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2007–2008 Israel–Gaza conflict
Part of the Second Intifada and War on Terrorism
Gaza conflict map.png
Area of the conflict
Date May 15, 2007 - June 19, 2008
Location Gaza Strip, West Bank, Sderot, Negev
Result Full Israeli military invasion
Belligerents
 Israel (Israel Defense Forces) Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas
Popular Resistance Committees
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
Commanders
Israel Gabi Ashkenazi
Israel Amir Peretz
Hamas flag2.png Khaled Meshaal
Hamas flag2.png Mohammed Deif
Casualties and losses
11 killed[1]
131 wounded
409 killed
436 wounded
Palestinian civilians:
92 killed
Israeli civilians:
9 killed
83 wounded

The 2007–2008 Israel–Gaza conflict refers to a series of battles between Palestinian militants and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that began in mid-May 2007 when Israel responded to militant provocation with airstrikes. Palestinians fired more than 220 Qassam rockets at Israel (Sderot and western Negev) in over a week. The Israeli Air Force fired missiles and bombs into Gaza. The fighting came amid serious Palestinian factional violence and reports of growing level of humanitarian crisis in Gaza.[2] Hamas said they will continue to retaliate against Israeli strikes. Israel also arrested Hamas officials in the West Bank, including two cabinet members.[3][4][5][6]

Background

Since the latest truce, signed on November 26, 2006, militiamen of Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine and Hamas with his ‘Izz ad-Dīn al-Qassām fight force have shelled the Western Negev with crude homemade rockets, called Qassam rockets. Hamas is the ruling faction of the Palestinian National Authority. Since the disengagement plan was executed, thereby removing the ongoing IDF military presence from the area, the militias, especially Hamas, have also smuggled large numbers of machine guns, anti-tank missiles, grenades, explosive devices, and even anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip, making it dangerous for Israeli forces to operate. In late April, heavy Palestinian inter-factional fighting broke out, especially between Hamas and Fatah. Leaders of both parties asked for cessation of the violence, calling instead for uniting against Israel. The week before the conflict broke out, more than thirty rockets a day had been fired at Israel. In response, on May 15, 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz decided together with military leader Gabi Ashkenazi that they would increase efforts against the ongoing rocket fire.

Timeline

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Airstrikes

In the first days of the conflict Israel responded with airstrikes at the very mobile Qassam launching cells, vehicles carrying Hamas militiamen, and buildings belonging to Hamas. Also Civiliany were delibaretely targeted. The airstrikes may have been chosen because Hamas has very little AA weapons to defend themselves, so that the Israeli casualties will remain low. On May 20, Amir Peretz told the IAF to maintain pressure on Hamas. As a result of the ongoing aerial attacks, Hamas members stopped using cellphones, driving in cars, and gathering in groups to avoid further assassinations. Thus far the airstrikes have killed over thirty Palestinians, about two-thirds militants and one-third civilians.[7]

Arrest

Cities colored in red are the ones that have had IDF arrests

On May 24, more than thirty members of the political wing of Hamas were arrested in the West Bank, including ministers and members of parliament. Some Hamas mayors and legislators were also seized by the Israeli military. The detained include the mayors of Nablus, Qalqilyah, and Beita as well as Education Minister Nasser Shaer.[8] Israel has said "as long as the Qassams will rain down on the Western Negev, all of Hamas' members will be responsible," including the political wing of Hamas. Hamas has similarly said as long as the "Zionist aggression" continues, their military wing will continue to fire Qassams on Israeli territory.[9]

On May 26, the Palestinian Minister of State, Wasfi Kabha of Hamas, was arrested by the IDF in a raid on his village close to the West Bank city of Jenin. An aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from Fatah, Saeb Erekat, reacted to the arrests: "We have urged the U.S. and the EU to intervene to release the ministers and lawmakers [...] this step does not help to achieve calm."[10]

