Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have been engaged in a decades-long conflict over Gaza, which Israel occupied from the Six Day War in 1967 until 2005. Israel tightly controls most of Gaza’s land and sea borders, enforcing a blockade of the territory that has left many Gazans living in poverty and which the United Nations regards as “collective punishment” of its people.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Chairman Yasser Arafat meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton at Camp David to negotiate a final settlement based on the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. Despite progress on other issues, the two sides fail to reach an agreement on Jerusalem.
Ariel Sharon, Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a holy site to both Jews and Muslims. Sharon’s visit ignites a violent revolt from the Palestinians, which begins the second intifada, or Al-Aksa intifada.
At a summit in Sharm El Sheikh, hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, both sides agree to a truce. At the urging of the Palestinians, a U.S.-led committee is formed to investigate the violence related to the Al-Aksa intifada and make recommendations to the United Nations. The committee’s findings lead to the Mitchell Report.
At the Extraordinary Arab League Summit, also hosted by Mubarak, Arafat meets with other Arab leaders. Arafat praises the second intifada and calls for an international commission to investigate the violence, rather than accept the findings and recommendations outlined in the Mitchell Report.
President Clinton presents a two-state solution, urging both sides to endorse it. In Clinton’s proposal, the Palestinians get roughly 97% of the West Bank, sovereignty over their airspace, and control over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem including Haram esh-Sharif. However, his proposal stipulates that refugees can return to Israel only with Israeli consent.
The Israeli government accepts Clinton’s proposal; however, the deadline passes without a commitment from the Palestinians.
The Palestinians criticized Barak for coming to Camp David with a proposal for dividing the West Bank they had already rejected. And,in their eyes, the Clinton/Barak plan would have left the new Palestinian state with significant loss of water and good land, almost split by Israeli annexation running east from Jerusalem, and with Israel getting roughly 9 percent of the West Bank.
Clinton’s term ends. George W. Bush becomes President of the United States.
Ariel Sharon replaces Barak as Prime Minister of Israel.
The Mitchell Report is published with recommendations for negotiations and peace.
September 11. Terrorist attacks against the U.S. on the World Trade Center and Pentagon complicates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The U.S. begins its war on terror. Hamas and Hezbollah are linked with Osama Bin Laden‘s Al-Qaeda.
Representatives of the EU, UN and the US and Russian governments met Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and jointly expressed support for his policy of implementing cease-fire and security reforms in the Palestinian Authority.
During Passover, a Hamas suicide bomber kills 30 Israelis and wounds about 100 others at a Nethanya restaurant. The suicide bomber managed to pass the security guard at the entrance to a hotel, then he walked through the lobby passing the reception desk and entered the hotel’s crowded dining room. At 19:30 pm (GMT+2) the suicide bomber detonated the explosive device he was carrying. The force of the explosion instantly killed 28 civilians and injured about 140 people, of whom 20 were injured severely. Two of the injured later died from their wounds. Some of the victims were Holocaust survivors. Most of the victims were senior citizens (70 and over). The oldest victim was 90 and the youngest was 20 years old. A number of married couples were killed, as well as a father together with his daughter. One of the victims was a Jewish tourist from Sweden who was visiting Israel for Passover.
In retaliation of the Passover suicide bombing, Israel launches Operation Defensive Shield in effort to stamp out terrorist and suicide attacks. The operation includes reoccupying such towns as Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin. During the reported time period, 55 children were killed. Thirty-eight percent (21) were under 12 years of age and 85 percent (47) were males. Forty-four percent (24) died from live bullets including rubber-coated metal bullets, 13 percent (7) from shelling, bombing or explosions, 9 percent (5) from delays in receiving healthcare, 19 percent (10) from acts of violence such as beatings or being struck by army vehicles, and 11 percent (6) were buried under the rubble by a bulldozer. Of those who died, 34.5 percent were from Nablus and 25.5 percent from Jenin. 14.5 percent and 12.7 percent were from Bethlehem and Hebron respectively.
