JERUSALEM — Israel and the Hamas militant group edged closer to a cease-fire Tuesday to end a weeklong Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, but after a day of furious diplomatic efforts involving the U.S. secretary of state, U.N. chief and Egypt's president, a deal remained elusive and fighting raged on both sides of the border.
Israeli tanks and gunboats pummeled targets in Gaza in what appeared to be a last-minute burst of fire, while at least 200 rockets were fired into Israel. As talks dragged on near midnight, Israeli and Hamas officials, communicating through Egyptian mediators, expressed hope that a deal would soon be reached, but cautioned that it was far from certain.
"If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem by diplomatic means, we prefer that. But if not, then I am sure you will understand that Israel will have to take whatever actions are necessary to defend its people," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a late-night meeting with visiting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton was hastily dispatched to the region by President Barack Obama to join a high-profile group of world leaders working to halt the violence. Standing alongside the Israeli leader, Clinton indicated it could take some time to iron out an agreement.
"In the days ahead, the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region," she said.
Clinton expressed sorrow for the heavy loss of life on both sides, but called for the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel to end and stressed that the American commitment to Israel's security is "rock solid."
"The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike," she said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton met with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials for two hours.
"They discussed efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring about a sustainable outcome that protects Israel's security and improves the lives of civilians in Gaza," Nuland said. "They also consulted on her impending stops in Ramallah and Cairo, including Egyptian efforts to advance de-escalation."
Israel launched the offensive on Nov. 14 in a bid to end months of rocket attacks out of the Hamas-run territory, which lies on Israel's southern flank. After assassinating Hamas' military chief, it has carried out a blistering campaign of airstrikes, targeting rocket launchers, storage sites and wanted militants.
The campaign has killed more than 130 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and wounded hundreds of others. Five Israelis have been killed by rocket fire, including a soldier and a civilian contractor on Tuesday.
With Israel massing thousands of ground troops on the Gaza border, diplomats raced throughout the region in search of a formula to halt the fighting.
In a meeting with Netanyahu, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned Palestinian rocket attacks, but urged Israel to show "maximum restraint."
"Further escalation benefits no one," he said.
Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt. It also wants international guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use Egypt's Sinai region, which abuts both Gaza and southern Israel, to attack Israelis.
Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israel has rejected such demands in the past.
Egypt's new Islamist government is expected to play a key role in maintaining a deal.
The crisis has thrust Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi, into the spotlight as he plays a difficult balancing act.
Morsi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' parent movement, and clearly sympathizes with the Islamic militant group. At the same time, he relies heavily on U.S. aid and is trying to preserve a historic peace agreement with Israel.
Earlier, Morsi raised hopes that a cease-fire was near when he predicted the negotiations would yield "positive results" during the coming hours.
Netanyahu also said his country would be a "willing partner" in a cease-fire agreement.
But as the talks stretched into the evening, it became clear that a deal remained a ways off.
"Most likely the deal will be struck tomorrow. Israel has not responded to some demands, which delayed the deal," Hamas official Izzat Risheq said.
Hamas officials refused to discuss the remaining sticking points.
Israeli media quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as telling a closed meeting that Israel wanted a 24-hour test period of no rocket fire to see if Hamas could enforce a truce.
Palestinian officials briefed on the negotiations said Hamas wanted assurances of a comprehensive deal that included new border arrangements – and were resisting Israeli proposals for a phased agreement. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Although Israel claims it has inflicted heavy damage on militants' capabilities, its roughly 1,550 airstrikes and shelling attacks have failed to halt the rocket fire.
More than 1,400 rockets have been fired at Israel, including about 200 on Tuesday. A U.S.-financed Israeli rocket-defense system has knocked down roughly 400 of the incoming projectiles.
Violence raged on as the talks continued. An airstrike late Tuesday killed two journalists who work for the Hamas TV station, Al-Aqsa, according to a statement from the channel. A third journalist, from Al Quds Educational Radio, a private station, also was killed.
The Al-Aqsa TV cameramen were in a car hit by an airstrike, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. Israel claims that many Hamas journalists are involved in militant activities. Earlier this week it targeted the station's offices, saying they served as a Hamas communications post.
