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Operation Protective Edge War-Blog: July 23, 2014

July 23rd 2014

Rocket Fajr-5

2:33 PM ET July 23, 2014. Secretary Kerry met with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Palestinian President Abbas, and UN Sec. Gen Ban today as hopes sore that a ceasefire may ensue. "We have certainly made some steps forward, but there is still work to be done," Kerry said as he met UN chief Ban Ki-Moon for the second time this week. "We are now joining our forces in strength to make a ceasefire as soon as possible," Ban said. Kerry said to Palestinians following a meeting with Abbas, "We have in the last 24 hours made some progress in moving toward that goal." He later returned to Cairo to continue negotiations --  i24 News.

2:15 PM ET July 23, 2014. While Sec. Kerry confered with political leaders about peace, Islamist Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the suspension of Tel Aviv flights by many world airlines as a "great victory." Said Abu Zuhri, "The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel's failure."  The FAA had placed a ban on US flights to Israel and  renewed the ban for another 24 hours today, citing the "potentially hazardous situation." Its European counterpart advised all carriers to avoid Tel Aviv "until further notice." Netanyahu praised former NYC Mayor Bloomberg as a man of "principle" for defying the ban by flying to Israel. The fighting has so far claimed the lives of 685 Gazans, 34 Israelis and a foreign worker. -- i24News.

2:14 PM ET July 23, 2014. Israeli military field hospitals continue to treat wounded Gazans. In Gaza City hundreds of  women and children have taken refuge inside Saint Prophyrios Greek Orthodox church. "Many of them, their houses are destroyed. Many people have been injured or killed. So we try to help these people," said Archbishop Alexios, one of Gaza's tiny community of 1,500 Christians. --i24 News.

2:13 PM ET July 23, 2014. UN rights chief Navi Pillay condemned Israel and Hamas at an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Pillay said Israeli attacks on civilians, among them children, "could amount to war crimes" but also denounced Hamas for its "indiscriminate attacks" on Israeli civilians. The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 81.5 percent of the dead were civilians, 24 percent of them children. Of the 3,457 wounded, half were women or children. The UN Human Rights Council voted to launch a probe into Israel's Gaza offensive: the United States was the sole member to vote against, while European countries abstained. -- i24 News.

8:36 AM ET July 23, 2014. After days of incessant terrorist gunfire emanating from the Waffa hospital the IDF has responded. For days terrorists have been using the Waffa hospital in Gaza as a military post, firing small-arms fire and anti-tank rockets at IDF forces. Moreover, the lower levels of the hospital are being used by terror organizations as a command and control center. The IDF has refrained from responding until now. Earlier, the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) approached several international Palestinian organizations and contacted the hospital Director, but to no avail. Today, the fire intensified, and the IDF finally decided to respond attacking the hospital complex with accurate fire. -Tazpit

8:26 AM ET July 23, 2014. The Iron Dome shoots down four rockets, two of them over the southern city of Ashdod -Channel 2.

7:45 AM ET July 23, 2014. The Transportation Ministry and Foreign Ministry are set to send four El Al planes to Turkey tonight to bring home the thousands of stranded Israeli passengers, Ynet reports. -Times of Israel

5:58 AM ET July 23, 2014. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel via air despite an FAA ban. He said that progress had been made towards a cease fire. Before meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, he said: "We have certainly made some steps forward. There is still work to be done." He will also meet with Israeli President Peres and PM Netanyahu. -- The Guardian.

5:45 AM ET July 23, 2014. A rocket from Gaza hit a hot house in the Ashkelon Coast Council, seriously wounding a worker from Thailand. Five rockets were also intercepted by the Iron Dome over the area. -- Jerusalem Post.

5:30 AM ET July 23, 2014. President Peres told UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon that Qatar had no right to spend millions of dollars to Hamas to build rockets and tunnels instead of developing Gaza. Hamas is using its nearly 50 miles of deep tunnels to ferry troops, weapons and materiel into Israel. -wire services and Jerusalem Post.

5:25 AM ET July 23, 2014. Rocket alert sirens sound in Eshkol and Ashkelon Coast Regional councils. Iron Dome intercepted a rocket over Sderot and five over Ashkelon. There were no reports of injury in the attack. -- Jerusalem Post.

5:20 AM ET July 23, 2014 Transportation Minister Israel Katz told agenciesw to open the Uvda airport, the country's second air terminus which lies just north of Eilat, following flight cancellations announced by major foreign airlines. Yesterday, the FAA banned US flights to Israel. -- Jerusalem Post.

5:14 AM July 23, 2014. The funeral for Israeli army marksman Max Steinberg, killed in fighting in Gaza on July 20 was held on Mount Herzl. He was an American citizen from California. -- Jerusalem Post.

5:12 AM ET July 23, 2014. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will be flying to Israel in protest of the Federal Aviation Administration's flight ban. -- wire services.

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