In a controversial speech President Bush outlines the roadmap for peace, a plan that calls for the end of the violence and a peace agreement. The roadmap for peace was proposed by the Quartet, a group which includes the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia.
The Quartet issues a statement regarding the Bush Administration’s roadmap. Using the roadmap, the Quartet will try to shape international policy toward an Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution.
U.S., British, and Australian armed forces invaded Iraq.
Mahmud Abbas is appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
Mahmud Abbas resigns as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli prime minister Sharon calls for the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces if the roadmap fails.
Although leaked in November, the Geneva Accord peace plan is officially released.
Israeli prime minister Sharon’s disengagement plan is not approved. Later, he introduces another plan.
Israel begins Operation Rainbow to stop arms from passing through the Egypt-Gaza border in Rafah. During the incursion, the IDF razed some 300 homes in order to expand the buffer zone along the Gaza–Egypt border expanding unto far inside the Gaza Strip. Also a zoo and at least 700 dunams (70 ha) of agricultural land were destroyed.
In a 16 May 2004 Washington Post article, Molly Moore wrote:
“During the same 31/2-year period, Israeli military bulldozers have crushed 1,218 houses along the northern edge of the border between Gaza and Egypt, pushing back the city of Rafah and the adjacent refugee camp. A mile-long swath of broken concrete, splintered wood and twisted metal is all that remains of what Azizah Abu Anzah and others say was a close-knit community built by families and neighbors who gathered here a half-century ago in a cluster of U.N. tents.”
The International Court of Justice rules that Israel’s security barrier is in violation of international law. Israel is ordered to dismantle the barrier. The UN General Assembly votes and orders Israel to take it down.
In defiance of international law, Israel’s High Court ruled that erection of a “barrier” may continue for security reasons even though its purpose is solely to steal resources and land that will include over 12% of the West Bank when completed.
The consequences for Palestinians have been devastating. Communities have been divided, isolated and ghettoized. Farmers have been separated from their land and water sources. Militarized control is repressive, and free movement is more restricted than ever.
The ICRC called the Wall contrary to international humanitarian law and repeatedly urged Israel to halt it. Article 2(c) of the Apartheid Convention says the Wall and checkpoints are key to maintaining apartheid in the West Bank. Article 2(d) adds that “the Wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a (permanent) policy….to divide the West Bank into racial cantons,” and the South African Human Sciences Council stated:
“Restrictions on the Palestinian right to freedom of movement are endemic in the West Bank, stemming from Israel’s control of checkpoints and crossings, impediments created by the Wall and its crossing points.” They constitute an illegal matrix of control affecting all aspects of Palestinians’ lives.
Sharon’s revised disengagement plan is approved by Israel’s Knesset, calling for a complete withdrawal from Gaza. Palestinians have been ambivalent about the proposal, demanding coordination with the Israelis over a withdrawal but welcoming, in principle, any Israeli evacuation of the Palestinian areas.
Yasser Arafat dies. Abbas and Qurei are to share his powers.
Abbas is elected president of the Palestinian National Authority.
At a summit hosted by Egypt in Sharm El Sheikh, the intifada is officially over as both sides announce an end to the violence. Israel agrees to release 900 Palestinian prisoners and to gradually withdraw from Palestinian cities. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Mubarak, both in attendance, pledge to return ambassadors to Israel.
Israel begins disengagement and evacuates Gaza settlements and four West Bank settlements.
All Israeli settlers and soldiers are now out of Gaza.
Israel Prime Minister Sharon suffers a stroke, leaving Israel leadership in the hands of Ehud Olmert and the new Kadima party.
Palestine holds parliamentary elections. In a surprise victory, Hamas ousts the Fatah government, but Abbas remains PNA president.
Skepticism as Hamas prepares to take Palestinian helm
Hamas, however, has operated a network of successful social and charitable organizations for Palestinians, and Abbas did not appear to abandon hope that the peace process could move forward as long as the fundamentalist Islamic group can earn “the respect and confidence of the international community.”
“Together, we will work to achieve the dream for which our martyrs have fallen,” he said. “It is a dream of setting up a democratic state based on our national unity, based on democracy, based on political pluralism and based on maintaining equality among the people, equality between men and women, according to our declaration of independence.”
