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CIAO Focus, January 2009:
Israel's Incursion into Gaza

Source: U.S. Department of State

When a week of aerial bombardments failed to neutralize cross border rocket attacks carried out by Hamas militants, the Israeli army pushed deep into Gaza determined to finish the job on the ground. Since Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza three years ago, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into the Jewish state killing up to a dozen people in an attempt to force Israel to lift its economic blockade against the Palestinian territory.

Hamas took control of Gaza the year after its decisive victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. However, Israel, along with the United States, (both of which consider Hamas a terrorist organization) refused to recognize the movement’s authority and attempted to undermine it by imposing sanctions while at the same time supporting the more pro-western, parallel government dominated by Fatah in the West Bank.

According to UN sources, 650 Palestinians (300 of them civilians) have been killed in the now almost two-week long offensive while 10 Israelis have died.  Reminiscent of Israel’s retaliation against Hizballah in 2006, in which large numbers of Lebanese civilians were killed, international opinion has turned sharply critical of the campaign especially after a UN school was shelled leaving at least 33 Palestinians dead.

The government in Tel Aviv blames the high casualties on Hamas, claiming the Islamic militants are fighting behind human shields, and should come out into the open to face Israel alone. Palestinians argue that in one of the world’s most densely populated areas (Gaza is home to 1.5 million people) it would be impossible to single out Hamas for attacks and not kill innocents.

This month CIAO examines Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

From the CIAO Database:

The Making of a Palestinian Islamic Leader

Is Hamas Committed to the Ceasefire?

Ruling Palestine I: Gaza Under Hamas

Round Two in Gaza

The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion

Military Consequences of a Gaza Ceasefire Collapse

Outside Sources: *

Profile: Gaza Strip (BBC News)

Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer (MERIP)

Israelis Press Gaza Offensive; Truce Efforts Begin (NPR)

Israel, Palestine and the Occupied Territories (Global Policy Forum)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.