Breach of the Gaza-Egypt border

By January 2008, the economic effects of Israel's blockade on Gaza had reached a critical threshold, according to a United Nations study.[11] Finally, on January 17, 2008, Israel sealed the border completely following a rise in rocket attacks. The breach of the Gaza-Egypt border began on January 23, 2008, after gunmen in the Gaza Strip set off an explosion near the Rafah Border Crossing, destroying part of the former Israeli Gaza Strip barrier. The United Nations estimates that as many as half the 1.5 million population of the Gaza Strip crossed the border into Egypt seeking food and supplies. Israeli police went on an increased alert due to fears that militants will acquire more weapons in Egypt.[12] On February 3, former Palestinian Foreign Minister, Mahmoud al-Zahar, announced that Hamas and Egypt would cooperate in controlling the border without Israeli oversight.[13] The border was closed, after 11 days, except for travelers returning home.[14]

Military operations

Conflict continued as three Israeli missiles hit the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza on February 27, 2008, hours after Palestinian militants fired more than 40 Qassam rockets into southern Israel.[15] Israeli aircraft February 28, 2008 bombed a police station near the Gaza City home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.[16] The Israeli military says its air and ground operations against militants firing rockets from northern Gaza have hit at least 23 armed Palestinians, while Palestinian sources have reported higher death tolls and say many civilians have also been killed.[17]

Israel began its air and ground operations on February 29.[18] The IDF's offensive in Gaza has killed more than 100 Palestinians in less than a week.[19] In contrast Palestinian fired 150 rockets at Israel during a week which killed three Israelis, including two soldiers and a civilian.[18] The United States called for an end to clashes between Israel and the Palestinians.[20] The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has accused Israel of "international terrorism", saying its assault on Gaza constitutes "more than a holocaust".[21] Later on March 3 he has suspended all contact with Israel over its assault on Gaza as the Israeli government sent warplanes to hit more targets early on Monday and vowed to continue its offensive.[22] The European Union on Sunday condemned what it called "disproportionate use of force" by the Israeli military in Gaza after 54 Palestinians were killed in the highest single day toll since fighting erupted in 2000.[23] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also issued a condemnation of what he termed Israel's "excessive and disproportionate" response and called on Israel "to cease such attacks," while denouncing the ongoing rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon.[24] In the Muslim world, demonstrators took to the streets to protest the IDF attacks. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Muslims to rise up and their leaders to hit Israel "in the face with their nations' anger,".[19] In Lebanon, hundreds of Hezbollah supporters gathered at the Fatima Gate at the border between Lebanon and Israel, shouting "Death to Israel" and waving Lebanese and Palestinian flags. In Egypt, thousands of students held protests at universities across the country calling on Arab leaders to stop Israeli aggression and support the Palestinians. Some protesters burned Israeli and American flags.[20] About 10,000 protesters, mainly from Jordan's mainstream Muslim Brotherhood and smaller opposition groups, took to the streets in one of the country's most vocal and largest anti-Israeli demonstrations in recent years.[19] Saudi Arabia meanwhile compared the IDF offensive to Nazi war crimes and called on the international community to stop what it called the "mass killings" of Palestinians. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the IDF attacks can have no humanitarian justification and added that Israel was rejecting a diplomatic solution to the dispute.[20] Most Israeli tanks and troops pulled out of northern Gaza March 3, 2008, and an Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed that the Israeli military was ending offensive operations there after five days.[25]