Late Tuesday, a Palestinian rocket hit a house in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, wounding two people and badly damaging the top two floors of the building, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Minutes before Ban's arrival in Jerusalem from Egypt, Palestinian militants fired a rocket toward Jerusalem, just the second time it has targeted the city. The rocket fell in an open area southeast of the city.
Jerusalem had previously been considered beyond the range of Gaza rockets – and an unlikely target because it is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest shrine.
Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets on several Gaza neighborhoods asking residents to evacuate and head toward the center of Gaza City along specific roads. The army "is not targeting any of you, and doesn't want to harm you or your families," the leaflets said. Palestinian militants urged residents to ignore the warnings, calling them "psychological warfare."
Israeli security officials acknowledge they rely on a network of Palestinian informants to identify targets. Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel in a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday, witnesses said.
An Associated Press reporter saw a mob surrounding five of the bloodied corpses shortly after the killing, and one of the bodies was dragged through the streets by a motorcycle.
Hamas did not provide any evidence against the alleged collaborators.
Clinton was also scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Egyptian leaders in Cairo on Wednesday. Turkey's foreign minister and a delegation of Arab League foreign ministers traveled to Gaza on a separate truce mission. Airstrikes continued to hit Gaza even as they entered the territory.
"Turkey is standing by you," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. "Our demand is clear. Israel should end its aggression immediately and lift the inhumane blockade imposed on Gaza."
At the United Nations, U.N. ambassadors after hours of closed-door meetings announced the Security Council will hold an open debate on the Gaza crisis Wednesday afternoon if a cease-fire is not called before then. The move comes after the United States blocked adoption of a unanimous press statement from the council because it did not explicitly criticize Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel.
The U.S. considers Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide and other attacks, to be a terror group and does not meet with its officials. The Obama administration blames Hamas for the latest eruption of violence and says Israel has the right to defend itself. At the same time, it has warned against a ground invasion, saying it could send casualties spiraling.
Barzak reported from Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Associated Press writers Hamza Hendawi in Cairo, Karin Laub in Gaza City and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Gaza City Launches Rockets at Israel
During the last hour of hostilities, militants launch rockets from Gaza City as an Israeli bomb explodes on the horizon on November 21, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. An official ceasfire started at 9pm local time between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement after a week of conflict resulting in the deaths of 150 Palestinians and five Israelis and many hundreds injured (Christopher Furlong, Getty Images)
Palestinian firefighters celebrate the beginning of the truce with Israel in Gaza City on November 21, 2012. Palestinians in Gaza took to the streets to celebrate the start of a truce deal with Israel that was announced in Egypt on the eighth day of violence in and around Gaza. (Marco Longari, AFP / Getty Images)
Soldiers Victoy Sign
An Israeli soldier gives the victory sign as mechanised infantry check their equipment in a forward staging area on Nov. 21, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. Despite widespread rumours of a ceasefire militants in the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets and Israel continues it's bombardment. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel to support and encourage a peace deal being brokered by Egypt. (Christopher Furlong, Getty Images)
Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal
Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal gives a press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel on Nov. 21, 2012 in Cairo, hours after Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr announced that a truce had been agreed between Israel and Hamas to end a week of bloodshed in and around Gaza. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press at his Jerusalem office on November 21, 2012. Israel and Hamas agreed on a truce that will take effect this evening in a bid to end a week of bloodshed in and around Gaza that has killed more than 150 people, Egypt and the United States said. (Gali Tibbon, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli infantry soldiers patrol next to the border on Nov. 21, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. Despite widespread rumours of a ceasefire militants in the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets and Israel continues it's bombardment. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel to support and encourage a peace deal being brokered by Egypt. (Christopher Furlong, Getty Images)
US & Egypt Announce CeaseFire
In this image made from Egyptian State Television, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, right, give a joint news conference announcing a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (Egyptian State Television / AP)
Protest Smoke Grenade
A smoke grenade is thrown by Israeli security forces during a protest against the Israeli military operations in Gaza Strip near the West Bank town of Nablus, on Nov. 21, 2012. (Nasser Ishtayeh, AP)
Produce Market in Gaza City
