Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, refers to an Israeli military offensive into Gaza which began on 27 December 2008 (11:30 a.m. local time; 9:30 a.m. UTC)[28] when the Israel Defense Forces launched a military campaign codenamed Operation Cast Lead (Hebrew: מבצע עופרת יצוקה‎), targeting the members and infrastructure of Hamas.[29][30][31] The conflict has been called the Gaza Massacre (Arabic: مجزرة غزة‎) in the Arab World.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41]

A six-month truce between Hamas and Israel ended on 19 December 2008,[42][43][44][45] after Hamas blamed Israel for not lifting the Gaza Strip blockade and for continuing raids in Gaza[46], and Israel blamed Hamas for the rocket and mortar attacks directed at its southern cities.[47] Israel's stated objectives in this conflict are to defend itself from Palestinian rocket fire[48] and prevent the rearming of Hamas. Hamas demands the cessation of Israeli attacks and an end to the Israeli blockade.[49]

As of 10 January 2009, 13 Israelis and 854 Palestinians are estimated to have perished in the conflict. Of the latter, some 225 died on the first day of the Israeli attack.[50] All but three of the Israeli casualties have been soldiers, while 333 of the Gaza casualties have been women and children.[51][52] 257 children in Gaza have been killed, making up a third of Palestinian casualties.[53]

On the first day of the Israeli operation, Israeli Air Force fighter-bomber aircraft bombed roughly 100 targets in four minutes, including Hamas bases, training camps, headquarters and offices[54][55] in all of Gaza's main towns, including Gaza City, Beit Hanoun, Khan Younis, and Rafah.[56][57][58][59][60][61] Civilian infrastructure, including mosques, houses and schools, have also been attacked; Israel claims that many of these buildings hid weapons and personnel and that it is not targeting civilians.[62][63][64][65][66][46][67] The Israeli Navy has shelled targets and instituted a naval blockade of Gaza, resulting in one naval incident with a civilian boat.[68][69][70]

Hamas has intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against Israel throughout the conflict, hitting such cities as Beersheba and Ashdod. The strike range of these rockets has increased from 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) to 40 kilometres (25 mi) since early 2008. These attacks have resulted in civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure.[71][72][73][74][75]

On 3 January 2009, the Israeli Defence Forces ground invasion began, with mechanised infantry, armor, and artillery units, supported by armed helicopters, entering Gaza.[76][77] Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak stated that this will be a "war to the bitter end,"[78] while Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwant declared Hamas would "fight until the last breath."[79]

International reactions to the conflict have included calls for an immediate ceasefire, and concern about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the hindrances in delivering aid.[80][81][82][83] In response, Israel has coordinated daily three-hour "humanitarian ceasefires", which Hamas has respected.[84] The UN and the Red Cross welcomed the move, but have criticized it as being inadequate and accused Israel of "neglecting its obligations".[85][86][87]
During the conflict, international unhappiness has grown over Israel's refusal to allow any journalists into Gaza, despite a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court that said this was illegal.[88] On December 10, 20,000-50,000 people marched in London to demand an end to the Israeli operation.[89]

On 8 January, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops, with 14 of 15 member states supporting the resolution and one abstaining (the United States).[90] Both Hamas and Israel have rejected the call for a ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the resolution "unworkable" due to continued rocket fire, and Hamas spokesperson Ayman Taha accused the UN of having "not taken into account the interests of our people".[91]

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