[All updates below.] Follow here for continued live updates on the ongoing conflict in Israel.
11:15 pm – Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations dismissed reports that an IDF soldier had been captured as claimed by Hamas.
“There’s no kidnapped Israeli soldier and those rumors are untrue,” he told reporters at the UN.
9:30 pm – “United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel to ‘exercise maximum restraint’ and spare civilian lives in its campaign in Gaza, where the reported Palestinian death toll on Sunday alone passed 100,” the Associated Press reported.
“He also condemns the ‘atrocious action’ of Israel in Shejaiya, near Gaza City, where a blistering assault that started at dawn killed 62 people and wounded at least 250,” AP said.
5:10 pm – Israel’s Ha’aretz cites IDF sources as saying that the Hamas claim to have captured an Israeli soldier sounded dubious and the chances that Hamas was holding an IDF soldier were slim.
4:25 pm – Speaking to The Algemeiner, the IDF neither confirmed nor denied Hamas’s claim to have captured an Israeli soldier, saying, “We are looking into it.”
4:16 pm – There are media reports of celebratory gunfire in Gaza City as Hamas claims to have captured an Israeli soldier.
4:05 pm – According to multiple media reports Hamas has claimed it has captured an Israeli soldier.
2:44 pm – The Los Angeles Jewish Journal reports that L.A. native and IDF volunteer Max Steinberg was among Israel’s soldiers that died in Gaza.
2:17 pm – The IDF provided more details on the soldiers killed in Gaza on Saturday night. Below is their latest statement:
Additional information regarding casualties – During the early hours of the morning today, July 20, IDF soldiers of the Golani brigade were attacked by terrorists in several separate incidents. In the first, terrorists detonated an explosive device on an IDF armored vehicle, causing the death of 7 soldiers. In another, terrorists opened fire at 2 IDF soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip who fired in response. In this incident, 1 soldier was killed. Later, IDF soldiers were attacked by a terrorist squad in the northern Gaza Strip, leading to the death of 2 soldiers. Lastly, 3 IDF soldiers lost their lives when they became trapped in a burning building.
2:11 pm – The White House released a readout from a call earlier today between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. During the call, Obama strongly pushed for an immediate ceasefire:
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke again this morning by phone, their second call in three days to discuss the situation in Gaza. The President discussed Israel’s ongoing military operation, reiterated the United States’ condemnation of attacks by Hamas against Israel, and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. The President also raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers.
President Obama informed the Prime Minister that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President underscored that the United States will work closely with Israel and regional partners on implementing an immediate ceasefire, and stressed the need to protect civilians-in Gaza and in Israel.
1:39 pm – Netanyahu ends his statement to the nation on a difficult day saying, “The eternal people is not afraid of a long road.”
1:33 pm – Netanyahu: “This battle against terror is a part of a historical battle targeting the State since its establishment.”
1:32 pm – Netanyahu: “We bow our heads before our sons who fell so that we could continue living in our land.”
1:31 pm – Netanyahu: “In all battles there are difficulties. This one will expand and continue as necessary we knew this when we set out.
1:30 pm – Netanyahu: “Hamas bears full responsibility for the loss of lives and use their citizens as human shields. We regret the loss of lives in Gaza.”
1:29 pm – Netanyahu: “Hamas thought they would break our home front with rockets but Iron Dome and air raids have answered that.”
1:28 pm – Netanyahu: “No one can claim that Israel chose escalation so Hamas only is totally responsible for any casualties.”
1:27 pm – Netanyahu: “We agreed to a ceasefire, to 2 humanitarian ceasefires, but Hamas still chose to fight and it is our right to defend ourselves.”
1:26 pm – Netanyahu says Hamas could harm an Israeli school or a community with disastrous results using the tunnels that the IDF is finding.
1:25 pm – Netanyahu: “If these tunnels were not exposed the outcome could be fatal.”
1:24 pm – Netanyahu: “We have uncovered numerous tunnels and equipment unlike we have uncovered until now, Hamas has over the years built them to attack us.”
1:23 pm – Netanyahu: “Israel didn’t choose this war, but from the moment it entered it, it is determined to complete it.”
1:22 pm – Netanyahu: “Each one of us knows someone at the front. We must stand together, united and be strong on difficult days like this and more to come.”
1:21 pm – Netanyahu: “We are now in the midst of a war to defend our home.”
1:20 pm – Israel’s Netanyahu is now addressing the nation on TV. His remarks are being broadcast on all local channels.
11:20 am – The IDF released the following summary of today’s events:
Over the course of the day, IDF forces have detected and detonated 6 offensive tunnels both in the Gaza Strip area and in Israeli territory. The tunnels pose an imminent threat to the safety of Israeli civilians living in communities along the Gaza Strip border; therefore the IDF operates in order to destroy them.
Several offensive tunnels were uncovered during the ground phase of operation “Protective Edge”:
- An offensive tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip that had 4 access points to it- one in Israel, one blocked, and 2 others in the Gaza Strip. During the detonation several secondary explosions were identified, suggesting it contained explosives. One of the access points in Gaza was uncovered inside a house. The tunnel was 1.2 KM long.
- A tunnel that had 4 different access points in Gaza and an additional access point in Israel that was discovered close to an Israeli community.
- One offensive tunnel uncovered in the northern Gaza Strip had 5 different access points and contained barrels of explosives and a communication cable.
- An offensive tunnel in the central Gaza Strip had 2 access points, one of them in Israeli territory.
- An offensive tunnel in the central Gaza Strip that had 8 access points.
- An offensive tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.
Since the beginning of the ground phase of the operation the IDF engaged and killed 110 terrorist, and targeted 1,032 terror sites, 341 of which were targeted since this morning. Amongst the sites that were targeted were: rocket launching facilities, command and control headquarters, and underground rocket launchers.
In addition, the IDF along with the ISA targeted today the head of the Hamas observation alignment in the Gaza Strip.
IDF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner: “Since the beginning of the ground phase of the operation, the IDF has exposed 14 tunnels headed towards Israel, all intended to infiltrate Israel and carry out terror attacks. It’s like the ‘Underground’, the ‘Metro’ or the ‘Subway’. These tunnels are all connected. I would describe it as ‘Lower Gaza’.”
10:23 am – The IDF confirmed reports that 13 soldiers were killed overnight in fierce fighting in Gaza.
PREAMBLE: 9:05 am – Early on Tuesday July 8th Israel launched Operation Protective Edge aimed at stopping “the constant terror activity that Hamas is aiming at Israeli civilians.” The major Gaza initiative comes in response to a significant increase in rocket attacks from the coastal enclave over the past weeks.
Since the start of the initiative Israel has targeted over 2300 terror sites and has seen over 1600 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Gedera. More than 6 million Israelis are under threat of rocket attacks and many are spending the nights in bomb shelters. Over 300 deaths have been reported in Gaza and 18 Israeli soldiers have been killed and well as one civilian.
This Tuesday, while Israel accepted an Egyptian proposed ceasefire, Hamas rejected it and fired volleys of rockets into Israel.
Late on Thursday night the IDF launched an extensive ground offensive in Gaza.