Safe Mode: On
2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict unbiased

One of the best sites that has unbiased info on the conflict.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/2008%E2%80%932009_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict

The Gaza War was a three-week conflict between Israel

Israel officially the State of Israel , is a developed state in Western Asia located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its...

and the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip lies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Egypt on the south-west and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometers wide, with a total area of . The area is recognized internationally as part of the Palestinian territories...

that took place during the winter of 2008–2009. It began on December 27, 2008, when Israeli forces launched a military attack, codenamed Operation Cast Lead , on the Gaza Strip. According to the Sunday Times
The Sunday Times (South Africa)
The Sunday Times is a popular South African Sunday newspaper. It has an audited circulation of 504 000 and a weekly readership of 3,2 million, making it the largest weekly newspaper in South Africa. Recently it was involved in exposing a corruption scandal involving the South African government's...

of South Africa, the conflict has been called the Gaza Massacre in the Arab world and the War in the South in Israeli media.

On 27 December Israel began a bombardment of the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of stopping the rocket attacks from and arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip, although other motives have also been forwarded. Israeli forces attacked military targets, police stations and government buildings. There was also significant damage to civilian buildings. Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization which includes a paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, hitting civilian targets throughout the conflict.

An Israeli ground invasion began on January 3, 2009. The war ended on January 18, when Israel first declared a unilateral ceasefire, followed by Hamas' announcing a one-week ceasefire twelve hours later. Israel completed its withdrawal on January 21.

Between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. More than 400,000 Gazans were left without running water, while 4,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless; 80 government buildings were hit. A report
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council during the Gaza War to investigate possible Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian people...

published in September 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council
United Nations Human Rights Council
The United Nations Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations System. The UNHRC is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights , and is a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly...

(UNHRC) stated that both Israeli and Palestinian forces committed war crimes during the war and it recommended bringing those responsible to justice."
Background

See also: Timeline of the Gaza War, List of rocket and mortar attacks in Israel in 2008 and in 2009 following the Gaza War


The Gaza Strip is a coastal strip of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea bordering Egypt and Israel. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth. According to the CIA Factbook as of July 2008, it holds a population of 1,500,202 on an area of
Geography of the Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip is located in the Middle East and consists of around 360sq km. It has an 11km border with Egypt, near the city of Rafah, and a 51km border with Israel...

360 square kilometers (139 sq mi). The UN, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and many other international bodies and NGOs
Non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization is a term that has become widely accepted as referring to a legally constituted, non-governmental organization created by natural or legal persons with no participation or representation of any government...

consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza's airspace, territorial waters and does not allow the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea. Israel maintains that its occupation of Gaza, as defined by Article 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Fourth Geneva Convention relates to the protection of civilians during times of war "in the hands" of an enemy and under any military occupation by a foreign power. This should not be confused with the better known Third Geneva Convention, which deals with the treatment of prisoners of war...

, ended following the completion of its unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan , also known as the "Disengagement plan", "Gaza expulsion plan", and "Hitnatkut") was a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, adopted by the government on June 6, 2004 and enacted in August 2005, to evict...

in 2005, asserting that Israel has no functions of government in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization which includes a paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

assumed administrative control of Gaza following the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority...

and its 2007 military victory
Battle of Gaza (2007)
The Battle of Gaza was a military conflict between Hamas and Fatah that took place between June 7 and June 15, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. It resulted in Hamas remaining in control of the Gaza Strip after forcing out Fatah...

after the attempted ouster of Hamas by Fatah
Fatah
Not to be confused with Fatah Revolutionary Council also known as Abu Nidal OrganizationFataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the center-left of the spectrum...

, the secular Palestinian nationalist party. Subsequently, Egypt closed the Rafah Border Crossing
Rafah Border Crossing
The Rafah Border Crossing is an international border crossing between Egyptian and Palestinian-controlled Rafah. It was built by the Israeli and Egyptian governments after the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and was managed by the Israel...

when EU monitors
European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah
The European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah is, after the European Union Police Mission for the Gaza Strip , the EU's second Civilian Crisis Management Mission in the Gaza Strip. It is situated at the Rafah Border Crossing on the Palestinian-Egyptian border...

left in July 2007. Israel closed off all remaining access to Gaza around the same time. The blockade allowed Israel to control the flow of goods going into Gaza, including power and water. Israel halted all exports and only allowed shipments into Gaza to avert a humanitarian crisis. Palestinian groups were partially able to bypass the blockade through tunnels, some of which were used for weapons smuggling.

Between 2005 and 2007, Palestinian groups in Gaza fired about 2,700 locally-made Qassam rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians and injuring 75 others. During the same period, Israel fired more than 14,600 155mm artillery shells into the Gaza Strip, killing 59 Palestinians and injuring 270. The Palestinian fatalities were, according to Human Rights Watch, "primarily if not exclusively civilians."

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , is a United Nations body formed in December 1991 by General Assembly Resolution 46/182...

, between 2005 and 2008 116 Israelis, including civilians and Israeli security forces, which includes Israeli police, Israeli Border Police and members of the armed services, were killed in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories are composed of two discontiguous regions, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, whose final status has yet to be determined. The territories, which were originally contained within the British Mandate of Palestine, were captured and occupied by Jordan and by Egypt in the...

in "direct conflict related incidents" and 1,509 were injured. During this time, 1,735 Palestinians, including civilians and militants from various groups, were killed and 8,308 wounded in "direct conflict related incidents".
2008 lull

On June 19, 2008, an Egyptian-brokered “lull” or pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas
2008 Israel–Hamas ceasefire
The 2008 Israel–Hamas ceasefire was a twenty six week Egyptian-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel which started on June 19, 2008 and lasted until December 19, 2008. It is part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more specifically of the Gaza–Israel conflict, and began on the midst of the...

went into effect. The term “lull” is a translation of the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a Central Semitic language, thus related to and classified alongside other Semitic languages such as Hebrew and the Neo-Aramaic languages. In terms of speakers, the Arabic macrolanguage is the largest member of the Semitic language family. It is spoken by more than 280 million people as...

term Tahdia
Tahdia
Tahdiya is Arabic for "calming" or "quieting".The term has been applied to a temporary lull between the Israeli forces and the Palestinian Hamas, beginning early in 2004 following the non successful discussions to sign a Hudna, or temporary armistice...

. According to The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded in 1851 and published in New York City. The largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States, "The Gray Lady"—named for its staid appearance and style—is regarded as a national newspaper of record...

, neither side fully respected the terms of the cease-fire.

The agreement required Hamas to end rocket and mortar attacks on Israel
Israel
Israel officially the State of Israel , is a developed state in Western Asia located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its...

and to enforce the lull throughout Gaza. In addition, Israel insisted that the agreement includes an end to Hamas's military buildup in Gaza and movement toward the release of Corporal Shalit. In exchange, Hamas expected the blockade to end, commerce in Gaza to resume, and truck shipments to be restored to 2005 levels, which was between 500 and 600 trucks per day. Israel tied easing of the blockade to a reduction in rocket fire and gradually re-opened supply lines and permitted around 90 daily truck shipments to enter Gaza, up from around 70 per day. The above increase in supply trucks never began to approach what Hamas thought it was going to get. Hamas criticized Israel for its continued blockade while Israel accused Hamas of continued weapons smuggling via tunnels to Egypt and pointed to continued rocket attacks.

The UN recorded seven IDF violations of the ceasefire between June 20 and June 26, and three violations by Palestinian groups not affiliated with Hamas between June 23 and 26. On December 18, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of Palestinian socio-political organisation Hamas...

, the military wing of Hamas, reported 185 Israeli violations during the lull period. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Not to be confused with the California-based "Terrorism Information Center".The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is an Israeli-based non-governmental organization with close ties to the Israel Defense Forces....

reported a total of 223 rockets and 139 mortar shells fired from Gaza during the lull, including 20 rockets and 18 mortar shells before November 4. It noted that "Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire" until November 4, when the ceasefire was "seriously eroded." Rocket fire decreased by 98 percent in the four and a half months between June 18 and November 4 when compared to the four and a half months preceding the ceasefire.

Hamas denied responsibility for the rocket fire during the 'lull'. However, Human Rights Watch reported that while Hamas security forces demonstrated an ability to curb rocket fire, some people detained for firing rockets were summarily released without explanation.
Conflict escalates

On November 4, 2008, Israeli forces raided a Hamas-dug tunnel near the Israel-Gaza border. The IDF claimed the tunnel was intended for the capture of Israeli soldiers while Hamas asserted that the tunnel served defensive purposes. The raid and the associated air strike killed six Hamas fighters. Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel in what was described by a Hamas spokesman as a "response to Israel's massive breach of the truce". According to a November 17 article in The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Colonel Arthur B. Sleigh in June 1855 as the Daily Telegraph and Courier...

, "since violence flared on November 5, Israeli forces and militants, some of them from Hamas, have engaged in almost daily tit-for-tat exchanges." Rocket attacks targeted at Israeli cities near Gaza sharply increased during November 2008, approaching pre-truce levels.

On December 13, Israel announced that it was in favor of extending the cease-fire, provided Hamas adhered to the conditions. On December 14, a Hamas delegation in Cairo proposed that the parties return to the original ceasefire arrangement: Hamas would undertake to stop all rocket attacks against Israel if Israel would agree to open up the border crossings, not to reduce commercial traffic, and not to launch attacks into Gaza. At an Israeli cabinet meeting on December 21, Yuval Diskin
Yuval Diskin
Yuval Diskin is the 12th and current Director of Shabak.In the Israel Defense Forces, Diskin served as deputy company commander of Sayeret Shaked . In 1978, he was recruited to the Shabak and served as area coordinator for the Nablus district...

, head of Israel's internal security agency, said he thought Hamas was "interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms...it wants us to lift the siege of Gaza, stop attacks, and extend the truce to include the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank is a landlocked territory and is the eastern part of the Palestinian territories; on the west bank of the River Jordan in the Middle East. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel, which maintains the security of this area. To the east,...

."

On December 20, Hamas officially announced that it would not extend the cease-fire which had expired on December 19. It cited the Israeli border blockade as the primary reason and resumed shelling of the western Negev
Negev
The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The indigenous Bedouin inhabitants of the region refer to the desert as al-Naqab . The origin of the word Negev is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

. Israel said that it had begun to ease the blockade, but reimposed it when Hamas failed to end all rocket fire and weapons smuggling.

On December 23, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar is a co-founder of Hamas and a member of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. Since the formation of the Hamas/"Change and Reform" government in the Palestinian National Authority in March 2006, al-Zahar has served as foreign minister in the government of prime minister Ismail...

reiterated that Hamas was willing to renew the cease-fire under the original terms. That same day the IDF killed three Palestinian militants, claiming that they had been planting explosives on the Israel-Gaza border. On December 24, more than 60 Palestinian mortar shells and Katyusha
Katyusha
Katyusha multiple rocket launchers are a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Compared to other artillery, these multiple rocket launchers deliver a devastating amount of explosives to an area target quickly, but with lower accuracy and requiring a...

and Qassam rocket
Qassam rocket
The Qassam rocket is a simple steel artillery rocket filled with explosives, developed and deployed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas...

s hit the Negev. Hamas code-named the attacks "Operation Oil Stain" and claims it fired 87 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel that day.