Six month cease-fire

Conflict after truce

On December 24, 2008, following the expiration of a six month truce between Israel and Hamas on December 19, 2008, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into Israel.[26][27][28][29 ] The barrage of more than 60 mortar shells and Kassam and Katyusha rockets from Gaza, reaching as far north as Ashkelon and as far south as Kerem Shalom, further into Israeli territory than ever before, caused one death and much panic due to the rockets' extensive ranges.[30][31][32][33] Immediately following the attacks, Israel warned Hamas of intense retaliation if the attacks continued,[34] and on December 27, with no end to the attacks, Israel launched its counteroffensive on 11:30 AM (IST),[35] with airstrikes in Gaza, killing at least 195 and wounded around 350.[36] About 140 of the dead were Hamas militants, according to the Israeli army.[37] Israeli planes targeted Hamas security and training compounds, as well as weapon storage buildings,[32][38] and dropped more than 100 tons of bombs.[37] Hamas responded to the Israeli strike by launching 30 rockets, and threatening a renewal of suicide bombing attacks against Israel in a "Third Intifada". Egypt condemned the Israeli attacks and opened up the Rafah Border Crossing to allow the wounded into Egyptian hospitals.[39] Egypt also deployed 500 anti-riot police along the border.[36] Syria also condemned the acts, calling them a "heinous crime and convicted terrorist act."[40] On the other hand, the United States condemned Hamas, saying that "Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop," but also urging "Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza." On January 3, 2009, IDF leadership began dropping leaflets into the Gaza Strip via airplane advising residents to leave "for their own safety" while continuing to amass tanks and ground forces near the border. The Israeli offensive, known as Operation Cast Lead, continued into 2009.

External links

  • Israel Politik A blog by Israel’s New York Consulate set up to present all aspects of the situation in Sderot to international media[4]