A Palestinian man drives past a produce market in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has arrived in Cairo in her diplomatic push to forge a truce between Israel and Gaza rulers of Hamas. Her visit comes hours after a bomb exploded on an Israeli bus in Tel Aviv, wounding several. Clinton is looking to piece together a deal to end Israel's weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip. (Bernat Armangue, AP)
Israeli Soldiers Pray
Israeli soldiers pray next to an artillery gun on Nov. 21, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. Despite widespread rumours of a ceasefire militants in the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets and Israel continues it's bombardment. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel to support and encourage a peace deal being brokered by Egypt. (Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Soldiers Take Cover
Israeli soldiers take cover during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Nov. 21, 2012 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. Despite widespread rumours of a ceasefire militants in the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets and Israel continues it's bombardment. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel to support and encourage a peace deal being brokered by Egypt. (Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Protesters Chased By Soldiers
Palestinian protesters are chased by Isareli border guards during clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus on November 21, 2012, as they protest against the ongoing Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip. A new wave of Israeli raids on Gaza killed 11 people, including a child who died when the tower housing AFP's office was struck for the second time in 24 hours. (Jaafar Ashitiyeh, AFP / Getty Images)
A Palestinian Holds Stones
A Palestinian youth holds stones during clashes with Israeli forces near an Israeli army watch tower at the main entrance of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, as they protest against the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip on Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli air strikes shook the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rockets struck across the border as Clinton held talks in Jerusalem in the early hours of Wednesday, seeking a truce that can hold back Israel's ground troops. (Musa Al-Shaer, AFP / Getty Images)
Palestinian stone throwers run for cover during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Nablus, on November 20, 2012. The West Bank has witnessed almost daily demonstrations in support of Gaza Palestinians who have faced a week of Israeli air strikes against militants firing rockets at the Jewish state.
Israel House Bombed
Sapir Hachmon and her boyfriend Ron Vachnish react as they enter her room after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2012 in Beersheba, Israel. Hamas militants and Israel are continuing talks aimed at a ceasefire as the death toll in Gaza reaches over 100 with three Israelis also having been killed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants. (Photo by Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Israeli Soldier Evacuates Girl From Site Hit By Rocket
An Israeli soldier evacuates a young girl from a site hit by a rocket launched by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva on November 20, 2012. Israeli leaders discussed an Egyptian plan for a truce with Gaza's ruling Hamas, reports said, before a mission by the UN chief to Jerusalem and as the toll from Israeli raids on Gaza rose over 100. (Danny Sasson, AFP / Getty Images)
UN Supplies in Palestine
Palestinians wait for aid at a UN supplies center after it was damaged in an Israeli airstrike directed at the nearby Hamas police headquarters at the Jabalya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2012. Israel halted a threatened Gaza ground offensive to give Egyptian-led truce talks a chance as top diplomats flew in to boost efforts to end nearly a week of cross-border violence. (Mohammed Abed, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli Drone in Sky
The white spirals of a patrolling Israeli drone are seen from the seafront in Gaza City on Nov. 20, 2012. UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged all sides to the Gaza conflict to immediately cease their fire, warning at a news conference in Cairo that an escalation will endanger the whole region. (Marco Longari, AFP / Getty Images)
House Bombed in Israel
A bomb disposal officer at a house after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2012 in Beersheba, Israel. Hamas militants and Israel are continuing talks aimed at a ceasefire as the death toll in Gaza reaches over 100 with three Israelis also having been killed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants. (Photo by Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Israeli Soldiers Check Their Guns
Israeli soldiers check their guns at an Israeli army deployment area near the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Nov. 20, 2012, as talks aimed at securing a deal between the Jewish state and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers continue. Israel halted a threatened Gaza ground offensive to give Egyptian-led truce talks a chance, as top diplomats flew in to boost efforts to end nearly a week of cross-border violence. (Menahem Kahana, AFP / Getty Images)
Israelis Take Cover During Air Raid Sirens Sound
Israeli civilians and security forces take cover as air raid sirens sound around Jerusalem on November 20, 2012. A rocket struck just south of Jerusalem as UN chief Ban Ki-moon was to arrive for talks on ending the Gaza crisis, AFP correspondents said. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP / Getty Images)
Kids Play During Lull In Rocket Fire
