LIVE UPDATES: Israeli strike targeted Hamas military chief, group leader says

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Mohammed Deif’s wife and child killed in Israeli strike, Hamas leader says; Gaza fire resumes with heavy rocket barrage on south; Israel, Palestinians trade blame for failed talks.

Israeli and Palestinian officials traded blame early on Wednesday for the collapse of the Cairo negotiations aiming to secure a long-term truce in Cairo.

Hamas claims that Israel attempted to assassinate the group’s military chief in Gaza City on Tuesday, thus violating a temporary cease-fire; Israeli officials say the Israel Defense Forces had resumed strikes on Gaza in response to rocket fire from the enclave.

Some 50 rockets and mortar shells were fired toward Israel on Tuesday, targeting the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas as well as the south.

The Israeli delegation to the truce talks left Cairo on Tuesday afternoon and the Palestinian delegation left Wednesday, with no deal and no announcement of an extension of the cease-fire.

12:03 P.M. Hamas is keeping silent, and Israel still has no confirmation, but the odds are that Mohammed Deif survived the assassination attempt. (Amos Harel)

11:57 A.M. Following the collapse of the cease-fire in Gaza, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that Israel’s policy on Gaza has failed. In a Facebook post, he says that if Israel does not crush Hamas, it is leaving itself open to rocket fire on the first day of school, the eve of Rosh Hashanah or any time Hamas chooses.

“I hope it is now clear to everyone that the policy of ‘quiet will be met with quiet’ means that Hamas is the initiator and it is the one that decides when, where and how much it will fire on Israeli residents, while we make do with solely a response, which, even if it is a harsh one, is still just a response,” he says, adding that Israel has no other choice left but to defeat Hamas. Liberman has repeatedly called for a full-scale Israeli military campaign aimed at defeating Hamas. (Jonathan Lis)

11:46 A.M. A source in Hamas says Israel was seeking to paint a picture of a military victory and assassinating Mohammed Deif would have provided such an impression, ahead of any future agreement between the sides.

Based on this, he says, as well as the timing of the rockets Israel says the Palestinians fired during the cease-fire on Tuesday and the fact that it says that the rockets exploded in open areas, strengthens Hamas’ claim that Israel fabricated the reports of the rocket fire. (Jack Khoury)

11:38 A.M. A rocket exploded near the fence of a community in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)

11:15 A.M. Kais Abdel Karim, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the talks in Cairo, says that the sides failed to reach an agreement on any of the points suggested in the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. He says that the sides did exchange drafts, but added that Israel was reluctant to present a serious proposal that could have led to a discussion within the Palestinian delegation.

The Palestinians have presented Egypt with a final proposal for Israel to consider before leaving Cairo, Abdel Karim says, however, he adds that the escalation in Gaza on Tuesday proves that Israel is not interested in reaching a deal at this time. (Jack Khoury)

11:09 A.M. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the resumption of hostilities Tuesday. He said he was “gravely disappointed” by the breach of the cease-fire, but refrained from explicitly mentioning the rocket attacks with which Hamas violated the truce or the air strikes with which Israel responded.

The secretary-general said both sides have a responsibility not to let the situation escalate and called for an “immediate understanding on a durable cease-fire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza.” He said Gazans’ hopes for a better future and Israelis’ hopes for sustainable security both rest on the cease-fire talks that had been taking place in Cairo, though negotiators on both sides had left by Wednesday. (Haaretz)

10:46 A.M. Sirens sound again in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)

10:43 P.M. Sirens sound in the Eshkol Regional Council. (Haaretz)

10:31 P.M. Israel’s security cabinet to meet at 2:00 P.M. 

10:28 A.M. An 18-year-old Palestinian man was also killed in the overnight aerial strike on the al-Dalou family home in Gaza city’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood that Hamas said targeted Mouhammed Deif. (Jack Khoury)

10:21 A.M. Sirens sound in communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)

10:09 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)

10:08 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council (Haaretz)

10:03 A.M. Three rockets explode in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council (Shirly Seidler)

10:00 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, south Israel. 

9:36 A.M. Rocket sirens in Eshkol Regional Council and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, south Israel.