It sounds like a tall order for a region that has been wracked with violence for decades, but Hamas leaders have already indicated that they are willing — at the very least — to honor a year-old cease-fire with Israel.
Olmert elected prime minister of Israel.
Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups took Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, from Israeli territory and dragged him into Gaza. Despite prisoner exchange attempts, Shalit has been held hostage ever since.
Hezbollah militants cross the Lebanon-Israel border and attack an Israeli army patrol, killing three soldiers and kidnapping two others. The incident coincides with a series of mortar and rocket attacks on northern Israel by Hezbollah. Both incidents provoke a month-long war known as the 2006 Lebanon War.
Cross-border attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) date as far back as 1968, and followed the Six-Day War; the area became a significant base for attacks following the arrival of the PLO leadership and its Fatah brigade following their 1971 expulsion from Jordan. Starting about this time, increasing demographic tensions related to the Lebanese National Pact, which had divided governmental powers among religious groups throughout the country 30 years previously, began running high and led in part to the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990).
Concurrently, Syria began a 29-year military occupation in 1976. Israel’s 1978 invasion of Lebanon failed to stem the Palestinian attacks in the long run, but Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982 and forcibly expelled the PLO. Israel withdrew to a borderland buffer zone in southern Lebanon, held with the aid of proxy militants in the South Lebanon Army (SLA).
The invasion also led to the conception of a new Shi’a militant group, which in 1985, established itself politically under the name Hezbollah, and declared an armed struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory. When the Lebanese civil war ended and other warring factions agreed to disarm, both Hezbollah and the SLA refused. Ten years later, Israel withdrew from South Lebanon to the UN-designated and internationally recognized Blue Line border in 2000.
The withdrawal also led to the immediate collapse of the SLA, and Hezbollah took control of the area in rapid succession. Later citing continued Israeli control of the disputed Shebaa farms region and the internment of Lebanese prisoners in Israel, Hezbollah intensified its cross-border attacks, and used the tactic of seizing soldiers from Israel as leverage for a prisoner exchange in 2004.
In August 2006, in an article in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh claimed that the White House gave the green light for the Israeli government to execute an attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon. Supposedly, communication between the Israeli government and the US government about this came as early as two months in advance of the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight others by Hezbollah prior to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict in July 2006. The US government denied these claims.
According to Jonathan Cook, the Winograd Committee leaked a testimony from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggesting that Olmert “had been preparing for such a war at least four months before the official casus belli: the capture by Hezbullah of two Israeli soldiers from a border post on 12 July 2006.” Cook also reported that “Olmert told Winograd that, far from making war on the hoof in response to the capture of the two soldiers (the main mitigating factor for Israel’s show of aggression), he had been planning the attack on Lebanon since at least March 2006.”
The 2006 Lebanon War ends. The war causes criticism within Israel and more resentment from the Arab world.
Foreign minister Aboul Gheit stated “Targeting civilians under the pretext of fighting terrorism is unacceptable and unjustified. Israeli practices violate international law. We condemn any military action that targets civilians. We consider it a terrorist act, regardless of who the civilians are or its source.” Mubarak condemned the Israeli military attack in Lebanon, but also indirectly criticised Hezbollah for harming Arab interests.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi condemned Israel’s response stating, “The Zionist regime is desperate because of the resistance put up by regional Muslim nations and is now resorting to blind tactics against the innocent people of Lebanon with full US backing.” Iran also adds that an Israeli attack against Syria would be considered an attack against the entire Muslim world and it would bring about a “fierce response.” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, quoted by the Iranian News Agency, said “The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan.”
Parliament Speaker Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani condemned Israeli attacks on Lebanon and called on the UN Security Council and international community to act, warning against the outcome for the region. Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani reportedly indicated that the “attacks reflected Israel’s disrespect of the international community and international agreements.”