On December 25, after Israel had "wrapped up preparations for a broad offensive," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli political figure, and former Prime Minister of Israel having served from 2006 to 2009. Olmert was the mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. In 2003 he was elected to the Knesset and became a minister and Acting Prime Minister in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...

delivered a final warning in an interview with the Arabic language satellite channel al-Arabiya. He said "I am telling them now, it may be the last minute, I'm telling them stop it. We are stronger."

On Friday, December 26, Israel reopened five border crossings between Israel and Gaza to supply fuel for Gaza's main power plant and to provide about 100 truck loads of humanitarian aid, including grain and other goods. That same day, militants fired approximately a dozen rockets and mortar shells from Gaza at Israel; one accidentally struck a northern Gaza house, killing two Palestinian sisters and wounding a third. According to Israeli officials, its subsequent December 27 offensive took Hamas by surprise, thereby increasing militant casualties.

Israeli offensive

Israel began planning for a military operation as early as six months before the conflict by collecting intelligence on potential targets. The IDF also engaged in a disinformation campaign to give Hamas a false sense of security and to take them by surprise. Defense minister Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician, former Prime Minister, and current Minister of Defense, deputy prime minister and leader of Israel's Labor Party....

stated that the offensive was the result of Israel’s “patience running out” over the rocket attacks.

Analysts and some politicians argue that the real motivation behind the Gaza War was ambitious Israeli politicians and Israeli elections, which were due in February 2009. A comparison has been made to Israel's "Grapes of Wrath" campaign into Lebanon in 1996, which also occurred during election time. The UNHRC report compiled under Richard Goldstone rejected Israel's claim that the Gaza War had been waged as a response to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
Air strikes


At 11:30am on December 27, 2008, Israel launched the campaign titled Operation Cast Lead. It began with an opening wave of airstrike
Airstrike
An air strike is a military strike by air forces or other military aviation assets against either a suspected or a confirmed enemy ground position. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as bombers, ground attack aircraft, strike fighters, and Attack helicopters. Weapons used in an...

s in which 88 aircraft simultaneously struck 100 preplanned targets within a span of 220 seconds. The Israel Air Force claimed a 95% success rate with zero misses in the opening attack. Thirty minutes later, a second wave of 60 jets and helicopters struck at an additional 60 targets. The air strikes hit Hamas headquarters, government offices and 24 police stations. The chief of police, Tawfiq Jabber, was killed along with approximately 140 other policemen. Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni told reporters that Israel would strike all targets associated with what she called the "illegitimate, terrorist government of Hamas".

At least 230 Palestinians were killed and more than 700 injured on the first day of air strikes. Civilians, including children, were among the casualties. Human rights groups critically note that the attacks began around the time children were leaving school. The Israeli attack was the deadliest one-day death toll in 60 years of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, which has led some Palestinians to call it the Massacre of Black Saturday.

In the weeks following the initial air raids, F-15is, F-16is, and AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache
The AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with reverse-tricycle landing gear, and tandem cockpit for a crew of two. The Apache was developed as Model 77 by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra...

s continued to target Hamas facilities while also inflicting massive damage to Palestinian infrastructure. Israel used the 2000-pound Mark 84
Mark 84 bomb
The Mark 84 is an American general-purpose bomb, the largest of the Mark 80 series of weapons. Entering service during the Vietnam War, it was nicknamed "Hammer" for its considerable power.-Development & deployment:...

Joint Direct Attack Munition
Joint Direct Attack Munition
The Joint Direct Attack Munition is a "joint" United States Air Force and United States Navy program that utilizes a guidance kit that converts existing unguided gravity bombs, or "dumb bombs", into all-weather "smart" munitions...

to attack buildings and tunnels along the Gaza-Sinai border. The 500-pound variant was used against underground bunkers. Israel also used the new PB500A1 laser-guided hard-target penetration bomb which is based on the less sophisticated Mark 83
Mark 83 bomb
The Mark 83 is part of the Mark 80 series of low-drag general-purpose bombs in United States service.-Development & deployment:The nominal weight of the bomb is 1,000 lb , although its actual weight varies between 985 lb and 1,030 lb , depending on fuze options, parachute retardation, and fin...

. Unconfirmed reports claim the IAF also used the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb
GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb
The GBU-39 Small-Diameter Bomb is a 250 pound guided bomb that is intended to provide aircraft with the ability to carry a higher number of bombs. Most US Air Force aircraft will be able to carry a pack of four SDBs in place of a single 2,000 lb bomb.-Development:Two variants are being developed...

for the first time. Israeli aircraft also utilized synthetic aperture radar targeting pods
Targeting pods
Targeting pods are target designation tools used by military aircraft, usually fighter aircraft and bombers, for identifying targets and guiding precision guided munitions such as laser-guided bombs to those targets...

and high-resolution imaging pods.

According to the IAF, 80 percent of the bombs used by the IAF were precision weapons, and 99 percent of the air strikes hit their targets. A study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan Washington, D.C., foreign policy think tank. The center was founded in 1964 by Admiral Arleigh Burke and Ambassador David Manker Abshire, originally as part of Georgetown University...

points out that whenever possible, IAF executed strikes using the smallest precision-guided weapons, and coordinated both air strikes and the use of artillery weapons using GPS, in a systematic effort to limit collateral damage. In a 2009 interview, Major General Ido Nehushtan said that the only use of non-precision-guided munition
Precision-guided munition
Precision-guided munitions are guided weapons intended to precisely hit a specific target, and to minimize damage to things other than the target...

s from the Israeli Air Force was in open areas. He went on to say: "We had to find ways to do things as precisely and proportionately as possible, while focusing on how to differentiate between terrorists and uninvolved civilians.

The IDF also targeted homes of Hamas commanders, noting: "Destruction of hundreds of Hamas leaders' homes [is] one of the keys to the offensive's success. The homes serve as weapons warehouses and headquarters, and shelling them has seriously hindered Hamas capabilities." Several high-ranking Hamas commanders were killed, including Nizar Rayan
Nizar Rayan
Nizar Rayan was a top Hamas leader who served as a liaison between the Palestinian organization's political leadership and its military wing. Also a professor of Islamic law, he came to be considered a top clerical authority within Hamas after the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004...

, Abu Zakaria al-Jamal
Abu Zakaria al-Jamal
Abu Zakaria al-Jamal was a senior Hamas commander.Abu was the second senior Hamas member to be killed in the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict after Nizar Rayan. He was killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza on January 3, 2009...

, and Jamal Mamduch. The Hamas leaders often died along with their families in their homes. According to a Hamas spokesperson and Rayyan's son, the IDF warned Rayan, by contacting his cell phone, that an attack on his house was imminent.

Among IDF's measures to reduce civilian casualties were the extensive use of leaflets and phone messages to warn Palestinians, including families in high-risk areas and families of Hamas personnel, to leave the area or to avoid potential targets. Israel used F-4 Phantoms to deliver more than 2 million leaflets urging the population to evacuate. In a practice codenamed roof knocking
Roof knocking
Roof knocking refers to a code name used by the Israel Defense Forces for its practice of warning inhabitants of a building, suspected by the IDF to contain weapons, before it is bombed. The goal of this practice is to give the inhabitants time to flee the attack...

, the IDF issued warning calls prior to air strikes on civilian buildings. Typically, Israeli intelligence officers and Shin Bet security servicemen contacted residents of a building in which they suspected storage of military assets and told them that they had 10–15 minutes to flee the attack. At several instances, the IDF has also used a sound bomb to warn civilians before striking homes. In some cases, IDF commanders called off airstrikes, when residents of suspected houses have been able to gather on its roof.
IAF developed small bomb that is designed not to explode as it was aimed at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the building. Israel's military used low-explosive missiles to warn civilians of imminent attack and to verify that buildings were evacuated prior to attack.
Some of the attacks took place sooner than the warning suggested and many calls were not followed up with attacks. The Israeli Government report claims that while the warning systems implemented by the IDF did not eliminate all harm to civilians, they were apparently effective, due to the fact that in many incidents aerial video surveillance by IDF forces confirmed the departure of numerous residents from targeted areas as a direct result of the warnings prior to the attacks. While Israel is not a party to the Protocol I, Israel however accepts its provisions as reflective of customary international law.

Through January 3, 2009, Israel Air Force had flown 555 fighter sorties and 125 helicopter missions. Hundreds of UAV flight hours were logged. They claimed to have destroyed more than 500 targets including one-third of the underground passages built by Hamas and other militant groups to smuggle and store rockets, weaponry, and other supplies. Throughout the initial stages of the air operation, the IDF transmitted messages to civilians in Gaza to stay away from Kassam launch sites and Hamas buildings and infrastructure.

By January 3, 2009, the Palestinian death toll stood at 400, with 25 percent estimated to be civilian casualties. The air offensive continued throughout the ground invasion that followed, and as of January 15, Israeli forces had carried out 2,360 air strikes. No safe haven or bomb shelters existed, making this one of the rare conflicts where civilians had no place to flee.
Naval Operations

The Israeli navy attacked Hamas coastal targets and boats. The Navy coordinated with other Israeli forces and used powerful shipboard sensors to acquire targets. Records of the attacks published by the navy indicate that for the first time vessels were equipped with Spike ER
Spike (missile)
Spike is a fourth generation anti-tank guided missile developed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.-Overview:Spike is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The missile is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker...

electro-optically guided antiarmor missiles. Videos of an attack showed precision hits from a Typhoon
Typhoon Weapon System
The Typhoon is a type of close in weapon system manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel, and it shares similar design principles and common technologies with Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station , a land-based system manufactured by the same developer...

stabilizing gun despite a rolling sea. Versions of the Spike were also used by ground units and possibly by helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle is an aircraft that flies without a human crew. Their largest uses are in military applications. To distinguish UAVs from missiles, a UAV is defined as a reusable, uncrewed vehicle capable of controlled, sustained, level flight and powered by a jet or reciprocating...

s.
Ground invasion

IDF infantry and armor units amassed near the Gaza border on December 28, engaging in an active blockade
Blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off the communications of a particular area by force. It is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. Also, a blockade historically took place at sea, with the blockading power seeking...

of the strip. On December 27, Hamas fired rockets into Southern Israel, killing one civilian. On December 29, Hamas rocket fire killed two Israeli civilians. A Hamas mortar attack on Nahal Oz army base on December 29 killed one Israeli soldier.


On January 3, the IDF shelled the Ibrahim al-Maqadna
2009 Ibrahim al-Maqadna Mosque strike
The 2009 Ibrahim al-Maqadna Mosque strike occurred on January 3 2009 as part of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza War when an Israeli missile hit the Ibrahim al-Maqadna mosque in the Gaza strip during evening prayers. Witnesses said over 200 Palestinians were praying inside at the time. At least thirteen...

mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. Muslims often refer to the mosque by its Arabic name, masjid, —...

in Beit Lahiya. Thirteen people were killed and 30 wounded. Israel has accused Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization which includes a paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

of using this
and other mosques, to hide weapons and ammunition, and as cover for firing on the IDF.

