[Live updates below.] Follow here for continued live updates on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our report on the launch of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge can be found here. For a report on Israel’s targeting of a top Hamas commander on Tuesday click here. For details on the rocket attacks that led to Israel’s operation click here. To read yesterday’s live blog (now closed) click here.
8:49 pm – World Jewish Congress CEO, Robert Singer and President, Ronald Lauder sent the following letter to all the United Nations ambassadors:
We are writing on behalf of 100 Jewish communities and affiliated organizations on six continents represented by the World Jewish Congress. The nations of the world must know that world Jewry stands side-by-side with Israel and we express our absolute support for “Operation Protective Edge” launched by Israel earlier this week.
Hamas, an internationally recognized terror organization, has refused to recognize Israel and has repeatedly vowed to destroy the Jewish State. In recent weeks, Hamas has escalated its attacks – kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teenagers and launching an unrelenting rocket assault on Israel’s cities and civilians. In the face of this threat, Israel was left with no choice but to respond.
Israel tried to restore the calm without resorting to major military action, but Hamas has only intensified its attacks. As we write, millions of Israelis are in bomb shelters as Hamas artillery pounds southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel cannot tolerate a situation in which the lives of millions of its citizens are threatened.
Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has used the territory as a staging ground for rocket attacks, launching over 9,000 rockets and 5,000 mortar bombs. Since Israel and the PLO signed the Declaration of Principles in 1993, Hamas has perpetrated more than 80 suicide attacks, murdering some 1,000 Israelis. Today, Hamas possesses over 10,000 rockets that threaten 40% of the country’s population.
If it were your cities under attack, we know you would agree that a sovereign government has a duty to defend its citizens. This is the time to show your solidarity and support to the people of Israel and the State of Israel.
8:43 pm – The IDF posted this video of a strike on a Hamas weapons storage facility earlier today:
8:14 pm – After Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of “genocide” earlier today over its operation in Gaza, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu responded saying that Hamas should be responsible for any deaths in Gaza.
“Hamas is committing a double war crime by intentionally trying to hit Israeli citizens, and using the local Gaza population as human shields,” he said.
6:00 pm – “In the past 24 hours, 82 rockets hit Israel. An additional 21 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system,” the IDF said on Twitter.
5:31 pm – Moments ago two rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by the Iron Dome over Kiryat Malakhi, the IDF said on Twitter.
4:00 pm – Israeli troops Wednesday night killed at least two Palestinian naval commandos attempting to enter Kibbutz Zikim alongside Gaza, in what appears to be a repeat of Tuesday’s near-identical attempted infiltration.
2:50 pm – Israel’s Prime Minister Netanayhu spoke to world leaders today about the ongoing war against Hamas, according to a statement released by his office:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 9 July 2014), spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said in his conversations that no country in the world agree to suffer relentless missile attacks and infiltration attempts by sea and via tunnels. Hamas is perpetrating a double war crime by deliberately trying to attack Israeli civilians while using the civilian population in Gaza as human shields. Therefore, Hamas is responsible when civilians in Gaza are hit by mistake.
Prime Minister Netanyahu added that Hamas is known throughout the world as a terrorist organization and said that the international community must strongly condemn the continual firing by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations at Israeli cities.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to speak with additional world leaders in the coming days.
2:00 pm – Palestinian rocket crews in Gaza fired a barrage of long-range projectiles towards Israel’s nuclear facilities in Dimona, and nearby town Yeruham.