During a lull in militant rocket fire young boys play on the roof of a bomb shelter and blow soap bubbles on November 20, 2012 in Ashkelon, Israel. Hamas militants and Israel are continuing talks aimed at a ceasefire as the death toll in Gaza reaches over 100 with three Israelis also having been killed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants. (Photo by Christopher Furlong, Getty Images)
Israeli Air Force Leaflet Dropped In Gaza City
A Palestinian man holds up a leaflet dropped by Israeli air force in the Tufah neighbourhood of Gaza City on November 20, 2012, urging residents of certain districts of the city to evacuate their homes "immediately" amid fears the military was poised to launch a ground operation. (Marco Longari, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli Security Forces Examine Palestinian Rocket Site
Israeli security forces surround the place where a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip landed in an olive grove in West Bank near Jerusalem on Nov. 20, 2012. The rocket from Gaza struck an olive grove in West Bank near Jerusalem, shortly before UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived for talks on ending the Gaza crisis. The attack was claimed by the armed wing of Gaza's ruling Hamas movement, in the second such attempt to target Jerusalem in four days. (Hazem Bader, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli Soldiers Pray
Israeli soldiers read from a holy book as they pray in a staging area near the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, on Nov. 20, 2012. Israeli aircraft on Tuesday battered the headquarters of the bank Gaza’s Hamas leaders set up to sidestep international sanctions on their rule, as fitful efforts to negotiate an end to a week-old convulsion of violence moved to the highest reaches of diplomacy. (Ariel Schalit, AP)
Israeli Strike Left Rubble Behind In Gaza City
Palestinian children stand in the rubble left after an Israeli strike on a house in Gaza City, on Nov. 20, 2012. Efforts to end a week-old convulsion of Israeli-Palestinian violence drew in the world’s top diplomats on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama dispatching his secretary of state to the region on an emergency mission and the U.N. chief appealing from Cairo for an immediate cease-fire. (Hatem Moussa, AP)
House Hit By Rocket
An Israeli woman reacts at her house hit by a rocket fired by militants from Gaza Strip, in the southern city of Beersheba, Israel, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Efforts to end a week-old convulsion of Israeli-Palestinian violence drew in the world's top diplomats on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama dispatching his secretary of state to the region on an emergency mission and the U.N. chief appealing from Cairo for an immediate cease-fire. (Tsafrir Abayov, AP)
National Islamic Bank Destroyed in Gaza City
A Palestinian boy walks outside the National Islamic Bank, destroyed overnight in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, on Nov. 20, 2012. Early Tuesday, Israeli aircraft targeted another Hamas symbol of power, battering the headquarters of the bank senior Hamas officials set up to sidestep international sanctions on the militant group's rule. After Hamas violently overran Gaza in June 2007, foreign lenders stopped doing business with the militant-led Gaza government, afraid of running afoul of international terror financing laws. (Hatem Moussa, AP)
Smoke rises following an Israeli attack on smuggling tunnels on the border between Egypt and Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (Eyad Baba, AP)
Palestinians carry injured people out of a media center in Gaza City that was hit by an Israeli strike for the second time in two days Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad says the strike on the building killed one of its top militant leaders. (Bernat Armangue, AP)
Israeli soldiers prepare weapons in a deployment area on November 19, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. The death toll has risen to at least 85 killed in the air strikes, according to hospital officials, on day six since the launch of operation 'Pillar of Defence. (Lior Mizrahi, Getty Images)
Israeli artillery shells attack a target in the Gaza Strip on November 19, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. According to reports November 19, 2012, at least 90 Palestinians have been killed and more than 700 wounded during the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. (Christopher Furlong, Getty Images)
An Israeli officer holds a Torah scroll as he reads from a holy book while others gather in a staging area near the Israel Gaza Strip Border, southern Israel, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The Palestinian civilian death toll mounts as Israel ferociously pursues Gaza Strip militants who are menacing nearly half of Israel's population with rocket fire. (Ariel Schalit, AP)
Reuters news agency photographer Ammar Awad (R) receives treatment for an injury inflicted by a rock, during the coverage of the clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security at the Qalandia checkpoint, in the occupied West Bank on November 19, 2012. UN chief Ban Ki-moon will meet Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas as part of a growing push for a Gaza war ceasefire, his spokesman said. (Ahmad Gharabli, AFP / Getty Images)
Palestinian youth hurl stones towards Israeli soldiers at the Qalandia checkpoint, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, on November 19, 2012. European Union foreign ministers called for an "immediate" halt to hostilities between Gaza and Israel as a new strike in a sixth day of violence pushed the toll in Gaza to over 100. (Ahmed Gharabli, AFP / Getty Images)
