As it happened: Israel-Gaza violence 17 November 2012

Key Points

  • Hamas militants have fired at least one rocket at Jerusalem, the first time the city has been targeted for decades
  • On a visit to Gaza, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil condemns Israel's bombardment as "a disaster"
  • At least 28 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Israel assassinated Hamas's military chief on Wednesday. All times GMT

    Good afternoon and welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the Israel-Gaza violence. At least 20 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Israel assassinated the military commander of Hamas on Wednesday. Stay with us for the latest updates, incorporating reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world, which you can send via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.


    Earlier, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil called on Israel to stop its aerial bombardment of Gaza. On a brief visit to the coastal territory to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, he said what he had witnessed there was a disaster and he could not remain quiet.


    Air strikes over Gaza continued during Mr Qandil's visit as did rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. Not long after he left, the sound of a large explosion was heard in Tel Aviv and air raid sirens sounded. An Israeli police spokesman said a missile had landed in an open field in the Tel Aviv area.


    Meanwhile, the Hamas-run health ministry has just announced that a Palestinian has been killed and another injured in an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. The death increases to at least three the number of Palestinians killed on Friday and 20 since the death of Ahmed al-Jabari, commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, on Wednesday.


    More on the rocket fired towards Tel Aviv - Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tells the BBC that it fell into the sea. Tel Aviv municipality has ordered the opening of all air raid shelters, he adds. It is the second day running that a rocket from Gaza has reached the Tel Aviv area.


    The sound of additional Israeli air strikes has also be heard in Gaza City, and Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV has been showing live footage of smoke rising from various locations.

    Wyre Davies BBC Middle East correspondent, Gaza City

    tweets: Surreal. Watching #Gaza militants launching rockets, #Israel hitting launch sites then rockets (sometimes) intercepted by "Iron Dome."

    Katya Adler BBC News, Tel Aviv

    tweets: #Israel military saying they're destroying medium range rocket supplies in #Gaza yet sirens just gone off in TelAviv again


    Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has now said he "will not leave Gaza on its own". "What is happening is a blatant aggression against humanity," he is quoted as saying by the official Mena news agency.

    1245: IDF Spokesperson

    tweets: No rocket hit Tel Aviv. Fact: 340 rockets have hit Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense began. #IsraelUnderFire

    Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    tweets: There must be many Palestinians in #Gaza providing intelligence to Israel. Israel seems to know where everyone is when it wants to strike... To hit a Palestinian fighter travelling through busy streets in a specific car or on back of a motorbike you need inside intel.


    Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Mr Mursi that he supports Egypt's "efforts directed at normalising the situation", a Kremlin statement says, according to the AFP news agency.

    Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    tweets: Hamas in #Gaza says it has just killed a Palestinian "collaborator" and "spy".


    Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, says on Twitter that it has fired five Grad missiles at the Israeli town of Kiryat Gat, which is north-east of the Gaza Strip. It also reports separate rocket-fire targeting the Ofakim, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba.


    With many towns and cities coming under attack, Israeli military forces have been deploying close to the border with the Gaza Strip, possibly in preparation for a possible ground offensive. The government has given the go-ahead for the military to call up 30,000 reservists.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Gaza City

    tweets: I'm in Shifa hospital in #Gaza. It's busy but well organised. In front of me a woman with her head bloodied was wheeled in... There's a boy around 10 injured by an air strike while playing in the street who's laying with blood coming from his nose... Another man has a wound to his right leg, just below the knee. None of these present cases are life threatening... Now there's an emergency. An elderly man rushed in on a stretcher. He has massive injuries... Once he'd been off loaded to a bed in # Gaza hospital the stretcher was rushed out again. It was smeared with his blood... Doctor told us: "For 3 days I haven't gone home but the civilian injuries are more & more & more."


    Here's an earlier picture from Shifa hospital in Gaza City. It reportedly shows a man weeping outside its mortuary before taking the body of his 10-month-old son.

    Man weeps outside the mortuary of the Shifa hospital in Gaza (16 November 2012)

    Israelis in the southern town of Ashdod are meanwhile pictured below inspecting the damage after a rocket exploded near a car.

    Damaged car in Ashdod (16 November 2012)

    The Israeli military reports that the Paratrooper and Givati Infantry brigades have "completed final preparations for a potential ground operation". "The forces are on standby, ready to enter should it be decided that a ground operation is necessary," it adds. More than 16,000 reservists have been mobilised, out of the 30,000 approved by the Israeli government.


