Gaza live: Israel accepts 'unlimited' truce, confirms government

9.44 pm: Israel accepts 'unlimited' truce, confirms government

AFP Tuesday reported Israeli government sources as saying that they have accepted 'unlimited' truce in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the agency also reported of celebratory gunfire in Gaza as long-term truce began.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas announced Tuesday that a deal had been reached with Israel over a long-term end to seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, at a speech in Ramallah.

"We announce the Palestinian leadership's agreement to Egypt's call for a comprehensive and lasting truce, beginning at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) today," he said in a televised address at the start of a leadership meeting in the West Bank city.

7.30 pm: Long-term ceasefire agreement arrived at, says Hamas official

A senior Hamas official says a ceasefire has been reached with Israel to end a seven-week war that has killed more than 2,000 people.

The official said the deal calls for an "open-ended" cease-fire, and an Israeli agreement to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow relief supplies and construction materials into the war-battered territory. - AP

10:45 am: High rise buildings flattened amid Israeli strikes

Gaza police says Israel has bombed two large high-rise buildings in Gaza City, with dozens of homes and shops — an escalation in the seven weeks of fighting with Hamas.

Police says the 15-floor Basha Tower with apartments and offices was leveled in Tuesday's attack. The second building, the Italian Complex with 72 apartments and 60 stores, was badly damaged.

The towers were evacuated before the attacks. A Gaza health official says 25 people were wounded in the strike on the Italian Complex.

Israel says it targeted sites linked to militants, but made no references to the two buildings. Israel alleges Hamas often operates from civilian locations.

This is the second time since the weekend that Gaza high-rises have been toppled in an apparent attempt to increase pressure on Hamas.

9:45 am: Two Palestinians killed in Israeli air raid in Gaza

An Israeli air raid in Gaza killed two Palestinians Tuesday, as Israel pursued its campaign to stop rocket fire by Hamas militants from the enclave, medics said.

The deaths take to 2,136 the number of Palestinians killed since July 8 when the Israeli offensive started. An army spokesman said Israel carried out 15 raids since 2100 GMT Monday, while several rockets were fired at Israel Tuesday morning.

8:30 am: Rocket fired from Lebanon hits northern Israel

A rocket fired from Lebanon crashed into northern Israel on Monday night, the army said, without any immediate reports of injuries.

"At least one rocket fired from Lebanon hit the Upper Galilee," a message on the military's official Twitter feed said.

There were no casualties in any of the attacks and no Israeli fire in response.

7:00 am: Former New York judge appointed to UN commission's Gaza probe

Former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis was appointed Monday to a UN commission probing Israel's Gaza offensive and the actions of Islamist militant group Hamas, the world body's Human Rights Council said.

The move comes after Lebanese-born British lawyer Amal Alamuddin -- Hollywood star George Clooney's fiancee -- turned down her nomination citing existing professional commitments.

McGowan Davis is likely to prove a controversial choice for Israel, having served on a previous team that investigated a 2008-2009 offensive and whose findings were rejected by the Jewish state.

The UN Human Rights Council ordered the Gaza investigation last month, in the face of fierce opposition from Israel and the United States.

 Gaza live: Israel accepts unlimited truce, confirms government

A Palestinian boy, hoping to cross into Egypt with his family, stands behind a gate as he waits at the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza Strip. Reuters image

The decision came during a marathon seven-hour emergency session of the 47-nation council, where Israeli and Palestinians delegates accused the other side of war crimes.

The probe team was set up under a resolution lodged by Palestine, which has observer status at the council, but UN officials say its goal is to address all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Gaza, regardless of which side is involved.

"In carrying out its work, the Commission of Inquiry will aim to establish the facts and circumstances of human rights violations and crimes perpetrated in order to identify those responsible," the council said Monday.

Israel has denounced the probe as slanted against it -- echoing its criticism of previous UN investigations.

An acting justice on the supreme court of the state of New York from 1986 to 1998, McGowan Davis is a renowned expert on transitional justice and human rights law.

In 2004 and 2005, she worked in Afghanistan's public defenders' office, and has also been involved in war crimes justice projects in Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Rwanda.

The Gaza commission is being led by Canadian international lawyer William Schabas, and includes Doudou Diene of Senegal, who has previously served as the UN's watchdog on racism and on post-conflict Ivory Coast.

They have been tasked with reporting back to the council by March.

--Updates for August 26 begin here--
--End of updates for August 25--

7.10 pm: At least eight Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes since Sunday

Violence reverberated across Gaza on Monday with at least eight Palestinians killed in Israeli air strikes as Egypt proposed a new ceasefire that would open key crossings into the blockaded territory.

Since an earlier truce collapsed on 19 August, the death toll in Gaza has risen steadily with 109 Palestinians killed in more than 350 Israeli air strikes across the territory.

Over the same period, more than 650 rockets have struck Israeli territory, one of which killed a four-year-old boy over the weekend, army figures show. Around 110 rockets were shot down.

Since midnight on Sunday, 30 Israeli strikes have killed eight Palestinians, including a woman, a 78-year-old man and a three-year-old boy, raising the Gaza death toll to 2,128.

On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed, the vast majority soldiers.

On Monday 71 rockets fired from Gaza struck the Israeli south, while another nine were shot down, the army said. - AFP

2:30 pm: Iran says it will arm Palestine

Tehran will "accelerate" arming Palestinians in retaliation for Israel deploying a spy drone over Iran, which was shot down, a military commander said on Monday.

"We will accelerate the arming of the West Bank and we reserve the right to give any response," said General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of aerial forces of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, in a statement on their official website sepahnews.com.

Iran's warning comes a day after the Guards said they had brought down an Israeli "Hermes" stealth drone above the Natanz uranium enrichment site in the centre of the country.

Natanz is Iran's main uranium enrichment site, housing more than 16,000 centrifuges. Around 3,000 more are at the Fordo plant, buried inside a mountain and hard to destroy.

Israel has often threatened to attack Iranian nuclear installations.

An Israeli spokesman told AFP in Jerusalem on Sunday after the report that the drone had been shot down that the military does "not address foreign media reports".

Hajizadeh said at a news conference broadcast on television that the unmanned aircraft shot down was a "Hermes" stealth drone that "can evade radar".

"Pieces of the drone have been recovered intact and are being analysed," he said, adding that it had a range of 800 kilometres (500 miles).

"It was spotted by our surveillance system and shot down by a Revolutionary Guards surface-to-air missile," Hajizadeh said.

2:20 pm: Egypt proposes new Gaza ceasefire

Egyptian mediators have proposed a new ceasefire in Gaza that would open the blockaded enclave's crossings and allow in aid and reconstruction materials, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.

The Palestinians, including the de facto Hamas rulers of the enclave, would be willing to accept such a deal if Israel does, the official told AFP.

The proposal would defer to a later date negotiations on disputed points that have prevented a long-term ceasefire deal, he added.

An Egyptian official confirmed that mediators have contacted the Palestinians and Israel with a new proposal.

"There is an idea for a temporary ceasefire that opens the crossings, allows aid and reconstruction material, and the disputed points will be discussed in a month," the Palestinian official said.