On the eve of the ground incursion by Israeli forces, Khaled Mashal assured that should IDF launch ground offensive, black destiny and abduction awaits Israeli soldiers. Hamas spokesman added that with the God's help Gaza will become a graveyard to Israeli troops.

On the evening of January 3, Israel launched a ground operation by sending troops into Gaza for the first time since the start of the conflict. According to the IDF, the intention of the ground invasion, termed the 'second stage' of Operation Cast Lead, was to secure areas within the Gaza strip from which militants continued to launch rockets even after the Israeli air strikes.

Israel utilized the Paratroopers, Golani
Golani Brigade
The Golani Brigade is an Israeli infantry brigade which was formed on February 22, 1948 when the Levanoni Brigade in the Galilee split into the 1st Golani Brigade and the 2nd Carmeli Brigade...

, and Givati
Givati Brigade
The Givati Brigade functions as the amphibious force and is one of the infantry brigades in the Israel Defense Forces. Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets...

brigades simultaneously entering the Gaza Strip from several unexpected directions to avoid reported booby trap
Booby trap
A booby trap is a trap designed to kill or severely injure a human. As the word trap implies, they often have some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. However, in other cases the device is placed on busy roads or is triggered when the victim performs some type of everyday action...

s while also outflanking opposing forces. The 401st armored brigade used the Merkava Mk4 tank to quickly control and block access from Rafah and Khan Yunis to Gaza City which cut supply lines to Hamas from the south.

Each brigade combat team was assigned a UAV squadron for close support. This was the first Israeli operation in which UAVs, helicopters, and fighter jets were allocated to ground forces directly without IAF central command authorizing sorties. Air-support controller teams operated alongside brigade commanders at the front emphasizing the brigade commander's utilization of direct air assets. A high degree of situational awareness was achieved by maintaining at least a dozen UAVs in flight over Gaza at all times. Aerial surveillance was provided by Heron
IAI Heron
The IAI Heron is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle developed by the Malat division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 35,000 feet...

and Hermes 450
Elbit Hermes 450
The Elbit Systems Hermes 450 is a medium size multi-payload unmanned aerial vehicle designed for tactical long endurance missions. It has an endurance of over 20 hours, with a primary mission of reconnaissance, surveillance and communications relay....

UAVs and Apache attack helicopters. Along with coordination between the Air Force and ground troops, Israel ground forces were able to utilize cooperation with the Israel Security Agency by having operatives attached to the forward units. This interservice coordination allowed for a higher level of tactical awareness and the ability to strike time-critical targets.

Israeli ground troops entered Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza in the early hours of January 4. Israeli forces reportedly bisected Gaza and surrounded Gaza City, but restricted their movements to areas that were not heavily urbanised. One Israeli soldier was killed and 19 other soldiers were wounded in Jabalia
Jabalia
Jabalia also Jabalya is a Palestinian city located north of Gaza City. It is under the jurisdiction of the North Gaza Governorate, in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Jabalia had a population of 82,877 in mid-year 2006...

when a mortar shell fired by Hamas fighters landed on their patrol. The Israeli military said that it targeted forty sites, including weapons depots and rocket launch sites.

Three Hamas commanders were killed on January 4 in Israeli strikes.

As Israeli tanks and troops seized control of large parts of the Gaza Strip, tens of thousands of Gazans fled their homes amidst artillery and gunfire, and flooded into the inner parts of Gaza city. Gun battles broke out between the IDF and Hamas on the streets of Gaza as the IDF surrounded the city. On January 5, 3 Israeli soldiers were killed and another 20 soldiers wounded after an Israeli tank fired at their position, which had been identified as an enemy position. On January 6, at least 125 Palestinians were killed. One Israeli Officer was killed by a misdirected Israeli artillery shell. Hamas fighters also ambushed an Israeli patrol in Gaza city, resulting in a firefight. One Israeli soldier was killed and four other soldiers were wounded. All of the Hamas fighters were killed.

Israeli artillery units also worked closely with battalion commanders. For the first time, the Sheder Ham digitized data, mapping, and command-and-control system linked the Artillery Corps into the Army's overall C4I network. Israel artillery fired approximately 7,000 rounds during the conflict. An Israel Defense Forces colonel stated that tactics and procedures had to suit the difficult urban environment. The number of rounds in the 22-day conflict was 5 percent of the total fired during the 34-day Lebanon war. Under the condition of anonymity, another officer said that close air support missions accounted for more than 90 percent of rounds fired. He also said that about half of those were MA25A1 incendiary based smoke rounds used to used to mask troop movements. Retired U.S. Army colonel Douglas Macgregor
Douglas Macgregor
Colonel Douglas A. Macgregor PhD. is a retired American senior military officer and author. Recognized by one writer as one of the most influential military thinkers of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries...

gave his opinion as: "They went in heavy, with lots of firepower. But at the same time, because of good intel and other improvements, they were able to be selective and cut down on collateral damage."

On January 6, Israel fired mortar shells at militants near the Al-Fakhura
Al-Fakhura school incident
The al-Fakhura School incident refers to events that took place nearby a United Nations run school of al-Fakhura located in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on January 6, 2009 during the Gaza War...

school. Initially, reports mistakenly stated that the attack had directly hit the school and that the victims had taken refuge there to escape the fighting. This created a public outcry and prompted condemnation from Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon, members of the news media, and international aid agencies. The response before it was learned that the school itself was not attacked lead to a renewed push for a cease-fire in the conflict. According to Israel, 5 Hamas fighters and 7 civilians were killed.
Arms interdiction and the Sudan strike

In an effort to prevent Hamas from replenishing its depleted stocks, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed Gaza-bound arms smuggling convoys in Sudan. The precise number of strikes, the weapons employed, the number of casualties and the identity of those killed remains a subject of dispute.

ABC news reported that the Israelis struck at least three times. Two of the strikes took place in the Sudan while a third occurred in the Red Sea. The New York Times reported that the air strikes were part of Israel’s efforts to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza during Israel’s offensive.

Time Magazine reported that the January attack was carried out by F-16s with F-15s flying cover against hostile aircraft. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were also employed to perform battle damage assessment. According to the Time report, the 23-truck convoy was hauling a shipment of 120 tons of weapons and explosives including Iranian Fajr 3 rockets and anti-tank missiles. The report added that the convoy was entirely destroyed and that among those killed in the strike were Iranian operatives.

Allegations of misconduct by IDF soldiers

Testimonies from Israeli soldiers allegedly admitting indiscriminate killings of civilians, as well as vandalizing homes, were reported in March 2009. Soon after the publication of the testimonies, reports implying that the testimonies were based on hearsay and not on the first-hand experience started to circulate. At the same time, another kind of evidence was collected from several soldiers who took part in the fighting, that rebutted claims of immoral conduct on the military's part during Gaza War. Following investigation, the IDF issued an official report, concluding that alleged cases of deliberate shooting at civilians didn't take place. Nine Israeli rights groups reacting to the closure of the investigation issued a joint statement calling for an "independent nonpartisan investigative body to be established in order to look into all Israeli army activity" in Gaza.

In July 2009, an Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence published testimony from 26 soldiers (two junior officers and the rest is enlisted personnel) who took part in the Gaza assault and which claimed that the IDF used Gazans as human shields, improperly fired incendiary white phosphorous shells over civilian areas and used overwhelming firepower that caused needless deaths and destruction. The report did not represent a cross-section of the army, but rather they were troops who had approached the group or were reached through acquaintances of NGO members. An Israeli military spokesperson dismissed the testimonies as anonymous hearsay. Breaking the Silence representative stated that "the personal details of the soldiers quoted in the collection, and the exact location of the incidents described in the testimonies, would readily be made available to any official and independent investigation of the events, as long as the identity of the testifiers did not become public". The representative of the Israeli organisation NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem whose stated objective is to stop other NGOs from promoting perceived "ideologically motivated anti-Israel agendas" The Economist and Jewish Telegraphic Agency identify NGO Monitor as a pro-Israel non-governmental organization.NGO...

charged that the allegations presented in the report frequently rely upon secondhand evidence and hearsay. In response to the report, a dozen English-speaking reservists who served in Gaza delivered signed, on-camera counter-testimonies via the SoldiersSpeakOut group, about Hamas "use of Gazans as human shields and the measures the IDF took to protect Arab civilians".
Attack on Gaza City

On January 8, an exchange of fire took place in Gaza city. Many Hamas fighters were killed in the clash as well as an Israeli officer of the Golani Brigade
Golani Brigade
The Golani Brigade is an Israeli infantry brigade which was formed on February 22, 1948 when the Levanoni Brigade in the Galilee split into the 1st Golani Brigade and the 2nd Carmeli Brigade...

. In Northern Gaza, Hamas snipers opened fire on Israeli forces conducting an operation, killing an Israeli soldier. Another Israeli soldier was lightly wounded. In Central Gaza, a force of IDF soldiers entered a building near the Kissfum crossing. As the force entered, Hamas fighters fired an anti-tank missile at them, killing one Israeli officer and wounding one soldier. On the morning of January 11, the IDF started the third stage of the operation with an attack on the suburbs of Gaza City. Israeli forces pushed into the south of the city and reached a key junction to its north. During their advance Hamas and Islamic Jihad ambushed Israeli troops at several locations and heavy fighting ensued. Additionally, the IAF reported that Hamas operatives had tried to shoot down an IAF fixed wing aircraft with anti-aircraft missiles for the first time since operations in Gaza began. Heavy machine gun fire against helicopters had also been unsuccessful.


On January 12, the IDF reported that it had started deploying reserve forces in Gaza.
On January 13, Israeli tanks continued their advance toward the headquarters of Hamas' preventative security building from the al-Karramah neighborhood in the northwest and the Tel al-Hawa
Tel al-Hawa
Tel al-Hawa or Tel al-Islam is a neighborhood in the southern part of the Palestinian city of Gaza. Founded by the Palestinian National Authority in the late 1990s, Tel al-Hawa is one of the more affluent areas of the city...

neighborhood in the northeast. Before dawn, during the night, troops advanced 300 metres into Tel al-Hawa, a neighborhood which has several high-rise buildings. As troops entered the narrow streets, heavy street fighting with militants ensued leaving three Israeli soldiers wounded and 30 Hamas militants dead or wounded, according to the IDF. By morning IDF soldiers were still advancing slowly towards the city center and several buildings were in flames in Tel al-Hawa, where most of the fighting took place.

