Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beytenu) publicly expressed support for continuing Operation Protective Edge on Friday, at a press conference with Israeli reporters.
"A ceasefire without exposing all the tunnels would be a mistake," he said.
Reports are circulating Friday that Israel and Hamas may accept a US-brokered cease-fire within the next few days, despite the fact that there is no concrete evidence from either side that a truce will be reached.
A deal, according to London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, may involve capitulating to part of Hamas's unprecedented set of demands - including opening ground and naval borders - but would not see terrorists released.
Aharonovitch denied that Israel was considering a cease-fire just yet, however.
"There are all kinds of proposals," he noted. "The IDF is operating in Gaza and exposing many terror tunnels, and the goal is to expose them all. We need to do what needs to be done, and not limit the IDF to a deadline."
The Political-Security Cabinet had been due to discuss a possible truce deal at noon Friday, but that discussion has been postponed until 3:00 pm.
News of a possible deal surfaces less than one day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that the operation would continue "at full strength in both the air campaign and land campaign."
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared on Wednesday that Israel must accept his list of unprecedented conditions for a ceasefire in order for any truce to be declared.
The IDF announced an additional IDF casualty in Gaza on Friday, the thirty-third death since Operation Protective Edge began eighteen days ago.
Sergeant First Class (Res.) Yair Ashkenazi, served in Training Base 1. Ashkenazi, 36, from Rehovot, was killed early Friday while fighting terror in northern Gaza.
His family has been notified.
Ashkenazi's funeral will be held Friday at 4:00 pm in the Rehovot Military cemetery. A bus to the funeral will leave from the Nahariya train station at 2:00 pm.
Ashkenazi leaves behind a wife and three children.
In the past day the IDF has destroyed some 130 terrorist targets in Gaza, for a total of 3540 targets since Operation Protective Edge began 18 days ago. The army says approximately 240 terrorists have been killed and 31 "terror tunnels" located - 11 of which are to be destroyed imminently.
Overnight a commander in the Golani infantry brigade was seriously injured when the wall of a terror tunnel collapsed onto him, and was evacuated to Soroka medical center. 120 soldiers are currently being treated for wounds sustained during the ground operation, eight of them with serious injuries - two of whom were rushed to Soroka by helicopter last night.
Also overnight IDF forces discovered two houses being used to store weaponry, including antitank missiles. Several terrorists surrendered to the soldiers after initially hiding inside underground tunnels.
Chairman of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivas and head of Yeshivat Or Etzion, Rabbi Haim Druckman, gave a special blessing to troops serving in Operation Protective Edge in an interview with Arutz Sheva on Friday.
Rabbi Druckman referred to the concept of milchemet mitzvah, whereby certain wars are Torah-mandated for men to serve - such as to defend the Jewish people from attack.
"Our soldiers are fighting God's War," he said. "This war determines out very existence in this country."
"This war is for real peace, as told about in Isaiah: 'And your peers shall have swords ... and no nation shall lift up a sword against your nation, which is not knowing another war.'," he added.
''Israel does not strive for another war, for deaths; each Iron Dome cost a fortune - who needs it?" he continued. "But there is evil in the world and we must fight that evil."
Rabbi Druckman had no doubt who will win this war, as Operation Protective Edge enters its eighteenth day.
"Our ancestors fought, Abraham fought, Moses fought," he reassured. "Our aspirations are indeed that 'the wolf will live with the lamb' [citing the verse in Isaiah about the Messianic era - ed.] but if the sheep does not deal with the wolf, nothing will be left of the sheep."
"This is a holy war by all accounts, a war of salvation and for the existence of Israel in its homeland," he said.
Rabbi Druckman believes that the tremendous show of unity among the people of Israel in recent times is the proof of the greatness of Israel.
"You see, at funerals of individual soldiers, tens of thousands of people - where else is there such a world?" he reflected. "Individuals who are not close relatives and friends arrive."
"These enemies of Israel - with God's help we will overcome them, as we have overcome [our enemies in] all of Israel's wars," he concluded.