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is reported to have condemned Israel during the conflict saying “We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression” and “[Israel’s] excessive use of force is to be condemned”
A statement from the Jordanian Government said “Jordan stands against whoever exposes the Palestinian people and their cause, Lebanon and its sovereignty to unexpected dangers. Israel’s use of force against unarmed civilians and the outcome in terms of the human loss and destruction of civil institutions.” Jordan has also denounced Hezbollah’s actions believing them to be harmful to Arab interests in the region.
Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah condemned what it cited as “Israeli aggression on the Lebanese people” and expressed solidarity with Lebanon.
Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa says that Israel is responsible for the conflict, due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The Syrian Baath Party has also expressed its solidarity and support with Hezbollah. Syria’s military has been put on high alert. Syria’s president Bashar Assad has also released a statement saying “The occupying enemy hasn’t forgotten the humiliating defeat and its submissive exit from south Lebanon under the strikes bold resistance,” “Syria, which stood by its brother (Lebanon) and sacrificed martyrs to defend Lebanon’s freedom as we did for Syria’s sovereignty, remains as always adamant in standing by our Arab people who’s fighting in Lebanon and Palestine, and by the bold national resistance who struck the enemy. All threats voiced by powers in the world who support the enemy won’t deter us from continuing to support our brothers,” “because we believe that falling for the sake of heaven (martyrdom) is the only way to freedom and victory. We have to make all effort in training to save every drop of blood when the hour comes. The fighting continues so long our land is occupied and our rights are denied. Victory will be achieved God willing.” “the Israeli enemy continues its extermination war against our proud peoples in Lebanon and Palestine. Our brothers in Lebanon are being subjected to aggression by the Israeli war machine from the air, the sea and the ground,” “The aggression, killing and destruction committed by the Israelis in Lebanon are part of an operation that was planned and organized by the large forces dominating the international community.”
The ruling party, General People’s Congress strongly condemned the actions of which it considered to be aggressions against the Palestinians and the Lebanese and called for the international community to intervene. Other political parties have also condemned the Israelis, and announced their support for the Palestinian and Lebanese people “in their fight for their right of survival and defeating occupier.” They also called for the closing of Israeli embassies in Arab countries.
Israel and Palestinians announce the Gaza strip truce, but rocket fire from Gaza continues.
Hamas and Fatah agree to share power. Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agreed Thursday to form a power-sharing government and end the armed feuding that has killed scores of Palestinians over the past year.
It remained unclear whether the new government will meet conditions laid down by Israel and international donors to fully restore funding to the Palestinian Authority that they cut off after Hamas’s victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections.
Hamas seizes control of Gaza, routing Fatah forces and killing more than 100 people.
In an uncharacteristically fiery televised speech, Abbas said Hamas replaced the “national project” with “its project of darkness.”
“There is no dialogue with those murderous terrorists,” Abbas said, accusing them of attempting a coup. It was Abbas’ toughest speech since he fired the Hamas-led Cabinet and replaced it with his own team of Fatah supporters and experts over the weekend.
“Our main goal is to prevent sedition from spreading to the West Bank, … to prevent violations by any party, and to deal (with everyone) equally, based on law,” he said.
In a lightning military-style operation last week, Hamas militias routed the numerically superior Fatah security forces and took over their bases, leaving Abbas’ Fatah in control only of the West Bank.
Hamas and Israel declare a six-month truce. The truce is violated by sporadic rocket fire. The cease fire indeed created a 6-month long decrease in the Gaza-Israel conflict intensity, however according to The New York Times, neither side fully respected the terms of the cease-fire. Some rockets still continued to fire from Gaza and the Israeli blockade of Gaza was loosened but not completely opened. Hamas hoped that the accord would lead Israel to suspend attacks on the West Bank and Gaza while Israel hoped that the accord would lead to progress on negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit; neither hope was met.
Israeli prime minister Olmert, facing corruption charges and a criminal investigation, announces his plans to resign.
“I will step aside properly in an honourable and responsible way, and afterwards I will prove my innocence,” Olmert told reporters from a podium outside his Jerusalem office. “I want to make it clear – I am proud to be a citizen of a country where the prime minister can be investigated like a regular citizen. It is the duty of the police to investigate, and the duty of the prosecution to instruct the police. The prime minister is not above the law.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni informed President Shimon Peres today (Sun.) that she has been unable to form a coalition that would enable her to become Israel’s next prime minister. As a result, Israel likely will hold general elections in February to determine its next leader.