    People in the region have been telling the BBC News website how the violence has affected them.

    Nalan Al Sarraj

    tweets: So #egypt ! What was the point of sending your minister so he can be an international coward and ran away ! Not even spend a night ! #gaza

    Olivier Knox, White House Correspondent, Yahoo! News

    tweets: Israeli National Security Adviser was at the White House Monday. Did he give heads-up on #Gaza? Obama aides refuse to say (to me).

    Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post Cairo Bureau Chief

    tweets: #Erdogan & #Morsi set to talk #Gaza in Cairo tomorrow. Will be interesting to see what kind of action this yields from #Egypt and #Turkey


    As that last tweet mentions, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will on Saturday pay his first visit to Egypt since President Mursi's election in June. Mr Erdogan has been quoted by Turkish media as linking Israel's "barbaric position" to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign for January's parliamentary elections. "As you know there will be an election next month in Israel. And you see Israel has started pounding bombs in Gaza for fabricated reasons," he told reporters, according to the Zaman website.

    Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    Hamas health officials in Gaza now say at least 23 Palestinians have been killed since Wednesday. Among the latest to die was a man in his 60s who had been badly injured.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Gaza City

    tweets updates from Shifa hospital: Young boy wheeled in with small injury to his back from shrapnel while riding his bike. He's crying but lucky. Missed his spine by inches... A young woman is squeezing the hand of a toddler who's crying as they dress a wound to her head... The old man who was rushed into the #Gaza hospital on the stretcher has died.

    Palestinian girl injured by shrapnel The toddler who was injured by shrapnel

    Thousands of people are protesting across Egypt against Israel's air strikes on Gaza. Egyptians marched through Cairo and Alexandria waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel, the Associated Press says. President Mohammed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood called the demonstrations. The influential cleric, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi warned in his Friday sermon that the Islamic world would not be silent.

    Tom Cohen in Sderot, southern Israel

    emails: Dear Egyptians, beware of falling into the trap of fake solidarity that supports violence. Your alleged enemies, the Israelis, want nothing but peace and true friendship, but have the military and financial abilities to take down everyone with them.

    Tom Jacwic in Uganda

    emails: Egypt should show its strength by persuading their Palestinian brothers to join the negotiating table. Everybody desires peace and both sides have a right to existence.

    Israeli President Shimon Peres

    tweets: I spoke to presidents from across the world, no-one doubts the justification of the operation. #israelunderfire #pillarofdefense


    The Israeli military reports that three soldiers were injured by a rocket fired from Gaza into southern Israel a short while ago.

    IDF Spokesperson

    A glimpse of life in southern #Israel - A rocket fired from #Gaza struck a family's backyard today. #IsraelUnderFire

    Picture showing aftermath of rocket explosion in southern Israel (16 November 2012)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the Egyptian government to "use its influence on Hamas to push it towards a moderation of the violence", her deputy spokesman says.

    Sam in New Brighton, USA

    emails: This is wrong. Why must both sides fight? Neither has the right to start more problems and ruin more innocent people's lives. And Egypt has no right to step in and escalate the problem. It is just adding fuel to the fire.

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Tel Aviv

    tweets: Just arrived in #Telaviv - some areas much quieter than usual but central bars and restaurants seem extra busy

    Ahmed Khawaja

    tweets: At Gaza City's Shifa hospital, there are no more beds in the intensive care unit and fuel is in short supply.

    Derek Stoffel, CBC News

    tweets: Ah the Tel Aviv bubble hasn't burst everywhere. @matthewjbell Talking with ppl in T.A. market, they're not freaked out too much by rockets

    Chris Doyle, Director of Council for Arab-British Understanding

    tweets: A rolling procession of senior political figures visiting #Gaza is the new civilian shield


    Of the 500 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense was launched on Wednesday, 26 have landed in built-up areas, The Jerusalem Post cites the Israeli military as saying. Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted nearly 150 rockets, it adds.

    Blaze in Nairobi, Kenya

    emails: Am I missing something? If Hamas and other groups were not firing rockets at Israel, would Israel be retaliating? Or are Israelis expected to continue living in their bomb shelters in order to avoid the rockets?

    David Porer in Malvern, UK

    emails: If Israel wants to bomb Palestinian leaders, it should expect some sort of retribution from Gaza. Any country would retaliate. Israel cannot think that it is special. All Israel is doing is causing more mistrust and more misery throughout the region.


