| Hamas officially rejects Egyptian ceasefire as Israeli bombardment increases – live updates!

Hamas officially rejects Egyptian ceasefire as Israeli bombardment increases – live updates ~  in London and  in New York, theguardian.com.

  • Israel warns 100,000 Gazans to leave their homes
  • The homes of four Hamas leader targeted 
  • Death toll of Palestinians increases to more than 200
  • First Israeli killed after a week of violence
  • How do the events affect you in Israel and Palestine?
  • Read the latest summary
A Palestinian boy shows a flyer dropped over Gaza City by the Israeli army urging residents to evacuate their homes.
A Palestinian boy shows a flyer dropped over Gaza City by the Israeli army urging residents to evacuate their homes. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

4.27pm BST

A funeral procession is under way for the four boys killed in the Gaza port strike.

Palestinians carry the bodies of two boys from the Bakr family, whom medics said were killed with other two children from the same family by a shell fired by an Israeli naval gunboat.
Palestinians carry the bodies of two boys from the Bakr family. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Smoke rise from a structure in the port of Gaza City where five young boys were killed by an Israeli naval bombardment.
Smoke rise from a structure in the port of Gaza City where five young boys were killed by an Israeli naval bombardment. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

Happening now: the funeral for four young boys killed in a strike at the port in #Gaza City earlier this afternoon.pic.twitter.com/ARKMBqglVG

— Jon Jensen (@jonjensenCNN) July 16, 2014

Updated at 4.27pm BST

4.21pm BST

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, has made a statement on al-Aqsa TV, saying that 43 children have been killed in Gaza in the past 10 days, and mentioning the port strike.

Abu Zuhri says that Hamas: “demands that [Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas adopt and respect what the resistance has to say, as well as the people of Gaza. We are deeply disappointed by the official positions of Arab regimes toward war in the Gaza Strip. We are besieged.”

He says “the Israeli occupation will pay the price for its crimes against our people.”

Updated at 4.26pm BST

4.13pm BST

Peter Beaumont has written an account of the strike that killed four children, which he witnessed near a Gaza beach, and after which he and other journalists tried to help wounded children and the man with them.

Behind the smoke, I see four figures running, silhouettes whose legs are pumping raggedly. From their size it is clear they are a man and three young boys.

Only afterwards do we discover there are four others who are dead, all children, lying on the wall. I am shown a picture of one of the dead boys, his skin scorched and bruised. Their names are released later: Ahed Bakr, aged 10; Zakaria, 10; and two other boys from the Bakr family, both named Mohammad, aged 11 and nine.

The second shell catches the survivors as they reach the brightly coloured tents. As it explodes, my colleagues, now standing by the terrace wall, shout at unseen Israeli gunners who can’t hear them: “They are only children.”

The children are brought up. Pulling up the T-shirt of the first boy, who looks about eight years old, we find a shrapnel hole, small and round as a pencil head, where he has been hit in the chest over the second rib.

The boy cries in pain as we clean and dress the wound, wrapping a field dressing around his chest, pressing to staunch the bleeding. He winces in pain, and he is clearly embarrassed too as a colleague checks his shorts to look for unseen femoral bleeding.

A waiter grabs a table cloth to use as a stretcher, but a photographer takes the boy in his arms to carry him to the ambulance that has arrived.

In less than 10 minutes it is over. Even the smoke on the pier has died away, save for a last few drifting wisps.

You can read it in full here.

4.05pm BST

Israel authorizes calling up 8,000 reservists

The Israeli cabinet has approved drafting an additional 8,000 reserve soldiers, Israel Radio reports, confirming previous reports.

The Israeli cabinet just approved drafting additional 8,000 reservists, raising the total number of called-up reservists to 56,000.

— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) July 16, 2014

3.58pm BST

“Gaza’s a place at the moment where it’s very easy to bleed to death,” the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont tells my colleague Amanda Holpuch, who’s just spoken to him by phone. Beaumont just administered first aid to a child injured by shelling that killed four children in Gaza City.

By the south wall we heard a very loud explosion, and thinking it was either some kind of naval gunfire or more artillery, where you see fisherman and their children often getting their stuff ready.

“We see this billowing brown smoke and very, very quickly we realize there are people running through the smoke. We didn’t know then that four of the children – they’re all part of a family called the al-Bakr family – they came running down. And as I’m standing looking down on this wall, kind of a little place that people go down on weekends.

“While I’m standing down looking toward this wall … there’s an adult and three children were turning the corner at the beach waving at us, kind of trying to say “Can we come to the beach, will you help us?” – they got hit by a second artillery round. By the time they made it, the adult, a man of about thirty, clearly had a stump … from shrapnel.

