2144 GMT: AFP journalist Sara Hussein reports that Israel has again attacked a building where journalists work:
If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem with diplomatic means, we prefer that. But if not, I'm sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people.
President Obama asked me to come to Israel with a very clear message: America's commitment to Israel's security is rock-solid and unwavering, that is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza. The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored. The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
President Obama has emphasized these same points in his multiple conversations with President Mursi of Egypt, and we appreciate President Mursi's personal leadership and Egypt's efforts thus far. As a regional leader and neighbor, Egypt has the opportunity and responsibility to continue playing a crucial and constructive role in this process.
Israel is committing ethnic cleansing by ignoring peace in this region and violating international law. It is occupying the Palestinian territory step by step.
1950 GMT: US President Obama called Egyptian President Morsi earlier for the third time in 24 hours. Deputy National Security adviser Ben Rhodes said the call, from Air Force One, lasted nearly 30 minutes, showing "that Egypt plays a very important role in this process". Rhodes gave the following account of the call:
It was an opportunity for them to continue the discussions they've been having and to speak in advance of Secretary Clinton's arrival in the region. President Obama underscored once again the importance of working for a de-escalation to the conflict in Gaza. He commended President Morsi's efforts to pursue a de-escalation. And he also underscored that President Morsi's efforts reinforce the important role that President Morsi and Egypt play on behalf of regional security and the pursuit of broader peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
It was an opportunity for them to continue the discussions they've been having and to speak in advance of Secretary Clinton's arrival in the region. President Obama underscored once again the importance of working for a de-escalation to the conflict in Gaza.
He commended President Morsi's efforts to pursue a de-escalation. And he also underscored that President Morsi's efforts reinforce the important role that President Morsi and Egypt play on behalf of regional security and the pursuit of broader peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
1939 GMT: More audio from @RenaGaza in Gaza recorded just minutes ago, reportedly captures the sound of Apaches and Apache strikes:
1931 GMT: Several hours ago, rumours were flying about a possible ceasefire announcement at 1900 GMT. This was subsequently denied by officials on both sides, but the possibility remained. However, things seem far from a ceasefire right now. Al Jazeera English journalist Jacky Rowland reports that there appears to be an "escalation" of attacks on northern Gaza. Speaking to the station she said:
There has been sustained heavy artillery fire coming into the northern Gaza Strip from tanks lined up along the Israeli border.
Citizen journalist @RenaGaza, in Gaza, uploads this audio recording reportedly capturing the sounds of live ammunition, taken about 20 minutes ago:
It's very hard now, with many injured people coming every hour. Women and children outnumbered men, especially with the new wave [of attacks] targeting houses and civilian buildings.
In the last hour, Haaretz reports that Gaza hospitals are reporting severe shortage in medical supplies.
It's more dangerous now than before, and we expect that things will be worse if ground operations start.
1849 GMT: Ceasefire news. The Turkish Foreign Secretary Davutoglu has said:
1844 GMT: Reuters journalist Noah Browning reports that a third Palestinian journalist was killed today by Israeli attacks:
1836 GMT: The US has blocked a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire. A draft press statement, circulated by Morocco, was rejected by America. The U.S. Mission to the U.N., Erin Pelton, said:
The draft press statement failed to address the root cause of the current escalation — the continuing barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel.
We made clear that we would measure any action by the Security Council based on whether it supported the ongoing diplomacy toward de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm.
By failing to call for the immediate and permanent halt to rocket launches from Gaza into Israel, this press statement failed to contribute constructively to those goals. As such, we could not agree to this statement, which was counter-productive and unacceptable.
