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Israel's offensive in Gaza: a timeline

Key events since Israel began its offensive against Hamas which has killed more than 1,200 Palestinians.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2009 09:29 IST

Key events since Israel began its offensive against Hamas which has killed more than 1,200 Palestinians.

Saturday, December 27
* Israel launches Operation Cast Lead with a massive air assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip in a bid to halt militant rocket attacks.

Sunday, December 28
* Israeli warplanes bomb smuggling tunnels on the Egypt-Gaza border.

Wednesday, December 31
* Rockets fired from Gaza land more than 40 kilometres (25 miles) inside Israel.

Thursday, January 1
* Senior Hamas official Nizar Rayan killed in an Israeli air raid.

Saturday, January 3
* Israeli ground forces enter the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, January 4
* Israeli forces surround Gaza City and control a key highway, cutting the territory in half.

Monday, January 5
* Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejects EU calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Tuesday, January 6
* The Israeli army says three soldiers are killed by "friendly" tank fire.
* Israeli strikes near three UN schools kill 48 people, medics say.

Wednesday, January 7
* Israel briefly halts the shelling to allow aid into Gaza. Hamas says it will stop firing rockets into Israel for as long as the Israeli attacks cease.

Thursday, January 8
* The UN Security Council approves a resolution calling for an "immediate, durable" ceasefire in Gaza leading to a "full withdrawal" of Israeli troops. Both Israel and Hamas ignore it.
* The main UN agency operating in Gaza suspends operations after a UN-flagged convoy is hit by tank shells.

Friday, January 9
* Anti-Israeli protests are held across the Arab world.

Saturday, January 10
* New round of diplomacy launched in Cairo, with Egypt hosting separate talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and a
Hamas delegation.

Sunday, January 11
* Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel is nearing its goals -- but fighting continues.

Monday, January 12

* Hamas is nearing victory, says Ismail Haniya, the head of the Islamist movement's government in the Gaza Strip.

Wednesday, January 14
* Three rockets slam into northern Israel from Lebanon in the second attack in less than a week. No casualties reported.

Thursday, January 15
* A wing of a hospital in Gaza City ablaze after an Israeli strike.
* The UN agency for Palestinian refugees suspends operations inside Gaza after its compound is hit by an Israeli strike, wounding three.
* Hamas interior minister Said Siam is killed in Israeli air strike.

Friday, January 16
* Hamas proposes a year-long truce with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from Gaza and an end to the blockade of the enclave.
* The Palestinian death toll since December 27 reaches at least 1,188 Palestinians, with 5,285 wounded, according to Gaza medics.
* UN chief Ban Ki-moon says that a ceasefire in the war in the Gaza Strip was "very close."
* A Hamas delegation returns to Cairo for a second round of truce talks.
* Arab and other Muslim leaders meeting in Qatar accuse Israel of "crimes of war and genocide" in Gaza.
* US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni sign a deal in Washington aimed at halting arms smuggling into Gaza as part of efforts to clinch a ceasefire.
* A senior Israeli government official says Israel's security cabinet is expected to vote in favour on Saturday of a proposal for a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Saturday, January 17
* The Israeli security cabinet votes in favour of a unilateral ceasefire in its 22-day-old war in the Gaza Strip which has left much of the enclave in ruins.
* The death toll in Gaza rises to 1,206 people, with 5,300 wounded. On the Israeli side 10 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.
* Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will halt its offensive in Gaza at 2:00 am (0000 GMT) on Sunday but troops will remain in the enclave for the time being and will respond to Hamas fire.
* Olmert says Israel's war in Gaza has achieved all its goals.
* Hamas official Osama Hemdan earlier says the Islamist group will fight on if Israel orders a unilateral ceasefire because this does not envisage an Israeli army pullout.
* Egypt says it will host an international summit on the Gaza crisis on Sunday attended by several European leaders as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
* Israeli warships and tanks, dug in on the outskirts of Gaza City, keep lobbying shells into the densely populated urban area.
* United Nations officials demand an investigation into a new Israeli strike on a UN-run school in Gaza, which killed a woman and a child and which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemns as "outrageous".
* Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit says Cairo is "not bound" by a US-Israeli agreement to stop arms smuggling to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
* Palestinian militants launch at least eight rockets from the Gaza Strip following Olmert's announcement of a unilateral ceasefire, according to the Israeli military.

Sunday, January 18

* Israel initiates a unilateral ceasefire at 2:00 am (0000 GMT).