An Israeli soldier aims his rifle towards strone throwers demonstrating against the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip at the Qalandia checkpoint, in the Israeli occupied West Bank,on November 19, 2012. Israeli air strikes killed 22 Palestinians, hiking the Gaza death toll to 99 as global efforts to broker a truce to end the worst violence in four years gathered pace. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Border Police
Israeli border policemen stand guard during a protest against Israel's military action on the Gaza Strip in Birzeit, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media center Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 96, as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel. (Nasser Shiyoukhi, AP)
Israeli Security Forces
Fireworks are thrown at Israeli security forces during clashes against Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip, in Qalandia checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov 19, 2012. Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media center Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 96, as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel. (Majdi Mohammed, AP)
Israel Launching Missle
Israeli soldiers lie on the ground as an Iron Dome missile is launched near the city of Ashdod, Israel, Monday Nov 19. 2012. Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media center Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 96, as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel. (Moti Milrod, AP)
Birzeit University students cover their faces during clashes with Israeli soldiers at the Atara checkpoint close to the university as they protest against Israel's military action on the Gaza Strip, on November 19, 2012. Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip killed 13 people, raising the Palestinian death toll to 90 as Israel's relentless air campaign entered its sixth day. (Abbas Momani, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli Bomb Shlelter
Israelis take cover in a large concrete pipe used as a bomb shelter during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Nov.19, 2012 in Nitzan, Israel. According to reports Nov. 19, 2012, at least 90 Palestinians have been killed and more than 700 wounded during the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Gaza City tower hosting media
Palestinians look on as smoke billows following an Israeli air strike on the Gaza City tower housing Palestinian and international media, on November 19, 2012. Israeli air strikes killed 21 Palestinians hiking the Gaza death toll to 98 as global efforts to broker a truce to end the worst violence in four years gathered pace. (Mohammed Abed, AFP / Getty Images)
Israelis take cover in a stairway during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on November 19, 2012 in Ashkelon, Israel. According to reports November 19, 2012, at least 90 Palestinians have been killed and more than 700 wounded during the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Palestinians run as tear gas is fired by Israeli security during a protest against Israel's military action on the Gaza Strip, on November 19, 2012. Israeli air strikes killed 22 Palestinians, hiking the Gaza death toll to 99 as global efforts to broker a truce to end the worst violence in four years gathered pace. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh, AFP / Getty Images)
Palestinian Woman Mourns
A Palestinian woman mourns after an Israeli air strike destroyed her house in the town of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 19, 2012. Israeli air strikes killed 13 Palestinians on November 19, hiking the Gaza death toll to 91 as global efforts to broker a truce to end the worst violence in four years gathered pace. (Mohammed Abed, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli Border Guards
Israeli border guards take position during clashes with Palestinian protestors in the centre of the divided West Bank city of Hebron, near the Israeli Beit Hadassa settlement, on November 19, 2012. Israeli air strikes killed 21 people in Gaza on Monday, raising the overall death toll to 98 on the sixth day of the relentless bombing campaign. (Hazem Bader, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers sleep next to their tanks in a deployment area on Nov.19, 2012 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. The death toll has risen to at least 85 killed in the air strikes, according to hospital officials, on day six since the launch of operation 'Pillar of Defence.' (Photo by Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Supporters of Pakistan's outlawed Islamic hardline group Jamaat ud Dawa (JD) stand on Israeli and US flags as they shout anti-Israel slogans during a protest in Karachi on Nov.19, 2012. Israeli air strikes killed 13 Palestinians on Nov. 19, hiking the Gaza death toll to 91 as global efforts to broker a truce to end the worst violence in four years gathered pace. (Asif Hassan, AFP / Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers gather next to their armoured personnel carriers (APC) stationed on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2012, in Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli children wave their national flag as they greet soldiers stood by a car, on a road leading to the Israel-Gaza border near the southern Israeli town of Ofakim on November 17, 2012 in Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
A rocket is launched from Gaza as seen from near Sderot on November 17, 2012 in Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Isreali's have died since conflict began four days ago. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her talks in Israel this week not to take any extreme actions in response to the Palestinian move in the United Nations for recognition as a non-member state. Clinton said such steps against the Palestinian Authority could bring about its collapse. The Palestinians are planning to ask the United Nations General Assembly to vote on upgrading its status from non-member entity on the symbolic date of November 29.