“The three boys got brought up to the terrace where we work and fortunately we had some medical kits, and we very quickly went to work on the two kids who’d been injured. A child brought in, about eight I guess, eight or nine, got a shrapnel wound to the chest, as the other’d been injured in the arm and the head, and we gave first aid while the ambulances came.

“We were worried at first that the hole in his chest might spill through into his lung. We wanted to stop the bleeding but also to try and make sure he was all right until the ambulance came. So some other colleagues helped his brother or cousin I guess, with the head injury.”

Updated at 4.12pm BST

3.41pm BST

The Israeli cabinet may call up an additional 8,000 reserve soldiers, according to reports from security analyst Danny Nisman and Channel Two News’ Udi Segal.

Israel has already approved calling up 14,000 reservists since the conflict began over a week ago.

Updated at 4.01pm BST

3.31pm BST

A Hamas official representing the Fatah movement has arrived in Cairo, where Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo for talks with Egyptians, AFP reports.

“A meeting will be held this afternoon between an official from Hamas and a representative of the Egyptian leadership,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of the Fatah movement.

Ahmad said he hoped the talks in Cairo would “crystalize a definite formula for an Egyptian initiative” or clarify its plan, which had proposed an end to hostilities from 0600 GMT on Tuesday.

Abbas is due to arrive in Cairo later Wednesday for talks.

3.24pm BST

French journalist Emilie Baujard has snapped as shot of two “low intensity missiles fired just now in front of [her] hotel” in Gaza.

2 missiles de faible intensité tirés juste maintenant devant mon hôtel #gaza pic.twitter.com/qYRpdlRby7

— emilie_baujard (@emilie_baujard) July 16, 2014

Baujard tweeted about an hour ago that children were playing on the beach before a shells struck their location. NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin says he was playing soccer with the boys minutes before the strike.

4 Palestinian kids killed in a single Israeli airstrike. Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them #gaza

— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 16, 2014

Updated at 3.42pm BST

3.17pm BST

As Israel tallies more than 1,200 rockets fired into the country over eight days, its own strikes on Gaza have mounted, now totalling at more than 1,825.

The Gaza health ministry has added the names of the four children just killed by a gunboat shell to its Facebook page. At least 16 people have died today in Gaza, and the total number of Palestinians killed is now 213, per emergency services. The ministry says 1,565 have been injured.

AFP reports: “All four were on the beach when the attack took place, according to AFP correspondents who witnessed the attack from a nearby hotel. Several injured children took refuge at the hotel, they added.”

The IDF reports having struck “50 terror sites across Gaza” so far today, with air strikes continuing. According to the statement the targets have included tunnels, Hamas infrastructure, “centers of terrorist activity”, and firing sites. The Gaza interior ministry has been struck, as has the Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, where AFP reports a panicked staff and Channel Four’s Jonathan Miller missile debris and crumbling walls.

Updated at 3.32pm BST

3.00pm BST

Four children have been hit by Israeli shelling at a fishing area in Gaza, journalists report. A gunboat fired at the beach, hitting a fisherman’s family.

Peter Beaumont, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, witnessed the attack and tried to administer first aid. His report will follow shortly.

Reports that four children killed in strike on #Gaza port.@petersbeaumont gave first aid to one young boy with shrapnel wounds to chest

— Phoebe Greenwood (@pagreenwood) July 16, 2014

Channel Four’s Jonathan Miller has graphic images of the children, whohospital officials say were killed after bombing struck a Gaza City beach.

Children wounded by shrapnel treated by foreign journalists on terrace of al-Deira hotel #Gazapic.twitter.com/G8jQBXmZHZ

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

Three shells hit fishermen’s beach just next to hotels. At least 2 children wounded and their father.pic.twitter.com/aDpzFoij4y

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

Updated at 3.04pm BST

2.46pm BST


Here’s a summary of where things stand:

  • Hamas officially rejected the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire,which crumbled on Tuesday after rocket fire continued from Gaza and Israel resumed attacks. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “The outcome of discussions within the internal institutions of the movement was to reject the proposal”.
  • Israel warned 100,000 Gazans to leave their homes, fuelling fears that its assault on Palestinian territories will swell. In a statement the Israel military said: “Messages are being conveyed to the residents of Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya and Zeitoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, requesting them to evacuate their homes for they own safety and stressing the IDF’s efforts to avoid harming civilians.”
  • The military conflict intensified on Tuesday following a six-hour respite in which Israel halted its aerial bombardment of the coastal enclave, accepting an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. Hamas rejected the plan, continuing its rocket fire throughout the day and killing an Israeli citizen at the Erez border crossing, the first Israeli fatality of the conflict.
  • A UN relief agency has declared a state of emergency for the whole Gaza after almost 18,000 sought refuge in its schools. The UNRWA said Gaza’s health system is on the brink of collapse with several reported cases of viral meningitis as well as hundreds of injuries from the bombardment.