On January 15, Israeli artillery
Artillery
Artillery is a military combat Arm that employs weapons capable of discharging large projectiles in combat. They are generally capable of adding considerable fire power to the military capability of an armed force...

started a bombardment of the city while fighting was still going on in the streets. Three high-rise buildings were shelled. The Israeli military reported to have killed dozens of militants, since breaching the city limits four days earlier, while they suffered 20-25 soldiers wounded. Among buildings shelled were the al-Quds hospital, Gaza's second-largest, in the Tel al-Hawa
Tel al-Hawa
Tel al-Hawa or Tel al-Islam is a neighborhood in the southern part of the Palestinian city of Gaza. Founded by the Palestinian National Authority in the late 1990s, Tel al-Hawa is one of the more affluent areas of the city...

neighborhood.

It was reported that Hamas’s approximately 100-man strong "Iranian Unit" was mostly destroyed during fighting in the Zeytoun neighborhood on January 15. Members of the military wing had previously traveled to Iran for training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. According Palestinian sources, Iran was preparing for an end to the fighting and promised money and resources to rebuild military capabilities and infrastructure destroyed during the fighting.

The headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was also shelled on January 15. There were 3 people injured and tonnes of food and fuel intended for 750,000 Palestinian refugees was destroyed. The Associated Press initially reported that an anonymous Israeli military official stated that Gaza militants had fired anti-tank weapons and machine guns from inside the compound. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “it is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologize for it, I don't think it should have happened and I'm very sorry.” After the UNRWA dismissed the Israeli claim as "nonsense" Israel ordered an army investigation into the incident. Israeli officials afterwards “came forward to say that preliminary results showed that the militants ran for safety inside the U.N. compound after firing on Israeli forces from outside."

The Givati Brigade penetrated the deepest into Gaza City. The brigade's reconnaissance battalion swept into the Tel el-Hawa neighborhood and took over two 15-story buildings in search of Hamas operatives two days before the cease fire went into effect. The commander of the brigade, Ilan Malka, was critical of Hamas's use of civilian houses and said that he "took many steps to prevent our soldiers from getting hurt." Colonel Ilan Malka told reporters that the IDF had initially predicted each battalion would lose six or seven soldiers.
Humanitarian ceasefires

Due to the number of civilian casualties and the deteriorating humanitarian situation, Israel faced significant international pressure for a ceasefire, the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, access to the population of Gaza and the lifting of the blockade. On January 7, Israel opened a humanitarian corridor to allow the shipment of aid into Gaza. The Israeli army agreed to interrupt fighting for three hours and Hamas agreed not to launch missiles during the pause. Israel repeated the ceasefire either daily or every other day. Aid officials and the UN praised the truce, but said it was not enough as fighting usually resumed immediately following the humanitarian ceasefires. An Israeli Government report, published in July 2009, notes that during the period between 8 January and 17 January, Hamas fired a
total of 44 rockets and mortars at Israel during humanitarian pauses. An independent report commissioned jointly by the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights
Physicians for Human Rights
Physicians for Human Rights is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that promotes health by protecting human rights. It is an organization that believes that human rights are essential preconditions for the health and well-being of all people...

and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society notes that according to testimonies by local witnesses, there were several cases where IDF ground forces breached the daily ceasefire agreement.
Palestinian paramilitary activity

According to Abu Ahmed, the official media spokesman of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

movement, Palestinian paramilitary factions in Gaza worked together, operationally and otherwise, to repel the Israeli attack on Gaza. Abu Ahmed told Asharq al-Awsat during the war that, "everybody helps everybody else with regards to food, weapons, and first aid; there is no difference between a member 'Al Quds Brigade' or 'Al Qassam Brigade [military wing of Hamas]' or 'Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is a coalition of Palestinian nationalist militias in the West Bank. The group's name refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem...

' or 'Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade [military wing of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Marxist-Leninist, secular, nationalist Palestinian political and paramilitary organization, founded in 1967...

or PFLP]'. For everybody's goal is the same and their compass is pointing in the same direction, and that is to drive out the occupation and defeat them, and disrupt their plan to dissolve the Palestinian Cause."

Political representatives for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, Saiqa, the Popular Struggle Front, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Fatah al-Intifada
Fatah al-Intifada
Fatah al-Intifada is a Palestinian militant faction founded by Col. Said al-Muragha, better known as 'Abu Musa'. The group is often referred to as the 'Abu Musa Faction'...

, and a number of other Palestinian factions in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south and Israel to the southwest....

formed a temporary alliance during the offensive as well. They issued a joint statement refusing, "any security arrangements that affect the resistance and its legitimate right to struggle against the occupation," and refusing proposals suggesting international forces be sent to Gaza. The coalition also affirmed that any peace initiatives must include an end to the blockade, and an opening of all of Gaza's crossings, including the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
Preparation

Militants booby-trapped houses and buildings and built an extensive system of tunnels in preparation for combat. A Hamas fighter reported that the group had prepared a tunnel network in Gaza city that would allow Hamas to engage the IDF in urban warfare. IDF commanders said that many Hamas members have dug tunnels for themselves under their homes and hid weapon caches in them. Some houses were booby-trapped with manneqins, explosives and adjacent tunnels: Israeli officers said that houses were set up this way so that "Israeli soldiers would shoot the mannequin, mistaking it for a man; an explosion would occur; and the soldiers would be driven or pulled into the hole, where they could be taken prisoner". A colonel estimated that one-third of all houses encountered were booby-trapped. IDF Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg said that roadside bombs were planted in TV satellite dishes, adding that Hamas booby-trapping of homes and schools was "monstrous" and "inhumane". Ron Ben-Yishai, an Israeli military correspondent embedded with invading ground forces, stated that entire blocks of houses were booby-trapped and wired in preparation for urban confrontation with the IDF. Israel claims to have found a map showing "the deployment of explosives and Hamas forces in the al-Atatra neighborhood in northern Gaza." This map allegedly shows that Hamas placed many explosives and firing positions in residential areas, several mosques, and next to a gas station. Israel deployed the elite Sayeret Yahalom
Sayeret Yahalom
Yahalom is a special elite combat engineering unit of the Israeli Engineering Corps of the Israel Defense Forces...

combat engineering unit throughout the brigades with new equipment including miniature robots and improved wall-breaching munitions to counter the booby-traps.

Several witnesses told an Italian reporter that on many roofs of the tall buildings that were hit by Israeli bombs, including UN building, there were rocket-launchers or Hamas look-outs. On January 27, the Shin Bet released details given by Hamas captives, including the militants' use of mosques for weapon caches and military training. Militants admitted to the location of Hamas weapon storage sites, in tunnels, in the homes of activists, and in citrus groves and mosques, and told of theory instruction given in mosques as well.
Engagement with Israeli forces

According to Jane's Defence Weekly
Jane's Defence Weekly
Jane's Defence Weekly is a weekly magazine reporting on military and corporate affairs, edited by Peter Felstead. It is one of a number of military-related publications named after John F.T. Jane, an Englishman who first published Jane's All the World's Fighting Ships in 1898...

, armed groups in Gaza counted domestically produced
Palestinian domestic weapons production
Even before the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, various militant Palestinian groups built domestically produced weapons for use against the Israel Defense Forces, including rockets to launch into Israel. Most of the effort has been in the production of unguided artillery rockets, though Hamas has...

anti-armor RPG
RPG
RPG most commonly refers to* Rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-launched anti-tank weapon* Role-playing game, in which players assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create narratives...

s like al-Battar
Batar
The Batar rocket launcher is a weapon developed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas during the Al-Aqsa intifada...

and Banna 1
Al-Bana
The al-Bana rocket launcher is a weapon developed by Hamas's Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades under the direction of Adnan al-Ghoul and Mohammed Deif...

and Banna 2 in their arsenal. Hamas and Islamic Jihad also manufactured a variety of improvised explosive device
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

s (IEDs), some of which were anti-personnel bombs and others were planted on the sides of roads or underground to be activated against tanks and armored personnel carriers. According to The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post is an Israeli daily English-language broadsheet newspaper, founded on December 1, 1932 by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post...

, some of the IEDs were manufactured from medicine bottles transferred to the Gaza Strip as humanitarian aid by Israel. The same newspaper also reported that Hamas representatives said they were fighting with the aid of armored vehicles and weapons confiscated from the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian National Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip....

, given by Israel, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

and other countries.

Several reports stated that Hamas fighters shed their uniforms shortly after the start of the ground incursion. An eyewitness to the only incident investigated by the UN mission that clearly involved Palestinian combatants said that three Palestinian fighters Israeli troops had surrounded in his neighbour's house were, "wearing military camouflage and headbands of the al-Qassam Brigades." The UN Mission did note that reports by other human rights groups indicate that not all members of Palestinians armed groups were always dressed in military uniform.

Hamas hoped to bog Israeli forces down in heavy fighting and inflict heavy casualties on the Israelis. The NY Times quotes a study published by the Israel-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Not to be confused with the California-based "Terrorism Information Center".The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is an Israeli-based non-governmental organization with close ties to the Israel Defense Forces....

, charging Hamas with methodically building its military infrastructure in the heart of population centers. According to the study, Hamas not only hides among the population, but has made a main component of its combat strategy “channeling” the army into the densely populated areas to fight.

Several testimonies from local Gazan population and from IDF soldiers stated that Hamas operatives donned medic uniforms and commandeered ambulances for fighters transportation. After the Israeli airstrike on the central prison which resulted in prisoners being released into the streets, several of the 115 prisoners accused of collaboration with Israel who had not yet been tried, were executed by Hamas militants in civilian clothes in the Shifa hospital compound. An IDF probe, released on April 22 2009, stated that an incident occurred where UN vehicle attacked by IDF occurred when a Palestinian anti-tank squad was being unloaded from the vehicle. The Palestinian Authority's Health Ministry accused the Hamas-run government's security services of using several hospitals and clinics in Gaza as interrogation and detention centers, where medical staffers have been expelled, during and after the war.

Amnesty International rejected the charges by Israel that Hamas had systematically used medical facilities, vehicles and uniforms as a cover, stating that no evidence had been provided proving such actions. Further, Magen David Adom
Magen David Adom
The Magen David Adom is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Shield of David" but is usually translated as "Red Star of David"...

's submission to UN Mission investigating the war stated that, "there was no use of PRCS ambulances for the transport of weapons or ammunition ... [and] there was no misuse of the emblem by PRCS."
Rocket attacks into Israel

The strike range of Hamas rockets had increased from to since early 2008 with the use of improved Qassam
Qassam rocket
The Qassam rocket is a simple steel artillery rocket filled with explosives, developed and deployed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas...

and factory-made
BM-21
The BM-21 Grad is a Soviet truck-mounted 122-mm multiple rocket launcher, developed in the early 1960s. BM stands for boyevaya mashina, ‘combat vehicle’, and the nickname means ‘hail’. In the West, the system was initially known as M1964...

rockets. These attacks resulted in civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure. Rockets reached major Israeli cities Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon or Ashqelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Bronze Age...

,Ashdod
Ashdod
Ashdod , is the fifth-largest city in Israel, located in the Southern District of the country, on the Mediterranean coast, with a population of 207,000. Ashdod is an important regional industrial centre...