"We would be willing to accept this, but are waiting for the Israeli response to this proposal," he said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

Another Palestinian official said Egypt might invite Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams to return to Cairo in 48 hours.

A previous ceasefire to end the devastating conflict in Gaza collapsed on August 19 after Egyptian mediators were unable to bridge the gaps between the two sides.

The conflict, now in its 49th day, has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Hamas has insisted that any long-term truce must end the eight-year blockade of Gaza and allow for an airport in the coastal strip that is flanked by Israel and Egypt.

Israel says it wants Hamas, which it, the United States and European Union consider a terrorist organisation, to disarm, something the militants have refused to discuss.-AFP

2:01: Iran claims it has found Israeli drone near nuke site

Iran's state TV has broadcast footage purported to show an Israeli drone the country's Revolutionary Guard claimed it shot down near an Iranian nuclear site. The military saud that following the incident they 'will arm Palestinians,' AFP reported.

Arabic-language Al-Alam aired a brief video on Monday filmed in a desert area showing what the channel says are parts of the drone. A TV scroll says the drone was downed on Saturday.

There were no visible Israeli markings on it.

Palestinians gather around the remains of a charitable organization building, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Reuters image

Palestinians gather around the remains of a charitable organization building, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Reuters image

The Guard issued a statement on Sunday, saying its forces fired a missile at the drone as it neared Iran's uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. The statement gave no further details.

Israel's military has declined comment on the matter.

The incident comes as Iran is negotiating with world powers over its controversial nuclear program.-AFP and AP

11:10 am: Israeli Army says it has found manual showing Hamas tactic of using civilians as shields

The Israeli army has released what it says is a page from a seized Hamas training manual that would appear to support its case that Palestinian militants deliberately use the cover of residential areas for combat operations.

Hamas, which denies it puts civilians at risk by storing and firing weapons from built-up areas, dismissed the document as a forgery intended to justify Israeli attacks that have killed hundreds of children, women and other non-combatants.

The Israeli army said the training manual was found in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun at the end of July, when troops were operating inside the enclave. The full manual is 102 pages long, the army said, but it released just one page of it.

That page appears to set out guidelines on how to hide weapons and ammunition in civilian areas, how to transport them into buildings and how to conceal or camouflage explosives.

It is marked at the bottom with "Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Training and Guidance Branch, Engineering Corps". The al-Qassam Brigades are the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007. Unlike other Hamas documents, the page bears no Hamas logo.

"The process of hiding ammunition inside buildings is intended for ambushes in residential areas and to move the campaign from open areas into built up and closed areas," reads the document, written in Arabic.

"Residents of the area should be used to bring in the equipment," it continues, adding: "For jihad fighters, it is easy to operate inside buildings and take advantage of this to avoid (Israeli) spy planes and attack drones."

The guidelines also explain that "the action of hiding weapons inside a building must be carried out secretly and shouldn't have a military character".

An Israeli army spokesman would provide no further details about the document, only to say that the army was "extremely confident it is a Hamas training manual".

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "This is a fabricated paper and neither Hamas nor Qassam has anything to do with it."

He added: "Israel circulating this is aimed at justifying the mass killings of Palestinian civilians and massacres committed by the occupation army."

9:30 am: Two Palestinians killed in Israeli air raid in Gaza

An Israeli air raid in Gaza left two Palestinians dead overnight Sunday to Monday, taking the number of killed Palestinians in the seven-week conflict to 2,122, Palestinian sources said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said warplanes had carried out 16 raids. No rockets have been fired at Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip since 2100 GMT Sunday.

Two mosques at Beit Hanun, in the north of the Strip, and in Gaza City were destroyed in the raids, witnesses said.

8:30 am: Israeli strike kills Hamas finance official

Israel said Sunday it had killed a top Hamas financial official in an air strike on Gaza City, as it continued a policy of targeted assassinations against the Palestinian group.

Mohammed al-Ghul, "was an important Hamas actor who dealt with transferring funds to build terror infrastructure in Gaza, such as tunnels, and was a key target," Israeli army spokesman Major Arye Shalicar said.

Smoke and sand are seen following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza. Reuters image

Smoke and sand are seen following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza. Reuters image

The air strike targeted a car in Gaza City, killing Ghul, the army said.

Palestinian medics in Gaza confirmed his death.

Israel's military killed three senior members of Hamas's armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades on Thursday, just days after trying to kill its military chief Mohammed Deif.

A strike on Deif's home killed his wife and two of his children

8:19 am: Israeli raid kills mother, 3 children in north Gaza

An Israeli air strike killed a mother and three children from the same family in northern Gaza on Sunday, medics said, on the 48th day of a bloody conflict.

The strike hit a home near Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory, emergency spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, taking Sunday's death toll there to at least 12.

Earlier strikes in the day killed a one-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, Qudra said.

The conflict, which erupted on July 8 when Israel launched its operation on the besieged coastal territory, has claimed more than 2,100 Palestinian lives and those of 68 Israelis, four of them civilians.

8:00 am: Netanyahu: Gaza offensive to continue as long as necessary

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his ministers on Sunday that the military campaign against Gaza militants would continue until peace is restored to southern Israel.

"Operation Protective Edge will continue until its aims are achieved... it may take time," he said of the Gaza offensive launched on July 8, in remarks broadcast by public radio.

Netanyahu also echoed this on his Twitter account in a series of Tweets about the future of the Israeli offensive in Gaza:

At a special session of the cabinet, held at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv, he repeated a warning of harsh retribution for the death of an Israeli child on Friday in a rocket strike on a kibbutz near the Gaza border.

"Hamas is paying, and will continue to pay, a heavy price for the crimes it carries out," Netanyahu said.

"I call on residents of Gaza to immediately leave any structure from which Hamas carries out terror activity against us. All such sites are a target for us."

He added a veiled warning to neighbouring Lebanon and Syria after overnight rocket fire into Israeli territory.

"There is not and will not be any immunity for anyone who fires at Israeli citizens and that is true for every sector and every border," he said.

Earlier on Sunday, five rockets fired from Syrian-controlled territory slammed into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights but caused no casualties, the Israeli army said.

Late Saturday, a rocket fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel, causing damage but no casualties, police and the army said.

Israel has so far not responded.

7:29 am: Israeli air strike kills two in Gaza

An Israeli air strike on Gaza Sunday killed two Palestinians and wounded five, emergency services said, a day after Egypt called for an open-ended ceasefire to enable new truce talks.

The strike hit the western side of Gaza City at around 5:00 am (0200 GMT) and the two victims died of their injuries later in the morning.

7:00 am: Five rockets fired from Syria into Israeli-held Golan: army

Rocket fire from Syria slammed into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights Sunday but there were no reports of casualties.

"At least five rockets fired from Syria hit different locations across the Golan Heights," the Israeli army said in a statement.

An army spokeswoman told AFP that it was not known who launched the rockets and the Israeli military did not return fire.

She said there were no casualties in the attacks, at around 1:30 am (2230 GMT) on Sunday, the 48th day of a war between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in and around Gaza.