Updated at 3.34pm BST

2.39pm BST

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have submitted a list of 10 ambitious demands to Egypt for the establishment of a 10-year truce with Israel, according to Ma’an news agency citing the the Hebrew-language daily Maariv. The demands are:

  1. The withdrawal of Israeli military tanks from the border fence area to a distance that enables Gaza farmers to access their fields and tend them freely.
  2. Freeing all Palestinian prisoners detained after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank including those who were freed as part of Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. This precondition also includes softening procedures against all prisoners in Israeli custody.
  3. An end to the siege on the coastal enclave and the reopening of all border crossings.
  4. The opening of Gaza’s international seaport under UN monitoring.
  5. An increase in Gaza fishing zone to 10 nautical miles and an increase in the size of permissible fishing boats.
  6. International monitoring of the Rafah crossing into Egypt.
  7. Closing Gaza airspace to Israeli aircraft.
  8. Permission to Gaza resident to be allowed to visit Jerusalem and pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque.
  9. No interference in Palestinian internal affairs including political arrangements and the reconciliation agreement and all its consequences.
  10. Re-establishment of the Gaza industrial zone.

2.28pm BST

More on Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire, from Reuters.

It quoute spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as saying:

The outcome of discussions within the internal institutions of the movement was to reject the proposal and therefore, Hamas informed Egypt last night it apologises for not accepting it.

Hamas’s armed wing had already spurned the Egyptian plan on Tuesday.

2.12pm BST

Hamas officially rejects Egyptian ceasefire plan

Hamas has officially informed Egypt that it has rejected its failed ceasefire initiative, according to a snap from Reuters.

2.05pm BST

The Israeli military is maintaining its running tally of the number of rockets fired from Gaza.

A few minutes ago, 2 rockets fired from Gaza struck the Ashkelon area, and 5 rockets struck elsewhere in southern Israel.

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2014

Earlier it said 61 rockets had been fired on Wednesday, including 23 intercepted by Iron Dome.

One of the recent to have landed narrowly missed a house in Ashkelon, according to police spokesman Micy Rosenfeld.

5 rockets fired towards Ashkelon. 1 rocket landed adjacent to a house. Damage caused. No injuries.pic.twitter.com/1amj1GY9a0

— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) July 16, 2014

1.58pm BST

AFP has more on air strikes against the al-Wa’afa rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City.

Shortly after it was hit on Tuesday night the Israeli army contacted the hospital three times, saying everyone should be evacuated by morning as the air force was planning to intensify its air strikes.

Director Basman Alashi explained that the 14 patients in the facility, many of them paralysed or in a coma, are in no position to be moved.

And even if they were, he said, there is no place to take them.

“There is no place safe in Gaza! If a hospital is not safe, where is?

“We cannot leave our patients, they are helpless. They cannot move, they cannot walk, they cannot eat, they cannot even scratch their heads by themselves,” he said.

Even as he spoke, the sound of shelling rattled the hospital windows.

Mercifully, said staff doctor Hassan Sarsur, many of the patients are unconscious and unaware of what is happening.

But for others, the situation is terrifying.

“Several of our female patients are paralysed but conscious, and during the night they were crying with fear and clutching our hands,” Sarsur said.

Aya Abdeen, one of eight women in the facility, is paralysed from the waist down because of a tumour in her spinal cord.

“Yesterday, when they said that we have to evacuate and with all the shelling, of course I was afraid,” she told AFP.

“There was shelling all around and the hospital was shaking. And I am as you see, I can’t move,” she said.

“We are sick people, in a hospital!”

Doctors at the hospital have reached out to international agencies in a bid to secure Israeli assurances that the facility won’t be hit again.

And a group of foreign activists are staying at the hospital in the hope that their presence might deter further attacks.

“The Israelis told the (international) agencies that the hospital was not the target, only the area around it. But they have already hit us directly,” Sarsur said.

“We are helpless, the war comes to us and there is nothing we can do to stop it.”

Basman Alashi, director of the al-Wa'afa rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City.
Basman Alashi, director of the al-Wa’afa rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

1.36pm BST

Dr Medhat Abbas, director general of Gaza health ministry, confirmed that hospitals and medical facilities are being targeted by Israeli bombardment.

