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Gaza Militants Kill 18 Suspected Spies For Israel, Including 2 Women

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Gaza gunmen killed 18 alleged spies for Israel on Friday, including seven who were lined up behind a mosque and shot after midday prayers, in response to Israel's deadly airstrikes against top Hamas leaders.

Two of those killed were women, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which called for an immediate halt to what it said were "extra-judicial executions."

Hamas media portrayed the killings as the beginning of a new crackdown, under the rallying cry of "choking the necks of the collaborators."

The Al Majd website, which is close to the Hamas security services, said suspects would now be dealt with "in the field" rather than in the courts in order to create deterrence.

The Hamas-run Al Rai said the same punishment would soon be imposed on others.

The killings came a day after an Israeli airstrike on a house in southern Gaza killed three senior military leaders of Hamas.

Earlier in the week, another strike killed the wife and two children of Mohammed Deif, who is in charge of the Hamas military wing. Deif's fate remains unclear.

Friday's events began with the shooting of 11 alleged informants at the Gaza City police headquarters in the morning. Of the 11, two were women, the Palestinian rights center said.

Later in the day, seven men were killed outside the city's downtown al-Omari mosque as worshippers were wrapping up noon prayers. Several dozen people were near the mosque at the time, said one of the witnesses, 42-year-old Ayman Sharif.

Sharif said masked gunmen lined up seven people against a wall. A piece of paper was affixed above the head of each of them, with his initials and his alleged crime.

Sharif quoted one of the gunmen as saying the seven "had sold their souls to the enemy for a cheap price" and had caused killing and destruction.

The commander of the group then gave the order to the others to open fire form their automatic rifles. He said the bodies were collected by an ambulance and the gunmen left.

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08/26/2014 12:41 PM EDT
VIDEO: Gazans Celebrate

CNN reporter Ian Lee posted this video on his Instagram account of Gazans celebrating the cease-fire deal.

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According to BBC producer Michael Shuval, an Israeli official said Hamas' demands for the opening of a seaport and airport in Gaza are not part of the Egypt-brokered deal both factions agreed to on Tuesday, but will be discussed in further talks within a month.

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An Israeli official told the Associated Press that Israel will ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip as part of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal. The agreement will enable the passage of humanitarian aid and construction material to rebuild the war-torn territory, according to the report.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian official told Buzzfeed that the terms of the deal were similar to those reached after the last major conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2012. That year, Israel pledged to ease restrictions at Gaza's border in exchange for a cessation of rocket fire from Hamas militants.

-- Charlotte Alfred

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08/26/2014 12:20 PM EDT
Gaza Celebrates
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08/26/2014 12:16 PM EDT
Barrage Of Rockets

According to several reporters in Israel, Palestinian militants have fired a barrage of rockets at Israel moments before the start of a long-term ceasefire.

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08/26/2014 12:10 PM EDT
More On The Israeli Position

Via the Associated Press:

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli official says Israel has accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire plan to end a seven-week war against Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip.

The official said Tuesday that Israel "responded positively" to Egypt's call for an open-ended cease-fire.

Egyptian state media reported the cease-fire was to begin at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT).

The Israeli official said Israel would ease its blockade of Gaza to allow humanitarian and construction materials to enter the war-battered territory.

He said indirect talks on more substantial issues would begin in Cairo within a month. Issues are expected to include Hamas' demand for an end to the blockade and Israel's calls for Hamas to disarm.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with journalists.

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08/26/2014 11:49 AM EDT
Haaretz: Israel Accepts Truce

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel has accepted the Egyptian-proposed truce. The official added that members of Israel's cabinet had been notified.

Read more here.

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08/26/2014 11:44 AM EDT
More On The Egyptian Announcement

Via the Associated Press:

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian state media has announced a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel to halt the seven-week Gaza war, which has killed over 2,200 people.

Both Egyptian state television and the state news agency MENA announced the deal Tuesday night. Both said it begins at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), without elaborating.