1740 GMT: The Israeli Prime Minister's spokesperson Mark Regev has been speaking to the BBC, inferring that a ceasefire may not be as imminent as had been rumored by some:
#Israeli PM's Mark Regev tells BBC in Jerusalem he hoped deal would come tonight"but unfortunately it is not clear at this stage".— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) November 20, 2012
Regev told the BBC that they would like to see a diplomatic solution that would establish a long-term "quiet" in the south of #Israel— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) November 20, 2012
1736 GMT: King Abdullah II of Jordan has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said that a failure to end the crisis would have "serious repercussions" for the region. He called on Netanyahu to enact the "cessation of all forms of escalation to pave the way for regional and diplomatic efforts to achieve calm." The King also spoke with Egyptian President Morsi concerning Gaza.
1730 GMT: Tom Rayner from Sky News provides an English translation of the leaflet dropped over Gaza by Israel earlier today (see 1427 GMT entry):
To the people Sheik Ahjleen, Tel El Hawar, South of Rimal, Zaytoun area, Shajiah Toroukman and New Shajiah - the IDF is not targeting you, we do not want to harm your families. For your safety you are requested to evacuate your houses immediately and move towards Gaza City Centre through the following routes: - Cairo street Once you are in Gaza City you should stay west of Salahaddin, north of Omar Muktar Streets, East of Al Nasser street and south of Al Quds street. This fight is temporary and the end of it you will all return to your homes. By following these orders you will not be harmed.
- Arabic countries university
- Al Aqsa street
- Um il Laymoun street
- Al Mansura street
- Baghdad street
To the people Sheik Ahjleen, Tel El Hawar, South of Rimal, Zaytoun area, Shajiah Toroukman and New Shajiah - the IDF is not targeting you, we do not want to harm your families.
For your safety you are requested to evacuate your houses immediately and move towards Gaza City Centre through the following routes:
- Cairo street
Once you are in Gaza City you should stay west of Salahaddin, north of Omar Muktar Streets, East of Al Nasser street and south of Al Quds street.
This fight is temporary and the end of it you will all return to your homes.
By following these orders you will not be harmed.
1656 GMT: A Hamas leader tells the BBC that a ceasefire deal, whilst close, has not yet been reached:
1645 GMT: Conflicting reports of a possible ceasefire announcement:
GAZA TRUCE WILL BE DECLARED AT 1900 GMT AND GO INTO EFFECT AT 2200 GMT - HAMAS OFFICIAL SAYS— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 20, 2012
CNN is reporting that Israel is denying reports of a cease fire. Says it's still negotiating.— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) November 20, 2012
1630 GMT: The Israeli airstrike that almost hit a New York Times crew appears to have killed two other reporters:
Two Al Quds TV journalists have just been killed in #Gaza after Israeli forces targeted their car. Appalling.— Ruth Michaelson (@_Ms_R) November 20, 2012
1625 GMT: The BBC's Paul Danahar injects caution into the talk of a halt fo fighting:
BBC sources in Cairo say ceasefire agreed in principle but not official until/unless Egypt's Morsi announces— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) November 20, 2012
And the Israeli military reports a Gazan rocket strike:
Four Israelis were lightly injured.
A security source said that Israeli F-16 fired missiles at tunnels and houses adjacent to the border.
“The armed forces stopped filling the tunnels due to the missile attack on the tunnels area,” the source added.
Jodi Rudoren of The New York Times reports an Israeli strike in Gaza City:
A missile just hit a car driving behind the car NYT fixer was in in #Gaza. Driver oftargeted car was killed, our people OK. TOO CLOSE.— Jodi Rudoren (@rudoren) November 20, 2012
1601 GMT: "Senior Israeli officials with knowledge of ongoing talks" have said a cease-fire with Hamas will take effect tonight, with final details agreed in a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 10 pm local time (2000 GMT).
The officials added that the deal would not be a written agreement, and that no papers will be signed: "There will be understandings that will center on the cessation of Gaza rocket fire and the end of IAF [Israel Air Force] strikes....Discussions with the Egyptians on other issues like border crossings and arms smuggling will take place down the line."
An Islamic Jihad official said, and a Hamas source, confirmed, "There will be a joint press conference between Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the Egyptian mediators tonight to announce the truce."