1:00 am: Rocket fired from Lebanon hits northern Israel

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.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

A Lebanese security source said the rocket was fired from Dheira, three kilometres (nearly two miles) from the border with Israel.

The same source noted that Israeli helicopters were seen flying around the border area.

In mid-July, at least nine rockets were fired from Lebanon at the Jewish state, prompting Israel to retaliate with artillery fire.

Lebanese military officials had at the time said they believed the attacks were carried out by a small Palestinian group in an act of solidarity with Gazan militants.

 

--Updates for August 24 begin here--

--End of Updates for August 23--

 

8:23 pm: Israeli air strike destroys 11-storey Gaza building

An Israeli air strike levelled an apartment building in the heart of Gaza City late Saturday, wounding at least 18 people, four of them children, emergency services and witnesses said.

Residents in the 11-storey building were called 10 minutes before the attack and told to evacuate, after which at least two missiles slammed into the complex, levelling it totally, witnesses said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP a Hamas military operations room had been located in the building.

Earlier on Saturday, the Israeli military sent text messages and voice mails and dropped leaflets warning Palestinians that "every house from which militant activity is carried out, will be targeted".

Israel said it had carried out 55 air strikes over the Gaza Strip on Saturday and that around 45 rockets and mortar rounds hit Israel, with another 10 intercepted as a six-week war with Hamas rumbles on.

1:00 pm: Egypt to invite delegates to resume Gaza truce talks: Abbas

Egypt is to invite Israeli and Palestinian delegations to return to Cairo to resume talks on a long-term truce for Gaza, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas announced on Saturday.

"Egypt is going to invite delegates to return to the negotiating table to consider a long-term truce," Abbas said after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

A previous round of truce talks collapsed on Tuesday, shattering nine days of calm, as the deadly six-week conflict between Israel and its Islamist foe Hamas resumed.

More than 80 Palestinians and one Israeli have since been killed in renewed fighting.

"What interests us now is putting a stop to the bloodshed," Abbas said.

"As soon as a ceasefire goes into effect, the two sides can sit down and discuss their demands."

Abbas's meeting with Sisi came after he held two rounds of talks in Qatar on Thursday and Friday with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, whose Islamist movement is the de facto ruler of Gaza.

12:24 pm: Hamas signs Palestinian application for ICC membership

Hamas has signed a proposal for the Palestinians to apply to join the International Criminal Court at which legal action could be taken against Israel, a senior official of the Islamist movement said Saturday.

"Hamas signed the document which (Palestinian) president (Mahmud Abbas) put forth as a condition that all factions approve, before he goes to sign the Rome Statute, which paves the way for Palestine's membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC)," Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq wrote on his Facebook page.

The Palestinian declaration came after two days of talks in Qatar between Abbas and Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal, whose militant movement is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP that the Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful force in Gaza, "is currently the only Palestinian faction that has not signed" the document.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki speaks to the media as he leaves the International Criminal Court after his visit, at the Hague. Reuters image

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki speaks to the media as he leaves the International Criminal Court after his visit, at the Hague. Reuters image

"They are studying the possibility of signing," he added.

According to Erakat, "the document calls on president Abbas to sign the Rome Statute to join the ICC, and indicates all the signatories assume responsibility for this membership."

Based in The Hague, the ICC opened its doors in 2003 and is the world's first independent court set up to try the worst crimes, including genocide and war crimes.

Since the July 8 outbreak of the latest war in and around Gaza, Israel and Hamas have accused each other of war crimes.

Joining the ICC would also expose Palestinian factions to possible prosecution.

The Palestinians had in 2009 asked the ICC's prosecutor's office to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

There has so far been no probe as Palestine is not an ICC member state and its status as a state is uncertain in some international institutions.

However, the Palestinians in late November 2012 obtained the status of observer state at the United Nations, opening the door for an ICC investigation.

Israel has signed but not ratified the Rome Statute.

9:00 am: Israel attack kills family of 5 in Gaza

An Israeli air strike hit a house in central Gaza before dawn on Sunday killing five family members, including two women and two children, Palestinian medics said.

Emergency services initially said three people were killed and five wounded, but later announced that two people had died of their injuries after the raid in Al-Zawayda near the Nusseirat refugee camp.

The air raid hit a family home, witnesses and medics said.

Doctors at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah said the five dead all came from the same family -- a 28-year-old father, his 26-year-old wife and their two boys aged three and four.

The father's 45-year-old aunt was also killed, they said.

The Israeli military said it had carried out around 20 air strikes over the Gaza Strip early on Saturday and that three rockets or mortar rounds had hit southern Israel near the border with Gaza.

Hostilities in the six-week war between Israel and Gaza's Islamist de facto rulers Hamas resumed on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce talks collapsed.

Emergency services say 81 people have died in the Palestinian enclave since then. On Friday, an Israeli child was killed and seven other people wounded, one of them critically, by mortar and rocket fire from Gaza.

At least 2,097 Palestinians have been killed since July 8, 70 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

There have also been 68 people killed on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers.

7: 00 am: Three Palestinians killed in Israel attack on Gaza

Three Palestinians were killed by an Israeli air strike on central Gaza, medical officials said Saturday, as the bloody conflict between Hamas and Israel entered its 47th day.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the three were killed in a house in the Nusseirat camp, with five others wounded in the same attack.

Hostilities in the six-week war between Israel and Islamist rulers of Gaza Hamas resumed on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce talks collapsed.

The Gaza emergency services say 79 people have died in the Palestinian enclave since then. One Israeli child was killed by a Gaza mortar on Friday with seven others wounded the same day by other rocket attacks, one of them critically.

At least 2,095 Palestinians have been killed since July 8, of whom the United Nations has identified 70 percent as civilians, and 68 people have died on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers.

 

--Updates for August 23 begun here--

--End of updates for August 22--

 

11:00 pm: Palestinians urge UN to draw up timetable to end Israel occupation

The Palestinian president and Hamas's exiled leader Friday urged the United Nations to draw up a "timetable" for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories to end, Qatar state media said.

President Mahmud Abbas and Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal issued the appeal during talks in Doha, as fighting continues in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Qatar's state news agency QNA said.

The two Palestinian leaders have been holding talks in Doha since Thursday, but little else has filtered out of their meetings which are hosted by the emir of Qatar, a key backer of Hamas.

Their discussions, at the palace of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, came after fighting in Gaza flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed.

Talks broke down with Israel insistent on its demand for security from rocket fire by Gaza militants, and Hamas defiant on its call for an end to eight years of Israeli blockade.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Getty Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Getty Images

QNA said that Abbas and Meshaal discussed Israel's "aggression" on Gaza and underlined "the importance of acting at all levels in order to... lift Israel's blockade of Gaza".

They also agreed to request from the United Nations "a resolution that would define a timetable for the end of Israel's occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state".

The agency said Abbas would undertake the diplomatic steps necessary to seek such a resolution.

Hamas, which drove Abbas loyalists out of Gaza in 2007, joined a national unity government with the president's Fatah faction in June, sparking Israeli fury.

