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Gaza Live Coverage: Israel Rejects Ceasefire and Maintains Assault

Tel Aviv bus struck by an explosion today

See also Gaza Audio Feature: Before the Ceasefire --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
EA Video Analysis: The 4 Biggest Losers of the Gaza War...So Far
Why Netanyahu's Rejection of A Ceasefire is Bad News for the US"
Gaza Feature: The Names of Those Killed
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Damascus Shakes as Assad Regime Wobbles
Monday's Gaza Live Coverage: Israel Chooses Air Assault Over Ground Invasion...For Now

2005 GMT: Chris McGreal of The Guardian reports the scene from Gaza City:

On a street running along the Gaza City waterfront, three young men --- one armed --- were celebrating. They waved at a man driving by blowing his horn. Above their heads a loudspeaker on a mosque repeated over and over: Allahu Akbar.

Part of the celebration is relief that, hopefully, the eight days and nights of bombing and shelling are now at an end and people can sleep safely. Or sleep at all.

But there is also a mood of victory.

"Israel begged for a ceasefire because it could not stop our rockets," said Adel Mansour, who was without a gun. "They bombed us, they killed our women and children, but they could not stop the resistance. So they had to surrender and agree to stop the assassinations. They learned we cannot be defeated by their bombs."

1910 GMT: Despite the formal start of the ceasefire, rocket launches into Israel are being reported:

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the sounds are of Israeli drones and a gunfire of celebration:

1900 GMT: The ceasefire has gone into effect, with Israeli attacks and Gazan rocket launches up to the last minute.

1816 GMT: As the ceasefire was announced, Israeli airstrikes continued. A 14-year-old, Nader Abu Mghaseeb, has reportedly died in the latest attacks.

Twenty Gazans, seven of them children, were killed today. The death toll since last Wednesday is more than 150.

1809 GMT: The White House, following President Obama's talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has put out a statement playing up US influence in arranging the ceasefire:

The President commended the Prime Minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal –-- which the President recommended the Prime Minister do --- while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself.

At the same time, the White House emphasised US guarantees to bring about Netanyahu's decision:

The President said that the United States would use the opportunity offered by a ceasefire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza.

The President said that he was committed to seeking additional funding for Iron Dome and other US-Israel missile defense programs.

1803 GMT: Al Jazeera English indicates that the agreement to cease fire is a "Stage One" resolution, with Israel ending attacks and assassinations in return for a halt to Gazan rocket fire.

Border crossings will be opened to ease movement of people and goods within 24 hours. Egypt will guarantee adherence to the agreement, with other terms --- such as smuggling of arms into Gaza --- to be discussed at a later date.

1756 GMT: Egypt's Foreign Minister, alongside US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has declared that a ceasefire will come into effect this evening at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).

The Israeli Prime Minister's office announced, "A short while ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Barack Obama and agreed to his recommendation to give a chance to an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and thereby give an opportunity for the stabilisation of the situation and a calming of it."

Hamas had said an hour ago, "The deal has been agreed."

1641 GMT: Israeli officials say four soldiers have been injured, two "lightly to moderately", when a Gazan rocket hit Eshkol.

One soldier was killed and several injured on Tuesday when a rocket hit the same location, a staging area for troops moving towards the Gazan border.

1635 GMT: Maan reports that two Gazans, one of them a 4-year-old child, have died of injuries suffered in Israeli airstrikes.

1625 GMT: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, after a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi: "I am particularly concerned about the spiral of violence at the time of intense efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel....We all know there are many details to work out. But while that happens civilians continue to die."

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is still in a meeting with Morsi, with a press conference delayed by the extended talks.

1615 GMT: Adnan Abu Hassna of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has said that about 10,000 Gazans have sought shelter in 12 UN-run schools, after Israel dropped leaflets telling residents to leave homes which might be hit by airstrikes.

On Tuesday the head of UNRWA, Filippo Grandi, said that the agency urgently needed $12 million to continue distributing food to the neediest Gazans.

1459 GMT: Dan Williams of Reuters revives hopes of a ceasefire:

1444 GMT: The BBC's Paul Danahar offers tragic detail on the six-year-old who was killed this afternoon in an Israeli airstrike which supposedly was targeting Islamic Jihad but hit a building hosting the AFP news agency (see 1344 GMT):

1344 GMT: The building with Agence France Presse's offices has been hit for the second time within hours by an Israeli attack. One person, unconnected with AFP, was killed.

An Israeli airstrike on a building where Islamic Jihad fighters were allegedly present has killed a six-year-old boy in a nearby street.

Maan reports that a two-year-old, Abdul Rahman Naem, was killed when an Israeli airstrike struck a residential tower block in Gaza City.

Hamas officials say nine people have killed in Gaza today, bringing the death toll to 146.

1234 GMT: Latest reports indicate Israeli airstrikes on the Yarmouk football stadium in Gaza City, while rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Beersheba in southern Israel --- one was intercepted and the rest fell in open areas.

Al Jazeera English staff counted 10 explosions in the attack on the football stadium. "Multiple casualties" are reported, while one Gazan has been killed in an Israeli airstrike in western Gaza City.

After the Yarmouk attack and a series of Israeli airstrikes that have blown out windows in its building, Al Jazeera has relocated operations to a hotel.

1148 GMT: Hamas' military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, send out a Twitter message after the Tel Aviv bus bomb:

1124 GMT: On Saturday, the Jerusalem Post pointed to video from the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, "We have omitted the suicide [bombs]...Wait for us soon in stores, buses and cafes."

Ben Wedeman of CNN reported earlier (see 1045 GMT) that a mosque loudspeaker was broadcasting that the Brigades were behind the Tel Aviv bus explosion.

