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Israel's Gaza assault: How the week unfolded

Nov. 22, 2012 12:03 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 3, 2012 1:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- From the first moments after Israel's assassination last week of a top Hamas commander, Ma'an journalists in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank reported on the crisis in real time.

Below is their minute-by-minute coverage of the deadly assault as it unfolded over eight days until ending Wednesday as Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Taken together, the more than 800 individual news updates -- most of them reported by journalists and witnesses on the ground -- make up the most extensive account compiled so far of the events as they happened in the Gaza Strip.

Day 1: Israel assassinates Hamas commander, factions respond

The first eight Palestinians die in violence that begins with Israel's assassination of a top Hamas commander, Ahmad al-Jaabari, sparking retaliatory rocket fire toward Israeli targets.

Day 2: Death toll reaches 19 after UN fails to take action on crisis

Warplanes pound the Gaza Strip, killing at least 11 Palestinians, as foreign journalists struggle to get inside. Thousands attend al-Jaabari's funeral, and Hamas promises to respond to his assassination. The UN Security Council holds an urgent meeting at Egypt's request, but it fails to take any action. The Israeli army dismisses reports of rockets reaching Tel Aviv as "Hamas propaganda" hours before Fajr missiles target a suburb of the commercial capital. A rocket kills three Israelis in a town near Gaza.

Day 3: Missiles land near Tel Aviv, Jerusalem for first time

Israel bombs Gaza City over 40 times before dawn; one attack hits an interior ministry department which houses 70 years worth of records. Egypt's premier pays a short visit to Gaza; Israel and Hamas promise to hold fire but don't. Al-Qassam blows up a Reuters vehicle. Ma'an learns of the extrajudicial killing of an alleged collaborator. Air raid sirens sound in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A Ma'an photographer captures the only known photo of incoming rockets before they crash in Gush Etzion. Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers throughout the West Bank and Israel calls up 75,000 reservists. Death toll hits 30.

Day 4: Rumors of ceasefire talks but Israel, Hamas deny

US president calls everyone but Mahmoud Abbas, hacker group Anonymous takes down Israeli websites, Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk tells Ma'an not to expect a ceasefire anytime soon, Tunisia's foreign minister pays a visit to Gaza, Hamas' Khalid Mashaal holds low-profile talks with Egypt's intelligence chief, Israel's deputy PM makes a case for targeting civilians, Gaza hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties, Egyptian president sees indications of ceasefire but Israel denies. Death toll approaches 50.

Day 5: Family wiped out in airstrike; Israel targets media

On the bloodiest day in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead, more than 30 die in attacks across the enclave. An airstrike levels a three-story home in Jabaliya killing at least 10 members of the same family -- mostly women and children -- in the single deadliest incident since the start of Israel's assault. Meanwhile, Israel seizes radio broadcasts and orders an airstrike on a building housing Ma'an's Gaza City office, injuring six Quds TV staffers. The Israeli army claims the attack targeted "infrastructure of Hamas' operational communications," but there was no military infrastructure of any kind inside the building.

Day 6: Deaths in West Bank, Gaza airstrikes kill civilians

Rescue workers continue to search the rubble of the al-Dalou family home for two people who remain missing. A group of 38 international aid agencies calls for an urgent ceasefire and Amnesty International calls for an international army embargo on Israel and Hamas. Two Palestinians die in the occupied West Bank after being shot by soldiers in separate incidents as hundreds of Palestinians clash with soldiers at demonstrations against the violence in Gaza. Hezbollah says Israel failed to achieve its objectives, and Hamas' top official lays out conditions for a ceasefire. The death toll in Gaza rises to 117.

Day 7: Journalists killed in airstrikes, Israeli death toll rises

Three journalists are killed in targeted strikes, drawing further condemnation from groups like Reporters Without Borders. Six Palestinians are also killed in a single airstrike. Rockets kill a soldier and a defense ministry contractor, raising Israel's death toll to five. Six alleged collaborators are shot dead in Gaza. Officials in Egypt and Israel suggest a ceasefire is in the works but it fails to materialize. The death toll rises to 146.

Day 8: Death toll reaches 170, bomb injures Israelis in Tel Aviv

Armed groups fire a barrage of rockets toward Israel after midnight, and Israeli airstrikes damage more media buildings. A bomb explodes on a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 17 Israelis. World leaders rush to condemn the bus injuries. Twenty-two people are reported to have died in Gaza before Egypt's foreign minister in Cairo announces a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel to take effect at 9 p.m. As the ceasefire appears to hold, Palestinians take to the streets to celebrate victory.
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