    The Israeli military have just given the BBC updated figures: A spokesman says that since the beginning of the operation, 550 missiles have been fired into Israel, 184 of which have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. More than 600 targets in the Gaza Strip have been hit by the Israeli military.

    Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    tweets: Airstrikes over #gaza just now

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    tweets: We are going to continue hitting Hamas hard and we will continue to strike hard at the missiles targeted at Central and Southern Israel

    Majed Abusalama

    tweets: going to the funeral of my friend's father who was martyred yesterday when he was walking, he is a #UNRWA teacher, visting other injured


    Yohanan Plesner, an Israeli opposition MP and member of the Knesset's Foreign and Security Committee, tells the BBC that Israel has no desire to send in ground troops. "I think the goal of the operation was quite clearly articulated; not to topple Hamas," he says. Israel, he explains, wants to "restore stability, calmness and deterrence, and for that to happen we don't need to enter the Gaza". "But we need Hamas to take on itself a clear commitment to cease the attacks on Israeli citizens and on Israeli interests."


    Thousands of Palestinians are protesting against the Israeli offensive in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus, the AFP news agency reports. In Ramallah, demonstrators called on Hamas to "bomb Tel Aviv" and waved the Islamist movement's green flag.

    Ilan in Negev, southern Israel

    emails: Although the western world has only noticed the escalation of the conflict in the last two days, we have been hit by Hamas rockets on a day-to-day basis throughout October and November. This continued up until the recent escalation, following the assassination of Jabari. It is impossible to live like this in the shelters every day.


    Egyptian state-run Channel 1 TV has just reported what it says is the first arrival of an injured Palestinian through the Rafah Crossing. Via BBC Monitoring.

    Valon in Pristina, Kosovo

    emails: If Israel targets Hamas members, they have to kill Hamas members, not innocent people and children.

    1453: Breaking News

    Air raid sirens have just been heard in Jerusalem.


    Israeli Army Radio is reporting that the alert was sounded for Jerusalem and nearby towns.


    A BBC reporter says sirens sounded in Abu Ghosh, just outside Jerusalem. He says he felt the ground shaking, and that it's the first time the sirens have been used properly since they were installed four years ago.


    Shortly after the sirens sounded, the armed branch of Hamas said it had fired a rocket towards Jerusalem.


    Israeli media are saying that the rocket fell just north of Jerusalem, the Associated Press reports.


    If confirmed, this is believed to be the first time militants in the Gaza Strip have attempted to target Jerusalem.

    Avital Leibovich, IDF spokesperson

    tweets: Confirmed: a rocket was fired a few minutes ago from #Gaza to an area outside Jerusalem. #IsraelUnderFire

    Dan Williams

    tweets: Multiple witnesses suggesting rocket(s) landed in the south Jerusalem hills


    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has defended Israeli actions in Gaza and urged Hamas to stop rocket attacks. ''Hamas bears responsibility for this latest escalation,'' he told German radio.

    Nalan Al Sarraj in Gaza

    tweets: My cousin in the West Bank says the rocket hit the Israeli area. There is real panic in the whole region there.


    Hamas's military wing says its target in Jerusalem was the Israeli Knesset.


    Here's a screen caption from Al-Aqsa TV: "For the first time, the Al-Qassam Brigades fired a long-range rocket towards the Knesset [parliament] in occupied Jerusalem." The same claim was made on the group's Twitter account.


    Israeli Army Radio says the rocket aimed at Jerusalem fell on open ground. No-one was hurt and no damage caused.


    In the past hour Israel's Iron Dome missile interceptor has targeted rockets fired on Ashdod and Beer Sheva, Israel Radio reports.

    Yolande Knell BBC News, Tel Aviv

    tweets: Emergency services source tells BBC rocket hit main gate of Maale Amos settlement in West Bank

    Katya Adler BBC News, Tel Aviv

    Never seen #TelAviv so quiet. Young woman says she's frightened, expects #Gaza rocket fire in Israeli border towns. Not in heart of #Israel... Bunkers being opened up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. People tell us they feel ground invasion by #Israel into #Gaza increasingly likely


    The Jerusalem Post is reporting that two rockets have landed outside Jerusalem, which would fit with reports elsewhere of rockets landing in several locations.


    Several Israeli sources are reporting that a rocket landed in Gush Etzion, directly south of Jerusalem.

    Katya Adler BBC News, Tel Aviv

    Sense of foreboding in #Israel about #Gaza situation. The Jewish Sabbath has begun. How will things look by the time it ends tomorrow night?