The day after the cease-fire with Hamas took effect, Israel is preparing for the next crisis with the Palestinians, which is scheduled for six days from now. November 29th is the anniversary of the United Nations vote on accepting the Partition Plan in 1947, which led to the founding of the Jewish Sate. It is also the United Nations' International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Read more here.
From the Jerusalem Post:
Washington is urging Israel not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition next week at the UN, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Building in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has prevented.
Read more here.
The New York Times' Jodi Rudoren chronicles displays of pride and sacrifice:
Inside a courtyard, there are faded remnants of “Congratulations from the uncles,” from the April wedding of a son of Ahmed al-Jabari, the commander of the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, whose assassination last week was the beginning of the latest round of intense battle between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
On the wall outside, the colorful Arabic script reads “Welcome hajji, Abu Muhammad,” a reference to Mr. Jabari’s return from a pilgrimage to Mecca last month. Nearby, the freshest paint pronounces a message from the troops: “Rest in peace. The mission has been accomplished.”
Read the full story at the New York Times.
An underground tunnel connecting through which I got into Gaza from Egypt. Israel has repeatedly targeted the tunnel network, trying to hinder flow of goods and weapons into the strip. (Photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy via Flickr)
16 soldiers spelled out 'loser' with their bodies to critique Netanyahu and show frustration at not going into battle.
The Economist discusses how the ceasefire was achieved and whether it could lead to lasting peace in the region.
Among others coming and going were the UN secretary-general, the American secretary of state and the foreign ministers of Turkey and Germany. But the real bargaining took place behind closed doors at the headquarters of General Muhammad Shehata, Egypt’s intelligence chief. There, in separate rooms, the Egyptians haggled with a legal adviser to the Israeli prime minister, and with representatives from Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs Gaza, and a smaller, more radical Palestinian faction, Islamic Jihad.
From the Associated Press:
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's army spokeswoman says an Israeli Arab who is a member of Hamas has been arrested for Wednesday's bus bombing in Tel Aviv.
The bombing injured 27 people near Israel's military headquarters and threatened to scuttle efforts to broker a cease-fire to end fighting between Israel and Gaza.
Israeli military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich reported Thursday on Twitter that authorities had arrested the man who planted the bomb on the bus and identified him as an Arab Israeli from the village of Taybeh. She said he was a member of Hamas.
