timeline of key events
- June 19, 2008: An Egyptian-brokered six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas begins. Hamas promises to cease rocket and mortar fire into Israel and to force other jihadists in Gaza to do the same.
- June 19-November 3: Gazan jihadi groups launch 20 rockets and 18 mortars into Israel.
- November 4: Based on intelligence that Gazan militants were planning to infiltrate the country, Israel raids a Hamas tunnel in Gaza, killing seven terrorists. Following this raid, rocket attacks from Hamas increase.
- December 27: After subsequent raids and incessant rocket fire, Israel launches Operation Cast Lead, which begins with two waves of airstrikes on Hamas targets throughout Gaza. In less than ten minutes, starting at 11:30am, the Israeli Air Force strikes 160 targets in the initial blitz and several more throughout the day. This results in the killing of around 140 Hamas members, including Tawfik Jaber, head of Hamas' police force.
- January 3: Israel launches a ground invasion of Gaza.
- January 7-17: Israel declares a three-hour unilateral ceasefire to allow for aid delivery each day as the ground invasion continues. Hamas repeatedly attacks Israel during the ceasefire.
- January 18: Early in the day, Israel announces a unilateral ceasefire, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declares the war a success. The IDF begins to pull out of Gaza. Later in the day, after firing ten rockets, Hamas also declares a ceasefire, demanding Israeli withdrawal and aid.
- January 20: Gaza terror groups attack the IDF in a few isolated incidents but the ceasefire is largely held.
- January 21: The IDF completely withdraws from Gaza.
- January 22: Hamas claims Fatah spied on them in cooperation with Israel during the war. Fatah claims that Hamas tortured at least 175 of their members in Gaza in recent days.
- At least 796 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009.
- Israel: 10 soldiers, 3 civilians killed; 336 soldiers, 182 civilians injured.
- Gaza: According to the IDF, 1,166 killed, at least 709 of whom were terrorists. B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, reported 1,391 Gazans were killed. The number of injuries is unknown.
- Hamas and other jihadi groups in Gaza continued to fire rockets and mortars into Israel. They launched over 300 rockets in the 12 months following Israel's withdrawal.
inaccurate reporting on the operation
As is typical with coverage of Israel, the media often failed to report the facts of the war accurately. For example, the New York Times quoted Palestinian sources often, but Israeli offficials rarely. On the other hand, the newspaper extensively quoted UNRWA, the staunchly anti-Israel UN agency working in Gaza and the West Bank. The Times mentioned that Hamas was responsible for civilian deaths only briefly. More inexcusably, some news organizations, including the BBC and The Independent, gave credibility to the infamous Goldstone report discussed below.
international condemnation and the GOLDSTONE REPORT
Predictably, Israel faced scathing criticism for its actions. In the days after Israeli airstikes began, the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and several European countries called for an immediate cessation of hostilities by both Israel and Hamas. Protests erupted throughout the Arab world in condemnation of Israel's actions. Only 13 countries defended Israel's actions as justified in the face of terrorism and only five more condemned Hamas but not Israel. Dozens of countries denounced Israel's actions as a "massacre."
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) launched an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas over the course of the war. The now-infamous "Goldstone Report," named after its lead author, South African jurist Richard Goldstone, called Israel guilty of "crimes against humanity." The report accused Israel of blockading Gaza and of systematicaly targeting civilians instead of terrorists in its strikes. The Goldstone Report focused all its attention on Israel: the 452-page document mentions the Israeli government and the IDF more than three-and-a-half times as often as all Palestinian terror groups combined. The report claimed there was no evidence Hamas used human shields in any way, despite countless media reports and other readily available evidence to the contrary. Goldstone later retracted his claim that the IDF targeted civilians and commended Israel's investigation of war crimes. The UNHRC, as well as the report's other three co-authors, nonetheless continue to back the report.
Information on Operation Cast Lead
Article on New York Times Op-Ed coverage of the war