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Aviation Ban Lifted; Egypt Foils Attack on Israel

Palestinian death count reaches 746 as IDF operation enters 17th day

Ben Hartman
July 24, 2014
Israeli soldiers prepare their Tanks in a deployment area on July 24, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers prepare their Tanks in a deployment area on July 24, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

As Operation Protective Edge entered its 17th day, a short-lived aviation ban on Israel put in place on Tuesday night by the Federal Aviation Authority was lifted on Thursday, and European providers are expected to follow suit.

With tens of thousands missing work for reserve duty and the economy taking a hit across the country, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said Thursday afternoon that he would convene the cabinet to vote on financial assistance for civilians adversely affected by the operation. The proposal would help employers and reserve soldiers compensate for their missed work days and would help local authorities construct bomb shelters and boost tourism and social services, particularly in the south.

Valerie Amos, the U.N. humanitarian chief told BBC Radio on Thursday that she was deeply concerned about the dangers facing Palestinians in Gaza, saying its “almost impossible” for them to find shelter from Israeli airstrikes and “it doesn’t matter how hard Israel tries to minimize harm, this is an extremely overcrowded stretch of land.”

A day earlier the U.N. launched an international inquiry into alleged human rights violations and war crimes committed by Israeli forces during the operation in Gaza. In a statement, the U.N. Human Rights Council expressed their condemnation of the Israeli offensive, saying it included “disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks”.

By Thursday the Palestinian death toll stood at 746 according to Gaza health officials, including 50 Palestinians killed over the past 24 hours.

It’s unclear if that death toll includes nine alleged “collaborators with Israel” that Army Radio reported were executed in the Gaza Strip, according to an Army Radio report.

The Israeli death toll remained at 32 soldiers and three civilians as of Thursday afternoon, and though there was only a single rocket fired at Israel overnight, in the late morning a heavy rocket salvo targeted cities across city Israel. No injuries were injured.

The Egyptian military foiled an attack by gunmen against Israel overnight Wednesday, killing a suicide bomber who ran towards the Israeli border near the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.

The article also quoted Egyptian sources as saying they found and destroyed a vehicle carrying Grad rockets intended to be fired into Israel.

In a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the situation in Israel to the U.K. during the blitz in World War II. He vowed that Israel would continue doing what it must to provide security for its citizens and to demolish the rocket and tunnel infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Late Wednesday evening, the IDF put out figures saying that so far they have hit 3,335 targets in the Gaza Strip, including 2,133 since the ground operation started last Thursday night. Since the operation began there have been 2,250 rockets fired into Israel including 740 since the beginning of the ground operation, and that of these rockets, 1,760 have hit Israeli territory, including 570 the past week. The Iron Dome anti-missile system has shot down 440 rockets en route to populated areas since the beginning of the operation the IDF stated, including 144 in the past week.

Ben Hartman is the crime and national security reporter for the Jerusalem Post. He also hosts Reasonable Doubt, a crime show on TLV1 radio station in Tel Aviv. His Twitter feed is @Benhartman.