During their meeting, Abbas and Meshaal stressed that the unity government "represents all the Palestinian people and looks after their interests", QNA said.

It also reported that the Qatari ruler spoke by phone Friday to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to discuss efforts to stop "Israel's aggression on Gaza and the lifting of the blockade".

Hamas's armed wing declared truce efforts over on Wednesday after Israel carried out an abortive assassination attempt on its leader Mohammed Deif, killing his wife and two of his children.

At least 2,092 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since July 8 in the worst fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2000-05 intifada.

Sixty-eight have been killed on the Israeli side: 64 soldiers and 4 civilians, the latest a four-year-old boy killed by mortar fire on Friday.

9:43 pm: Israeli air strike wounds 40 in Gaza City

A powerful Israeli air strike levelled a house in Gaza City late Friday, wounding 40 Palestinians, local emergency services said.

Witnesses said a drone fired two rockets at the two-storey property before an F16 warplane dropped a large bomb. It was the home of a family that included members of Hamas, witnesses said.

Emergency services told AFP that 40 people from the building and neighbouring buildings were wounded in the strike.

The attack came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that "Hamas will pay a heavy price" for a mortar attack from Gaza which killed a four-year-old Israeli boy.

9:00 pm: Netanyahu warns Hamas of 'heavy price' after child killed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday vowed harsh retribution against Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, after a mortar round fired from the Palestinian territory killed an Israeli child.

"Hamas will pay a heavy price for this attack," Netanyahu's spokesman Ofir Gendelman cited the premier as saying on his Twitter account, adding that the Israeli army and Shin Bet internal security service would "intensify ops against Hamas until the goal of #ProtectiveEdge is achieved".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AP image

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AP image

The boy was the first child to be killed on the Israeli side since the July 8 start of the war with Hamas, which Netanyahu has said was aimed at ending rocket fire at Israel and delivering a significant blow to Hamas.

Three other civilians, one a Thai labourer, have been killed in Israel during the conflict, as well as 64 soldiers in and around the Gaza Strip.

"Netanyahu sends his condolences to the family of the 4-year-old boy that was killed this afternoon by a mortar round fired by Hamas," Gendelman wrote.

8:15 pm: Gaza mortar fire kills child in southern Israel

An Israeli child was killed by mortar fire from Gaza Friday, the army said, bringing the number of civilians killed in Israel during the 46-day conflict with Hamas to four.

"A mortar hit near a kindergarten in the Sdot Negev regional council, killing an Israeli child," a statement from the army read.

Police said the boy was four years old, making him the first child in Israel to be killed by projectiles fired by Palestinian militants since July 8.

Three other civilians have been killed in Israel in that period, as have 64 soldiers in and around the Gaza Strip, where fighting and bombing has killed at least 2,092 Palestinians.

6:57 pm: Israel air strikes kill 5 Palestinians in Gaza

Israeli air strikes killed five Palestinians in the centre of the Gaza Strip on Friday, two in Deir al-Balah and three in Nusseirat, the local emergency services said.

One strike in Nusseirat hit a house, killing two men aged 24 and 22, while in Deir al-Balah it landed in open farmland, Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.

A drone strike later targeted a 45-year-old man in Nusseirat who died of his injuries in hospital shortly afterwards, Qudra's office said.

The identities of those killed in Deir al-Balah were not immediately clear.

6:00 pm: Abbas, Hamas chief hold second day of talks in Qatar
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal held a second day of talks in Qatar on Friday, a Palestinian source told AFP, as fighting continued in Gaza.

The meeting -- hosted by Qatar's emir -- was a "follow up" to Thursday's talks, which lasted nearly three hours, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The discussions, at the palace of Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, came after fighting in Gaza flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed.

They broke down with Israel insistent on its demand for security from rocket fire by Gaza militants, and Hamas defiant over its call for an end to eight years of Israeli blockade.

In Qatar, no information was immediately available on the content of the discussions there. The Palestinian source said Abbas would leave Doha after the meeting.

The Hamas armed wing declared the truce efforts over Wednesday after Israel carried out an abortive assassination attempt on its leader Mohammed Deif, killing his wife and two of his children.

Four Palestinians were killed in new Israeli air strikes on Gaza Friday, raising the death toll since July 8 to 2,087 Palestinians dead and 67 Israelis.

The war is the deadliest confrontation between Israel and Hamas since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, between 2000 and 2005.

3:21 pm: Jewish school in Copenhagen vandalised

A Jewish school in Copenhagen had its windows smashed and anti-Jewish graffiti referring to the conflict in Gaza spray-painted on its walls, the school said on Friday.

"We know that a political message has been written on the walls but we don't know who is responsible," Jan Hansen, headmaster of Carolineskolen, told AFP.

Messages daubed on the school walls included "No peace in Gaza" and "No peace to you Zionist pigs."

"There have been parents who didn't want to send their children to school today and there have been some children who were sad and a bit afraid who we had to send home," Hansen said.

Founded in 1805, the school, which includes a nursery, describes itself as the world's second oldest still functioning Jewish school.

A rise in the number of reported anti-Semitic crimes in Denmark last week prompted local politicians to organise a "kippah march" in central Copenhagen in support of Jewish people's right to display their religion openly.

2:00 pm: 18 Israel 'collaborators' executed in Gaza

Palestinian militants in Gaza City executed 18 men on Friday for allegedly helping Israel in its six-week assault on the territory, Hamas TV reported.

Six them were grabbed from among hundreds of worshippers leaving the city's largest mosque, by men in the uniform of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, witnesses told AFP.

They were pushed to the ground. One of the masked men shouted: "This is the final moment of the Zionist enemy collaborators," then the gunmen sprayed them with bullets.

Earlier, another witness saw 11 people shot dead in a square near the remains of Gaza police headquarters, bombed by Israeli warplanes.

Hamas militants grab Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City. Reuters image

Hamas militants grab Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City. Reuters image

An 18th person was shot in front of bystanders in a separate incident nearby.

The Hamas-linked website Majd, said the 11 were killed after they "gave information to the Zionist enemy."

On Thursday, Majd said that three men had been put to death and seven arrested by Hamas's military wing for allegedly reconnoitring targets for Israeli strikes.

Israeli aircraft assassinated three leading Hamas commanders in a pre-dawn strike on Thursday and late Tuesday killed the wife and two children of Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif in a raid which levelled a six-storey building in Gaza City.

Another woman and child were killed in the same air strike.

Majd said Friday that "the resistance" -- a term used to cover militant groups including Hamas, the de facto ruling power in Gaza -- was reinforcing "the struggle on the ground against the enemy which practises assassinations."

The same website reported on August 6 that "a number" of alleged Palestinian collaborators had been killed, again without giving a date.

On July 13, witnesses in the southern city of Rafah reported seeing gunmen kill a man in the street in another incident which appeared to be the execution of a suspected collaborator.

Israel and Hamas have been at war since July 8 in a conflict that has killed close to 2,090 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side.

Under Palestinian law, collaborating with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are punishable by death.

In principle, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who heads the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, is supposed to approve all executions.