Earlier, officials with from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main groups fighting in Gaza against Israel, said a cease-fire had been reached. Israeli officials have not immediately commented. They described it as an "open-ended" cease-fire that included an Israeli agreement to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow relief supplies and construction materials into the war-battered territory.

Israeli officials have yet to comment.

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Egypt state TV reports as well that a cease-fire was reached between Hamas and Israel, the Associated Press writes.

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Reporter Ben Hartman writes on Twitter that reports have emerged that 3 Israelis were seriously wounded in an attack from Gaza.

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A senior Hamas official told the Associated Press that the group reached an agreement with Israel which for an "open-ended" ceasefire.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Egypt will announce the deal later Tuesday.

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Agence France Presse and the Associated Press report that a senior Hamas official official says Israel and Palestinians reached a long-term cease-fire.

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08/26/2014 8:54 AM EDT
Iron Dome Intercepts 2 Rockets
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08/25/2014 4:24 PM EDT
Israel Reacts To Lebanon Strikes

The Times of Israel reports that the Israeli army has retaliated for earlier strikes fired from Lebanon into the Upper Galilee.

Peter Lerner, spokesman for the IDF, tweeted moments ago:

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According to the Israeli army, a rocket fired from Lebanon into Israel hit the Upper Galilee.

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08/25/2014 12:19 PM EDT
Bank Of Israel Cuts Interest Rates

Reuters reports that the Bank of Israel reduced interest rates to a historic low on Monday.

Fears that weeks of fighting with Hamas will harm an Israeli economy already hurt by a global slowdown led the Bank of Israel to reduce interest rates for a second month in a row on Monday.

After a surprise reduction a month ago, the central bank again lowered its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.25 percent - an all time low. All 10 economists polled by Reuters had forecast no move.

"Karnit joined the war effort," said Ofer Klein, head of economics and research at Harel Insurance and Finance, referring to Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug.

"It is hard to imagine that without the military operation in the background, the Bank of Israel would choose such an extreme move especially when the United States is already talking about raising interest rates."

Read more here.

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08/25/2014 11:10 AM EDT
Rocket Intercepted Over Ashdod

The Iron-dome missile system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza over Ashdod.

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Israel's defense ministry is helping Israeli families living near Gaza to evacuate from their homes.

Via the Associated Press:

Livnat Ginzbourg, a spokeswoman for Israeli communities along the Gaza border, said some 100 families were leaving their homes on Monday, following a similar number the previous day.

It is another major exodus of residents during the fighting. Many people fled last month after the discovery of Hamas tunnels that had been burrowed into Israel. Residents were encouraged to return home after Israel said it destroyed the tunnels and a preliminary truce was reached.

Ginzbourg said some families had stayed in Israeli government-funded accommodations during the recent war, but Monday's evacuation was the first time the government was coordinating and financing temporary accommodation for all families wishing to flee. She estimated that 70 to 80 percent of residents in communities closest to the Gaza border have fled, mostly families with young children.

Defense Ministry spokesman Jonathan Mosery said it was not a mandatory evacuation, but the government was assisting Israelis who live up to five kilometers (3 miles) from the Gaza border, paying for them to stay at youth hostels and other accommodations in areas farther away.

The need to uproot families yet again, just days before the start of the school year, has led to widespread exasperation.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Israeli residents of the Gaza border area, saying the government would "do our utmost to help you through these difficult days" and promising an "extraordinary package of assistance for your communities."

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Palestinian medical officials say 11 people were killed in airstrikes on Gaza on Monday.

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Agence France Presse reports:

A rocket fired from Lebanese territory hit northern Israel late Saturday, the army said on the 47th day of a war against the Islamist movement Hamas in and around Gaza.