    Lucy in Jerusalem

    emails: We had an air raid siren in Jerusalem about 45 minutes ago. I grabbed my children and took them into the stairwell of our building and waited with the neighbours until it was over.

    Samah Saleh in Gaza

    tweets: Massive explosions heard right now in north Gaza. The calm is over!


    Photographs have been published of two funerals for those who have been killed in the conflict so far - one in the Gaza Strip and the other in southern Israel.

    The first shows women mourning Tahrir and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza. Their family says they were killed when an Israeli missile hit their back garden.

    Funeral of Tahrir and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia (16 November 2012)

    The second shows grieving relatives of Itzik Amsalem, one of the three people who died in a rocket attack in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday.

    Funeral for Itzik Amsalem
    Matthijs le Loux in Zutphen, the Netherlands

    emails: As always, the people who suffer most on both sides are innocent civilians, often children. People all over the world are picking sides, but who's going to pick theirs? Not the cynical hawks in the Knesset or Hamas.


    Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports that Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved the request of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to widen the draft of army reservists to more than 30,000. On Friday morning, the IDF General Staff approved an initial draft of 16,000 army reservists.

    Rosa Schiano in Gaza

    tweets: Airstrikes in Beit Lahia, north Gaza, north Gaza City, and now an airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza strip.

    Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    tweets: Big explosion heard in #Gaza City.

    1625: Ben Brown BBC News, Tel Aviv

    We're at the beachfront: it's the Sabbath so it is relatively quiet, but much quieter than it normally would on a Friday. Greater Tel Aviv has about 40% of the Israeli population. There are people on the streets and cars moving, but people are nervous.

    Paul Danahar BBC Middle East bureau chief, Gaza City

    tweets: Sound of Gaza at night via @audioboo #gaza

    Victoria Sorrells in Jerusalem, Israel

    emails: I am an American student studying in Jerusalem. With this attack on the city, the whole situation has become very real to me and opened my eyes in a completely different way to the conflict in the Middle East.


    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has told his counterparts in Europe that "Israel will not be satisfied with a ceasefire that will be broken within a week or two, and intends to create a deterrent effect that will prevent the Palestinians in Gaza from employing terrorism against Israel," the Israeli government says in a statement.


    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is giving a televised speech from Ramallah.


    Mr Abbas urges Palestinians to unite in the face of "aggression" by Israel. "We should exert maximum effort to achieve national unity and reconciliation." He says he has tried to contact various Hamas leaders.


    Mr Abbas says the current violence won't deter Palestinian efforts to win an upgrade to its observer status at the United Nations later this month.

    Peter Lloyd in Austin, Texas, USA

    emails: It is unbelievable that Israel thinks they can attack and murder Hamas officials without creating this type of violent reaction. If they didn't understand beforehand, they have to at least admit they understand now or miscalculated.

    1711: Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    says that with the sound of airstrikes continuing in Gaza, the chances of a ceasefire anytime this evening appear bleak.

    Menachem Baruch in Carmel, California, USA

    emails: I have two daughters in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Hamas has got to stop with this rocket fire. It is insane to think that they can win an all-out ground assault against the IDF. All that will happen is many people will die. Hamas and all groups like them need to believe in negotiation, not violence.

    1724: Jonathan Marcus BBC Diplomatic Correspondent

    Israeli commanders had confidently asserted after the first day of air strikes that they had destroyed the bulk of the longer-range missiles. There does not seem to be a huge appetite at the political level in Israel for a ground operation. But the preparations are in place. With the civilian casualty toll in Gaza rising, a resolution to this crisis seems as far away as ever.


    Israel's Channel 2 News reports that the cabinet is now weighing increasing the number of military reservists being mobilised to 75,000.

    Wyre Davies BBC Middle East correspondent, Gaza City

    tweets: #Gaza, a critical juncture. A day that began with faint hopes of a cease fire ends with fears of an all out war.

    Stuart Webb Channel 4 News

    tweets: Huge explosions in Gaza-editing for tonight's #c4news Mattress against window, flack jacket and helmet on-could do with a cup of tea...


    UN officials say Secretary General Ban ki-Moon will visit the region soon.


    Mr Ban appeals to Israel and Hamas to "stop this dangerous escalation", his spokeperson says. "Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint."


    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Nabil al-Arabi, the head of the Arab League, to visit Gaza on Saturday or Sunday, Reuters reports.

    Michael Fox in Jerusalem, Israel

    emails: I heard the explosion and the sirens as I was walking to the synagogue this evening. The ground shook, and I heard the terrible wail. People for the most part were pretty unconcerned, walking around as if nothing had really happened.