In an interview with the Guardian, he said Gaza’s health system was overwhelmed with more than 1,500 people wounded in the bombardment, as they struggle with inadequate supplies, and power and fuel shortage.

He also pleaded with the international community to pressure and Egypt and Israel to open the borders to Gaza. He said:

There is no safe place in the Gaza strip for civilians to hide. There are no shelters, they have targeted hospitals, streets, domestic areas randomly.

Two hospitals have been hit. The European Gaza hospital and the Wa’afa medical rehabilitation hospital. And they [the Israelis] have targeted a rehabilitation institute. They killed three disabled persons inside and wounded another three.

At the same time the Wa’afa medical rehabilitation hospital is threatened to be attacked once again. They have asked the staff and the disabled patients living inside to evacuate.

They have targeted the fourth floor and attacked this hospital four or five times yesterday. They are planning to demolish a full hospital of five stories. These are crimes. These are violations of human rights.

Dr Abbas complained that the Rafah crossing into Egypt had only been partially opened.

We hope that the border will be opened, because you have to have the free mobility of patients across the border and health professional.

Why are two million people trapped in this prison in Gaza? Why?

They have left the people without hope. Everybody in Gaza dreams to have a ceasefire. Everybody dreams to live in peace. We are peace lovers in Gaza we are not blood suckers.

He said people in Gaza were being left to die.

If you plan to travel it may take one year and you may not succeed. It is not Fatah and Hamas, it is not political. Everybody living in the Gaza strip today is suffering.

A hospital worker at the Wa'afa  Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City stands amongst broken glass and debris from an Israeli shell in the stairwell of the hospital.
A hospital worker at the Wa’afa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City stands amongst broken glass and debris from an Israeli shell in the stairwell of the hospital. Photograph: Heidi Levine/SIPA/REX

Updated at 1.40pm BST

12.39pm BST

Israeli experts are predicting overland raids to destroy Hamas’s command bunkers and tunnels, Reuters reports.

“The direction now is to continue air strikes and, if need be, enter with ground forces in a tactical, measured manner,” an Israeli official said after the security cabinet met overnight.

The Israelis blew up a cross-border tunnel last week which, they say, may have been just one of many that Hamas has dug for deadly infiltration raids on their southern towns.

While tunnel-hunting incursions would be far short of a full-scale invasion and reoccupation, there is still the danger for Israel that risky and time-consuming missions could fall to Palestinian ambushes.

Hamas leaders have talked up their “tunnel campaign” against the Israeli enemy. One publicity video showed Palestinian fighters hauling rockets through a narrow passage to load onto a launcher that appears buried in an orchard. It is then fired remotely after its mechanised cover slides open.

Media reports on the Israeli military suggest it has just one dedicated tunnel-hunting unit, codenamed “Ferrets” – potentially no more than a few dozen commandos equipped with breathing apparatus, attack dogs and scouting robots.

Detecting the underground network is a problem for Israel – as shown by the continued rocket salvoes from Gaza despite its intensive, intelligence-guided air strikes on suspected sites.

Geologist Yossi Langotsky, a retired army colonel and Defence Ministry adviser, said on Army Radio that Israel had failed to develop technologies to “hear” hidden digs, allowing completion of the secret passages that now await activation.

Amos Yadlin, a former commander of Israeli military intelligence, said a crackdown on the tunnels was pressing, calling them “the second-most serious threat after the long-range rockets – or the primary threat, according to some”.

A smuggler carries bags of food from Kentucky Fried Chicken through an underground tunnel linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt in May 2013.
A smuggler carries bags of food from Kentucky Fried Chicken through an underground tunnel linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt in May 2013. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

11.57am BST

Dozens of UN schools and more than 20 health buildings have been damaged in the ongoing offensive against Gaza, according to Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UNRWA.

BREAKING NEWS: According to the UN, 79 schools & 23 health facilities in #Gaza have sustained damage RT

— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) July 16, 2014

As Ben White notes Israel claimed that damage to the Wa’afa hospital was caused by shrapnel, not helicopter missiles as Channel 4 News Jonathan Miller reported from the scene.

.@millerC4 the item on Haaretz live blog where IDF spokesperson claims that “the hospital was damaged by shrapnel”. pic.twitter.com/Y2XeTiFFRy

— Ben White (@benabyad) July 16, 2014

11.47am BST


Here’s a summary of the latest developments:

11.29am BST

Hamas’s armed wing the al-Qassam brigades has claimed responsibility for more rocket attacks on Israel.

