7:20pm - IDF officer hurt by mortar fire dies. Prayers for the loved ones of Lieutenant (res.) Boris Yarmulnik, who paid the ultimate price serving his country. Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren: “We, the people of Israel, will remember him and pray that his memory be blessed forever.”
10:59am -“Israel Did Everything it Could to Avoid Civilian Casualties” — a great interview with Col. Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.
8:41am - A reflection from Rabbi Jonathan Greenberg: The Broken Discourse of This Conflict.
8:53pm – And Max Boot, writing in Commentary: Gaza treaty “A respite, not a resolution.”
8:47pm - JPost: ”Washington is urging Israel not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition next week at the UN.”
8:02pm – Must read: Thanksgiving reflections from Israeli blogger Yaccov Lozowick.
9:29am – IDF spokesperson Avital Leibovich tweets, “Happy Thanksgiving!! In #Israel we are thankful for an (almost) rocket free night.” As are friends of Israel everywhere. As we in the US give thanks today, let’s also pray for true and lasting peace. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone — we’re grateful for your continued support and concern for Israel and her people.
2:50pm – Check out the IDF’s Ceasefire Agreement page, complete with a run-down of the actions and successes of Operation Pillar of Defense.
2:30pm – An update from Reuters, via Haaretz: “Gaza militants fire 12 rockets into Israel during hour after cease-fire was announced. The rockets landed in open areas and caused no damage or casualties. (Reuters)”
1:05pm – Just five minutes after the official ceasefire was declared, Haaretz reports that four grad rockets were fired toward Be’er Sheva. One was intercepted.
11:50am – Egypt’s Foreign Minister has announced the ceasefire and Secretary Clinton will shortly hold a press conference in Cairo. Looks like it’s for real. Pay close attention to the blockade of Gaza and whether or not Israel agrees to loosen it.
11:28am – It’s worth pointing out that the press also reported breathlessly all day yesterday about a ceasefire that never materialized. So, just food for thought.
11:27am - The Israeli press is reporting that Israel will begin a unilateral ceasefire starting this evening in response to a request from U.S. Secretary of State Clinton. Sec. Clinton is in Cairo now negotiating Hamas’ cooperation with the ceasefire. According to the report, Israel is aware that the terrorists may keep firing rockets for a short time, after which they will also hold their fire. In exchange, Egypt and the U.S. will put down on paper new rules about preventing smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border. Our initial reaction: betting that the Egyptians will keep their word isn’t the safest bet in the world to make.
10:37am – Images from the bus bombing this morning in Tel Aviv.
Photos from AFP/Getty Images, IDF, Associated Press, Flash 90 (respectively).
9:30am – From Times of Israel: The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv has advised its employees to “remain at home until the Israeli National Police gives an all clear.” It also advises all Americans in Israel to monitor the local news for developments on the current safety situation.
5:55am - Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has written an incredible article about his support for Israel. Please take a moment to read and, especially for our Canadian friends, PLEASE contact this great public servant and thank him for his friendship!
5:20am – There has been an apparent suicide bombing in the heart of Tel Aviv near the Kirya – the Israeli version of the Pentagon. Twenty-one people are reported injured but no fatalities and no life-threatening wounds. Initial information tends to change quickly, so we’ll have more information as it becomes available.
10:30pm – Reports indicate that, if no ceasefire materializes tomorrow, the U.N. Security Council will meet tomorrow afternoon (New York time) to consider a resolution sponsored by Russia. It appears that the resolution will be unacceptably one-sided. We’ll be asking you to make calls to the White House tomorrow to urge the President to veto the resolution. Stay tuned.
5:00 pm – A recap of day seven of Operation Pillar of Defense from the IDF:
During the course of the evening, the IDF continued targeting dozens of terror infrastructure sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including a bank used to finance Hamas operatives, a site in the southern Strip used to launch terror attacks, a Hamas command and control center in the northern Gaza Strip, a military hideout and a senior operatives’ meeting place.
In addition, the IDF targeted tunnels containing explosives, four weapons storage facilities, two weapon manufacturing facilities, as well as a system of tunnels used transport gas to the Hamas, gas that was used to support terror activities.
Furthermore, IAF aircraft targeted several terror operatives as well as terrorist squads that were preparing to fire anti-tank missiles towards Israel. Israeli Navy soldiers and IAF aircraft targeted several rocket launching sites and seven underground rocket launchers.
3:14 pm – We’ve reprinted the statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, prior to their meeting today. Check it out here.
1:56 pm – An update on ceasefire progress (or lack thereof) …
From Times of Israel: “Israeli negotiations team has rejected a draft ceasefire, and that a press conference — ostensibly announcing the truce — that was initially scheduled to take place at 9 p.m. has been put off indefinitely, Channel 2′s Ehud Yaari reports.
From CNN: ”Israel is not interested in a ‘time out’ allowing Hamas to regroup after Israeli strikes have done damage, [Israeli spokesman Mark] Regev said. ‘We want a new reality’ in which Israelis don’t live under rocket fire from Hamas, he said.”