|@ haaretzcom : BREAKING: #Israel security forces arrest suspects in #TelAviv bus blast http://t.co/91fS0v48|
A Palestinian boy and militants of the Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, attend funerals of five Hamas militants in Mugharka village, central Gaza Strip, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Five Hamas militants were killed in an Israeli air strike yesterday, Palestinian health officials said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
While the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Gaza on Wednesday brought an end to the rockets and airstrikes, the political fallout is just beginning. The Associated Press offers a breakdown of who won and who lost as a result of the truce agreement:
Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel secured an agreement to stop the persistent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel without launching a ground invasion into Gaza or losing the support of its international allies. Netanyahu's bid for re-election in January could be vastly strengthened by the operation and by the killing of Hamas militant leader Ahmed Jabari on the first day of fighting. Netanyahu got the backing of President Barack Obama during the fighting, a significant achievement after their already shaky relationship grew colder when Netanyahu was perceived to favor Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the recent U.S. election. Israel also secured a commitment from the U.S. to help stop weapons smuggling into Gaza. Caption: <em>Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a visit to the national police headquarters on November 22, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel.</em> (Gali Tibbon-Pool/Getty Images)
The Islamic militant group that rules Gaza gained significant international credibility, with Arab and Turkish diplomats pouring into the Palestinian territory to show support. Though it has been branded a terror group by Israel and the United States, it was treated as an equal partner with Israel during indirect cease-fire talks in Egypt. In those talks, it secured a commitment for the freer movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Hamas also proved its ability to fire rockets as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem despite being battered with airstrikes. As the Arab Spring brings Islamists to power across the region, Hamas' influence is on the rise. Caption: <em>A Hamas militant talks during a press conference in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.</em> (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah
Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas five years ago, might be the biggest loser. He had no seat in the cease-fire negotiations and was largely sidelined during the crisis. Hamas' ability to stand up to Israel and survive could also diminish Palestinians' patience with their president's so far fruitless efforts to push for a negotiated solution to the conflict with Israel. Abbas' Western-backed government only rules in the West Bank, and his dreams of reconciling the rival Palestinian territories seems more elusive than ever. Caption: <em>Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. </em>(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi: The former Muslim Brotherhood leading figure emerged from his first major international crisis with enhanced prestige and proved his government can mediate between the two sworn enemies, something the United States cannot do because it considers Hamas a terrorist organization and doesn't allow contacts between its members and American officials. Egypt's sponsorship of the cease-fire ensures Morsi a central role in the future of the region. Caption: <em>In this Friday, July 13, 2012 photo, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks to reporters during a joint news conference with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, unseen, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt.</em> (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
The United States
While the Obama administration has sought to refocus its foreign policy on Asia, the Gaza fighting forced it to turn back to a conflict it has sought to move past. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's last-minute shuttle diplomacy might have strengthened a U.S.-Egyptian partnership that has been strained in the 21 months since Egyptians toppled autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak. After a first term characterized by repeated failures in forging Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. role in supporting the cease-fire could signal renewed American engagement in the region. A U.S. commitment to help stop arms smuggling to Gaza may also help repair Obama's strained relationship with Netanyahu. Caption: <em>U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wave as they arrive at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, on Air Force One, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.</em> (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Read the full story on HuffPost World.
HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin moderates a panel of bloggers and journalists and looks at whether members of the media have been targeted during the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Statement From the U.S. State Department:Question: Have the United States and Israel spoken specifically about the importance of safety for journalists covering the ongoing conflict in Gaza?
Answer: U.S. officials discussed a range of issues with their Israeli counterparts with respect to the conflict in Gaza, including our concerns for the safety and security of civilians in both Israel and Gaza, which includes journalists in Gaza. In any armed conflict, journalists must be respected and protected from any form of intentional attack. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure the safety and security of journalists as much as possible.
— Joshua Hersh
|@ haaretzcom : Israel's FM Avigdor Lieberman: We didn’t negotiate cease-fire with #Hamas, we negotiated with #Egypt http://t.co/91fS0v48 #Gaza|
A Gaza man hugs a Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant after a press conference in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Gazans are celebrating a cease-fire agreement reached with Israel to end eight days of the fiercest fighting in nearly four years constricting the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
|@ alextomo : #c4news #gaza Nature does it better: flashes of white light and rolling thunder as a storm piles in over Gaza AND Israel|
|@ NadimJBaba : #Gaza City's got a thunderstorm, windows at Jazeera office still to be replaced after blast damage. Many families in same boat tonight|
|@ AymanM : Pouring down rain in #gaza, eating dinner, loud thunder heard, everyone starts clapping & laughing thinking it was an airstrike #onlyingaza|
|@ haaretzcom : Do you think the recently achieved #Gaza cease-fire could lead to a broader agreement with the #Palestinians? http://t.co/Krn55GvI|
Citing a human rights group, the Maan News Agency reports that Israel has transferred to administrative detention approximately 30 Palestinians from the West Bank who were involved in solidarity events for Gaza.
Under the policy of administrative detention, Israel can hold prisoners for renewable terms of six months without pressing charges.
