In Brief

Family of Hamas 'mastermind' killed as Israel-Gaza talks fail

Wife and child of Hamas leader Mohammed Deif hit by Israeli airstrikes after truce breaks down

John Kerry pushes for truce as violence spreads to West Bank

25 July

The violence in Gaza has spread to the West Bank, where at least five Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured after the Palestinian Authority called for a "day of rage". 

Three Palestinians were shot dead in seperate incidents in the West Bank today, one reportedly by a Jewish settler and the others by Israeli soldiers, according to The Guardian

Anger in East Jerusalem is rising with the BBC's Jon Donnison describing talk of "the possibility of a third Palestinian intifada". 

UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon has called for an urgent "humanitarian pause" to the fighting. "On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, I call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel", he said. "This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period". 

Meanwhile, there are reports that John Kerry had presented both sides with a new ceasefire proposal today and is awaiting a response before he flies back to Washington tonight. 

This follows yesterday's mass protest where Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) clashed with Palestinians in the volatile area around a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.Over 10,000 people took to the streets to protest against the bloodshed in Gaza. Protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails and blocked a road with burning tyres, while IDF says it used "riot dispersal means", a term used to cover weapons such as rubber bullets and tear gas.

 More than 15 women, children and United Nations staff were killed and 200 injured yesterday when a school used as a UN shelter was shelled in Gaza, the fourth time in as many days that a UN facility has been hit.

BBC correspondents say "pools of blood lay on the ground" in the courtyard of the school in Beit Hanoun and there was a "large scorch mark" where a shell appeared to have struck.

The UN has rejected IDF claims that it gave occupants time to leave before the attack. The UN says it made repeated attempts to negotiate a period of time during which people could safely leave the area but none was granted.

Lt Col Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the IDF, did not admit responsibility for the attack. "We do not target the UN. We do not target civilians," he said. "There was no target in the school. Gunmen were attacking soldiers near the facility. The school was not a target in any way".

According to the UN, more than 118,000 people are now sheltering in UN schools and people are running out of food. More than 800 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have died since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 8 July.

Hamas to consider truce if Israel lifts Gaza blockade

24 July

Hamas has said it would consider a ceasefire if Israel agrees to lift its blockade of Gaza, but the organisation wants the terms to be agreed before it lays down its arms.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon are all in the region trying to bring an end to the fighting.

The Egyptian government has proposed that both sides first agree to a ceasefire and then negotiate, reports The Guardian.

But Hamas's exiled political leader Khaled Mishal has refused to comply. "Everyone wanted us to accept a ceasefire and then negotiate for our rights. We reject this and we reject it again today," he said. Speaking at a press conference in Qatar, Mishal said that Hamas "will not close the door" on a humanitarian truce if Israel ends its blockade of the Palestinian territory, which was tightened after Hamas seized control of the area in 2007.

Mishal wants crossings from Gaza to Egypt and Israel opened and Palestinian prisoners released. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has backed the calls by Hamas for an end to the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip as a condition for a ceasefire.

The death toll topped 700 yesterday, the 16th day of conflict, with more than 690 Palestinians, 34 Israelis and one Thai agricultural worker dead.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has said Israel may have committed war crimes in its offensive in Gaza. At an emergency meeting in Geneva, the UN human rights council voted to launch an international inquiry – although the US opposed the move and 17 countries abstained.

Pillay said that Israel had not done enough to protect civilians, with air strikes and shelling of homes and hospitals. "There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," she said.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Authority today lifted its ban on US airlines flying in and out of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

Gaza: UN calls for ceasefire following deadliest day yet

21 July

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza following the bloodiest day of the two-week conflict.

More than 500 people have been killed and more than 3,100 injured in Gaza since Israel launched its operation against Hamas militants, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health.

At least 100 Palestinians were killed yesterday alone as Israel escalated its military onslaught. The bodies of women and children were said to be strewn in the streets of Shejaiya as people fled their homes.

Following an emergency closed-door meeting, held at the request of Jordan, the UN Security Council expressed "serious concern at the escalation of violence". It backed efforts by Egypt and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to broker a ceasefire deal, including the "withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces from the Gaza Strip".

But Riyad Mansour, the Palestinians' UN representative, said he was disappointed that the council had not adopted a resolution to "stop the aggression against our people".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has described the Israeli attacks as "crimes against humanity" and called for urgent talks. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue operations "as much as we need to" despite the death toll of Israeli soldiers rising to 18 at the weekend.

Twenty Israelis, including two civilians, have died in total, including two Americans fighting with the Israel Defence Force. The Guardian says the rise in casualties on Israel's side could "increase pressure inside Israel for an end to the fighting or harden determination to inflict a decisive blow on Hamas".

In a CNN interview, Netanyahu yesterday accused Hamas leaders of using civilians as human shields. He called them "genocidal terrorists" with a disregard for civilian lives.

"We use anti-missile systems to protect our civilians. They use their civilians to protect their missiles. That's the difference," he said. "So, against such a cynical, brutal, heartless enemy, we try to minimise civilian casualties, we try to target the military targets, and unfortunately there are civilian casualties, which we regret and we don't seek. They all fall on the responsibility of Hamas."

Israel and Gaza: doubts over 'comprehensive ceasefire'

17 July

A "comprehensive ceasefire" between Israel and fighters in Gaza has been agreed, according to an Israeli official quoted by the BBC.