12:36pm – A recent report from JPost:
Israel and terrorists from the Gaza Strip have agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that will come into force at midnight local time, Hamas official Ayman Taha said, speaking to Reuters from Cairo.
“An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 p.m. and go into effect at midnight,” Taha said.
Prime Minister’s Office spokseman Mark Regev, however, told The Jerusalem Post “Until you’re there, you’re not there.”
12:29pm - Further to the below breaking news: “Civilian also killed in mortar attack on Eshkol Regional Council earlier in the day (Gili Cohen).” Haaretz reports that the civilian’s name was, Eliyan Salem Elnabari, a ministry worker of Bedouin descent.
11:49am - BREAKING NEWS: Just reported by Haaretz: “7:45 P.M. – Lifted gag order reveals that an IDF soldier was killed in Gaza mortar attack on the Eshkol Regional Council earlier in the day (Gili Cohen).” IDF confirms, the fallen solider was Cpl. Yosef Fartuk, 18, from Emmanuel.
10:42am – Yediot Achronot reports that Hamas has murdered six Palestinians in Gaza for “collaborating with Israel” and thrown their bodies on the streets as a warning to others. The link is in Hebrew, but the article says this is the second time since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense that Hamas has done this.
10:15am – Despite talks of ceasefire and the Prime Minister’s current meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, rocket fire continues. Israel’s Channel 10 has reported multiple injuries resulting from a direct hit on an apartment building in Rishon Lezion, a heavily populated city just south of Tel Aviv.
10:00am – PM Netanyahu hosts United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem. Times of Israel reports: “Netanyahu says no country would accept rocket attacks on its populace, notes that Israel would only be a partner to a long-term solution to the problem that can be put in place via diplomatic means. Otherwise, Israel “will act.”
From JPost: Netanyahu, following his talk with Ban: “If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution.”
9:45am – From Haaretz: “Senior Israeli officials with knowledge of ongoing talks geared at reaching a ceasefire with Hamas will go into effect by Tuesday evening, adding that they hoped that the deal’s last points will be finalized in a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, due to take place at 10 P.M.”
8:31am – This afternoon in Israel, the IDF confirmed that five IDF soldiers were wounded by a rocket in western Negev. And separately, rocket alerts sounded in Jerusalem for two rockets that exploded in open areas near Gush Etzion.
6:30am – Please call the White House this morning and thank the President for standing up for Israel last night at the U.N.! The switchboard number is 202-456-1111. Whether you supported President Obama or not, believe us when we tell you that the other side will be making phone calls this morning, too.
5:42am – The U.S. last night prevented passage by the U.N. security council of a one-sided statement about the Israel-Hamas conflict that failed to mention Hamas rocket fire and did not affirm Israel’s right to self-defense.
4:50pm – UK Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt: “The UK calls on Hamas, who bear principal responsibility for starting this round of violence, to stop the rocket attacks. Doing so would bring the violence most quickly to an end.”
From Times of Israel: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly indicated that if Hamas did not halt its rocket attacks by Tuesday, he would order a ground offensive, and several of his ministers underlined that position.”
And JPost published: “Israel diplomatic and security cabinet met late Monday night to discuss latest ceasefire initiatives”
Regardless, there are still rockets incessantly entering Israel from Gaza. And the IDF continues to defend the Holy Land. Keep her people in your prayers. “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy” (Psalm 130: 1-2).
1:30pm – From Times of Israel:
The White House says US President Barack Obama has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
According to a readout, Obama and Morsi “discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, and President Obama underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel.”
Obama also received an update from Netanyahu on the situation in Gaza and Israel.
12:44pm – At an anti-Israel protest in Belgium yesterday afternoon, protestors called for Jews to be gassed. Take a second and let that sink in. They actually chanted, “Hamas, Hamas. Jews to the gas.” Unfortunately, that kind of swill isn’t at all new in that part of the world – here’s a report from this past August about anti-Semitic chants at Dutch soccer games (?!). Below is the video of the protest.
10:44am – The IDF reports that four top Islamic Jihad members have been killed by Israel’s armed forces. Ramez Hamez had been involved in launching long-range missiles toward Israel; Baha Abu al-Alta was a member of the organization’s supreme military council who was also involved in launching long-range missiles; Tayasir Jabari, also a member of the military council was in charge of its operations portfolio; and Khalil Bahatini, was also involved in long-range launches. (Haaretz and JPost)
9:04am- Again, “relative quiet” was reported in Israel last night. But we have a hard time recognizing Code Red missile alerts in Eshkol Regional Council, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sha’ar Hanegev, Hof Ashkelon, Be’er Tuvia, and Gadera, AND rockets explosions in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, and Gan Yavne, as “quiet.” Please continue to pray for a just and peaceful conclusion to this conflict.
8:04am – From the IDF: “Some numbers from the last 5 days: 570 rockets fired from #Gaza hit #Israel + 307 Iron Dome interceptions = 877 rockets fired at us.” 877 rockets is truly horrific — but nice to see that the Iron Dome is proving effective.