, Beersheba
Beersheba
Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev", it is the seventh-largest city in Israel with a population of 186,100....

and Gedera
Gedera
Gedera, or Gdera is a town in the Center District of Israel. It is located between the cities of Rehovot to the north, Ashdod to the west.-History:...

for the first time, putting one-eighth of Israel's population in rocket range. As of January 13, 2009, Palestinian militants had launched approximately 565 rockets and 200 mortars at Israel since the beginning of the conflict, according to Israeli security sources. A source close to Hamas described the movement's use of stealth when firing: "They fired rockets in between the houses and covered the alleys with sheets so they could set the rockets up in five minutes without the planes seeing them. The moment they fired, they escaped, and they are very quick." It is reported that 102 rockets and 35 mortars were fired by Fatah, Hamas's chief rival.

Besides the rockets fired by the Qassam Brigades of Hamas, other factions claimed responsibility for rockets fired into Israel and attacks on Israeli soldiers, including Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (affiliated with Fatah
Fatah
Not to be confused with Fatah Revolutionary Council also known as Abu Nidal OrganizationFataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the center-left of the spectrum...

), the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the Quds Brigades and the Popular Resistance Councils
Popular Resistance Committees
The Popular Resistance Committees are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel...

. A Fatah official stated that the rocket attacks by his faction contradicted the official position of Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

, Fatah leader and President of the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian National Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip....

. Abbas had called on all sides to cease hostilities unconditionally.

Militants fired over 750 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel during the conflict. Bersheeba and Gedera were the furthest areas hit by rocket or mortars. The rockets killed three civilians and one IDF soldier and wounded 182 people, with another 584 people suffering from shock and anxiety syndrome. The rockets also caused property damage, including damage to three schools.
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar stated during the operation "they [Israeli forces] shelled everyone in Gaza.... They shelled children and hospitals and mosques, ... and in doing so, they gave us legitimacy to strike them in the same way."

In addition to the rockets fired from Gaza, Israel experienced other attacks along the borders with Lebanon and Syria.
Unilateral ceasefires

On January 17, Israeli officials announced a unilateral
Unilateralism
Unilateralism is any doctrine or agenda that supports one-sided action. Such action may be in disregard for other parties, or as an expression of a commitment toward a direction which other parties may find agreeable...

ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces.-World War I:On December 24, 1914,...

, without an agreement with Hamas. In a press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli political figure, and former Prime Minister of Israel having served from 2006 to 2009. Olmert was the mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. In 2003 he was elected to the Knesset and became a minister and Acting Prime Minister in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...

declared the ceasefire effective that night, at 00:00 GMT on January 18. The Israeli ceasefire was first suggested by Livni and consists of two phases worked out by Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician, former Prime Minister, and current Minister of Defense, deputy prime minister and leader of Israel's Labor Party....

: "First a ceasefire is declared. If Hamas stops firing rockets then Israel pulls its forces out of the Gaza Strip. If rocket fire resumes then the IDF goes back in, this time with the international backing gained by having tried a truce." Olmert declared that the military objectives had been met.

Hamas initially "vowed to fight on", and responded that any continued Israeli presence in Gaza would be regarded as an act of war. Farzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said before the ceasefire began, "The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings and we will not accept any one Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price that it costs." Palestinian militants resumed rocket fire at Israeli communities the following Sunday morning, four of the supposed six fired landed in or near the town of Sderot
Sderot
Sderot is a western Negev city in the Southern District of Israel. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2006 the city had a total population of 19,300. The city has been an ongoing target of Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip...

. The Israeli military returned fire and carried out an air strike against the rocket launching squad in the northern Gaza Strip.

On January 18, Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization which includes a paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

and other paramilitias stated they would stop launching rockets into Israel for one week, on condition that Israel would withdraw its military within this period.

On January 21, Israeli troops completed their pullout from the Gaza Strip.

Shortly after Israel completed its troop pullout, Hamas declared "remarkable victory". Khaled Mashaal said that "the resistance won the battle in Gaza and the enemy failed in the field as it failed in politics. The enemy had to withdraw from the Strip without being able to impose any condition".

Since the unilateral ceasefires were declared on January 17, militants have fired rockets and mortar shells from Gaza, and the IDF has launched airstrikes against Gaza.
Continued negotiations

Egyptian mediators held discussions with Israel and Hamas about extending the cease-fire by a year or more. Hamas and Fatah met in an effort to create a mechanism that would allow both to play a role in rebuilding. Israel began pressuring Egypt to do more to stop weapons smuggling into Gaza, the halting of which is one of Israel's central demands in extending a cease-fire. However, on 27 January 2009, Foreign Minister of Egypt Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has served as the Foreign Minister of Egypt since July 2004, since the government of Ahmed Nazif took office. Aboul-Gheit previously served as Egypt's ambassador to the United Nations...

discouraged Britain, France
France
France , officially the French Republic , is a country located in Western Europe, with several overseas islands and territories located on other continents. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean...

and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium,...

from sending warships to patrol the waters off Gaza, which the three European nations felt could help halt seaborne smuggling. Gheit said such efforts would harm Europe's relations with the Arab world. Egypt also reacted coolly to suggestions that European troops should be stationed on the border between Gaza and Egypt to monitor smugglers' tunnels.

Israel, along with many Western and some Arab countries, wanted international aid groups to control aid from donations around the world, so that Hamas would not receive credit for the rebuilding. Hamas, in order to speed up reconstruction, agreed on 27 January 2009 that it would not insist on collecting reconstruction money itself and would allow donated money to flow through different avenues based on the various alliances, although Hamas ultimately expected to administer the aid. But advisors to senior Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Israel's willingness to open the border only for humanitarian aid was unacceptable, as Hamas would need much more to rebuild its economy and produce relief to citizens. Haniyeh officials said the cease-fire is contingent on a full border opening.

On 20 January 2009, Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii...

assumed the Presidency of the United States of America
President of the United States
The President of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States and is the highest political official in the United States by influence and recognition...

. Soon thereafter, Obama directed George J. Mitchell
George J. Mitchell
George John Mitchell, Jr., GBE is the American special envoy to the Middle East for the Obama administration. A Democrat, Mitchell was a United States Senator who served as the Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995...

, his newly appointed special envoy to the Middle East, to visit Israel, the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank is a landlocked territory and is the eastern part of the Palestinian territories; on the west bank of the River Jordan in the Middle East. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel, which maintains the security of this area. To the east,...

, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia and Thrace in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe...

and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia , is an Arab country and the largest country of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Jordan on the northwest, Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south...

for peace talks. Mitchell began his meetings in Cairo on 27 January 2009 and Obama said his visit was part of the President's campaign promise to listen to both sides of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and work toward a Middle East peace deal. However, in a continuation of a George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush was the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000....

administration policy, Mitchell did not plan to talk to Hamas, but instead focus on talks with the more moderate Palestinian Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian National Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip....

. A spokesman for Haniyeh said he respected Mitchell, but was disappointed with the envoy's decision not to hold discussions with Hamas.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli political figure, and former Prime Minister of Israel having served from 2006 to 2009. Olmert was the mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. In 2003 he was elected to the Knesset and became a minister and Acting Prime Minister in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...

stated that Israel would not agree to a long term truce or lift the blockade that it has imposed on Gaza without the freeing of Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Palestinian militants in a cross border raid. He was abducted through the Kerem Shalom crossing and has been held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since...

, an IDF soldier held captive in Gaza since June 2006. Hamas has insisted that Shalit's release be dependent on the release of 1,400 Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian prisoners in Israel mainly refers to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel following apprehension resulting from the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Most prisoners are held after conviction by the Israel Prison Service, which is under the jurisdiction of the Internal Security ministry, while...

held by Israel and be kept separate from ceasefire negotiations.
Aftermath

Several months after the war end, Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations, with the aim to build a "cultural resistance". Hamas official stated that "The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break". Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center notes that Hamas's policy of restraint has come under severe criticism from local radical Islamic organizations, which accused Hamas of abandoning the principle of jihad in order to strengthen its control over the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials say that Hamas military commanders have recognized that their decision to take off their fatigues and don civilian clothing a few days into the fighting was a mistake that might had damaged morale and was perceived by Gazans as indicative that they had lost control of the territory; Hamas militants are now under orders to stay in uniform even if this makes them more easily targeted in Israeli air strikes.
Hamas

Before and during the conflict, Hamas' senior representatives released number of statements designed to avert Israeli decision-makers from launching any military operation in Gaza and to cause demoralization among Israelis. Before the end of the pre-conflict ceasefire, Hamas boasted that it had countless surprises awaiting Israeli troops, should they advance. Hamas representatives threatened on several occasions to abduct Israeli soldiers, and during the ground invasion tried to spread rumors that it actually had captured or killed more Israeli soldiers.

During the war, Hamas' launches of homemade and Grad rockets into Israeli towns paralyzed life across Israel's south. On a video broadcasted on Al-Aqsa TV on January 10, showing the names of Israeli towns hit by rockets, it was implied Tel-Aviv is the next target and that 'all options are open'. Also, Hamas sent messages in Hebrew to Israeli citizens' mobile phones warning: "Rockets on all cities, shelters will not protect you."

Hamas instrumentalized the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Palestinian militants in a cross border raid. He was abducted through the Kerem Shalom crossing and has been held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since...

as a form of psychological weapon, declaring that he had been wounded by Israeli fire, later announcing that his condition was no longer of interest to them.

According to IDF spokesman, Hamas' ruses in the battlefield comprised of Gaza's neighborhoods riddled with booby traps, including mannequins placed at apartment entrances and rigged to explode when the soldiers approach.

Arab television stations reported Hamas-provided statistics for Israeli casualties on the assumption that Israel is distorting its own figures of soldiers killed and wounded.

A study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan Washington, D.C., foreign policy think tank. The center was founded in 1964 by Admiral Arleigh Burke and Ambassador David Manker Abshire, originally as part of Georgetown University...

notes that Hamas propaganda both rejected Hamas responsibility for the fighting and used it to attack the Palestinian Authority.

Dr. Tal Pavel from Israeli think-tank International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism
International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism
The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism is a non-profit organization located at the Interdisciplinary Center , Herzliya, Israel. The ICT was founded in 1996 and describes itself as "the leading academic institute for counter-terrorism in the world, facilitating international...

(ICT) said that Hamas uses its Web sites to make comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, portraying Israel as a destructive, oppressive regime afraid of Hamas rockets raining on Tel Aviv.
Israel

The day before the beginning of the offensive on December 27 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) pulled troops back from the border and used its radio channels to broadcast talk of a "lull" in order to achieve a disinformation coup ("con") to lure Hamas fighters out of hiding.

A broadcaster in Islamic Jihad's Voice of Jerusalem radio station in Gaza City reported that IDF have been breaking into his station signal "least once an hour" during conflict intensification to broadcast messages to Gaza population that their problems were due to Hamas. The army also dropped leaflets with similar messages and contact info to report about the whereabouts of militant leaders and weapons caches.
The leaflets also noted that "the Israeli army will respond if the rocket fire continues." In war zones, leaflets warned local residents that they had to flee. It also warned residents that their homes would be targeted if they were located in an area of possible target. Dr. Yaniv Levitan of the University of Haifa said that the aim of the flyers was not to demoralize the civil population, but to implant recognition in hearts and minds that Hamas has failed, that there is an option of choosing another path.