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Egyptian Government sources said the terms would include, "Stop assassinations. Stop rocket fire from Gaza. Ease border crossings (not open totally). The guarantor of ceasefire is the Egyptian government."
1549 GMT: Minutes after Hamas talks up a cease-fire (see 1539 GMT), Israel talks it down:
Israeli PM office says no comment on Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha in Cairo saying ceasefire will come into effect tonight. #Gaza— Jon Donnison (@JonDonnison) November 20, 2012
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now in a news conference with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, said earlier, "Our hand is outstretched in peace to those of our neighbours who want to make peace with us and the other hand is firmly grasping the sword of David against those who wish to uproot us from this country."
1544 GMT: Global Post reporter Erin Cunningham tweets from the UN school in Gaza City:
100s of ppl streaming into UN school in Gaza City from areas in the north - on donkey carts, tractors, atop cars. Steady stream of displaced— Erin Cunningham (@erinmcunningham) November 20, 2012
1539 GMT: Talk of a halt to fighting gathers pace:
Ayman Taha Hamas spokesman in Cairo tells BBC there will be a ceasefire coming into effect tonight.— Jon Donnison (@JonDonnison) November 20, 2012
Fifteen people have been slain today and 133 since last Wednesday.
An airstrike in the Zeitoun neighborhood killed two children, medics said, while at least six people were killed and three critically injured in Israeli airstrikes on two cars in Gaza City's Sabra neighborhood district.
A "security source" said on Al-Aqsa radio that the six men were collaborators with Israel who "were caught red-handed": "They possessed hi-tech equipment and filming equipment to take footage of positions."
Gunmen chained the body of one of the executed to a motorcycle and dragged it through the main streets of Gaza City.
1453 GMT: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has denied on-line allegations by the Israel Defense Forces that Gazan fighters are using UNRWA schools or facilities to fire rockets.
On 17 November 2012 at 22:16, the Israeli Defense Forces tweeted from their official Twitter account (@IDFSpokesperson) a link to a video hosted on their official YouTube channel, featuring an animated film that depicts militants firing rockets from a school clearly marked with the UNRWA insignia.
UNRWA is concerned about the creation and use of footage that wrongly suggests that UNRWA is allowing its premises to be used for terrorist activities in the current conflict and the unauthorised use of its logo in computer-generated material. In a situation of conflict these allegations have potentially grave consequences. UNRWA takes with utmost seriousness the neutrality of its installations, particularly in times of heightened violence.
1440 GMT: The Israel Defense Forces have been waging a propaganda war on social media, with well-produced videos and graphics promoted othrough its Twitter and Tumblr accounts, along with its blog which rewards engaged readers by awarding them virtual military ranks. Palestinian activists have responded to the IDF's infographics with one of their own:
We do not have enough properly-equipped ambulances. We also lack oxygen, gauze pads, syringes, and intravenous fluids.
We are also exposed to danger, due to what is known as the “second bombing.” Sometimes, when a building is targeted by an air raid, a second missile is launched soon afterwards, right around when we arrive....
It’s not the first time that I have worked in Gaza during wartime. Each and every time, the hardest part is failing to save children. And sometimes, an entire family dies beneath the rubble of a building. I witnessed this just the day before yesterday.
1427 GMT: Al-Jazeera English journalist Nour Samaha shares a picture of the leaflet which Israel has dropped over parts of Gaza in the last hour telling residents "to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre":
Farah Baker writes from Gaza:
Israelis said that they're going to bomb my sister's house , and now she's at our house so afraid and crying . this is really awful....My sister is a teacher and her husband works in the UN so I still have a question which is :why do israelis want to bomb their house?...I have never seen my sister in this way, she's very afraid and crying and she doesn't say anything.