7:47am – Observations from the indispensable Khaled Abu Toameh: “There is nothing more nauseating than watching people celebrate as rockets are being fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip … As soon as the sirens went off, many Palestinians took to the streets and rooftops, especially in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, to cheer Hamas.”
6:45pm – Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Israel’s Channel Two that Operation Pillar of Defense will not only continue, but will likely expand. Israel is preparing for a ground operation as needed. Yishai said the war against Hamas must be “so painful and difficult that the terror groups will not think twice, but a hundred times before they fire missiles against Israel again.”
6:00pm - From JPost, “After a few hours of relative quiet, a rocket fired from Gaza on Sunday evening hit a house near Kiryat Malachi. No injuries were reported, but the rocket caused damage to the house in a direct hit.” Kiryat Malachi is the same city in which three Israelis were killed on November 15 when a rocket hit their apartment.
5:50pm – In an end of day recap, the IDF has reports that over 980 rockets have been launched from Gaza toward Israel since escalation of the conflict began. Approximately 100 rockets have landed in Gaza. Haaretz notes, “Just 75 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Sunday, compared to an average of 230 rockets per day over the weekend.”
5:30pm - Shortly after midnight in Israel, the Times of Israel reported on comments from PA official Nabil Shaath to Ma’an news agency from Cairo. Times of Israel reports that according to Shaath, Hamas and the other factions in Gaza demand the following conditions for ceasefire:
1. Israel must completely lift the blockade on Gaza.
2. Israel must stop its incursions into the Gaza Strip.
3. Israel must stop targeted killings of faction leaders in Gaza.
4. Israel must stop attacking Gaza fishermen and firing at them.
And, reported by Palestinian sources on Ma’an, Israel’s conditions are as follows:
1. The ceasefire must last for over 15 years.
2. Weapons must no longer be let into Gaza.
3. Hamas and the factions must stop shooting missiles and targeting Israeli forces on the border.
4. Israel may conduct a “hot” pursuit into the Gaza Strip if it has information on an imminent attack.
5. The removal of the blockade will be done from the Egyptian side, not the Israeli.
6. President Morsi is the personal guarantor for the agreement, and not Egyptian security forces.
3:10pm – Two explosions heard in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city. IDF is looking into the source.
11:45am – Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that there will be no negotiations over a cease fire until the rockets stop. This is consistent with long-standing Israeli policy to not negotiate while under terrorist attack.
11:19am – A birthday party in a park in Tel Aviv is interrupted by a rocket launched from Gaza. The parents tell their children, repeatedly, “yadayim al harosh (hands on your head).” The father even starts to sing a well-known Hebrew childrens’ song with similar words.
11:16am – The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted two Gaza-fired rockets over Tel Aviv.
10:41am - Iran denies supplying Fajr-5 rockets to Gaza. In other news, McDonalds denies supplying BigMacs to its fanchises.
10:17am – The IDF is reporting that it has killed, in a targeted attack, the head of Hamas’ rocket program, Yahyia Byya.
10:09am – The number of wounded from Ofakim is now listed at five. Among the injured are a couple and their two year-old daughter.
9:00am – A grad rocket fired from Gaza has hit a car at the entrance to Ofakim. Initial reports are four wounded, one seriously.
7:47am – The New York Times continues its pro-Hamas reporting. This story was on the front page yesterday - a heartbreaking story about two Gazans who thought there was a ceasefire, went outside, and were killed. The clear implication is that they were killed by Israel. Not until the reader turns to page A11 would they learn that the two subjects of the story were killed by and errant Hamas rocket.
7:35am – IDF Spokesperson moments ago on Twitter: “Advice to reporters in #Gaza, just like any person in Gaza: For your own safety, stay away from #Hamas positions and operatives.” But, then, how will they disseminate Hamas propaganda?!
6:51am – Heavy rocket barrage hits the south.
9:21pm – Reports of massive air strikes in Gaza. This may actually be evidence that earlier reports of truce talks are correct. Israeli officials have stressed all along that their objectives in this campaign are a few high-value human targets as well as long-range rocket stores, weapons manufacturing facilities, and smuggling tunnels. If we’re nearing a truce, Israel may want to make sure they get through the whole checklist.
6:00pm – A great quote from the peace-loving peaceable peacemakers at Hamas: “There are more than 50,000 Palestinian Jihad warriors who are willing to fight against any ground offensive in Gaza. Gaza will be a cemetery for invaders. In addition to the warriors, there are 5,000 martyrs waiting for the IDF soldiers to blow themselves up.” Quick! Somebody negotiate a ceasefire with these totally reasonable people!
5:20pm – The world and its media outlets have said nothing about the range of Hamas’s rockets into Israel – and now those rockets can reach Tel Aviv and the holy city of Jerusalem. When will the world speak out against this injustice and speak up for the security of Israel? Join us in making international media take notice. The reach of hate is extending its grasp on the people of Israel – let’s extend the reach of truth to the whole world.
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4:15pm – IDF preparations underway on the Israel-Gaza border. See more pictures from the front lines.