#Breaking:Palestinians have the right to defend themselves, 12:15 Al Qassam fired 4 rockets at military base “Kfar Azza”.#GazaUnderAttack

— Al Qassam Brigades (@qassamfeed) July 16, 2014

#Breaking:Palestinians have the right to defend themselves, 12:15 Al Qassam fired 10 rockets at military base “Hatsareem”.#GazaUnderAttack

— Al Qassam Brigades (@qassamfeed) July 16, 2014

The IDF claims more rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome system.

Hamas terrorists fired 10 rockets at Be’er Sheva moments ago. The Iron Dome intercepted 6 of them, and the remaining 4 fell in open areas.

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2014

At least one rocket is reported to have hit a house in Tel Aviv.

BREAKING PHOTOS: Long rang rocket fired from Gaza hits house in Tel Aviv today, causing serious damage, no injuries. pic.twitter.com/6LvsRwBcuD

— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) July 16, 2014

One soldier was reported to have been injured by shrapnel in southern Israel.

BREAKING: IDF Soldier being transported to the hospital, lightly injured of shrapnel of rocket attack at army base in southern Israel.

— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) July 16, 2014

11.14am BST

The homes of four senior Hamas leaders have been targeted, according to AP citing Gaza’s interior ministry – which was itself hit.

The website of the Gaza Interior Ministry said Israel warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes before dawn Wednesday, targeting 30 houses, including those of senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar, Jamila Shanti, Fathi Hamas and Ismail Ashkar.

Zahar was a key figure in Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, while the other three were members of the Palestinian parliament elected in 2006. Many Hamas leaders have gone into hiding since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.

William Booth has surveyed the damage to the homes of Ismail Ashkar and Fathi Hamas.

Palestinian legislative council & senior Hamas political leader Ismail el Ashqar’s house this morning.pic.twitter.com/Yi4J0RxUay

— William Booth (@BoothWilliam) July 16, 2014

Reports that former Hamas interior minister Fathi Hammad house was destroyed is premature. Hit by warning rocket only pic.twitter.com/EFrsv1096W

— William Booth (@BoothWilliam) July 16, 2014

Reuters has a photo of damage to the home of Mahmoud Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas.

Searching the rubble after Israel destroyed Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar’s house. Photo: Reuters/Mohammed Salem #Gaza pic.twitter.com/b45EMu3IUc

— Ben White (@benabyad) July 16, 2014

10.55am BST

Binyamin Netanyahu‘s cabinet is in disarray after the Israeli prime minister came under fire from several of his most senior ministers for his handling of the crisis in Gaza, writes Orlando Crowcroft in Tel Aviv.

The storm of public criticism from his own ranks resulted in the sacking on Tuesday night of deputy defence minister Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu’s own Likud party.

Danon had told media yesterday that Hamas had humiliated Israel by setting conditions for peace, after Netanyahu said he was willing to accept the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Hamas claimed that it had not been consulted over the ceasefire conditions and rejected it.

“At a time when … Israel and the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] are in the midst of a military campaign against the terrorist organizations and taking determined action to maintain the security of Israel’s citizens, it cannot be that the deputy defence minister will sharply attack the leadership of the country regarding the campaign,” Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday night.

“These sharp remarks on the deputy defence minister’s part are irresponsible, especially given his position. They also serve the Hamas terrorist organization as a tool to attack the government with.”

The divisions within the Israeli cabinet have been mocked by Hamas, with spokesman Fauzi Barhoum calling the Danon sacking a “victory for the resistance”.

10.51am BST

Confirmation that Gaza’s ministry of interior was hit overnight, from William Booth of the Washington Post.

Interior ministry building in Gaza City hit last night. File cabinets and photocopiers visible through gutted front.pic.twitter.com/GSSE57LslP

— William Booth (@BoothWilliam) July 16, 2014

Israel said the building was a legitimate target because it was being used to direct rocket fire. It said:

Such apparatus are deeply involved in the organization’s militant operations, and many of its facilities are utilized to store weaponry and ammunition, launch rockets at Israel, and supervise terror attacks and other militant activities.

10.45am BST

The number of Palestinians killed in the eight-day offensive against Gaza has increased to 208, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Is spokesman, Ashraf al-Qudra, named all 208 victims on his Facebook page. He said the most recent victim was 10 years old.

10.37am BST

Gaza city resident Jehad Saftani, a photographer working for the Institute for Middle East Understanding, describes the almost constant bombardment.

Speaking by telephone he told the Guardian:

Every minute we can hear a bomb. I saw now pillars of smoke up from the east of Gaza city. Last night was a terrible night, there were many airstrikes on different targets. They bombed an apartment in the tower next to me. They bombed everywhere. I feel my head would explode.

There is no place to go. They [the Israelis] tell all the people in the east of Gaza city and the north of Gaza to come to the middle, because they want to complete their operation.