1420 GMT: The BBC's Paul Danahar reports:
1404 GMT: Whilst talk of an imminent ceasefire is prevalent, Al Jazeera English reports that Israel is sustaining its beligerent rhetoric:
Journalist Erin Cunningham adds:
Leaflets dropped in various parts of #Gaza City reportedly (from numerous sources) telling residents to evacuate to city center.— Erin Cunningham (@erinmcunningham) November 20, 2012
I have not yet seen leaflets. But were dropped around the same time Egypt's state media quoted president as saying truce expected tonight.— Erin Cunningham (@erinmcunningham) November 20, 2012
And the BBC's Wyre Davies notes that it is not just leaflets being dropped: "Soon after leaflets were dropped over #Gaza there's an airstrike in the same area."
>1404 GMT: Alex Thomson of Britain's Channel 4 TV reports:
Tear gas and burning tyres. Funeral turns to angry protests and violence....
Protesters in Bethlehem being hit with huge quantities of tear gas. Looks like Israeli troops inside refugee camp.
At least one person, an off-duty Palestinian policeman, was killed yesterday when he was shot by Israeli security forces. Hundreds have been injured or arrested since last Wednesday.
1353 GMT: Optimism about a ceasefire has surged, fuelled by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's comment, "The Israeli aggression against Gaza will end today, Tuesday, with no compromises or surrender."
1232 GMT: Israeli police say the rocket fired towards Jerusalem has landed in an open area, without any casualties.
Hamas Radio said the rocket was a Qassam M-75.
The Israel Defense Forces say 90 rockets have been fired from Gaza, with 51 intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
1139 GMT: Ali Yenidunya reports....
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been delivering a fiery speech in a party meeting in which, expressing his determination "to continue supporting the rights of Palestinians", he has declared, "One day, Israel will be called into account for the murder of children and the elderly."
Erdogan said, without explicitly referring to Israel, that Turkey cannot rely on the United Nations: "If we have to depend on the Security Council, we will lose. Today, against them. Tomorrow, they are against us. If we have to die, let us die like a man."
1022 GMT: A car in Beersheba in southern Israel destoryed by a Gazan rocket:
0845 GMT: According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonot, Israel Defense Force officials have complained about measures to limit casualties: "The attempt to avoid harming civilians will make terrorists less afraid in the future".
The Observer reports 1643 attacks so far, 1114 by air forces, 364 by the Israeli Navy, and 165 by ground forces.
In contrast, the BBC's Paul Danahar has been told by Hamas that "80% of details [have been] resolved in ceasefire talks so far".
0815 GMT: The latest on the diplomatic front....
US officials have said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah in the West Bank, and Cairo for talks. She will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority officials, and Egyptian mediators; however, she will not speak with any Hamas representatives.
Fourteen Foreign Ministers --- 13 from Arab States and Turkey's Ahmet Davutoglu --- and Arab League officials will visit Gaza today.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said, on his trip to the region, "My message is clear --- all sides must halt fire immediately....We all must recognise that Israel has legitimate concerns."
0720 GMT: There were at least six more Gazan deaths overnight amid Israeli attacks --- two in Rafah and four in Jabaliya refugee camp.
The Israeli navy has join air forces in shelling and bombing. The Islamic National Bank, surrounded by apartment buildings, was hit overnight, injuring four people.
At least three rockets have been fired from Gaza and intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome system.
0530 GMT: Israel maintained the aerial assault on Gaza on Monday. As Gazans buried the more than 30 people who were slain on Sunday --- notably 12 members of a single family, killed when a four-story residential building was flattened --- another 24 people were killed by shells and missiles.
The death toll since Israel launched operations on Wednesday is 111. Three Israelis were killed by Gazan rockets last Thursday.
With more than 100 "targets" overnight, the Israelis continued to hit buildings and camps with civilians, by accident or by design. For the third time in two days, it struck a media centre, killing a senior Islamic Jihad official.
Monday morning's speculation about an Israeli ground invasion was eased when West Jerusalem put out the news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided against the escalation for now, giving time to efforts for a ceasefire. Negotiations continued through the day, with Hamas officials and at least one senior Israeli involved in Cairo-based discussions, but there was no apparent advance towards a resolution.