International response

  • United Nations United Nations - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states that he believes that the Qassam rocket attacks by factions in Gaza are "completely unacceptable." He has also stated that he believes that the Palestinian Authority should "take the necessary steps to restore law and order, and for all factions to abide by the ceasefire." Ki-moon also stated he is "deeply concerned by the mounting number of civilian casualties from Israeli military operations in Gaza." The Secretary General also called on Israel "to abide by international law and to ensure that its actions do not target civilians or put them under risk."[41 ] Ki-moon had appointed Michael Williams to the Middle East for talks with both sides.[42] Williams soon said "I'm troubled when I see Israeli soldiers arresting Palestinian legislators. I'm troubled that the education minister was arrested," after Israel arrested several Hamas officials in the West Bank.[5]Williams met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr in Gaza City. After continuing Israeli attacks and arrests, and the continuing rocket fire from Gaza, Williams said that "I’m very troubled by the level of violence here [...] I think the UN, the international community in general, have been very concerned about the level of intra-Palestinian violence, but also by the Israeli attacks which I know have caused civilian deaths, considerable numbers."[6]The International condemnation of Israeli incursion were further augmented with a scathing report prepared by eight British-based rights organizations, highlighting humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip that has reached its worst point since Israel captured the territory in 1967. The report indicates more than 1.1 million people, about 80 percent of Gaza's residents, were dependent on food aid, and hospitals faced power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and the water and sewage systems were close to collapse.[7]
  • United States United States - After the death of a woman from a rocket attack in Sderot, a representative for the U.S. Government reaffirmed the position that Israel has the right to self-defense. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also stated that his country is aware of the difficulty of targeting terrorists without civilian casualties. He added that Israel must "take all possible actions in order to avoid any civilian casualties, to avoid any undue damage to the Palestinian infrastructure and always to consider the effects of their actions on the political process, the Israeli-Palestinian track and moving that forward."[41 ]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-%20Obstacle%20to%20Peace/Palestinian%20terror%20since%202000/Victims%20of%20Palestinian%20Violence%20and%20Terrorism%20sinc
  2. ^ BBC NEWS | Middle East | Gaza conditions 'at 40-year low'
  3. ^ UN 'troubled' by Hamas legislators' arrests - Israel News, Ynetnews
  4. ^ "Israel launches raids into Gaza". BBC News. 2007-05-17. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6664917.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-20.  
  5. ^ Sofer, Ronny (2007-05-15). "IDF may respond harshly". ynetnews.com. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3400428,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-20.  
  6. ^ "Israel pushes Gaza offensive amid rocket attacks"
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Middle East Analysis: Israel Arrests Hamas Minister, Hits Targets in Gaza
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ Eldar, Akiva (2008-01-22). "UN: Despite Israel's promises, West Bank barriers have increased". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/947133.html.  
  12. ^ "Gazans make new border wall hole: Palestinians have bulldozed down part of the Gaza-Egypt border wall again, hours after Egyptian troops blocked holes recently made by militants". BBC News. 2008-01-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7208252.stm.  
  13. ^ al-Mughrabi, Nidal (2008-02-03). "Hamas to control passage over breached Egypt border". Reuters / The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2008/02/03/hamas_to_control_passage_over_breached_egypt_border/.  
  14. ^ Kershner, Isabel (2008-02-04). "Egyptian Troops Seal Gaza Border". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/04/world/middleeast/04mideast.html?em&ex=1202187600&en=e3ebdcac739a1d7a&ei=5087%0A.  
  15. ^ Airstrike hits Gaza ministry building CNN, Feb. 27, 2008
  16. ^ Children killed as Gaza violence flares CNN, Feb. 28, 2008
  17. ^ Palestinians: Israeli attacks killing dozens CNN, Mar. 1, 2008
  18. ^ a b UN Demands End to Gaza Strip Violence as 72 Palestinians Killed
  19. ^ a b c Iran leader calls on Muslims to hit Israel 'in face' over Gaza op
  20. ^ a b c White House calls for end to Gaza violence: spokesman
  21. ^ Abbas: Gaza attacks 'a holocaust'
  22. ^ Abbas suspends ties with Israel
  23. ^ EU condemns "disproportionate" use of force by Israel
  24. ^ Security Council, Secretary-General alarmed by deadly violence in Middle East, UN News Centre, 2 March 2008, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25816&Cr=Palestin, retrieved 2008-03-03  
  25. ^ Israel withdraws from Gaza as anti-rocket offensive ends
  26. ^ TIMELINE - Israeli-Hamas violence since truce ended
  27. ^ Violence surges after end to Gaza truce
  28. ^ Hamas rockets pound Israel as truce hopes fade
  29. ^ Hamas declares end to Gaza truce
  30. ^ Israel warns Hamas of rockets' ranges
  31. ^ "IDF gets green light to strike Hamas after rocket barrage". JPost. December 24, 2008. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1229868837971.  
  32. ^ a b El-Khodary, Taghreed; Kershner, Isabel (2008-12-27). "Israeli attack kills scores across Gaza". International Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/27/africa/28mideast.php. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  33. ^ Black, Ian (2008-12-27). "Israel's hammer blow in Gaza". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/27/gaza-attacks-analysis-ian-black. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  34. ^ Israel showers Hamas with barrage of warnings
  35. ^ Harel, Amos (2008-12-27). "ANALYSIS / IAF strike on Gaza is Israel's version of 'shock and awe'". Ha'aretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050405.html. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  36. ^ a b "Egypt slams Israeli 'murder' in Gaza, summons ambassador". AFP. 2008-12-27. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gISje3ZtebFEs6q9IV02RT6CgfsA. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  37. ^ a b "Israel launches major Gaza air operation". JTA. 2008-12-27. http://jta.org/news/article/2008/12/27/1001834/israel-launches-major-gaza-air-operation. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  38. ^ Aboualouf, Rushdi (2008-12-27). "Eyewitness: Chaos in Gaza". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7801292.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  39. ^ Sood, Manish (2008-12-27). "Arab and Islamic leaders condemn deadly raids on Gaza". Topnews. http://topnews.us/content/21577-arab-and-islamic-leaders-condemn-deadly-raids-gaza. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  40. ^ "Syria condemns Israeli strikes on Gaza as "heinous crime"". Xinhua. 2008-12-27. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/27/content_10568841.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-27.  
  41. ^ a b "UN chief concerned about Palestinian, Israeli attacks"
  42. ^ "Qassam lands near Sderot; no injuries"

External links


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