Updated at 10.37am BST

10.19am BST

This map shows the areas where Gaza residents have been ordered to flee.

Updated at 10.38am BST

10.08am BST

Gaza hospital hit

Channel 4 News’s Jonathan Miller says the Wa’afa hospital was hit by an Israeli helicopter attack.

The hole punched through the wall of of Wafa hospital#Gaza last night. Israel border just 1/2 mile away. #c4newapic.twitter.com/XeKFz4gdum

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

16 yr old Aya; spinal tumour, lower limb paralysis. Evac to grnd floor of #Gaza Wafa hosp b4 missile strike #c4newspic.twitter.com/g54XmNjIXo

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

Parts of drone or Apache helicopter missile which hit#Gaza Wafa hospital at 0330 this morning #c4newspic.twitter.com/XqsbXolZgi

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

Updated at 10.08am BST

10.00am BST

Pro-Palestinian activists are staging a protest at the Wa’afa geriatric hospital after its patients were ordered to leave as part of Israel’s bombardment warning.

They include Swedish activists Fred Ekblad. Sweden’s English language website, the Local, quoted him saying:

Just now they called back and told us to leave the building immediately. It’s possible, likely even, that the Israelis don’t want to attack the building. But it could be that they want to use it in a potential ground operation.

Ekblad’s Twitter feed reported intensive shelling getting closer.

Shelling around Al-Wafa Hospital is getting more intensive and closer #GazaUnderAttack

— Fred Ekblad (@FredEkblad) July 16, 2014

Updated at 10.06am BST

9.42am BST

The IDF has released a map of the areas of Gaza where residents are being urged to leave.

This morning, we dropped leaflets warning civilians in Gaza to move away from Hamas terrorists before IDF strikes. pic.twitter.com/ZHNd0j7Uxu

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2014

Heavy shelling is reported in Beit Lahiya one of the areas warned.

Very heavy shelling at Beit Lahiya, northern #gaza#skybreaking

— Sherine Tadros (@SherineT) July 16, 2014

Updated at 9.45am BST

9.41am BST

Reuters intermittent live feed of the Gaza skyline is currently working.

Updated at 9.52am BST

9.32am BST

Israeli air attacks in Gaza have targeted civilian structures and killed civilians in violation of the laws of war, according to Human Rights Watch.

It investigated four Israeli strikes during the current offensive that resulted in civilian casualties. It found that they either did not attack a legitimate military target or attacked despite the likelihood of civilian casualties being disproportionate to the military gain.

It said: “Such attacks committed deliberately or recklessly constitute war crimes under the laws of war applicable to all parties. In these cases, the Israeli military has presented no information to show that it was attacking lawful military objectives or acted to minimize civilian casualties.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East director, said:

Israel’s rhetoric is all about precision attacks but attacks with no military target and many civilian deaths can hardly be considered precise. Recent documented cases in Gaza sadly fit Israel’s long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties.

HRW also urged Palestinian armed groups to end indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilian centres.

Houses destroyed in Rafah city, Gaza.
Houses destroyed in Rafah city, Gaza. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated at 9.35am BST

9.16am BST

Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Miller has more on the Gaza rehabilitation hospital where patients were order to leave. Patients have been moved to the ground floor after it was hit by an Israeli raid, he reports.

We are heading to Wa’afa geriatric hospital east #GazaCity, specialising in stroke victims, quadriplegic care. Bombed last night #c4news

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

Wafa Rebab hosp, #Gaza City, hit 3x by Israeli rockets. Last nite IDF ordered evac. Patients now on grnd Flr#c4news pic.twitter.com/kblTsAdbgi

— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 16, 2014

9.05am BST

More Gaza-launched rockets have been intercepted over Tel Aviv, Haaretz reports.

IDF: Iron Dome intercepted all 4 rockets fired frm Gaza @ Tel Aviv; Hamas takes responsbility. http://t.co/YvycpIjZ8kpic.twitter.com/IWFKqaOWEw

— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) July 16, 2014

Tel Aviv resident and human rights campaigner Elizabeth Tsurkov described the attack and its aftermath.

Huge explosion over my house. Sirens continue

— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) July 16, 2014

After the sirens ended, my neighbor said that it’s okay to kill Palestinian kids because they’re “little terrorists”

— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) July 16, 2014

Journalist Gregg Carlstrom reports hearing the sound of rockets being intercepted.

Barrage of rockets fired at Tel Aviv just now. Sounded like four or five intercepted, several quite close to the city center.

— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) July 16, 2014

8.54am BST

Israel is accusing Hamas of using citizens as human shields by instructing them to ignore warnings to flee.