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett has called on the football's international governing body, FIFA, to cancel its decision to hold the World Cup in the gulf state of Qatar, due to the country's support for Islamist terrorists, including Hamas.
Speaking to Sky News, the Jewish Home party leader rejected suggestions that Israel is responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza, repeating his position that "cowardly" terrorist groups who embed their forces among civilians and use the population as human shields are to blame for any subsequent deaths.
When the interviewer accepted that Israel did indeed have a right to defend itself, but continued to ask how Israel could "justifiably" continue its military operation in Gaza given the civilian casualties, Bennett challenged his interviewer to "imagine if on London you had about 200 rockets falling a day - a day! - from a ...radical terror group. So are you effectively saying that you have the theoretical right to defend yourselves but practically you can't do anything?"
"We have to stop this," he agreed, but noted that the way to do so was not to pressure Israel but to cut off funding to radical Islamist groups who are responsible for regional instability and unrest.
"If we want this to stop we have to stop the funding," Bennett said, and went on to assert that "the biggest funder of radical Islam(ic) terror is Qatar."
"We have to get Qatar to stop funding Hamas, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and ISIS with money."
The tiny gulf state has been using its oil wealth to punch above its weight, vying with regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Iran for influence in the Middle East by funding a range of insurgent and terrorist groups in Syria. Among other things, Qatar is the leading supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Palestinian branch is Hamas.
Bennett asked why a state which sponsors terrorist groups is being allowed to host the prestigious World Cup games in 2022, and suggested the international community condition that on an end to terror funding.
"We have to call on FIFA (to) cancel that: don't allow them to hold the World Cup because this is a terror state who's funding most of the world terror. If we stop the money terror stops and this whole thing stops."
Bennett went on to challenge Israel's international critics head-on, by pointing out that Israel had accepted international demands by totally ceding the Gaza Strip in 2005.
"We handed them the land and they turned it into a fortress of terror."
"We have too dismantle the fortress - unless your're willing to do the job. I'd love that to happen," he quipped.
Hamas fired a salvo of rockets at the Gush Dan and Tel Aviv areas Friday, boasting they were "targeting Ben-Gurion airport" after a priod of relative quiet.
Sirens sounded at 11:46 am throughout the Gush Dan and Coastal (Shfela) areas; two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
No further hits, injuries, or damage were reported.
"At 11:45 am (0845 GMT), the Qassam Brigades bombarded Ben Gurion airport with three M75 rockets," Hamas's so-called "military wing," the Al-Qassam Brigades, boasted in a statement Friday afternoon.
Hamas's strike comes shortly after US and European bans were lifted on flights to Israel, after a rocket slammed into the nearby community of Yehud earlier this week.
The salvo was also fired minutes before the Political-Security Cabinet was set to discuss a US-mediated ceasefire, although there has been no indication thus far that Israel would agree to such a deal.
A New York City cupcake truck has taken its business failures out on Jews and Israel, Tablet reported Thursday - tweeting anti-Israel comments on its official company page.
“Ironically what the Zionist pigs are doing to Palestinian Arabs today is exactly what Hitler and the Nazi’s did to them,” the Cupcake Crew tweeted Wednesday, along with the hashtag #FreePalestine.
The tweet garnered enormous backlash from customers and Jewish tweeters alike, and the tweet has since been taken down.
This is not the first time the Cupcake Crew, a finalist on television show Cupcake Wars which apparently has not sold a cupcake since 2013, has made anti-Semitic statements.
In March, the Cupcake Crew tweeted, “Hysterically laughing listening to French comic Dieudonne #VivaLaFrance,” a reference to anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.
Dieudonne, who is notorious for popularizing the "quenelle" gesture, a reverse Nazi salute, has been widely accused of promoting anti-Semitism, and recently saw his performances banned by French authorities due to their virulently anti-Semitic content.
Earlier, in January, the company openly mocked the death of Brooklyn Hasid Menachem Stark, whose murder was rumored to be connected to business disputes.