Hamas, which swept parliamentary elections in 2006, has controlled the Gaza Strip since ousting Abbas loyalists from the territory the following year.

Although it handed the reins of power to a unity government in early June, it remains the de facto power in Gaza.

12:00 pm: Israel air strikes kill 4 Palestinians in Gaza

Israeli air strikes killed four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Friday, two in Deir al-Balah and two in Nusseirat, an emergency services spokesman said.

The strike in Nusseirat hit a house, killing two men aged 24 and 22, and that in Deir al-Balah open farmland, Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.

The identities of those killed in Deir al-Balah were not immediately clear.

Hostilities in the six-week war between Israel and Hamas resumed on Tuesday and quickly spiralled into fresh bloodshed as Egyptian-brokered truce talks collapsed.

--Updates for August 22 begin here--

--End of updates for August 21--

11:00 pm: Europeans in push for new UN resolution on Gaza

Britain, France and Germany have put forward key points of a new UN Security Council resolution on Gaza in a fresh bid to end six weeks of violence, diplomats said Thursday.

The European initiative came as fighting flared in the six-week war, with Israeli airstrikes killing three top Hamas commanders and an Egyptian-led effort to broker peace talks teetering on the verge of collapse.

The two-page document obtained by AFP calls for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire that would put an end to the firing of rockets and military operations in the Gaza Strip.

It calls for a lifting of the Israeli blockade and a monitoring mechanism to report on ceasefire violations and verify the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip.

Diplomats said the measure was aimed at advancing efforts to reach agreement within the 15-member Security Council on a resolution after Jordan's draft met with resistance, notably from the United States.

The points described in the "elements" document lay out the parameters for a ceasefire deal that would address Israel's security concerns and Palestinian demands.

It instructs UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to immediately come up with proposals to "implement the relevant provisions of this resolution" in a move that could jump start the peace negotiations.

UN diplomats said they hoped the initiative would shore up the Egyptian-led peace track and lead to a sustainable ceasefire to avoid a relapse into war in a few years.

"We are getting positive messages from the region that this could be helpful," a diplomatic source told AFP.

More than 2,083 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict that began on July 8, most of them civilians, according to UN officials.

Meanwhile Israel claimed that Hamas had kept up the relentless rocket fire, after 10 rockets were intercepted in half an hour.

10:39 pm: UN aid workers call for ceasefire in Gaza

UN aid workers stepped up calls Thursday for an urgent Gaza ceasefire, warning that spiralling violence endangered their ability to respond to the needs of the 1.8 million affected population.

The head of UNICEF's field office in Gaza, Anne-Claire Dufay, told AFP that renewed hostilities were threatening the delivery of aid to hundreds of thousands of children with acute needs.

"We urgently need a few hours of ceasefire per day so we can provide support to affected children and families," Dufay told AFP.

Work to repair infrastructure damaged during the six-week war between Israel and Hamas has temporarily halted since hostilities resumed on Tuesday as truce talks unravelled, she said.

UNICEF teams had also had their movement restricted, Dufay said.

"In the current context we should at least have a few hours a day for a humanitarian ceasefire corridor," she said.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Ramesh Rajasingham, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Gaza and the West Bank, said there was an "urgent need for an immediate ceasefire".

The number of displaced Palestinians has risen to 435,000, the UN says, since truce talks collapsed in Cairo and Hamas resumed rocket attacks on Israel and warplanes retaliated.

The United Nations warned that the number of displaced is expected to increase further with an extra 23,000 people already seeking shelter at 82 UN and seven government schools.

Rajasingham said constant movement between homes and shelters, when ceasefires begin and end, was traumatic, particularly for children.

"It is extremely difficult for us to do our job, to save lives, protect and assist those in need, including for medical staff to save lives, of aid workers to meet needs, for specialists to clear unexploded munitions, or for technicians to repair damage to infrastructure vital to the population," he said.

"In the long run, a permanent halt in violence stemming from a durable ceasefire is crucial to mitigating the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip," he added.

9:19 pm: Outgoing UN rights chief takes swipe at Security Council

The UN's outgoing rights chief leveled harsh criticism at the Security Council on Thursday, saying the top world body too often lacked resolve to end conflicts and save lives.

Navi Pillay, who steps down in the coming days as UN Human Rights Commissioner after six years, said national interests often trumped human suffering when the council weighed action to put an end to wars.

"There has not always been a firm and principled decision by members to put an end to crises," Pillay said in a swansong address to the 15-member council.

"I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of lives."

8:23 pm: Hamas executes 3 for 'collaboration' with Israel

The armed wing of Hamas has executed three Palestinians and arrested seven others for allegedly collaborating with Israel during the Gaza war, a website close to the movement reported Thursday.

The Majd website quoted a senior security official in the enclave as saying seven people had been arrested on suspicion of scoping out targets for Israel and that three others had been shot dead.

No date was given for the executions or the arrests.

The same website reported on August 6 that "a number" of Palestinian collaborators had been killed, again without giving a date.

On July 13, witnesses in the southern city of Rafah reported seeing gunmen kill a man in the middle of the street in another incident which appeared to be the execution of a suspected collaborator.

Israel and Hamas have been at war since July 8 in a conflict that has killed 2,075 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side.

Under Palestinian law, collaborating with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are punishable by death.

In May, Hamas announced the execution of two men accused of being collaborators, saying they had been executed in accordance with the law.

In principle, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who heads the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, is supposed to approve all executions.

Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since winning elections in the enclave in 2007. Although it handed the reins of power to a Ramallah-based administration in early June, it remains the de facto power in Gaza.

Abbas is based in Ramallah in the West Bank.

8:00 pm: Israeli strikes kill senior Hamas commanders in Gaza

Israeli warplanes killed three top Hamas commanders in southern Gaza on Thursday, inflicting a heavy blow on the movement's armed wing after failing to kill its top military chief.

As the six-week war between Israel and Hamas raged on, leaving Egyptian mediated truce talks in tatters, warplanes pounded Gaza killing three members of the Islamist movement's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

The Brigades said they were "senior commanders," identifying them as Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Atar and Mohammed Barhum and vowing to make Israel pay.

"The assassination... is a big Israeli crime, which will not succeed in breaking our will or weakening our resistance," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency described Atar and Shamala as being among the top five most wanted Hamas militants.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon hailed their deaths as "a big operational and intelligence achievement" and warned that Israel would not hesitate to track down the rest of the group's leaders.

"We will continue to hunt down and attack Hamas leaders wherever they are... Hamas leaders should know that we will neither rest nor be silent until we get our hands on them," he said in a statement.

In Rafah, there were scenes of devastation where the missile hit, blasting the four-storey building to smithereens and leaving a huge crater filled with dust and rubble.

Onlookers gathered at the site as rescue workers picked through the rubble and an earth mover tried to clear some of the heavier debris, an AFP correspondent said.

Four surrounding buildings were damaged in the force of blast with their doors and windows blown out and some outer walls also destroyed.

Witnesses said nine missiles were fired at the building.

2:54 pm: Netanyahu likens Hamas to ISIL, says they're the same

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas and al-Qaeda offshoot Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that beheaded an American journalist, are the same.