Earlier today, we urged civilians to move away from IDF military targets in Gaza. Once again, Hamas told civilians to ignore our warnings.

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2014

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, tweeted: “Hamas uses Gazans to protect its rockets”.

Hamas interior ministry continues today to force Gazans to ignore IDF’s calls to go to safe areas. Hamas uses Gazans to protect its rockets.

— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) July 16, 2014

8.46am BST

The patients of a rehabilitation hospital, are among those who have been ordered to leave Gaza, by the Israeli military, writes Peter Beaumont in Gaza.

But the hospital’s director, Basman Ashi, said everyone would remain and that foreign volunteers had arrived to serve as human shields.

Hamas’s ministry of the interior has told residents to ignore the warning, calling it “psychological warfare”.

The American satarist Jon Stewart asked where Gazans were supposed to go when they recieve warnings to flee.

In his show on Monday he asked: “Evacuate to where? Have you fucking seen Gaza? Israel blocked this border, Egypt blocked this border. What are you supposed to swim for it?”

Stewart also highlighted the asymmetric nature of the conflict by contrasting Israel’s Iron Dome and smart phone apps to protect Israelis from Gaza rockets, with the warning bombings or “amuse booms” sent to Gazans.

8.20am BST

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is due to travel to Egypt and Turkey in search of regional support for an immediate end to the fighting after Tuesday’s truce attempt collapsed.

Abbas was due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday evening where he was expected to meet top Egyptian officials over fresh efforts to seek a ceasefire, and was expected to head to Turkey a day later, officials told AFP.

Abbas, who reached an agreement with Hamas in April that led to the formation of a unity government last month, called for acceptance of the ceasefire proposal.

The Arab League also welcomed the cease-fire plan.

The president of the palestinian authorities, Mahmoud Abbas, in his Ramallah office.
The president of the palestinian authorities, Mahmoud Abbas, in his Ramallah office. Photograph: Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images

7.58am BST

A message from our moderators:

We have opened this live blog to comments for discussion of today’s events in Israel and Palestine. Please help to keep the conversation on topic and be aware of ourcommunity standards.
If you are directly affected by the day’s events please share your experience in the thread. You can also contribute to our GuardianWitness assignments and share your experiences of what it’s like living in Israel and living in Palestine.

Updated at 7.59am BST

7.49am BST

The Israeli military has confirmed that it hit 39 “terror targets” in Gaza overnight including the ministry of interior.

It claimed the building was a legitimate target as part of “operation protective edge” as it was being used to direct continuing rocket fire from Gaza. The IDF said:

The Hamas Ministry of Interior is responsible for overseeing and directing Hamas armed mechanism, excluding its militant wing.
Such apparatus are deeply involved in the organization’s militant operations, and many of its facilities are utilized to store weaponry and ammunition, launch rockets at Israel, and supervise terror attacks and other militant activities.

7.39am BST

The Israeli military has provided a translation of the warning flyers it has dropped over several areas of Gaza. One says:

In spite of the ceasefire, Hamas and other terror organizations continued to fire rockets, therefore it is the intention of the IDF to carry out aerial strikes against terror sites and operatives in Shuja’iya and Zeitoun. A high volume of rocket fire at Israel has originated in this area.

For your own safety, you are requested to vacate from your residence immediately and head towards Gaza City by Wednesday morning, July 16, 2014, at 0800am (0500 GMT). The IDF does not want to harm you, and your families. The evacuation is for your own safety. You should not return to the premises until further notice. Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately, endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families.

A Palestinian boy shows flyers dropped over Gaza City by the Israeli army urging residents to evacuate their home by 0500 GMT.
A Palestinian boy shows flyers dropped over Gaza City by the Israeli army urging residents to evacuate their home by 0500 GMT. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

7.33am BST

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the violence between Israel and Gaza.

Here’s a roundup of the latest developments:

Messages are being conveyed to the residents of Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya and Zeitoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, requesting them to evacuate their homes for they own safety and stressing the IDF’s efforts to avoid harming civilians.

Defense case for Israeli conscientious objector

Uriel Ferera May 5 2014

This is the defense case of Uriel Ferera, a young Israeli man jailed & placed in solitary confinement for refusing to serve in the Israeli military because he opposed discrimination against Palestinians within Israel & the occupation of Palestinian lands.