Among the prisoners were leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as university students.
|@ blakehounshell : RT @BarakRavid: Behind the scenes of Israel's decision to accept Gaza truce - new post on Diplomania - http://t.co/QC2afTKL|
Ultra-Orthodox Jews of the Bratslav Hasidic sect, that gathered to show support for the forces, dance as they celebrate atop of a tank in southern Israel, close to the Israel Gaza Strip Border, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
On the heels of his crucial role in peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has consolidated power through a series of constitutional amendments and decrees, the Associated Press reports.
Morsi's amendments also call for the re-trial of members of Hosni Mubarak's regime for the killing of protesters during the Arab Spring.
Read the full story on HuffPost World.
A flak jacket hangs on the cannon of a tank as another is guided to a new position at a staging area near the Israel Gaza Strip Border, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Mohammed Badei, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has come out against Wednesday's peace accord between Israel and Hamas.
"The enemy knows nothing but the language of force," said Mohammed Badei. "Be aware of the game of grand deception with which they depict peace accords."
Badei's comments come in sharp contrast to the peace negotiations by Egypt's President, Mohammed Morsi, who is also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Badei also went on to say that "jihad is obligatory" and called on Muslims to "back your brothers in Palestine."
Read the whole story on HuffPost World.
Paul Danahar, a BBC reporter in Gaza, has been following on Twitter the saga of a doctor at a hospital in the Strip who found himself suddenly treating his own six-year-old child, who later died from injuries sustained during the shelling. There are few details so far, but on Thursday Danahar added one more sorrowful note: the doctor, according to the UN, had been working so hard helping patients from the bombing that he hadn't seen his own family for three days, until suddenly the patient dying on the table before him was his boy.
According to Al Akhbar, a photo uploaded on September 29 to the Facebook profile of the head of the IDF's social media unit shows the lieutenant posing with brown mud on his face under the caption: "Obama style."
Sacha Dratwa, a 26-year old "immigrant from Belgium" as he was described in Tablet magazine, is in charge of the IDF's Facebook, Twitter and very controversial Instagram account.
-- Ahmed Shihab-Eldin
In the midst of the fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, a Palestinian Authority ambassador vented his anger and frustration about the Hamas leadership in a phone conversation with an Israeli diplomat, Haaretz has reported.
The exchange, which was reported by the Israeli diplomat in a cable that was later leaked to Haaretz's Barak Ravid, captures the irritation and, ultimately, the impotence of the Fatah leadership in the West Bank, which found itself sidelined from the diplomatic conversation over a cease-fire in Gaza, despite technically being the appointed representatives of the Palestinian people around the world.
"The Hamas offices that were destroyed are not important," the unnamed ambassador apparently reported, expressing his sense of Hamas's indifference to what happens to their people. "The real offices are the mosques, which are connected to a widespread network of tunnels. Everything happens underground. Hamas has no regrets over the destruction in Gaza. On the contrary. Hamas gets a great deal of economic and political benefit from the terrible destruction because of the large donations that will come from the world and the political image of the organization that stands on the front line against Israel.”
The Israeli diplomat also reported the PA official as decrying his boss, PA president Mahmoud Abbas (informally known as Abu Mazen) for his failure to bring the people of Gaza under his wing:
"Abu Mazen never troubled to bring the residents of Gaza close to him," he reportedly said. He does not like Gaza, and if he could get rid of it, he would be happy to do so.... One way or another, Abu Mazen’s time is more or less up. The problem is who will replace him.
Reading over the exchange, Jeffrey Goldberg, a close Israel watcher, noted, "The difference between Israel and Fatah is that Fatah dislikes Hamas more."
Read the whole report here.
|@ BBCBreaking : Israeli soldier injured by mortar fire on Wednesday dies of wounds - sixth Israeli to die in recent conflict - reports http://t.co/6aUYSUvw|
|@ RichardEngel : #Israeli troops begin leaving border sites with #gaza|
This New York Times graphic not only charts the attacks in Israel and Gaza, but also identifies the different rockets used by Hamas and the neighborhoods affected by Israeli fire.
More important for many, though, is the context for how big Gaza is in comparison to New York City.