Diplomacy & defense

Le secrétaire général des Nations Unies Ban Ki-moon (g) et le secrétaire d'Etat américain John Kerry au Caire le 21 juillet 2014
99 rockets fired into Israel Thursday; five Israeli soldiers killed by mortar; Palestinian death toll 1,422

Operation Protective Edge Day 24:

Israel's war in Gaza entered its 24th day Thursday, making it the longest of the three Israeli operations against terror targets there in less than six years while the Palestinian death toll soared past that of the 2009 Gaza operation, reaching 1,422.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced late Thursday night that "the United Nations Representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza." Ceasefire is expected to commence at Friday 05:00 GMT (08:00 local time).

Five Israeli soldiers were killed Thursday evening by a mortar in the southern Eshkol Regional Council, Israeli army spokesperson clears for publication. Details are forthcoming. Three others were injured in the same incident; they have been transferred to a hospital. Earlier, a man was seriously wounded and two others injured lightly when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in the southern Israeli community of Kiryat Gat.

Having been ordered by the Cabinet on Wednesday to expand operations in Gaza in order to locate and destroy additional Hamas tunnels, the army announced on Thursday that it would immediately call up 16,000 additional reservists. This will bring to about 85,000 the number called up so far.

In an additional indication of preparations for more fighting in Gaza, the United States confirmed Wednesday that it had allowed Israel to tap a local US arms stockpile to resupply it with grenades and mortar rounds.

The authorization came even as the United States called on Israel to "promptly and fully" investigate its shelling of an UNWRA school in Gaza, in which 16 Palestinians, among them children, were killed on Wednesday. Israel pledged to investigate.

(Watch: Israeli forces unearth a terrorist tunnel in a mosque)

So far, according to Palestinian medics, 1,422 people have been killed and more than 8,220 wounded since the start of the Israeli offensive. Of the 6,233 injured, 1,949 were children, it said. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said up to 240,000 Palestinians had been internally displaced by the ongoing fighting, with the UN agency for refugees saying over 200,000 of them had taken refuge in 85 of its shelters.

On the Israeli side the conflict has cost the lives of 61 soldiers and officers, as well as two civilians and a Thai agricultural worker.

According to the army, some 4,100 targets in Gaza have been hit, and over 2,670 rockets were fired into Israel, of which 2,102 landed and another 513 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Latest Developments:

02:07 GMT: Five Israeli soldiers were killed Thursday evening by a mortar in the southern Eshkol Regional Council, Israeli army spokesperson clears for publication. Three others were injured in the same incident; they have been transferred to a hospital.

01:15 GMT: Eight Palestinians, including at least two children, were killed by Israeli tank fire in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, a spokesman for the local emergency services said. A woman was also among the dead in the attack at Khan Yunes, said spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra. The eight deaths - according to Palestinian sources, all members of the same family - bring the toll on the Palestinian side to 1,450 since the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip began on July 8. (with AFP)

00:00 GMT: According to a CNN report, during the forthcoming 72-hour ceasefire due to begin Friday at 05:00, Israel will not be permitted to continue destroying the underground tunnel network dug by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and will be limited to destroying tunnel openings found on the Israeli side of the border. It should be noted the report contradicts those made by other major news agencies and that US Secretary of State John Kerry explicitly stated that Israel will keep up "defensive" operations against tunnels during the ceasefire.

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23:38 GMT: Israel has accepted a proposal for a 72-hour humanitarian lull which will begin at 05:00 GMT on Friday, a source in the prime minister's office said. A senior Hamas official also confirmed that they, as well, agree to maintain the ceasefire. (with AFP)

20:30 GMT: Rocket intercepted by Iron Dome missile system over central Israel near town of Ramle.

19:47 GMT: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced that "the United Nations Representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza." Ceasefire is expected to commence at Friday 05:00 GMT (08:00 local time).

"Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire. The parties will be able to raise all issues of concern in these negotiations," the diplomats stated.

19:39 GMT: Hamas in the West Bank calls upon Palestinians to declare Friday as "Day of Rage" against Israel, hold demonstrations after Friday morning prayer.

18:45 GMT: One civilian seriously wounded from earlier rocket strike in Kiryat Gat.

18:19 GMT: Israeli says 90 rockets were fired from Gaza Thursday.

17:18 GMT: Israel Defense Forces announces it has killed 15 terrorists since 09:00 GMT on Thursday

16:30 GMT: Israeli military says 'security incidents' might be unfolding in Sdot Negev Regional Council in southern Israel; roads closed to traffic, residents asked not to leave homes.

15:35 GMT: Ten killed in separate strikes in central Gaza: Palestinian Health Ministry

15:08 GMT: Two rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv, one strikes house in in Kiryat Gat, southern Israel, injuring three, one seriously.

14:57 GMT: UNRWA Secretary General says immediate ceasefire essential to save lives.

14:49 GMT: Two rockets fired from Gaza intercepted over Ashkelon

14:46 GMT: US says Israel must do more to adhere to its own standards in preventing civilian casualties.

14:05 GMT: Hamas spokesperson says that the group is not opposed to a ceasefire, but does not know if Israel will sign an agreement.

11:58 GMT: Three rockets land in Eshkol Regional Council.

09:48 GMT: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay slammed what she said was Israel's "deliberate defiance" of international law during the Gaza conflict. Pillay lambasted the country's attacks on homes, schools, hospitals and United Nations facilities in Gaza. "None of this appears to me to be accidental," she told reporters. "There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel."

09:06 GMT: Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: "Hamas suffered unprecedented damage," during Operation Protective Edge.

09:05 GMT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a government briefing: "We will not agree to a ceasefire without the destruction of tunnels." During his remarks a heavy barrage of rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. At least seven rockets intercepted over the city Sderot, one person lightly wounded by debris.

08:37 GMT: Army forces identified a terrorist in a Gaza tunnel and killed it. In a different incident Israeli Air Force strike six terrorists from the air in Gaza.

08:36 GMT: Five rockets land in open areas in southern Israel; one lands near the city of Ashkelon.

07:57 GMT: Hamas, Jihad delegation to travel to Cairo Thursday for ceasefire talks (al-Manar).

05:30 GMT: Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev tells BBC Israel will examine shelling of UNWRA school and will apologize if it turns out an errant shell hit the facility, in which 16 Palestinians were killed.

03:40 GMT: The Israeli military called up an additional 16,000 reservists, effective immediately, the Israeli Ynetnews site reports.

31/7 02:30 GMT: The United States confirmed it had restocked Israel's supplies of ammunition after the Israeli military requested additional ammunition to restock its dwindling supplies on July 20, the Pentagon said. The US Defense Department approved the sale just three days later.

"The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

Two of the requested munitions came from a little-known stockpile of ammunition stored by the US military on the ground in Israel for emergency use by the Jewish state. The War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel is estimated to be worth $1 billion.

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