"Hamas is like ISIS. ISIS is like Hamas. They're branches of the same tree. They're enemies of peace, they're enemies of Israel, they're the enemies of all civilised countries. And I believe they're enemies of the Palestinians themselves. And I'm not the only one who believes that," Netanyahu said speaking to the media when condoling the brutal killing of American journalist James Foley.

2:30 pm: 4 killed in Israeli raid on Gaza City funeral

An Israeli air strike killed four Palestinians at a graveyard in Gaza City on Thursday, with medics saying they were attending a funeral.

The raid hit a graveyard in Sheikh Radwan in northern Gaza City, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, without giving further details.

Separately, the Israeli army said it had struck six militants from Islamic Jihad who were making "final preparations to launch rockets." It was not immediately clear if the two events were linked.

12:30 pm: Israeli raids kill 6 Gazans, 4 of them children

Israeli air strikes killed at least six Palestinians, four of them children, in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the spokesman for the emergency services said.

One strike targeted a group of people in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, killing a man and a 13-year-old boy, while a second hit Gaza City, killing four people, three of them children, he said.

11:30 am: Hamas says three senior commanders killed in Gaza

The armed wing of Hamas announced Thursday that three of its senior commanders were killed in a pre-dawn Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip that medics said killed eight people.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades in a statement identified the leaders as Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Atar and Mohammed Barhum.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said eight Palestinians were killed in the strike. Witnesses said the four-storey family home was completely destroyed in a series of air strikes.

9:21 am: US accuses Israel of targeting kin of murdered Palestinian teen

The United States on Wednesday charged Israel had targeted members of a Palestinian family whose teenaged son was kidnapped and killed in July along with two cousins, who are US citizens.

Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in annexed east Jerusalem plunged to a new low on July 2 when 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder was snatched from an east Jerusalem street and later found burned alive.

Israeli police arrested six alleged Jewish extremists as suspects and on July 17 charged three, freeing the others.

The death of the Palestinian teen -- thought likely in retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli Students in late June -- sparked rioting and helped unleash the conflict under way in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Three days after his death, on July 5, the United States slammed Israel's arrest of a 15-year-old cousin, Tarek Abu Khder, 15, a US citizen. He was beaten in detention and has since been freed and returned to Florida.

On July 28, another cousin of Abu Khder, also American, was arrested in Israel as well, the State Department said Wednesday.

Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf identified him as "Mohammed Abou Khdeir," which would mean his name is the same as his murdered cousin's.

"We can confirm that Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a US citizen, was arrested on July 28. The US consulate general in Jerusalem is providing consular assistance. A consular official visited him on August 14th. The consulate is also in contact with Mr. Khdeir's family and his lawyer," Harf said.

Yet "we are concerned that the US consulate general in Jerusalem was not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel.

And "we are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities," Harf added.

8:12 am: UN Council urges Israel, Palestinians to resume talks

The UN Security Council on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table to quickly agree on a lasting truce in Gaza.

In a unanimously adopted statement, the 15-member council "offered full support to the Egyptian initiative and called upon the parties to resume negotiations to urgently reach a sustainable and lasting ceasefire."

The statement drafted by France was agreed after negotiations in Cairo teetered on the verge of collapse amid a fresh flareup of violence in the war that has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians since July 8.

The measure fell short of a full resolution, but diplomats signaled they would be ready to move toward a stronger response if the Egyptian-led peace track hit a dead end.

"The urgency today was to respond to the fact that the talks appear to be breaking down and there has been a resumption of hostilities, and it was important for the Security Council to respond to that," said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, whose country holds the council presidency.

Earlier this month, Jordan circulated a draft resolution backed by Arab countries that calls for a ceasefire, the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the delivery of urgently-needed aid to the Palestinians.

The fighting over the last six weeks marks the most violent confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, from 2000-2005.

- Palestinians want peace deal -

Palestinian representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour said his side was ready to return to the negotiations in Cairo.

"We want a sustainable negotiated peace. We want to stop dying. We want the violence to end. In order to do that, Israel must cease its aggression and agree to a deal," Mansour told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

The armed wing of Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas warned foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv on Wednesday and declared the Cairo talks over.

Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes across Gaza in response to multiple rocket attacks on southern Israel, as nine days of calm exploded into bloodshed.

In the statement, the council expressed "grave concern" at the return to hostilities and the loss of civilian lives.

It called on the sides to "prevent the situation from escalating and to reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire" as a first step toward a deal on a lasting truce.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the flareup in violence on Tuesday and called on both sides to reach "an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire."

"The hopes of the people of Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people of Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo," Ban said.

7:19 am: Hamas warns foreign airlines, declares truce talks over

The armed wing of Hamas warned foreign airlines on Wednesday against flying into Tel Aviv, threatening to step up its six-week conflict with Israel and declaring truce talks in Cairo over.

"We are warning international airlines and press them to stop flying into Ben Gurion airport from 6 am (0300 GMT) Thursday," said Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida in a televised speech.

Dressed in military fatigues with his face wrapped in a red and white chequered headscarf, he said Hamas was abandoning efforts to negotiate a durable ceasefire with Israel at Egyptian-brokered talks.

"We are calling on the Palestinian delegation to withdraw immediately from Cairo and not to return," said Abu Obeida in a speech broadcast on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV channel.

Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigade, the armed wing of the Hamas movement as he delivers a televised statement on Hamas TV. Reuters image

Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigade, the armed wing of the Hamas movement as he delivers a televised statement on Hamas TV. Reuters image

"There will be no return to talks after today and any move in this direction will never achieve any result," he added.

"The enemy lost a golden chance to reach a ceasefire with limited demands, for which it will pay after today."

The wife and seven-month-old son of the Qassam Brigades' commander Mohammed Deif were killed in an Israeli air strike on a building in Gaza City late Tuesday, but Hamas said Deif was still alive.

"The Zionist enemy failed to assassinate general commander Abu Khaled," said the spokesman, using Deif's nom de guerre.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has killed 2,047 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since July 8. Palestinian emergency services say more than 10,240 Palestinians have been wounded.

7:00 am: Israel failed to kill Hamas military commander: armed wing

Israel failed to assassinate the Hamas military commander, a spokesman said on the group's Al-Aqsa TV channel, a day after Mohammed Deif's wife and son were killed in an air strike.

"The Zionist enemy failed to assassinate general commander Abu Khaled," said the spokesman, using Deif's nom de guerre, and dressed in fatigues with his face wrapped in a red and white headscarf.

--Updates for August 21 begin here--

--End of updates for August 20--

10:25 pm: Hamas' armed wing declares end to truce talks

The armed wing of Hamas declared an end Wednesday to its participation in Egyptian-brokered efforts for a durable ceasefire with Israel, as violence escalated after the collapse of a 24-hour truce.

"We are calling on the Palestinian delegation to withdraw immediately from Cairo and not to return," said a spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades in comments broadcast on the movement's Al-Aqsa TV channel.