IDF spokespersons often reported that scores of demoralized Hamas fighters had been observed deserting. The claim strengthened the Israeli will to continue and undermined the confidence in Hamas in Gaza.

There was a mistrust of phone calls warning messages to people that they have "just minutes to evacuate before they bomb the house." According to a human rights lawyer at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), despite the hundreds of phone calls to families warning their house is about to be blown up, only 37 were destroyed, presumably as of the January 3 date.
Casualties


In January 2009, the Palestinian Ministry of Health, a Gaza governmental office (PMoH), put death toll at total of 1,324 Gazans killed, of which most were civilians. The PMoH stated that 437 children under the age of 16, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics, and four journalists were among those killed. The wounded include 1,890 children and 200 people in serious condition. As of 5 February, the MoH total was revised to 1,440 Palestinians dead, 431 children and 114 women, a rise attributed by the MoH to delays by people in officially registering the deaths of family members due to the conflict. Those who died due to a lack of access to regular health care were not included in these figures.

In March, the PCHR put the death toll at 1,417, of which 926 were civilian, 236 were combatants and 255 were members of the Palestinian security forces. According to PCHR, out of 926 civilians and non-combatants, there are 116 women and 313 minors under 18. The organization has also posted a list of the victims detailing their names, ages, jobs, place of residence, and time and place of the attacks that killed them.

In September, Israeli-human rights group B'Tselem
B'Tselem
B'Tselem is an Israeli non-governmental organization . It calls itself "The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories"...

published figures based on its own research. B'Tselem says that total number of 1,382 Palestinians were killed, of whom 320 were minors, 111 women over the age of 16, 325 took part in the hostilities and 245 were Palestinian officers, most of whom were killed in IAF aerial bombings of police stations on the first day of the war.

Hamas claimed to have suffered only 48 casualties and to have killed at least 80 Israeli soldiers.

An IDF report on March 26, 2009 listed 1,166 Palestinian fatalities, of which 295 were identified as civilians. According to IDF, out of 295 Palestinian non-combatants, there are 89 under the age of 16 and 49 women The IDF report stated that at least 709 of the deaths were Hamas combatants or combatants belonging to militant organizations affiliated with Hamas. IDF enemy casualty statistics include those considered by Hamas to be members of the Internal Security Forces. Additional 162 Palestinian men were listed by IDF as "unaffiliated," meaning that those names have not been attributed to any militant group. The IDF "conceded that Palestinian civilians died because of mistakes in intelligence and targeting, but said the military did not find any case in which an Israeli soldier deliberately shot a civilian."

13 Israelis were killed during the conflict, including four soldiers in two separate friendly fire incidents and three civilians.
182 Israeli civilians were wounded during the conflict. Israel took measures to reduce their casualties. Colonel Ilan Malka told reporters that the IDF had initially predicted each battalion would lose six or seven soldiers. By the end of the conflict, Israel stated that 10 IDF soldiers had been killed and 336 wounded. Out of those figures, five were killed engaging Hamas combatants, four were killed by friendly fire, and one was killed when Hamas rockets hit a military base inside Israel.
Other casualties

The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health...

reported that sixteen health personnel were killed and that 22 health personnel were injured over the course of the offensive. In response, the Israeli Defense Ministry stated that nine of the sixteen medical personnel killed were Hamas operatives, referring to publications on Hamas affiliated Web sites. The UNRWA reported that five of its staff members were killed and that eleven staff members were injured. The World Food Programme
World Food Programme
The World Food Programme is the food aid branch of the United Nations, and the world's largest humanitarian organization.. WFP provides food, on average, to 90 million people per year, 58 million of whom are children...

reported that one of its contractors were killed and that two were injured.

Hamas gunmen killed one Egyptian border guard and wounded another on December 28. Shrapnel from an Israeli air strike near the Rafah border crossing wounded two border guards and two Egyptian children. A Ukrainian woman married to a Palestinian and their daughter were killed by Israeli tank shelling on January 8; the couple's other daughter was wounded.
Disputed figures

On February 17, the UN announced that it will compile a casualty report to determine the exact figure of Palestinian casualties. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will lead the investigation, which will research "data on the number of casualties provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry, the IDF and Gaza-based human rights organizations." Due to its complexity, the work is expected to last "several weeks, if not months" one UN official stated.

The PCHR has issued a statement contesting the IDF figures, saying that it regarded them as a "deliberate manipulative attempt" to distort the reality of the attacks, and to "disguise Israeli illegal actions". The PCHR civilian count included Hamas members killed in what the PCHR assessed were non-combat situations. Similarly, Israeli officials have stated that the PMoH significantly inflated the civilian death toll and played down the number of Hamas casualties. The PCHR's representative reaffirmed further its own figures, saying that extensive investigation and cross-checking was done in researching the numbers and identities of Palestinians killed; he assured that the fatalities list does not include deaths caused by "internal events" or natural causes, refuting allegations from some Israeli security sources.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes
John Holmes (British diplomat)
Sir John Holmes, GCVO, KBE, CMG, was born in Preston, in the north of England, in April 1951. Following his education at Preston Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford, he entered the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1973....

has stated that the PMoH figures have not been seriously challenged.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto,...

stated that police are presumptively civilians but are considered valid targets if formally incorporated into the armed forces of a party to a conflict or directly participating in the hostilities. The IDF has made clear that it regards police under the control of Hamas in Gaza to be inherently equivalent to armed fighters, including them in the militant's count. The PCHR representative argued however that Israel wrongly classified 255 police officers killed at the outset of the war as militants, explaining that International Law regards policemen who are not engaged in fighting as non-combatants or civilians. Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Not to be confused with the California-based "Terrorism Information Center".The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is an Israeli-based non-governmental organization with close ties to the Israel Defense Forces....

compiled a report claiming that during Gaza War many supposedly civil policemen were at the same time operatives in Hamas’s military wing. One of ITIC bulletins also presented supposed evidence of Hamas policy to hide details of Hamas men who got killed or injured in the fighting.

The Goldstone Report concluded that while there were many individual Gaza policemen who were members of militant groups the Gaza police forces were a civilian police force and "cannot be said to have been taking a direct part in hostilities and thus did not lose their civilian immunity from direct attack as civilians". The report did not "rule out the possibility that there might be individuals in the police force who retain their links to the armed groups" but finds no evidence that the police were part of the Gaza armed forces and that it "could not verify the allegations of membership of armed groups of policemen."

The Israeli International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) compiled a report on their research of the casualties figures published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, supplemented by Hamas and Fatah websites and official Palestinian government online sources. The ICT claimed that many of those listed by PCHR as civilians, including civil policemen, were in fact hailed as militant martyrs by Hamas. The ICT also claimed that some of the civilians were Fatah members killed by Hamas and that among the youngsters counted as children by the PCHR, 18 combatants were identified. Based on their examination of age distribution of the casualties listed by PCHR, the ICT estimated that 63% to 75% of the Palestinians killed in Gaza War appear to have been specifically-targeted, combat-aged males, and stated that PCHR’s own data refutes claim that Israel’s attacks were indiscriminate.

Based on data collected by Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international secular non-governmental organisation which defines its mission as "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated." Founded in London in 1961, AI...

delegates in Gaza and on cases documented by local NGOs, Amnesty concluded that an overall figure of some 1,400 fatalities is accurate and that, in addition to some 300 children, 115 women and 85 men aged over 50, some 200 men aged less than 50 were unarmed civilians who took no part in the hostilities.

In the article published in SPME
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East is an independent non-profit international community network of academic scholars. According to the SPME's Web site, the organization's goal is to seek peace in, "the Middle East is consistent both with Israel's right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state...

, B'Tselem casualties findings were dubbed flawed due to the group's restrictive definitions of combatants. The authors also demonstrate that B’Tselem data show a high male to female ratio - greater than 4.0 - among teens and adults classified as non-combatants, suggesting that many dead male civilians could have been involved in combatant situations, either as shields, fighters, circumstantial helpers, sporadic helpers, or bystanders who were drawn into the goings on.

Effects



There were multiple economic, industrial and medical effects of the Gaza War. The United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme
The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. The UNDP is an executive board within the United Nations General Assembly...

warned that there will be long-term consequences of the attacks on Gaza because the livelihoods and assets of tens of thousands of Gaza civilians have been affected.

Early estimates by independent contractors in Gaza say that Gaza lost nearly $2 billion in assets, including 4,000 homes destroyed. The IDF destroyed 600–700 factories, small industries, workshops and business enterprises throughout the Gaza Strip, 24 mosques, 31 security compounds, and 10 water or sewage lines.
The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health...

said that 34 health facilities (8 hospitals and 26
primary health care clinics) were damaged over the course of the offensive and the UNOCHA said that over 50 United Nations facilities sustained damage, of which 28 reported damage in the first three days of the operation.

A satellite-based damage assessment of the Gaza Strip by the United Nations revealed 2,692 destroyed and severely damaged buildings, 220 impact craters on roads and bridges with an estimated length of of paved and unpaved roads damaged, 714 impact craters on open ground or cultivated land with an estimated land area of , 187 greenhouses completely destroyed or severely damaged with an estimated area of , and of demolished zones targeted by IDF bulldozers, tanks and phosphorus shelling.
Gaza humanitarian crisis


The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , is a United Nations body formed in December 1991 by General Assembly Resolution 46/182...

reported that the Gaza strip humanitarian crisis is significant and should not be understated. It also states that the situation is a "human dignity crisis" in the Gaza strip, entailing "a massive destruction of livelihoods and a significant deterioration of infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure can be defined as the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function....

and basic services". Fear and panic are widespread; 80 percent of the population cannot support themselves and are dependent on humanitarian assistance. The International Red Cross said the situation was "intolerable" and a "full blown humanitarian crisis." The importation of necessary food and supplies continues to be blocked even after the respective ceasefires. According to the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry was wrecked. With extensive damage occurring to water sources, greenhouses, and farmland. It is estimated that 60% of the agricultural land in the north of the Strip may no longer be arable. More than 50,800 Gazans were left homeless. Extensive destruction was caused to commercial enterprises and to public infrastructure. According to Palestinian industrialists, 219 factories were destroyed or severely damaged during the Israeli military operation. They accounted as part of the 3% of industrial capacity that was operating after the Israeli blockade was imposed, which was mostly destroyed during the operation.

On January 3, prior to the IDF ground operation, Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Tzipora Malka "Tzipi" Livni is an Israeli politician and is the current leader of Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset. Raised an ardent nationalist, Livni has become one of her nation's leading voices for the two-state solution. In Israel she has earned a reputation as honest, clean, and...

said that Israel had taken care to protect the civilian population of Gaza, and that it had kept the humanitarian situation "completely as it should be", maintaining Israel's earlier stance. The Secretary-General of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organization of Arab states in Southwest Asia, and North and Northeast Africa. It was formed in Cairo on March 22, 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria...

, Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa , has been the current Secretary-General of the League of Arab States since his election to the position in May 2001. He is a former Egyptian Foreign Minister and diplomat....