But Hamas has already cast doubt on the agreement, denying that a deal has been reached but saying talks are continuing in Egypt.

According to the Israelis the truce will begin on Friday at 6am local time (4am GMT), and if honoured will build on the temporary "humanitarian pause" both sides undertook today. But fears remain that one or both sides could renege on the agreement.

Israeli security forces say that Palestinian militants fired three mortars at Israel today, despite both sides committing to a five-hour cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds after four boys were killed playing football on the beach yesterday.

According to reports from Palestinian medical officials and journalists who witnessed the attack, the four teenagers were killed by shells fired by an Israeli naval gunboat.

"Children and adults scattered as the first shell struck, with a second and third hitting as they ran, setting fire to the palm-thatched shacks," The Times reports.

"When the first shell hit the land, they ran away but another shell hit them all," said one witness, Abu Hassera. "It looked as if the shells were chasing them," he told Reuters.

The Israeli army announced that it would investigate the incident, which it described as "a tragic outcome". It said that civilians in Gaza had been "dragged by Hamas into the reality of urban combat", the Daily Telegraph reports.

The "humanitarian pause", which was meant to stretch from 7am to noon GMT today, was intended to allow Palestinians who have been unable to leave their homes to restock food, water and other supplies. 

The New York Times reports that rockets were fired into Israel the moment the ceasefire was due to end.

The death toll in Gaza has now risen to 216, including the four boys who were killed playing on the beach yesterday, The Guardian reports. In the nine days of hostilities, one Israeli has been killed, close to the northern border between Gaza and Israel.

The Israeli military stopped shelling Gaza for six hours on Tuesday after Egypt proposed a truce, but the plan quickly unravelled after Hamas fighters said that the proposal failed to meet any of their key demands.

UN  figures cited in a Human Rights Watch report yesterday, suggest that more than three quarters of the Palestinians killed have been civilians, including 36 children, and that approximately 7,500 people had been displaced in the bombing campaign.

"Israel's rhetoric is all about precision attacks, but attacks with no military target and many civilian deaths can hardly be considered precise," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch.

Israel warns Gazans to flee new air strikes

16 July

Israel has warned thousands of Gazans to leave their homes after a ceasefire failed to take hold.

The truce, brokered by Egypt, was accepted by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Hamas militants and other Palestinian groups said the deal failed to meet any of their demands and kept firing rockets.

Israel suffered its first fatality on Tuesday night. Dror Chanin, 37, was killed at the Erez crossing to the northern Gaza strip. According to the Jerusalem Post, Chanin had come as a volunteer to distribute food to soldiers at Erez.

Palestinian officials say that Israeli air strikes have killed 204 people so far, including ten who died last night and this morning. Among those killed was a five-month-old baby, the BBC reports.

Israel claims that Operation Protective Edge, which began on 8 July, killed senior Hamas militants in overnight raids, but the UN says the vast majority of those who have died in the campaign were civilians.

Netanyahu said that after the ceasefire ended he had "no choice" but to continue the campaign of air raids.

"When there is no ceasefire, our answer is fire," he said.

The Israeli Defence Force used 100,000 recorded telephone messages to warn residents of Gaza of impending airstrikes overnight, urging them to evacuate before 8am (5am GMT) for their own safety.

International efforts to broker a truce fell apart after Hamas rejected Egypt's proposed deal, and Israel recommenced its bombing campaign several hours later. Hamas said that the truce did not meet any of their demands, including the release of prisoners and an end to Israel's economic blockade of Gaza.

Netanyahu said: "This would have been better resolved diplomatically. That's what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian truce proposal, but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it."

US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Hamas of putting lives in danger to "play politics".

"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to operate a ceasefire," he said.

Israel accepts ceasefire rejected by Hamas

15 June

Israel has agreed to an Egyptian peace proposal to bring an end to a week of conflict in Gaza, but the armed wing of Hamas has rejected the plan, describing it as "surrender".

The organisation's political leaders have yet to issue an official response.

The plan proposes that both sides agree to a ceasefire which would go into effect within 12 hours of "unconditional acceptance" by the two sides.

After the ceasefire begins, Gaza's border crossings would be opened for people and goods "once the security situation becomes stable".

The longer-term details of the deal will then be discussed in a series of meetings to be held in Cairo with senior delegations from both Israel and the Palestinian leadership.

President Obama welcomed the Egyptian peace proposal, and urged both sides to agree to its terms.

Palestinian authorities say that 192 people have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in hostilities that began last week. The UN estimates that over three-quarters of the victims were civilians, the BBC reports. An estimated 1,400 more Palestinians are believed to have been injured. No Israelis have been killed in the violence, but four have been seriously injured.

In a statement Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said that it had not been approached to sign up to the plan.

"No official or unofficial side has approached us about the ceasefire talked about in the media ... (but) if the contents of this proposal are true, it is a surrender and we reject it outright," the statement read. "Our battle with the enemy will intensify."

Sameh Shukri, the Egyptian foreign minister, said that there was "no alternative but return to the truce" of November 2012.

Hamas says that within the terms of any truce deal it wants Israel's blockade on Gaza lifted, and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to be reopened. It also wants Israel to release the Palestinians it rearrested after freeing them recently in exchange for the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, The Times reports.

For now, Hamas sources told the BBC that attacks will "increase in ferocity and intensity" until their terms are met.


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