    Sara Sidner CNN correspondent

    tweets: Gaza's main hospital packed with people. Ambulances coming in and out. Beds filled with men women and children.

    1815: Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    says the missile that Hamas says targeted Jerusalem was launched just 500 metres from the BBC's office in the centre of Gaza City.


    The Israeli military said it was closing three roads that lead to or border the Gaza strip, Reuters reports.

    Avital Leibovich, IDF spokesperson

    tweets: #breaking: #IDF targeted drone infrastructure in #Gaza .


    More on those road closures. An Israeli military spokesman tells AFP that road 232, route 10 and part of road 4 - the main routes around the Gaza Strip - have been sealed off to all non-military traffic. No reason given.

    Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

    tweets: Hamas health ministry says 3 Hamas militants killed this evening. Total dead since Wednesday in #Gaza is at least 27 including 7 children.


    The health ministry in Gaza says three more Hamas militants have been killed in an airstrike. That brings the total number of Palestinian deaths to 27 since Wednesday, according to Palestinian sources. About half of those were militants. Seven were children.

    Naomi Melendez in Elgin, Illinois, USA

    emails: Israel has been under rocket fire for many months now and as soon as it retaliates against the attacks, the world turns erroneously against it. The media has been unfair in reporting the attacks.

    R Ahmed in London, UK

    emails: Israel cannot continue with such aggression and expect Hamas to sit back. Israel needs to realise it is fundamentally to blame for this crisis.


    Israel's security cabinet is convening in Tel Aviv, considering significantly expanding the Israeli operation, a government official says. Israeli media are also reporting that the cabinet secretary is speaking to other ministers about a vote on calling up of as many as 75,000 army reservists.


    +972 magazine reports that the Israeli military is sending text messages to mobile phones in Gaza with a warning in Arabic: "The next phase is on the way. Stay away from Hamas elements." Using Instagram, Twitter user @RanaGaza tweeted a photo of the message on her father's mobile phone.

    Text message sent to residents of Gaza by Israeli military

    Hamas TV is reporting that Ahmad Abu-Bilal, an Al-Qassam Brigades commander, and two of his brothers have been killed in Gaza's Al-Maghazi refugee camp. Via BBC Monitoring.


    The Israeli military says it has "destroyed Hamas's nascent Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme". A spokesperson tweets: "Watch an aerial video showing what that programme once looked like:"

    Fraggle Thomas, Albany, New York, USA

    emails: Reading the reports from both sides of the lines has left me shell-shocked. My own trifles seem profoundly insignificant. I can only hope that military leaders on both sides will begin to see the error of their ways.


    So it looks like the latest deaths in Gaza were in the Maghazi refugee camp, which with some 24,000 inhabitants is one of the smaller camps in the territory.

    Mark Urban, Diplomatic and defence editor, Newsnight

    blogs: The firing on Thursday of two Fajr-5 missiles from Gaza towards Tel Aviv, followed on Friday by the targeting of Jerusalem with an as yet unidentified rocket type, is a potent sign of altered strategic realities in the Middle East.


    Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reports that local authorities in central and southern Israel have been instructed to prepare for a seven-week period of combat as part of Operation Pillar of Defence, and to prepare emergency supplies accordingly.


    We've pulled together some of the tweets that the BBC's Paul Danahar sent after has visiting parts of the Gaza Strip hit by Israeli air strikes. You can read them here.


    Israel Radio reports that the government has confirmed the call-up of 75,000 reservists "in principle".


    There were several Palestinian demonstrations in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday. Here's an image of Palestinians sheltering behind an improvised barrier during clashes with Israeli soldiers at the West Bank's Qalandia checkpoint.

    Protests in the West Bank, 16 November 2012

    And here's another picture from the West Bank - this time of Israeli soldiers scouring the ground for the point where a rocket aimed at Jerusalem landed.

    Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, 16 November 2012
    Rana in Gaza

    tweets: Explosions shake everything in my house. #Gaza


    To recap, at least one Hamas rocket was launched towards Jerusalem earlier. It's believed to be the first time the city has been targeted with a missile since 1970, and the first such attack from Gaza. Tel Aviv was targeted for a second day. Israel has continued fierce strikes against Gaza, where the number of people killed has risen to at least 28.


    We're bringing our live updates on developments in Israel and the Palestinian territories to a close for now. Thanks for reading. You can always get the latest news, pictures and analysis by visiting the BBC news website.


Israel and the Palestinians

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