, criticized Livni's statement and further criticized the Security Council for not responding faster to the crisis. On subsequent reports, the UN stated that "only an immediate cease-fire will be able to address the large-scale humanitarian and protection crisis that faces the people of Gaza".

The Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations has stated that after the end of the Israeli operation, at best, only 120 truckloads get into Gaza, instead of the normal daily requirement, including commercial traffic, of 500 trucks at minimum. It is also reported in his statement and other UN humanitarian office
Ocha
Ocha is a genus of moth in the family Lasiocampidae....

reports that essential items such as construction materials, water pipes, electrical wires, and transformers continue to be effectively banned, or only allowed infrequently. He also stated that commercial goods must be allowed in and out, since Gaza Palestinians "do not want or deserve to be dependent on humanitarian aid" and that the "limited trickle" of items into Gaza continue the effective collective punishment of the civilian population and force the counter-productive reliance on tunnels for daily essentials.

As a result of the conflict, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 Member States, located primarily in Europe. Committed to regional integration, the EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community...

, the Organization of the Islamic Conference
Organization of the Islamic Conference
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference is an international organisation with a permanent delegation to the United Nations. It groups 57 member states, from the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Caucasus, Balkans, Southeast Asia and South Asia...

and over 50 nations donated humanitarian aid to Gaza, including the United States which donated over $20 million. On January 7, a UN Relief Works Agency spokesman acknowledged that he was "aware of instances where deliveries of humanitarian aid into Gaza" were diverted by the Hamas government, though never from his agency. Additionally, on February 3, blankets and food parcels were confiscated by Hamas police personnel from an UNRWA distribution center, and on February 4, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator demanded that the aid be returned immediately. The Hamas government issued a statement stating that the incident was a misunderstanding between the drivers of the trucks and has been resolved through direct contact with the UNRWA. On February 9, UNRWA lifted the suspension on the movement of its humanitarian supplies into Gaza, after the Hamas authorities returned all of the aid supplies confiscated. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , is a United Nations body formed in December 1991 by General Assembly Resolution 46/182...

has described the Israeli procedures for humanitarian organizations entrance to Gaza as inconsistent and unpredictable ones that impedes the ability of organizations to effectively plan their humanitarian response and obstructs efforts to address the humanitarian crisis brought by the 18 months blockade and Israel's military operation. The UN also reported that international organizations have faced "unprecedented denial" of access to Gaza by Israel since 5 November and that humanitarian access remains unreliable and needs to be granted in a daily basis unrestricted.

In a damage assessment by the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health...

, 48% of the 122 health facilities assessed were found to be damaged or destroyed. 15 of Gaza's 27 hospitals and 41 primary health care
Primary health care
Primary health care, often abbreviated as PHC, is"essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community...

centers suffered damages. 29 ambulances were partially damaged or destroyed. Injured patients needing referral outside Gaza for specialized care were evacuated exclusively through the Egyptian Rafah border crossing
Rafah Border Crossing
The Rafah Border Crossing is an international border crossing between Egyptian and Palestinian-controlled Rafah. It was built by the Israeli and Egyptian governments after the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and was managed by the Israel...

. In the early stages of the conflict, Hamas sealed the border, and prevented wounded Palestinians from seeking medical attention in Egypt. On 30 December, the organization allowed a trickle of medical evacuations from Gaza, but restricted their number. Gaza Ministry of Health reported that between December 29 and January 22, 608 injured were evacuated through Rafah. The Israeli Erez crossing was closed much of the period and only 30 patients were able to exit during the crisis. An initial survey conducted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that 14,000 homes, 68 government buildings, and 31 non-governmental organization offices (NGOs) were either totally or partially damaged. As a result, an estimated 600,000 tonnes of concrete rubble will need to be removed. Since 2007, construction material have not permitted entry into Gaza, adversely affecting UN projects, in particular UNRWA and UNDP which were forced to suspend more than $100 million in construction projects due to lack of materials.
Israel

During the conflict, life in much of southern Israel was paralyzed by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. The Israeli Home Front Command issued detailed emergency instructions to Israeli citizens for preparing for and dealing with rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The instructions included orders to stay within a certain distance of bomb shelters based on proximity to the source of the rockets. Hamas' Grad rockets' increased range of 40 km put more than 700,000 Israelis within strike range, prompting 40% of the residents of the southern city of Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon or Ashqelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Bronze Age...

to flee the city, despite official calls to stay. Schools and universities in southern Israel began to close due to rocket threats on December 27. Palestinian rockets landed on Israeli educational facilities several times during the conflict with no casualties. Studies officially resumed on January 11. Only schools with fortified classrooms and bomb shelters were allowed to bring students in, and IDF Home Front Command representatives were stationed in the schools; attendance was low. The largest hospital on Israel's southern coast, Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital, moved its critical treatment facilities into an underground shelter after a Gaza-fired rocket struck beside its helicopter pad on December 28.
Denials of White Phosphorus use

On Jan 5th the Times reported that telltale smoke had been seen in areas of shelling but Israel "strenuously denied" using phosphorus. On Jan 8 photos of a stockpile of these shells appeared and the IDF spokesman said: "This is what we call a quiet shell - it has no explosives and no white phosphorus". On Jan 12 it was reported that more than 50 phosphorus burns victims were in Nasser Hospital. An Israeli military spokesman "categorically" denied the use of white phosphorus. On Jan 16th the UNRWA headquarters were hit by particles of phosphorus but the Israeli military continued to deny its use. On Jan 21 Avital Leibovich, Israel’s military spokeswoman, finally admitted that white phosphorus munitions were employed in a manner "according to international law".

Many other observers reported seeing white phosphorus used eg on Jan. 9, 10 and 15, an HRW military expert observed air bursts over Gaza City and the Jabalya refugee camp. The BBC picked up the story and published a photograph of two shells exploding over a densely populated area on 11th January, 5 days before the last denial and 10 days before the truth finally came out.
International law

Accusations of violations regarding international humanitarian law
International humanitarian law
International humanitarian law , often referred to as the laws of war, the laws and customs of war or the law of armed conflict, is the legal corpus "comprised of the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions, as well as subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international law." It defines...

, which governs the actions by belligerents during an armed conflict, have been directed at both Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization which includes a paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, such as accusations of violating laws governing distinction
Distinction (law)
Distinction is a principle under international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict. Belligerents must distinguish between combatants and civilians...

and proportionality by Israel and the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas at civilian locations. As of September 2009, some 360 complaints had been filed by individuals and NGOs at the prosecutor's office in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the third largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam and Rotterdam, with a population of 485,818 and an area of approximately 100 km²...

calling for investigations into alleged crimes committed by Israel during Operation Cast Lead.

The United Nations Human Rights Council
United Nations Human Rights Council
The United Nations Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations System. The UNHRC is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights , and is a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly...

(UNHCR) On October 16, 2009, endorsed the 574 page report by Judge Goldstone's UN inquiry team known as the Goldstone Report. The report was officially titled "Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict" released on September 15, 2009. It concluded that the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Palestinian armed forces (specifically Hamas) had committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. While the report condemned violations by both sides, it more strongly indicted Israeli actions

The report stated that the IDF committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by directing military action at the Gaza population as a whole in "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population." The report disputed Israel's claim that the Gaza war was conducted in self-defence as a response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip .

The report stated that Palestinian armed groups (Hamas) committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by deliberately launching rockets and firing mortars into Israel, calculated to kill civilians and damage civilian structures.

The report recommended, inter alia, that Israel pay reparations to Palestinians living in Gaza for property damaged in the conflict. The report also called on the Security Council to request thorough criminal investigations to be conducted by Israel and Hamas, and for the Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .The court came into being on 1 July 2002 — the...

(ICC) if the investigations are not conducted properly. According to the BBC, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials responded to the report by initiating contacts with Security Council members in order to dissuade them from referring Israelis to the ICC.

The report was on February 27, 2009, mandated by UNHRC Resolution S-9/1 "dispatch an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission.". Its mandate was later widened to cover the activities of Palestinian militants. The UN announced that it had commissioned a team, led by South African prosecutor Richard Goldstone
Richard Goldstone
Richard J. Goldstone is a former South African Constitutional Court judge. He served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from 15 August 1994 to September 1996, and in 2009 led an independent fact-finding mission...

, to investigate whether Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the Gaza war. The team consisted of legal and military experts.

The Israeli government rejected the commission’s findings calling it a “mockery of history,” “bordering on bizarre” .” and “lacking in any legal, factual or ethical value.” Israel also claimed the UNHRC has demonstrated a biased track record against the Jewish state. The Israeli government did not cooperate with the investigation, saying that it believed that the UNHRC initiative was motivated by a political agenda and not concern for human rights.

The report was met with mixed and contradictory reviews by Hamas. Hamas at first called the report political, unbalanced and dishonest.. However subsequently, Hamas spokesman Ahmad Yousuf said that the organization was glad that the report focused on Israel and the Palestinian ambassador in Geneva, Ibrahim Khraisha, welcomed the report and said it was an "objective" account of what had happened in Gaza.

Judge Goldstone’s findings were described by a State Department spokesman for the Obama administration as being overwhelmingly focussed on the actions of Israel while its "conclusions regarding Hamas's deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative".

Following the war, defense analyst Anthony Cordesman issued a 96-page report which, while he maintains he doesn't mean to pass any “legal or moral” judgement, concludes that Israel “did not violate the laws of war” though it did “use decisive force to enhance regional deterrence,” which he determined to be a “legitimate military objective.” In his work, Cordesman relied exclusively on information provided by official Israeli sources.

Cordesman’s view was shared by Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. Kemp stated that during Operation Cast Lead, the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Kemp also highlighted many of the efforts made by the IDF to reduce collateral damage including; Giving civilians four hour notice to leave targeted areas, dropping over 900,000 leaflets, making over 30,000 phone calls to Palestinian households in Gaza, aborting airstrikes where the risk of collateral damage would be too great and allowing huge amounts of humanitarian aid to Gaza, at risk to themselves. Kemp reserved his criticism for Hamas which he said deliberately deployed its forces behind the “human shield of the civilian population.” and employed a deliberate policy of operating consistently outside international law.

Israelis


The UN Human Rights Council as well as many non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have accused Israel of violating international law in the conflict as regards prohibitions on collective punishment, targeting civilians
Distinction (law)
Distinction is a principle under international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict. Belligerents must distinguish between combatants and civilians...

,, proportionality, of prohibiting access to medical assistance, and of using civilians as human shields. Israel has also been criticized for using weapons such as white phosphorus and flechette
Flechette
A flechette is a pointed steel projectile, with a vaned tail for stable flight. The name comes from French , ‘little arrow’ or ‘dart’, and sometimes retains the acute accent in English. Standard pronunciation is fle-SHET.-Bulk and artillery use:...

shells which violate laws on distinction. Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and AI said that such actions are in violation of international humanitarian law governing the obligations of an occupying force and the laws of war. The reports by Human Rights Watch regarding Israel's use of certain munitions were based in part on reports compiled by military analyst Marc Garlasco
Marc Garlasco
Marc Garlasco is a senior military expert for Human Rights Watch specializing in battle damage assessment, military operations, and interrogations for the Emergencies Division. Before HRW he served for seven years in the Pentagon as senior intelligence analyst with his last position being chief of...