7:50 pm: Thousand gather to bury dead wife and child of Hamas chief

Several thousand mourners poured onto Gaza streets Wednesday to bury the wife and baby son of Hamas's military chief Mohammed Deif, angrily demanding revenge against Israel and firing shots into the air.

The bodies of 27-year-old Widad and her seven-month-old son Ali were taken from the wife's family home to a mosque in Jabaliya refugee camp for prayers, then laid to rest in the sand of a cemetery.

They were among at least four Palestinians killed in a deadly air strike on Gaza City late Tuesday. The bodies of a 48-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy were pulled from the rubble on Wednesday.

Mourners stooped down to kiss the body of Ali, who was then placed on top of his mother inside the mosque.

Wrapped in green Hamas flags, they were then carried to the cemetery, along with the flag-wrapped bodies of two men killed in an air strike Wednesday on a motorcycle, both presumed Hamas militants.

"Revenge, revenge, revenge!" shouted the crowd as they waved Hamas flags and denounced the killing of the second wife and infant son of Deif, head of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

"We ask Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades to avenge this killing, this massacre," said a 22-year-old mourner who gave his name as Mohammed.

Palestinians march during the funeral of the wife of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, his infant son Ali and other Palestinians. Reuters image

Palestinians march during the funeral of the wife of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, his infant son Ali and other Palestinians. Reuters image

Grief-stricken, Widad's father Mustafa Harb Asfura carried his tiny grandson into the mosque and to the cemetery, his body wrapped in a white sheet exposing his white face with an injury to the eye.

"I'm like all the other people in the Gaza Strip. I am no different from the others who have lost children. This is like a tsunami," said the angry 56-year-old.

When his university-educated daughter married Deif seven years ago, her father feared it was a death sentence.

"My daughter knew she would die a martyr when she decided to marry Mohammed Deif. Every moment since then I've been expecting to hear that she has died," he said.

Asfura said he had only seen his son-in-law once, when the couple married.

After that, he didn't even know where his daughter was living, such is the secrecy that surrounds Deif in his determination to avoid detection by Israel.

7:15 pm: Two Palestinian boys killed in Israeli airstrikes

An Israeli air strike on a house in the central Gaza Strip killed two Palestinian boys aged 11 and 16 on Wednesday, medics said.

According to emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, the attack happened close to Deir al-Balah in the centre of the Palestinian enclave.

He identified the victims as Mohammed al-Abeet, 16, and his 11-year-old cousin Saher.

7:10 pm: Military chief Mohammed Deif, calling shots at war, says Hamas

Hamas said on Wednesday its military commander Mohammed Deif was alive and still calling the shots in the ongoing war with Israel in and around Gaza.

"The head of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades Abu Khaled is still alive and leading the military operation," a source close to the Islamist movement told AFP, using Deif's nom-de-guerre.

His remarks were made after an Israeli air strike levelled a six-storey house in Gaza City, killing Deif's wife and infant son.

It was not immediately clear whether Deif had also been killed or injured in the strike, which also killed another woman and a teenager.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also issued a statement, saying Israelis would not be safe until Deif decided so.

"The occupation will pay for its crimes against Palestinian civilians and those living around the Gaza border will not return home until Mohammed Deif decides so," he said.

5.50 pm: 18 Palestinians killed by latest Israeli strikes across Gaza

Eighteen Palestinians have been killed and 120 wounded by Israeli strikes across Gaza since the collapse of a temporary truce, medics said Wednesday.

A Palestinian man, in clothes stained with the blood of his father, who was killed in Israeli shelling, mourns at a hospital in Khan Younis. Reuters image

A Palestinian man, in clothes stained with the blood of his father, who was killed in Israeli shelling, mourns at a hospital in Khan Younis. Reuters image

Among the dead were the wife and infant son of Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, who died in a strike late on Tuesday which levelled a six-storey house in northern Gaza City, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

The latest violence raised the overall death toll in Gaza to more than 2,030, with at least 10,300 people wounded, Qudra said.

2:30 pm: Deif 'deserves to die': Israeli minister

An Israeli cabinet minister on Wednesday justified an air strike on Gaza that killed the wife and child of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, saying that he was a legitimate target.

"Mohamed Deif deserves to die just like (Osama) bin Laden. He is an arch murderer and as long as we have an opportunity we will try to kill him," Interior Minister Gideon Saar told army radio.

He said he could not confirm whether the head of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, had been killed during the air strike late Tuesday in Gaza City.

Hamas used its Al-Aqsa television channel to urge Palestinians to attend the funerals of Deif's wife and son who were killed in the raid that wounded at least 45 others, emergency services said.

Appointed head of Hamas's armed wing in 2002 after his predecessor Salah Shehade was assassinated, Deif has already escaped five previous assassination attempts by Israel.

The Israelis see him as "the brains" behind the campaign of suicide bombings that targeted buses and public places in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem until 2006 and consider him "personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of civilians".

2:00 pm: Egypt urges Israelis, Palestinians to resume Gaza talks

Egypt on Wednesday called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume negotiations, expressing its "profound regret at the breach of the ceasefire in Gaza".

Hostilities broke out again in the densely-populated Mediterranean coastal enclave late on Tuesday when Palestinian rockets and Israeli air strikes halted fragile indirect talks in Cairo aimed at agreeing a long-term truce.

Egypt, which is attempting to broker a long-term end to the bloodshed, "is continuing contacts with both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to exhort them to respect the ceasefire once more, and carry on negotiations in a positive way in order to reach an agreement guaranteeing a permanent ceasefire," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian rescue workers said nine Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since the fresh outbreak of hostilities, adding to more than 2,000 on the Palestinian side killed in the war since it began on July 8.

An Israeli military statement said "about 50" rockets had been fired from Gaza since the truce collapsed, but reported no casualties.

9:03 am: Pregnant woman, three children among those killed in Israeli strikes

An Israeli air strike Wednesday on a house in the Gaza Strip town of Deir el-Balah killed a pregnant woman, three young children and two male relatives, emergency services said.

They named the dead as Rafat Aloah, 32, three of his children, his brother Mohammed 21 and the woman, Nabilah Aloah, whose relationship to the others was not immediately clear.

8:00 am: Israeli strike kills wife, child of Gaza military chief: Hamas

An Israeli air strike on Gaza City killed the wife and infant daughter of elusive Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, the Islamist group said early Wednesday.

"The wife of the great leader was martyred with his daughter," in a strike Tuesday night, Hamas's exiled deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk wrote on Facebook while saying nothing about the fate of Deif himself.

He said that Israel had been looking for "an excuse to target a big Hamas leader".

Palestinian children flee their houses carrying their belongings past a house destroyed during the ongoing Israeli offensive. Reuters image

Palestinian children flee their houses carrying their belongings past a house destroyed during the ongoing Israeli offensive. Reuters image

Palestinian emergency services revised an earlier report of three killed in the strike on a large house in the city's Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood and said the victims were a woman and a two-year-old girl.

Another 45 people were injured, they said.

Deif was appointed head of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002 after the death of his predecessor Salah Shehade in a raid.

Deif had survived at least five previous Israeli attempts to kill him.