"The rocket that was fired from Lebanon hit the Upper Galilee," the army said in a statement, correcting a previous communique that said the rocket had hit east of Acre.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the launch or reports of damage or injuries.
A Lebanese security source said the rocket was fired from Dheira, three kilometres (nearly two miles) from the border with Israel.

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The Associated Press reports:

Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a 12-story apartment tower in downtown Gaza City on Saturday, collapsing the building, sending a huge fireball into the sky and wounding at least 22 people, including 11 children, witnesses and Palestinian officials said.

Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes against Gaza in nearly seven weeks of fighting with Hamas, but Saturday's strike marked the first time an entire high-rise was toppled. The explosion shook nearby buildings.

The Israeli military said the airstrike targeted a Hamas operations room in the building, but did not explain why the entire tower with 48 apartments was levelled.

Gaza police say Israeli aircraft fired a warning missile at the roof of the tower at dusk, followed five minutes later by two missiles with explosives.

Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, said at least 22 people were wounded, including 11 children and five women.

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08/23/2014 11:27 AM EDT
Gaza Casualties Continue To Rise

Egypt and the Palestinian president are pressing for a return to ceasefire talks as airstrikes in Gaza and rocket fire at Israel continued on Saturday, Reuters reports.

Since the previous temporary truce collapsed on Tuesday, Gaza medics said 65 Palestinians had been killed and Israel's army said almost 500 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza, one of which killed a four-year-old boy.

More from Reuters on Saturday's fighting:

Gaza health officials said five people, including two children, were killed in an Israeli strike on a house in central Gaza. Four more Palestinians were killed in other strikes.

The Israeli military said it bombed about 20 targets across the Hamas-dominated strip, including rocket launchers and weapon caches. It said Gaza militants had fired more than 40 rockets at Israel and no Israeli casualties were reported.

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08/22/2014 2:39 PM EDT
Hamas: We Won't Disarm
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08/22/2014 11:37 AM EDT
Israeli Boy Reportedly Killed

Via Reuters:

A mortar bomb fired from Gaza killed a four-year-old Israeli child in a border collective farm on Friday, Israeli security sources said.

The boy would be the fourth civilian in Israel to be killed in an attack from the coastal territory since the outbreak of conflict on July 8, and the first Israeli death since an Egyptian-brokered truce broke down earlier this week. More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, most of them civilians.

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08/22/2014 11:07 AM EDT
Sirens Sound In Central Israel
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Three people were wounded after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants struck an Israeli synagogue shortly before evening prayers for the Jewish Sabbath, Reuters reports.

Read the full story here.

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From the Associated Press:

Gaza gunmen killed 18 alleged spies for Israel on Friday, including seven who were lined up behind a mosque and shot after midday prayers, in response to Israel's deadly airstrikes against top Hamas military commanders.

Hamas media portrayed the killings as the beginning of a new crackdown, under the rallying cry of "choking the necks of the collaborators." It was the largest number of suspected informers killed by Hamas in a single day since it seized Gaza by force in 2007.

The Al Majd website, which is close to the Hamas security services, said suspects would now be dealt with "in the field" rather than in the courts in order to create deterrence.

Hamas said it would not release the names of those killed because it wanted to protect the reputation of their families. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said two of those killed Friday were women. It called for an immediate halt to what it said were "extra-judicial executions."

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08/22/2014 8:58 AM EDT
Israeli Synagogue Hit By Rocket

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said a synagogue in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod was hit by a rocket Friday.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that two people were wounded in the attack.

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Israel's defense minister Moshe Ya'Alon has requested permission to call up 10,000 reserves, Haaretz reports.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misidentified Israel's defense minister.

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A senior Hamas official said his group was responsible for the kidnap of three Israeli teenagers in June, Reuters reports.

"There was much speculation about this operation, some said it was a conspiracy," Saleh al-Arouri told delegates at the International Union of Islamic Scholars in Istanbul on Wednesday, according to a recording of the meeting posted online by organizers.

"The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron," he said, referring to Hamas's armed wing.

Read the full story here.

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