Upon her election as chairwoman of the ruling Kadima party Sept. 17 in the party’s primaries, Livni – who is also vice prime minister – began working to form a coalition government. But today, after more than five weeks of negotiations, she conceded that there was no possibility of doing so.
Livni had been counting on the religious Shas party, which holds 12 seats in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and is Israel’s, to join her coalition but she balked at the party’s demands not to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority over the status of Jerusalem.
Shas’ non-negotiable stance could impact the future of a two-state solution and jeopardize future negotiations. Shas also insisted on a 1.5 billion shekel ($394 million) increase for child allowances but Livni was only prepared to offer 400 million shekel ($105 million), saying, “There are some things the State cannot be sold for.” Shas’ voter constituency includes large families and religious seminary students who depend on the government for significant financial subsidies for school and living expenses.
As Kadima’s newly elected chairwoman, Livni had 42 days to form a coalition and technically, she still has until Nov. 3 to do so. But without the support of Shas and United Torah Judaism, another religious party which currently holds six seats, she cannot amass enough seats in the Knesset for a coalition that comprises centrist and left-of-center parties.
Peres now has until Tuesday night to review the situation and inform the Knesset speaker of Livni’s inability to form a government, after which any of the 120 members of the Knesset will have three weeks to try to form a coalition. Israeli law requires a minimum of 61 members to form a coalition.
If a government is not formed within three weeks after Livni announces that she was unable to form a coalition, Peres will call for general elections, which are expected take place Feb. 17. Current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will remain in office until a new coalition is formed following the new 2009 parliamentary elections.
Olmert resigned his post Sept. 21 due to ongoing corruption investigations into some of his activities when he held ministerial positions in previous Israeli governments, rendering his cabinet an interim government.
The Hamas-Israel cease fire officially ends after six months; however, attacks between the two continued throughout the truce, escalating in November.
Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a massive, 22-day military assault on the Gaza Strip. The ferocity of the attack was unprecedented in the more than six-decade-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, killing some 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians. In the aftermath of the offensive, a UN-appointed fact finding mission found strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both the Israeli military and Palestinian militias. Investigations by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch came to the same conclusion.
The Israeli air force bombed the house of Nizar Rayan, a senior Hamas official, in the Jabalya refugee camp. The blast killed Rayan, his four wives, and their eleven children, ranging in age from 1-12 years old. According to the army spokesperson, “the house served as a large munitions warehouse and as a war room. Under the house was an escape tunnel for terrorist members of Hamas’s military wing.”
Even if the army spokesperson’s statement is accurate, the large toll of civilian lives renders the attack a grave breach of international humanitarian law. In the current situation in the Gaza Strip, it is hard to think of a definite military advantage that could have been achieved by bombing the house and killing Rayan, that can justify the killing of 13 women and children.
Israel launches a ground offensive in Gaza, sending in thousands of troops and calling up tens of thousands of reservists. Hamas vows to “fight until the last breath”, warning Israel that “Gaza will be your cemetery.” The U.N. Security Council holds an emergency meeting on the issue but fails to agree on a statement condemning Israel’s actions.
Israeli troops surround Gaza City. At least 30 people, including a number of children, are killed and others wounded when the Israel Defense Forces shell a house in the suburb of Zeitoun.
TV footage showed Israeli troops with night-vision goggles and camouflage face paint marching in single file. Artillery barrages preceded their advance, and they moved through fields and orchards following bomb-sniffing dogs to guard against booby-traps.
Gaza City’s civilians cowered inside as battles raged, while terrified residents in other areas fled in fear. In the southern town of Rafah, one man loaded a donkey cart with mattresses and blankets preparing to flee.
The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1860 on January 8, calling for “an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”. The Security Council expressed its grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deepening humanitarian crisis.
