Israeli Military to Northern Gaza residents: Evacuate for your own Safety

The AP is reporting the Israeli military says it is ordering Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate the area “for their own safety.”

In a statement Saturday, the military said it would send messages to residents overnight to leave the area.

Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, the chief military spokesman, said Israel planned to hit the area with heavy force in the next 24 hours as it steps up an offensive against Gaza militants.

3 rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv ● Sirens sound across central Israel ● Death toll in Gaza rises to 127.

 10:05 P.M. Two rockets explode in open areas near Be’er Sheva.

10:00 P.M. The IDF is preparing to warn residents of the Gaza Strip’s north to evacuate their homes in order to expand the scope of the airstrikes in the area. A senior Israeli officer says residents will be prompted to leave via telephone, pamphlets and the media. Once the population is cleared from the region the military intends to lift some of the restrictions placed on the air force units, allowing them to bolster their attacks. According to the officer, most of the rockets fired on Israel were launched from Gaza’s north.

The officer adds that he believes the population will heed the military’s call, as it has been previously seen in Lebanon.

“This is a highly moral measure,” the officer says. “… the evacuation allows greater freedom of operation in the area. We, as an orderly country, issue warnings before striking those who want to kill our citizens.” (Gili Cohen)

9:55 P.M. Hamas hacks popular Israeli Facebook pages and posts anti-Israel messages.

9:44 P.M. Israeli emergency services treat several people suffering from shock in Tel Aviv and other central Israeli cities. No injuries reported in the latest rocket barrage.

9:25 P.M. Three rockets were intercepted over Tel Aviv while another hit an open area in Rishon Letzhion, the IDF says. (Gili Cohen)

9:14 P.M. Another rocket siren sounds in central Israel.

9:06 P.M. Rocket siren sounds in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and the Sharon Plain.

8:30 P.M. An Israeli airstrike in Gaza’s north targets four militants, two from Hamas and two from the Islamic Jihad. According to the IDF, the four fired rockets toward Israel. Another airstrike targets a Hamas militant’s home where rocket launchers were stored. The IDF has also struck the home of Radwan Tapash, a senior Islamic Jihad operative. (Gili Cohen)

8:20 P.M. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri says that the group has yet to receive a “concrete offer” with regard to a cease-fire.

“We aren’t begging for a truce,” he said. “… If we receive a serious proposal, we will study it and issue a response. Meanwhile, the resistance forces continue to fight the occupation.” (Jack Khoury)

8:18 P.M. Hamas’ military wing says in a television broadcast in Hebrew that it intends to fire a barrage of J-80 missiles on Tel Aviv at 9 P.M. (Jack Khoury)

7:50 P.M. IDF says 65 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel so far on Saturday. Five were intercepted by the Iron Dome. According to the military, 686 rockets have been fired since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge; 142 were intercepted. The IDF has struck 1,236 times in Gaza since the operation’s start.

7:30 P.M. The UN Security Council releases a press statement calling “for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire” between Israel and Gaza.

The Rwandan envoy, who holds the council’s rotating presidency this month, read out the statement, which condemned neither Israel nor Hamas.

The message, approved by all 15 members of the council, expresses “serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both.” The council further urges Israel and the Palestinians to renew direct talks. (Barak Ravid)

7:18 P.M. Three rockets explode within territory under the Palestinian Authority’s control. Two hit open areas in Hebron, and the third hits urban area in Bethlehem. Hamas claims responsibility for the rocket fire. (Chaim Levinson and Gili Cohen)

7:06 P.M. Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan says that several parties are involved in mediating a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, including Egypt, Qatar and other regional and international elements.

“Israel has yet to respond to ideas that have been brought up,” he said.

“There’s tension between Hamas and Israel, but when it comes to Palestinian interests, this tension can be overcome,” he added.

A spokesman for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi confirmed that efforts to reach a cease-fire are ongoing, adding that escalation in violence between Gaza and Israel “serves no one, and will result in additional civilian casualties.” (Jack Khoury)

6:58 P.M. Rocket siren sounds in Jerusalem region.

6:47 P.M. Three rockets explode near a town in the Eshkol Regional Council.

6:22 P.M. Two rockets intercepted near Yavneh.

6:10 P.M. Rocket alert sounds in the central Israeli towns of Rehovot, Rishon Letzion, Gan Yavneh and Lod.

6:02 P.M. U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and called for the renewal of the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, as per the agreement reached at the conclusion of Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.

“I stressed … our deep concern about the number of civilian casualties and the need for all sides to avoid further civilian injuries and the loss of innocent life,” Hague said.

“I told Minister Lieberman that continuing rocket attacks from Gaza are completely unacceptable. Israel has a right to defend itself against such attacks, but the whole world wanted to see de-escalation.”

The British foreign secretary had a similar conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He lauded the latter’s call for truce and asked him to “do all he could to help bring this about.”

“It is clear that we need urgent, concerted international action to secure a ceasefire, as was the case in 2012,” Hague added.  (Barak Ravid)

5:47 P.M. A rocket fired from Gaza is intercepted over Ashkelon.

5:34 P.M. An airstrike carried out by the IDF and the Shin Bet hits three terror operatives in Gaza’s north. According to defense officials, the three were involved in rocket fire. (Gili Cohen)

5:15 P.M. Gaza’s health ministry reports that the number of Palestinians killed since Israel’s launch of Operation Protective Edge has reached 127.

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