9:28 A.M. Rocket fragments found in parking lot of commercial area in Ashkelon, no damage or injuries reported. (Shirly Seidler)

9:21 A.M. Sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council, south Israel. Residents of Gaza border communities told they must stay within 15 seconds of a shelter. (Shirly Seidler) 

8:24 A.M. Iron Dome intercepts one rocket over Ashdod and two others over the Ashkelon region. One rocket explodes in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)

8:16 A.M. Gaza rocket fire resumes: sirens sound across southern Israel. (Haaretz)

8:09 A.M. Gaza rocket expolodes in an open area in the Hod Ashkelon Regional Council (Shirly Seidler)

8:02 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in communities near the Gaza border. (Haaretz)

7:32 A.M. Sirens go off in Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils. One rocket explodes outside a community in Sdot Negev, no damage reported. (Haaretz)

7:29 A.M. IDF calls up some 2,000 reserve soldiers, ordering them to immediately report to their units. (Gili Cohen)

7:20 A.M. The Israeli military overnight struck some 30 targets in Gaza. Seven rockets were fired overnight.

Fifty-seven rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza since the cease-fire broke Tuesday afternoon. Israel Air Force carried out attacks on some 60 targets during the same time frame. (Gili Cohen)

6:40 A.M. Palestinians report seven were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Deir al-Balah, in the Gaza Strip’s center. According to the report, a girl and a pregnant woman were among the dead. (Jack Khoury)

6:35 A.M. The Hamas-affiliated Al-Rasallah website quotes Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk as accusing Israel of fabricating reports of rockets that violated the Gaza cease-fire in order to try to assassinate the group’s military chief, Mohammed Deif.

Abu Marzouk made remarks in a Facebook post, according to the report. (Jack Khoury) 

Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing, claimed in a tweet that Mohammed Dief survived an Israeli assassination attempt.

“Mohammed Deif is alive and healthy. At his command we will destroy every ionist city and will take over the entire land of Palestine,” the tweet said. (Haaretz) 

6:07 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Eshkol Regional Council.

3:00 A.M. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader, said the dead in the Israeli strike on Gaza City included the wife and a child of Mohammed Deif, the group’s military chief, who has escaped numerous Israeli assassination attempts in the past. There was no immediate confirmation from Hamas leaders in Gaza. (AP)

“The wife of the great leader was martyred with his daughter,” Marzouk wrote on Facebook. He did not mention whether Deif was at the house during that attack.

2:20 A.M. Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk says Israel had targeted the group’s armed wing leader Mohammed Deif in one of its air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday.

The Israeli military has not specified any of the targets of some 30 attacks across the enclave in response to rocket fire aimed at Israel. Marzouk said Israel had ruptured the truce in order “to assassinate Mohammed Deif,” but that civilians were killed at the site of the attack.

Palestinian health officials said a child and a woman were killed in a strike on a house in Gaza City. (Reuters)

1:30 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

12:43 A.M. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Palestinian charges that Israel was to blame for a breakdown in ceasefire talks in Cairo, saying rocket fire from Gaza “made continuation of talks impossible.”

Spokesman Mark Regev responded to Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed’s charge that Israel had thwarted the talks that broke down on Tuesday after Israel recalled its negotiators from Egypt, accusing Hamas of violating a truce.

“The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the ceasefire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based,” Regev said.

Al-Ahmed, the head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, said earlier that “Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace … there was an Israeli decision to make the Cairo talks fail.” (Reuters)

12:38 A.M. According to IDF figures, some 50 rockets and mortar shells have been fired toward Israel since Tuesday afternoon. The Iron Dome evidently intercepted eight rockets.

Home Front Command has forbidden gatherings of more than 1,000 people within 80 kilometers of the Gaza Strip. (Gili Cohen)

12:09 A.M. A rocket explodes in an open area in the Jerusalem region (Gili Cohen)

12:08 A.M. Hamas’ military wing announces that the rocket fire comes in response to an Israeli strike that tageted a house in Gaza’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood and violated the cease-fire.

12:06 A.M. Three rockets are intercepted over Ashdod. A rocket explodes in an open area within a town in the Eshkol Regional Council; none wounded. (Shirley Seidler).

12:05 A.M. Despite the collapse of the talks, officials at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ office say he intends to travel to Qatar and meet Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal. On Friday, Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Cairo and meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

A Palestinian official told Haaretz that Ramallah is no longer convinced that Hamas – especially its leadership outside Gaza – can make independent decisions. “The estimates are that the organization is dependent on the decisions of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, with its center in Turkey,” he said.

The official also said that the Palestinian leadership has reliable information pointing to talks held in the past two days between Meshal and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Despite all this, Ramallah also believes that Israel is to blame for the breakdown of the talks, refusing to engage in a political process with the Palestinians and especially with Hamas, due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political considerations.

The Palestinian Authority is already losing hope in an American intervention, and is therefore considering turning to other international actors, namely Russia. This shift was also evident in the meeting Tuesday in Moscow between Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Jack Khoury) 

 

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