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Hamas Rocket damage in Southern Israel, October, 2012

Hamas Rocket damage in Southern Israel

 Arab-Israeli Wars:

Gaza War 2012:

Operation Pillar of Defense

Gaza War 2012 Images and Pictures | Gaza War 2012 Casualties | Gaza War 2012 Sources and Links

In 2008 and 2009, Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Stip waged a war which Israel refers to as Operation Cast Lead. While immediately following the conclusion of that war, a semblance of peace settled over Gaza and southern Israel, 2011 and 2012 saw a resumption of major rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza. Most of those Israeli targets were civilian population centers. While Israel often responded to these attacks with occassional airstrikes on those launching the rockets and missiles, the Israeli military largely stayed away from the large-scale bombardments and ground assaults that marked the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

This changed in November, 2012, when, in response to several hundred Hamas rocket and missile launches onto Israeli territory over the course of a four-day period, the Israeli military launched a massive offensive against Hamas titled Operation Pillar of Defense on November 14, 2012. Prime Minister Netanyahu authorized a call-up of Israeli military reservists as the Israeli air forces pounded dozens of terrorist targets in Gaza.

Over 90 Hamas rockets exploded across southern Israel on the night of November 13, Israeli schools within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip were closed, and residents were urged to follow directives from the IDF Home Front Command. Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted 29 rockets. Israel's first wave of airstrikes killed the Hamas military leader, Ahmed al-Jabari, and at least eight other Hamas members. Al-Jabari was the man who coordinated the abduction of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006, which was a precursor to the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) said via Twitter, that “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.” Israeli leaders stated that major goals of Operation Pillar of Defense included the ability to destroy Hamas' rocket infrastructure and to establish deterrence against future attacks. Presumably, the deterrence would take the form of causing enough damage and pain in Gaza to keep Hamas leaders from resuming their rocket offensives against Israel.

Hamas responded with a message that what they termed the "assassination" of al-Jabari was a declaration of war.

With recent cross-border tensions and shooting along the Israel-Syria cease-fire line in the Golan Heights, as well as the ongoing threat of war with Iran (a major supporter and supplier of Hamas), the possibility of an escalation into a major Middle Eastern War remains very high.

As of the second day of the war, Palestinian sources in Gaza reported thirteen dead and nearly 100 wounded. Four of those killed were civilians. In Israel, nearly one million Israelis were living within range of the attacks, and a rocket attack on the civilian town of Kiryat Malachi killed three adults and wounded a 4-year old boy and two infants.

Hamas rocket and missile attacks on Israel increased on the second and third days of the war, with one missile hitting in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city, while two others landed in the sea near that city. On November 16, Hamas rockets reached the Israeli capital of Jerusalem. Israeli strikes largely targeted rocket and missile launch sites, especially sites for the Iranian-made Fajr-5 rocket, which are capable of reaching Tel Aviv. As of Novembe 16, over 400 rockets and missiles from Gaza had hit Israel.

Gaza War Map

Gaza War Map

Gaza borders on Egypt, which is under starkly different leadership during the 2012 war compared to the 2008-2009 Gaza War. Before, Hosni Mubarak was in power, and he closed the Gaza border in silent aid of Israel. Now, Mubarak is gone due to the "Arab Spring" uprisings, and the Muslim Brotherhood is the ruling party, having won power in free elections. Hamas has its origins as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Egyptian wing of the Brotherhood has organized anti-Israel rallies and protests in Egypt over the war. However, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil made a visit to Gaza, and Israel declared a three-hour truce during his visit. Hamas (and its ally in Gaza, Islamic Jihad), ignored the truce, with Israel reporting that during Kandil's visit, 35 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip hit Israel while another 86 were launced from Gaza but intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system. Kandill's comments while in Gaza reflect the dichotomy of Egypt's position. Whether for internal political reasons, or as a reflection of his, and his party's true feelings toward Israel, even while claiming that Egypt can act to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil also decried the Israeli attacks on Hamas, declaring that the Israeli actions constituted "aggression."

On the fourth day of the war, Israel expanded the airstrikes to include targets related to the civilian infrastructure of the Hamas regime, and not just the military sites initially targetted. The Prime Minister's office in Gaza was leveled, as well as police and homeland security headquarters for Hamas. The homes of several Hamas military commanders were also hit. Hamas continued to launch rockets and missiles at Israeli population centers, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Israel's call-up of over 75,000 reservists and visible signs of a buildup of ground forces near the Gaza border made many analysts beleive that a ground offensive was coming soon, but the November 21 ceasefire took effect prior to any ground invasion.

On November 21, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced a that a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel had been reached. The ceasefire, which took effect on November 21, ended the fighting and set Israel and Hamas to negotiate. According to the text of the ceasefire agreement, both sides will negotiate "opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation" after the ceasefire holds for 24 hours. In the hours after the agreement, a dozen rockets were launched from Gaza, but all landed in open, unpopulated areas.

During this short 8-day war, Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired 1,456 Iranian Fajr-5, Russian Grad rockets, Qassams and mortars into Israel. The IDF records more than 1,450 air, tank, and warship strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip during the Operation Pillar of Defense.


Images and Pictures of the 2012 Gaza War:

Israel's Iron Dome Defense

Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System in Action


 Gaza War 2012 Casualties:

Israeli Casualties: (as of 11.16.12)

6 dead (2 soldiers, 4 civilians)

240 wounded


Palestinian (Gaza) Casualties: (as of 11.17.12)

133 dead (79 Hamas fighters, 53 civilians, and one policeman)

840 wounded

* Not included in the official casualty list are 8 Palestinians executed by Hamas without trial for alleged collaboration with Israel


Gaza War Sources and Links:

Israel Broadens Bombing in Gaza to Civilian Sites--NYTimes, Nov. 17, 2012

LIVE BLOG: Israel launches military operation in Gaza--Haaretz newspaper



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