Ferera is a harbinger, part of the advance guard among Israeli youth turning against the fortress of Zionist apartheid. Active solidarity with him is imperative. It serves first to protect him from worse punishment by the Israeli regime & secondly, to strengthen resolve among other Israelis who object to apartheid but are afraid to stand up because of punishment & ostracism. We should never underestimate how terrifying such commitment to justice can be; it proved hard enough for antiwar soldiers in the US Army whilst there was a massive antiwar movement & much more so in a militarized society like Israel with very weak antiwar opposition. Simple acts of solidarity show them they do not stand alone.

This link suggests several easy ways to extend support to Ferera. Please take a moment to send an email voicing your objections to his incarceration, putting the Israeli regime on alert that their conduct toward him is being watched, & expressing your support for this courageous, principled, & admirable young man.


(Photo is of Uriel Ferera from his FB wall)

Mary Scully


| Hasbara Blues: Israel’s blind eye on social media backfires!

Israel’s blind eye on social media backfires ~ Yara al-Wazir,  AL ARABIYA.


Israeli soldier Mor Ostrovski posted this image on Instagram.
Yara al-Wazir – AL ARABIYA

Over the past two weeks, Israel’s image has been smeared because of the use of social media, both by international activists and by one of its own soldiers. Joining the viral craze of the “Harlem Shake,” and the exponentially growing Instagram application, online activity is proving that it is not just Facebook that can affect governments.

Yara al-Wazir

Israeli soldier’s Instagram photo

The emergence of a photograph that soldier Mor Ostrovski posted on Instagram serves as a reminder of the power that social media has on public opinion. The Israeli government is no stranger to using social media to try to polish its image, with several officials having accounts in multiple languages to reach out to the public.

However, it seems that the puppet masters are losing control of their puppets. The photograph depicts a crosshair pointing to the back of presumably a Palestinian child’s head. The photograph is a reminder of the cruel cycle of barbarity that the military occupation breeds.

As distasteful and shocking as it is, it is not the first time that the Israeli Defense Forces have had to deal with a dent in its public-relations campaign. Images of Mohamed al-Durrah being shot as his father attempted to shield him still resonate in my mind, despite being eight years old when I saw them.

“Harlem Shake” for Palestine

At the opposite end of the world, just a few hours away from Ostrovski’s hometown of Tampa, Florida, a group of activists in Brooklyn, New York, shook their messages of resistance to the viral theme of the “Harlem Shake.”

Traditionally, it features people dancing frantically to DJ Baauer’s song of the same name. The activist group Existence is Resistance jumped on this craze to communicate the plight of Palestinians to the world.

The placards held by the dancers in the activists’ video show solidarity with hunger strikers. The video also calls for justice, basic human rights such as an integrated road system, and a system that allows one to see their family freely.

Israel’s double-edged sword against anonymity

One notable discrepancy between the video and the photograph is the anonymity of the producers. Ostrovski’s Instagram account was public at the time he posted dozens of photos documenting his life in the military and resentment towards Arabs, until it was taken down on Feb. 19. However, the activists in the video shield their faces with the traditional symbol of resistance, the kuffiyeh.

Whether wearing it was intentional to hide their identities, or if it was symbolic to emphasize the lifestyle of resistance led by the activists, it does not change Israel’s notoriety in monitoring online activity.

The Israeli government has a history of doing so, and using the information found for just about everything, including whether or not to allow in tourists. Thus, it is somewhat convenient that a blind eye is turned when its own soldiers act “against the IDF’s spirit and values,” as described in a statement to YNet.

The few activists who are allowed into the country admit to wiping their digital footprint, deleting their Twitter accounts, changing their names on Facebook, and replacing their names with a pseudonym on their personal blogs. Since it is clear that online presence is monitored, why did the IDF not spot this activity from within?

Making the military cool again

The IDF has tried many tactics to encourage young people to serve for periods longer than the conscription law requires. Letting its soldiers post photographs of themselves smoking cannabis and ‘enjoying’ military life may be just another tactic.

For many, serving in the military is a box they need to tick on university applications. The IDF has gone to great lengths to entice people to join it. In July 2007, the Israeli Consulate partnered with Maxim Magazine in the United States to print borderline-pornographic images of former female military officers. It described the idea as a “creative solution” to their image problem.

A job that entails playing with guns and rifles, and smoking illegal substances while getting paid in a country with soaring youth-unemployment rates, would certainly look more appealing than playing cards to pass time as one waits for a call-back from a job interview.

Social media is a thin rope, and users must tread lightly. In this case, turning a blind eye has backfired on the IDF, but that is merely because the photograph was exposed.

The fact is that it depicts the reality that Palestinians face every day, and the very thought of wanting to change this reality on the ground keeps activists from getting on the ground, making them resort to social media to fight the system. However, online awareness is just one step in the ladder to have a free and just Palestine.

(Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir)



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