1117 GMT: An update on casualties from the bus bomb:

1107 GMT: Despite earlier reports from journalists pointing to unofficial claims of responsibility for the Tel Aviv bus bomb (see 1045 GMT), no official confirmation has come from Hamas or Islamic Jihad --- a Hamas spokesperson told Al Jazeera English, "This is a natural result of Israel's aggression" and "If Israel continues to attack, all options are on the table":.

1100 GMT: Journalist Barak Ravid claims one suspect in the Tel Aviv bus bomb has been apprehended:

Al Jazeera English reports from police sources that a package was left on the bus by "one or two men".

1051 GMT: Haaretz reports, "None seriously wounded in Tel Aviv blast. Only moderate to light injuries."

Activist Amir Kopty posts a slightly different report:

1045 GMT: The BBC's Paul Danahar reports:

And CNN's Ben Wedeman sends a parallel report:

Police in Tel Aviv are diverting traffic from an area where they suspect there may be another explosive.

1027 GMT: Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said at least three people are "moderately or severely" wounded in the Tel Aviv bus explosion. "We believe it was a terrorist attack", he says, saying it is unclear if the explosion was a device on the bus or caused by a suicide bomber.

The Tel Aviv ambulance services says there are "no fatalities" so far.

Reuters reports celebratory gunfire in Gaza City when local radio stations reported the explosion.

The last bomb in Tel Aviv was in April 2006, when a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near the city's old central bus station.

1018 GMT: Haaretz now reports at least 15 people wounded in the Tel Aviv bus blast, with police calling the explosion on Shaul Hamelech Street "terror-related".

The bus was near the Israel Defense Forces headquarters at the time of the attack:

1015 GMT: Reports are coming in of a bus explosion in Israel:

0945 GMT: Israeli airstrikes have reportedly destroyed the home of Issam al-Dailies, personal advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

The home of a Gaza bank director and former Minister has also been hit.

The Israel Defense Forces say an Israeli home has been hit by a Gazan rocket, with no casualties.

0915 GMT: There was an overnight flutter when Israel Defense Forces spokesman Avital Leibovich put out Israeli casualty figures which were much higher than we have noted:

The explanation? Leibovich was a bit sweeping in her definition of casualties: only 1 of the wounded was severely injured while 82 were suffering from "trauma" or "stress".

0905 GMT: Israeli media are reporting that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, currently meeting the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, will return to West Jerusalem for a second round of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Clinton and Abbas at their meeting (Photo: Alaa Badarneh/EPA):

0855 GMT: Maan News Agency claims one Gazan has been killed and three wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza City.

0805 GMT: Haaretz posts a detailed account of the Israeli twists and turns leading to last night's rejection of a ceasefire by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A "senior Israeli official" puts out the line for the rejection:

The latest draft compiled by Egyptian intelligence officials wasn't [favourable to] Israel...The Egyptians adopted Hamas' stances on some points, especially with regards to everything doing with opening border crossings, loosening the blockade, and annulling the 500-meter security zone on Gaza's side of the border, to which Israel bars the entrance of Palestinians.

Far more interesting, however, is the revelation that Minister of Defense Minister Ehud Barak favoured acceptance of the Egyptian proposals, while Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman argued that Israel "can't back down on essential issues".

Israel had told Egypt that it was interested in a cease-fire based on the "quiet-for-quiet" principle, in which rocket fire and attacks against Israeli troops along the border would cease in return for a halt to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations. However, West Jeruslam would retain the right to take military action "to thwart nefarious operations".

During the second stage of the process, Israel would be willing to open talks with Egypt on Hamas' demands, especially loosening of the blockage on Gaza and opening of border crossings. Israel would require that Egypt give assurances to prevent smuggling of arms into Gaza.

0755 GMT: The BBC's Paul Danahar posts a picture of the aftermath of an Israeli attack:

The damage to Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza City from an Israeli missile that landed nearby, apparently targeting a Hamas office which issued IDs:

0720 GMT: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has dismissed any ground invasion of Gaza in the near-future.

"The government cannot take such a decision two months before [Parliamentary] elections" on 22 January, Lieberman said in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. "We should leave this decision for the next government."

0715 GMT: About 30 Palestinians are protesting outside President Mahmoud Abbas's headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank, ahead of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit.

Journalists will hold a rally in Hebron to protest the Israeli attacks on the press, including the killing of three journalists in their cars by airstrikes on Tuesday.

0710 GMT: Hamas deputy head Mousa Abu Marzouk has denounced Tuesday's killing of six men accused of collaborating with Israel.

In a post on his Facebook page, Marzouk said suspected spies must be dealt with through the law. He called for the those responsible for the killings to be held accountable and said such an incident must "never happen again".

0700 GMT: Two teenagers ---Ibrahim Bin Hamad, 15, and Mahmoud al-Arja, 16 --- have been named among overnight casualties of Israeli airstrikes. They were killed in an attack on Rafah.

The Israeli military claimed that it hit "dozens of terror infrastructure sites" overnight, including the Ministry of Internal Security, a police compound, and tunnels used to transport fuel.

0600 GMT: Israel maintained a fierce assault on Gaza overnight, hitting the Strip from the air and from the sea with more than 100 missions, as the Gazan death toll rose to 139.

At least 27 Gazans have been killed since Tuesday morning, including three journalists. Two Israelis --- a soldier and a Bedouin civilians --- were slain by Gazan rockets in Eshkol, brnging the death toll to five since the conflict escalated last Wednesday.

The Israeli attacks followed the last-minute rejection of a ceasefire, accepted by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu --- changing the script in which he and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would present West Jerusalem's agreement. We post an analysis, "Why Netanyahu's Rejection of A Ceasefire is Bad News for the US".

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