. Garlasco was later suspended with pay by HRW when online bloggers raised questions about his objectivity after it was publicized that he is a collector of Nazi German military memorabilia.

Israel has been criticized for attacks on protected personnel and property, such as the attack on an UNRWA school incident in Jabalia
Al-Fakhura school incident
The al-Fakhura School incident refers to events that took place nearby a United Nations run school of al-Fakhura located in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on January 6, 2009 during the Gaza War...

that the UN says killed between 30 and 40 people. The report accused Israel of "gross negligence" and also stated that allegations that militants had fired from within U.N. premises "were untrue, continued to be made after it ought to have been known that they were untrue, and were not adequately withdrawn and publicly regretted." Ban plans to seek up to $11 million in damages from Israel

Israel has responded to these accusations by stating that use of force in Gaza are acts of self-defense rather than being reprisals or punishment.
The Israeli government responded in a report that stated that the IDF used white phosphorous in exploding munitions and smoke projectiles. The report stated that the use of exploding munitions were used by Israeli ground and naval forces. The report defended the use of these munition stating that they were only fired on unpopulated areas for marking and signaling and not as an anti-personnel weapon. Regarding the attack on the UNRWA school Jabalia IDF officials claim the UN has confirmed that shells fired by Israeli forces landed outside the school compound. The Israeli Government report notes however that the test applied by the Board was merely whether the physical premises of U.N. facilities had been affected and not whether the Laws of Armed Conflict were violated.
Palestinians


The Palestinians have been accused by the UN, Israel, and a number of human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, of violating international law in the conflict. They have been accused of violating prohibitions against attacks directed against civilians and civilian objects, launching attacks aimed at spreading terror, and attacking from populated areas. Israel has accused Hamas of improperly using humanitarian symbols and facilities protected by the Geneva Conventions. Hamas militants were reported to dress in civilian attire to disguise themselves among the population.

Hamas has responded to the accusations by saying the attacks carried out were in self-defense. and that "rocket attacks on Israel are the only way to counter Israel's policies and operations, including artillery strikes".

Hamas has also been accused of carrying out extrajudicial executions, torture, inhuman treatment and arbitrary detentions against alleged collaborators and spies in violation of Article 3 of Fourth Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Fourth Geneva Convention relates to the protection of civilians during times of war "in the hands" of an enemy and under any military occupation by a foreign power. This should not be confused with the better known Third Geneva Convention, which deals with the treatment of prisoners of war...

. Hamas has responded to these accusations by saying those executed were collaborators with Israel and were guilty of treason.
Media

The Foreign Press Association of Israel released a statement saying, “The unprecedented denial of access to Gaza for the world’s media amounts to a severe violation of press freedom and puts the state of Israel in the company of a handful of regimes around the world which regularly keep journalists from doing their jobs.”

Media facilities in Gaza, both foreign and domestic, came under Israeli fire in the military campaign. On one occasion a Grad rocket
BM-21
The BM-21 Grad is a Soviet truck-mounted 122-mm multiple rocket launcher, developed in the early 1960s. BM stands for boyevaya mashina, ‘combat vehicle’, and the nickname means ‘hail’. In the West, the system was initially known as M1964...

may have been launched from a location near the television studios in the Al-Shuruk tower in Gaza City. Although the Israeli recording of a reporter describing a missile launch was during the initial aerial bombardment phase the tower was only bombed in the final few days. On December 29, the IDF destroyed the facilities and headquarters of Al-Aqsa TV
Al-Aqsa TV
Al-Aqsa TV is the official Hamas-run television channel. Its programming includes ideologically tinged children's shows, strident news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment...

(though broadcasts continue from elsewhere), and on January 5, the IDF bombed the offices of the Hamas-affiliated Al-Risala newsweekly. On January 9, the IDF hit the Johara tower of Gaza City, which houses more than 20 international news organizations, including Turkish, French, and Iranian outlets.

Media relations also played an important role, with the use of new media
New media
New media is a term meant to encompass the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies in the later part of the 20th century...

(up to and including cyber warfare) on the part of both Israel and Hamas. Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

reported that Israeli Foreign Minister
Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel
The Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel is the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The position is one of the most important in the Israeli cabinet after Prime Minister and Defense Minister...

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Tzipora Malka "Tzipi" Livni is an Israeli politician and is the current leader of Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset. Raised an ardent nationalist, Livni has become one of her nation's leading voices for the two-state solution. In Israel she has earned a reputation as honest, clean, and...

"instructed senior ministry officials to open an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the practice of managing the communication between an organization and its publics. Public relations gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment...

campaign in order to gain support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip." Israeli officials at embassies and consulates worldwide have mounted campaigns in local media, and to that end have recruited people who speak the native language. Israel has also opened an international media centre in Sderot
Sderot
Sderot is a western Negev city in the Southern District of Israel. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2006 the city had a total population of 19,300. The city has been an ongoing target of Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip...

. In an effort to improve Israeli public relations, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption
Immigrant Absorption Minister of Israel
The Immigrant Absorption Minister of Israel , known until 1951 as the Minister of Immigration , is the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and a minor position in the Israeli cabinet...

has recruited 1,000 volunteers with the objective of flooding news websites and blogs that the ministry term as anti-Israeli with pro-Israeli opinions. Volunteers proficient in languages other than Hebrew were particularly sought after.

Foreign Press Branch head Avital Leibovich believes the "new media" is another war zone, stating, "We have to be relevant there." As part of its public-relations campaign, the Israeli army opened a Youtube channel “through which it will disseminate footage of precision bombing operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as aid distribution and other footage of interest to the international community.”
Reactions

The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace...

Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

issued a statement on December 28, 2008 calling "for an immediate halt to all violence". The Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organization of Arab states in Southwest Asia, and North and Northeast Africa. It was formed in Cairo on March 22, 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria...

, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 Member States, located primarily in Europe. Committed to regional integration, the EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community...

and many nations made similar calls. On January 9, 2009, following an earlier, failed attempt at a ceasefire resolution, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1860
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860 is a resolution that was intended to resolve the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. It was approved by the United Nations Security Council with 14 member states supporting the resolution and one abstaining on January 8, 2009, following 13 days of...

calling for "an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire" leading to a full Israeli withdrawal and an end to Gaza arms smuggling, by 14 votes to one abstention (the United States). The resolution was ignored by both Israel and Hamas.
Many governments expressed positions on the conflict, most condemning both belligerents, or neither of them. Thirty-four states, mostly members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
Organization of the Islamic Conference
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference is an international organisation with a permanent delegation to the United Nations. It groups 57 member states, from the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Caucasus, Balkans, Southeast Asia and South Asia...

, condemned Israel's attacks exclusively. Three of them - Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. The name Iran has been in use natively since the Sassanid period and came into international use from 1935, before which the country was known internationally as Persia...

, Libya
Libya
Libya , officially the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya , is a country located in North Africa...

and North Korea
North Korea
North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , is a state in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer area between North Korea and South Korea...

- expressed support for Hamas' operations or defined them as falling within its right of resistance. Nineteen states, mostly members of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 Member States, located primarily in Europe. Committed to regional integration, the EU was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community...

, condemned Hamas' attacks exclusively. Thirteen of them - Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the continental mainland , the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.3 million people in Central Europe. It borders both Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a country in Central Europe that is sometimes considered to be Eastern European. The country borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe and the senior member of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries; southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and it is bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark borders both the Baltic and the North Sea...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium,...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia Georgia Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the east by Azerbaijan...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , in English officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin of Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its capital is Budapest. Hungary is a member of OECD, NATO, EU, V4 and is a Schengen state...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic , is a country located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the southernmost of the three Baltic states. Situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland, and the Russian exclave of...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a country in Northwestern Europe, constituting the major portion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy. The Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east...

, Panama
Panama
Panama, officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of both Central America and, in turn, North America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the...

and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

- expressed support for Israel's operations or defined them as falling within Israel's right to self defense.

Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia, officially Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is bordered by Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile and Peru to the west....

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a country in Western Asia spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan shares borders with Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, the Gulf of Aqaba to the southwest,...

, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania , officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in northwest Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Senegal on the southwest, by Mali on the east and southeast, by Algeria on the northeast, and by the Morocco-controlled Western Sahara on the northwest...

and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially titled Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It is a continental mainland with numerous islands located off its coastline in the Caribbean Sea...

significantly downscaled or severed their relations with Israel in protest of the offensive. Nineteen states condemned Hamas' attacks exclusively and or expressed support for Israel's operations or defined them as falling within Israel's right to self defense.

The conflict was marked by worldwide civilian demonstrations for and against both sides, with many protesters disagreeing with their governments' official position on the conflict. Protests in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Western Asia...

led to controversial police detentions of Islamist protesters.

Iran’s Supreme Leader
Supreme Leader of Iran
The post of Supreme Leader was created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran as the highest ranking political and religious authority of the nation, in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

, Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i , also known as Ali Khamenei, is an Iranian politician, cleric and the figurehead of the conservative establishment in Iran. He has been the Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989 and was president of Iran from 1981 to 1989...

issued a religious decree
Fatwa
A fatwā , in the Islamic faith is a religious opinion concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwa is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be binding, depending on the status of the scholar...

to Muslims around the world on December 28, ordering them to "defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible", and calling those who die as "martyr[s]". More than 70,000 Iranian student volunteers have registered to carry out attacks against Israel. Several riots broke out in Tehran where students demanded to be sent to Gaza where they could fight the Israelis.

The Israeli offensive also "prompted a wave of reprisal attacks against Jewish targets in Europe". The worldwide number of recorded antisemitic incidents during the conflict more than tripled the number of such incidents in the same period of the previous year, marking a two-decade high. The conflict also triggered violence against Muslims in France
Islam in France
Islam is one of the various different religions in France. Although Muslims have been present in France, both metropolitan France and its overseas departments and territories, for many centuries, mass immigration to France of Muslims in the 20th and 21st centuries have created more recently one of...

. President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra...

pledged a "zero-tolerance" policy against antisemitic and anti-Muslim attacks.

The British government reviewed all export licenses to Israel for violations of EU and national arms export control laws and decided to revoke the export licenses for a number of armaments because they were used by Israel in the Gaza offensive. The revocation of the export licenses applied to replacement parts and other equipment for Sa'ar 4.5 gunships used by Israel. British policy is not to export armaments "where there is a clear risk that arms will be used for external aggression or internal repression." Ever since the Israeli offensive, human rights organizations in Britain have exerted pressure on the British Parliament to evaluate whether export control laws were broken by Israel's use of British armaments.


Added: Jan-13-2010 
By: Bittolate
In:
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: Gaza, UN, war, love, hate hammas
Views: 41865 | Comments: 6 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
You need to be registered in order to add comments! Register HERE