The brigades said after the strike that Israel had "opened the gates of hell on himself" by the attack.

--Beginning of updates for August 20 begin--

--End of updates for August 19--

7:53 pm: Gaza ceasefire has 'collapsed': chief Palestinian negotiator

A temporary ceasefire in Gaza has 'collapsed' after a Tuesday midnight deadline passed with no agreement to extend a truce and Israel and Hamas resumed hostilities, a senior Palestinian official said.

"The ceasefire has collapsed and Israel is responsible," said Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of a joint-Palestinian delegation in Cairo participating in indirect negotiations with Israel.

"We are leaving tomorrow, but we have not pulled out of negotiations," he told AFP, adding the Palestinians were waiting for Israel to respond to their truce proposal.

"We will not come back (to Cairo) until the Israel responds," he said.

Ahmed, an aide of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, heads the delegation that includes senior Hamas officials.

One of the Hamas officials, Ezzat al-Rishq, warned Israel "will not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not."

7:11 pm: Hamas blames Israel for violence, warns it will not be safe'

A senior Hamas official accused Israel for resuming the Gaza conflict and warned it would not be secure as long as Palestinians are not, after a temporary ceasefire ended amid a barrage of rockets.

Shortly after the midnight ceasefire deadline, senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq warned: "Israel will not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not, and it started it."

7:01 pm: Hamas armed wing claim rocket attack on Jerusalem

The military wing of the Islamist Hamas said it fired a rocket Tuesday night at Jerusalem, where air raid sirens could be heard.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP there was no report of a rocket falling inside the city and a rocket may have been intercepted by missile defences outside the urban area.

6:16 pm: Hamas armed wing says fires rockets at Israel, including Tel Aviv

The military wing of the Islamist Hamas said it pounded Israel with rocket fire on Tuesday, hitting Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheva.

Palestinians flee their houses at the scene of what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. Reuters image

Palestinians flee their houses at the scene of what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. Reuters image

The Israeli military confirmed hits in both places but there were no reported casualties. "A rocket hit an open area in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area," a statement said.

5:32 pm: Israel air strike in Gaza City kills woman, child

An Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City killed a young girl and a woman late Tuesday, wounding 16 other people, local emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Israel carried out a series of air strikes across the Gaza Strip in response to a string of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel that torpedoed a 24-hour ceasefire meant to hold until 2100 GMT.

All the casualties are understood to be from the same family.

Witnesses told AFP that Israeli F16 jets fired at least three rockets at the house, close to offices of Hamas's Al-Aqsa broadcasting station.

"A woman and a child were martyred and another 16 are wounded," Qudra said.

Emergency workers feared that there were still people trapped under the rubble of the house, witnesses and an AFP reporter said.

4:38 pm: US blames Hamas for Gaza truce collapse

The United States blamed rocket fire from Gaza for a breakdown in indirect talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities on a durable ceasefire Tuesday, and said Hamas bore responsibility.

"Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza... Rocket fire came from Gaza," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, blaming the Palestinian Islamist group for renewed fighting.

Israel and Palestinian militants resumed on Tuesday despite ongoing talks to secure a lasting truce. Palestinian rockets hit southern Israel, and Israeli jets hit multiple targets inside Gaza.

"We are very concerned about today's development, condemn the renewed rocket fire and as we have said Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks." Harf told reporters.

"We call for an immediate end of rocket fire hostilities and the return to ceasefire talks," she added, at a scheduled briefing.

"We hope that the parties can reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire or, if necessary, agree to another extension of their temporary ceasefire so they can continue the conversation.

"But as of right now, with today's developments, we are very concerned and it is our understanding the ceasefire has broken down."

3:58 pm: Hamas says chances of Gaza truce deal 'evaporating'

A senior Hamas official said Tuesday the chances of a durable ceasefire in Gaza were "evaporating" and that there had been no progress in indirect negotiations with Israel.

The official, Ezzat al-Rishq, is among a Palestinian delegation in Cairo where Egyptian mediators are racing to bridge the gaps ahead of the expiration of a temporary ceasefire at midnight.

"There is no progress in the negotiations. Chances of an agreement are evaporating, and we hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for that," Rishq wrote on Twitter.

He said the Palestinian delegation had presented the Egyptian mediators with their final position, which was relayed to the Israelis.

The Israeli team "left with the excuse of presenting it to their cabinet," Rishq wrote.

Israel ordered its delegation to leave Cairo and renewed air strikes on Gaza after a military spokesman said rockets hit the south of the country, hours before the truce was to expire.

3:05 pm: Thousands flee for cover as Israel raids Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians fled their homes in neighbourhoods of eastern Gaza City on Tuesday, carrying bags of clothes, pillows and mattresses after renewed Israeli air strikes, witnesses said.

An AFP reporter saw hundreds of Palestinians streaming out of Shejaiya, an area devastated by more than a month of fighting between Israel and the Islamist movement which rules Hamas.

Thousands more were leaving the Zeitun and Shaaf areas, alarmed by a series of explosions and heading to shelter in UN schools, the witnesses said.

Families walked from their homes, or weighed down vehicles and donkey carts with flimsy mattresses and supplies.

"We've heard explosions. My kids were scared so I'm taking them back to the UNRWA school where we spent the war," said Um Mohammed Bakrun, walking in the street with her sister and four children.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Said Hilis, carrying bags, told AFP that he had heard shelling next to his home.

"We're nervous. We heard on the radio that the resistance have fired rockets from Gaza and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu had ordered the army to respond," he said.

"I think the ceasefire is over. I'm taking my family to my relatives' house in western Gaza City. It's safer there."

The United Nations said Monday that more than 237,600 Palestinians were already seeking shelter at 81 UN schools across the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, Israel ordered its negotiators back from talks in Cairo and warplanes hit targets in Gaza after Palestinian rockets smashed into the country's south, violating a 24-hour truce.

Nine days of relative quiet in the skies over Gaza came to an abrupt halt when rockets struck Israel just hours before the truce was to expire at midnight local time (2100 GMT).

Israel immediately ordered a military response, with warplanes striking targets across the coastal strip.

Five Palestinians were wounded, three in the northern area of Beit Lahiya -- two of them boys -- and two boys aged six and nine in the southern city of Rafah, the emergency services spokesman said.

3:00 pm: Palestinian negotiator says 'no progress' in Gaza truce talks

The chief Palestinian negotiator conducting indirect talks with Israel for a long-term Gaza truce said there had been "no progress," with less than five hours to go before a temporary ceasefire expires.

The Palestinian delegation presented their demands for a truce to Egyptian mediators and were awaiting Israel's response, said the official, Azzam al-Ahmed.

"There has been no progress," he said of Tuesday's talks. "Matters have become more complicated."

Since August 5, both Israel and the Palestinians have renewed several temporary ceasefires ending a devastating four week war, as Egyptian mediators race to bridge the gap between the two sides.

The Palestinians, especially the militant Hamas group in Gaza, insist Israel end its blockade of the enclave. Israel says any agreement must meet its security conditions. -AFP

Updated Date: Aug 26, 2014 21:46:25 IST