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Gaza attacks: Timeline

Gaza attacks: Timeline

world Updated: Dec 29, 2008 13:32 IST

* February 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his plan to transfer all the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli opposition dismissed his announcement as "media spin" but the Israeli Labour Party said it would support such a move.

* March 22, 2004, an Israeli helicopter gunship killed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

* April 17, 2004, after several failed attempts by Hamas to commit suicide bombings, his successor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi was killed by IDF helicopter gunship strike.

* May 11 and May 12, 2004, Palestinian militants destroyed two IDF M-113 APCs, killing 13 soldiers and mutilating their bodies. The IDF launched two raids to recover the bodies in which about 20-40 Palestinians were killed and great damage was caused to structures in the Zaitoun neighbourhood in Gaza and in south-west Rafah.

* May 18, 2004 the IDF launched Operation Rainbow with a stated aim of striking the terror infrastructure of Rafah, destroying smuggling tunnels, and stopping a shipment of SA-7 missiles and improved anti-tank weapons.

* September 29, 2004 after a Qassam rocket hit the Israeli town of Sderot and killed two Israeli children, the IDF launched Operation Days of Penitence in the north of the Gaza Strip.

* October 16, 2004 leaving widespread destruction and more than 100 Palestinians dead, at least 20 of whom were under the age of 16. Thirteen-year-old Iman Darweesh Al Hams was killed by the IDF; some reports claimed a commander had deliberately fired his automatic weapon at her dead body, but the soldier was cleared of all charges.

* October 21, 2004 the Israeli Air Force killed Adnan al-Ghoul, a senior Hamas bomb maker and the inventor of the Qassam rocket.

* December 9, 2004 five weapon smugglers were killed and two were arrested in the border between Rafah and Egypt. Later that day, Jamal Abu Samhadana and two of his bodyguards were injured by a missile strike.

* December 10, 2004 in response to Hamas firing mortar rounds into the Neveh Dekalim settlement in the Gaza Strip and wounding four Israelis (including an 8 year old boy), Israeli soldiers fired at the Khan Younis refugee camp (the origin of the mortars) killing a 7-year-old girl. An IDF source confirmed troops opened fire at Khan Younis, but said they aimed at Hamas mortar crews. The IDF insisted that it does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

* September 2005: Israel withdraws its troops and 8,500 Jewish settlers. It retains control of Gaza's airspace, coastal waters and border crossings, leading the Palestinians and some Israeli legal experts to argue that Israel is still an occupier.

* January 2006: Islamist group Hamas wins the Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006. Fatah refuse to handover power and tensions between the factions rise.

* February 2006: Tit for tat exchanges intensify between Palestinian militants in Gaza firing rockets and Israeli forces using artillery and airstrikes.

* June 2006: Palestinian militants from Gaza tunnel under perimeter fence into Gaza and capture Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit. He remains a prisoner.

* June 2006: Israel launches operation Summer Rains to try to free Shalit, attacking targets in Gaza from the air and then launching relatively small ground offensive.

* July 2006: Attention shifts from Gaza to Lebanon after Hizbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers and Israel responded with its full military might. At least 1,100 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis are killed in 34 days of fighting.

* November 2006: Israel launches operation Autumn Clouds sending ground troops in to Gaza to try to deal with militants firing rockets.

* December 2006: Fatah-Hamas fighting intensifies. Three brothers, aged 3, 6 and 9, are killed by masked gunmen aiming to kill their father, a Fatah security officer.

* March 2007: BBC's Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston kidnapped as Fatah- Hamas tension leads to breakdown in law and order.

*June 2007: After months of skirmishes, Hamas ousts Fatah in a bloody battle for power. Fatah gunmen flee to Israel.

* July 2007: Alan Johnston is freed. Hamas takes the credit.

* November 2007: Peace talks restarted with Israel and moderate Palestinians represented by Fatah under Annapolis process. Hamas is sidelined from talks.

* June 2008: With Egyptian mediation, Hamas and Israel agree to a six- month ceasefire in Gaza with militants saying they will stop firing rockets while Israel says it will stop offensive operations.

* September 2008: Annapolis process stalls and Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, forced to stand down early over a corruption scandal.

* November 2008: Israel breaks ceasefire by sending ground troops into Gaza. Rocket fire resumes sparking exchanges.

* December 2008: Attempts to renew ceasefire fail amid mutual recriminations.

* December 2008: Israel launches operation Cast Lead attacking buildings and facilities connected to Hamas.

First Published: Dec 29, 2008 13:25 IST