The Cupcake Crew's twitter feed also features a plethora of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel retweets.
Several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in ground clashes over the past several days, the IDF announced Friday.
Their names are:
Palestinian sources later told AFP Friday that is Hassanein's 12- and 15-year-old sons were also killed.
This is the second announcement by the IDF about major terror leaders, after news surfaced Wednesday that several Islamic Jihad leaders had been injured over the course of the ground offensive.
Earlier Friday, a senior IDF officer told Arutz Sheva on condition of anonymity that the IDF's predetermined ground offensive goals were "completed," and that the IDF was focusing now on simply destroying the remainder of terror tunnels throughout Gaza.
Updates to follow.
Israel on Thursday called out a United Nations aid agency for falsely claiming that the Israeli Defense Forces did not permit civilians to evacuate a Gaza school where 15 people were killed in an Israeli attack, reports the Washington Free Beacon.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) laid blame for the civilian deaths on the IDF, claiming it never received approval from the IDF for an evacuation from the facility.
UNRWA released a statement claiming, “UNRWA had been attempting to negotiate with the [IDF] a pause in the fighting during which they would guarantee a safe corridor to relocate staff and any displaced persons who chose to evacuate to a more secure location. Approval for that never came to UNRWA.”
Earlier, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness had similarly accused the IDF of preventing a civilian evacuation.
“Over the course of the day UNRWA tried 2 coodinate [sic] with the Israeli Army a window for civilians 2 leave & it was never granted,” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted, following the strike.
Multiple IDF sources rejected UNRWA’s claims and characterized them as outright falsehoods when reached by the Washington Free Beacon.
“For two days we were trying to move people out of that school in particular and the Beit Hanoun area in general,” said an IDF official who was involved in the interactions between the IDF, UNRWA, and International Red Cross (ICRC) leading up to the incident.
The official continued, “This morning we sought a ceasefire in the area and a humanitarian evacuation of civilians, but Hamas refused—because they wanted to keep civilians in the area to protect their fighters who were firing on the IDF.”
The claim by Gunness and UNRWA that the IDF did not respond to their request to evacuate civilians, the source said, is “a flat-out complete and total lie,” the official told the Free Beacon.
When asked for further details about the incident, UNRWA claimed that its school in Beit Hanoun had been turned into “a battlefield” in recent days.
Many locals, including women and children, had sought shelter from the fighting in the school, believing it to be safe territory, according to UNRWA.
“This is the fourth time in the past four days that an UNRWA school has been struck by explosive projectiles,” UNRWA said.
An official IDF statement released to the Free Beacon said that “the IDF authorized a humanitarian time window for evacuation between 10:00-14:00 IDT earlier today. Hamas prevented the civilians from leaving it and once again used their infrastructure and international symbols as human shields. In the course of the afternoon, several rockets launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip landed in the Beit Hanoun area.”
“From initial inquiries done about the incident, during the intense fighting in the area, militants opened fire at IDF soldiers from the school area,” the statement said.
“In order to eliminate the threat posed to their lives, they responded with fire toward the origins of the shooting,” it added.
“The UNRWA claims that Israel prevented the safe evacuation of the school in Beit Hanoun are unfounded,” the statement concluded.
The IDF said earlier Thursday it was investigating claims that the school was shelled.
UNRWA has made headlines in recent days after it was discovered that Hamas stored rockets in its schools in Gaza.
UNRWA found the rockets in one of its vacant schools a week ago. It found a second batch in a vacant school on Tuesday, but said in a statement that because staff were withdrawn quickly, they were "unable to confirm the precise number."
In both cases UNRWA said it "informed the relevant parties," but did not identify who had been contacted.
It was later reported that rather than destroying the rockets, UNRWA workers called Hamas to come remove them.
While UNRWA confirmed the existence of rockets in one of its schools last week, the organization refused an Israeli request to provide a picture of the weapons. A picture could have helped Israel show that Hamas uses civilian institutions to store weapons and launch attacks.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm over the finding of the rockets and directed the world body to deploy experts to deal with the situation