (Haaretz)
9:51 A.M. Three Palestinians also wounded in earlier strike near Jabalya mosque (Ma'an)
9:50 A.M. Palestinian media reports IDF bombing southern Gaza (Ma'an News Agency)
09:45 A.M. Two Iron Dome interceptions in Ashkelon area, two interceptions above Be'er Sheva. (Gili Cohen)
09:44 A.M. Rocket alert heard in Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon areas, and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Haaretz)
09:32 A.M. Palestinians report that one person is dead from an Israeli strike in Jabalya. (Haaretz)
09:07 A.M. Rocket alert heard in a number of southern Israeli cities. (Haaretz)
8:34 A.M. Rocket barrage fired towards Ashkelon and the Eshkol Regional Council. Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted three out of the five rockets fired toward Ashkelon. In Eshkol, four rockets exploded in open areas. No wounded or damaged reported. (Yanir Yagna)
8:27 A.M. Rocket alert sounds in Ashkelon (Haaretz)
7:41 A.M. IDF says the rocket that hit a residential building in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion on Tuesday was an M-75 Fajr missiles made in the Gaza Strip . Following the recent incidents in which soldiers have been wounded by rockets, the IDF has decided to reduce the number of soldiers around the Strip who are not part of the forces preparing for a possible ground operation. Additional shelters have also been set up in areas in sites where soldiers are gathered. (Gili Cohen)
7:36 A.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket fired toward Ashkelon. (Chaim Levinson)
7:30 A.M. Code Red missile alert sounds in Ashkelon. (Haaretz)
7:15 In a joint operation, the IDF and Shin Bet intelligence services attacked the floor of a building housing intelligence operation of Hamas' military wing. Overnight, the IDF also attacked the Hamas Interior Ministry, a central Police compound in Khan Younis, south Gaza. IAF air craft also attacked a Hamas official IAF air craft also attacked Hamas operative identified at a site from which rocket launches towards Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon were carried out, as well as a number of other militant cells engaged in terror activities, the IDF spokesperson said in a statement.
6:56 A.M. Code Red missile alert sounds in Sderot. (Haaretz)
6:45: The funeral of Corporal Yosef Partok, 18, killed by a mortar shell from Gaza on Tuesday, will take place today at 1:30 P.M. in Jerusalem. (Haaretz)
5:25 A.M. IDF spokesman says over 800 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over past week of hostilities, 162 of them during the last 24 hours alone. (Haaretz)
5:20 A.M. Code Red missile alert sounds in Be'er Tuvia Regional Council and the Gan Yavne region. (Haaretz)
4:09 A.M. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported that an Iranian television journalist was injured in an IDF bombing of a Gaza hotel. Three Islamic Jihad activists were killed in another Israeli attack. (Haaretz)
4:04 A.M. Rishon Letzion's educational system will only partially open Wednesday after city gets hit by rocket (Israel Radio)
3:05 A.M. Anonymous hactivists hijack Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom's Twitter account. Latest tweets include "END THE OCCUPATION. FREE PALESTINE" and "PALESTINE WE LOVE YOU".
2:22 A.M. UN Security Council meeting over recent Middle East violence ends without results, additional meeting called for Wednesday afternoon EST. (Natasha Mozgovaya)
1:53 A.M. Code Red missile alert sounds in Ashdod and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No injuries were reported. At least two rockets fired at Ashdod were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. (Israel Radio)
1:40 A.M No cease-fire: IDF forces continuously bombarding Gaza from air and sea. (Gili Cohen)
1:15 A.M. An Israeli airstrike hit a building that houses the office of the French news agency AFP. An agency photojournalist who was in the office at the time said the target appeared to be two floors above him. No one was injured and the agency office was not damaged. The IDF told Haaretz that the attack was accurately aimed at a Hamas intelligence command center. (Gili Cohen & AP)
11:42 P.M. UN Security Council to meet for consultations on the Middle East at 6 P.M. EST (Natasha Mozgovaya)
11:40 P.M. Gaza militants launch four rockets at Eshkol Regional Council, another rocket at Ofakim; none wounded, no damage reported (Yanir Yagna)
11:12 P.M. Clinton: I am very pleased that the Iron Dome defense has been performing so well. The joint project shows the United States' enduring commitment to the safety and security of Israel's people and for Israel's right to defends itself (Haaretz)
11:10 P.M. Hillary Clinton: It is essential to deescalate the situation in Gaza (Haaretz)
11:01 P.M. Jordan's King Abdullah warns Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ground operation. "The halting of the [military] escalation in all its forms what will open the way for diplomatic efforts and calm." Prior to his talk with the premier, Abdullah spoke with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, asking him to increase his efforts to achieve a cease-fire (Barak Ravid)
11:00 P.M. IDF says its assault on Gaza over last few hours hit a bank serving Hamas, a terror site in southern Gaza, a Hamas command center in northern Gaza, a Hamas safe house and meeting point as well as a system of tunnels used to smuggle in fuel for Hamas activities, four weapons storage facilities and two weapons factories.
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