Following a day of increased rocket fire from Gaza as well as Israeli airstrikes, a cessation of violence remained elusive going into the evening. As many as 15 more Palestinians were reportedly killed in airstrikes in Gaza and several Israelis were treated for shock and minor injuries as millions of citizens fled for bomb shelters.
Perhaps, the most notable development were the reports of rockets hitting Israel from Lebanon, followed by an Israeli response, which may signal an explosive expansion of a conflict that both sides stumbled into. As Jeffrey Goldberg explained:
I understand that this latest round in the never-ending Israel-Gaza war was, in many ways, a mistake. Israel was uninterested in an all-out confrontation with Hamas at the moment, and Hamas, which is trying to manage a threat to its control of Gaza from -- believe it or not -- groups even more radical and nihilistic than it is, is particularly ill-prepared to confront Israel."
Owing to the politics and optics of declaring victory, neither side will be able to stop firing before the other and, without outside mediation, the fighting seems destined to continue.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council met earlier in a special session on the violence and issued this statement:
The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire.
Ominously, Israel has reportedly warned Gaza residents to leave entire neighborhoods in northern Gaza ahead of what may be a large air campaign from an area where a number of rockets have been fired into Israel.
Following an Israeli airstrike that leveled a mosque in Gaza, there's a sharp divide in the headlines as stories about the attack emerge.
Here's what we know: On Saturday, the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike against a mosque and center for the disabled in Gaza, killing two women and bringing the death toll beyond 120 people since the Israeli counteroffensive in Gaza began on Tuesday.
After this, the picture gets cloudy. In recent years, more or less since 1967, Israel, wages two battles when it fights — one against enemy combatants and the other against a slew of bad press for its operations, which produce lopsided death tolls, destruction, and international pressure against it.
Naturally, striking a holy Islamic site in the middle of Ramadan has already inflamed some passions today. Here's some of what's out there (at least, that's fit to print):
Despite the optics, which are terrible, Israel maintains that the attack had a specific purpose, namely to disable a site that was being used as a weapons cache.
Israel air strikes flatten Gaza mosque believed to be used for storing rockets http://t.co/mGY7jJtJGE— Laura Walker (@LauraWalkerKC) July 12, 2014
A statement by the Israeli military on Saturday emphasized that it believed the mosque held weapons being used in attacks against Israeli citizens. While Israeli casualties have been few this week, roughly 700 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel in the past few days.
In a statement on Saturday, the Israeli military placed blame on Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, which they say “systematically use mosques to conceal weaponry and establish underground tunnel networks, abusing the holy nature of these sites for their own terror-oriented agendas.”
These sites are part of a vast terror network embedded deep within civilian populations purposefully, by these terror organizations.”
In past operations, Israel has contended that Hamas and others not only use hospitals, schools, and mosques to store weapons, but also fire rockets from densely populated civilian centers, making human shields of its own citizens and inviting Israeli airstrikes on rocket-launching sites near residential areas.