Israel rejected the Resolution, saying it would continue its air and ground strikes in Gaza until its “objectives are reached”, which include destroying Hamas’ military capabilities, ending the rocket fire and preventing it from rearming; Hamas dismissed the Resolution, saying the “interests of the people were not taken into consideration”.
January 14, 2009
Venezuela announced Wednesday it is breaking diplomatic relations with Israel over the conflict in Gaza, joining Bolivia, which did the same thing earlier in the day.
In the announcement issued by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, the government cited “the gravity of the atrocities against the Palestinian people.”
The statement accused the Israelis of having “ignored, systematically, calls from the United Nations, violating in a repeated and shameless manner the resolutions approved by the overwhelming majority of their members and placing themselves ever more on the margin of international law.”
It described “19 days of continuous bombardment, the assassination of more than 1,000 people and the destruction of the infrastructure of the population of Gaza,” calling it “a human catastrophe that is unraveling before the eyes of the entire world.”
It further accused Israel of participating in “state terrorism” against “the most weak and innocent human beings: children, women and the aged.”
The statement called for Israeli leaders be tried before an international court for crimes against humanity.
The move is a ratcheting up of tensions between the two countries that have simmered since January 6, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the Israeli ambassador from Caracas.
Venezuela’s announcement came hours after Bolivian President Evo Morales announced that Bolivia was breaking diplomatic relations with Israel and urged that Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert be declared war criminals.
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 5,000 wounded in the Israeli military operation, which started December 27, Palestinian officials said Wednesday.
Israeli shells containing white phosphorus hit the U.N. compound in Gaza, destroying food, fuel, and aid supplies stored at the site. U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon says he is “appalled” by “an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations.”
A unilateral Israeli cease-fire a 22-day assault against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip has gone into effect.
Israel says it is halting military operations in Gaza. Its assault killed nearly 1,200 Palestinians, about half of them civilians.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum in Gaza said in a televised address on Saturday that a unilateral cease-fire was not enough to end Hamas resistance – joining the hard-line stance taken earlier by Hamas leaders in exile.
“The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings, and we will not accept any Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price,” Barhoum said.
Israeli forces completed their withdrawal from Gaza early today and have taken up positions along the perimeter of the Palestinian territory, according to a military spokesman.
The last armoured units and foot patrols left three days after Israel and Hamas separately declared ceasefires. Officials had promised they would be out before the inauguration of the US president, Barack Obama.
Benjamin Netanyahu is elected prime minister of Israel; he takes office in April.
The U.N. Human Rights Council establishes an independent fact-finding mission “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed” during the Gaza conflict.
President Obama gives historic speech in Cairo. Addressing the Muslim and Arab world, he calls on Palestinians to renounce violence, on Arabs to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and for an end to settlement construction.
“I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors,” Obama said. “There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.”
The U.N. fact-finding mission issues its report. It (The Goldstone Report) finds that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the Gaza conflict. The Palestinian Authority calls the report professional and unbiased and urges that Israel be “punished” for its actions; Israel, which did not cooperate with the U.N. team, rejects its findings as one-sided and shameful.
Goldstone retracts part of his U.N. report, claiming that he would have reached different conclusions if the Israeli military had been more forthcoming. He writes in the Washington Post, “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone report would have been a different document.”
However, three of his co-authors vehemently disagree with his change of heart, saying there is “no justification” for it and insisting they stand by their findings.
Fatah and Hamas sign a reconciliation accord, citing the common cause of opposition to the Israeli occupation and shared disillusionment with American peace efforts as reasons for the détente.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said his faction was “ready to pay any price” for reconciliation among Palestinians, the Arabic satellite channel al-Arabiya reported.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the accord ended “four black years” that hurt national Palestinian interests. He also said at the ceremony that he would soon visit the Hamas-held Gaza Strip.
“We announce to Palestinians that we turn forever the black page of division,” he said.
The pact provides for the creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government before national elections next year.
Critics have cast doubt on the durability of the Egyptian-brokered accord, which has been denounced by Israel.
President Obama declares that the borders demarcated before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war should be the basis of a Mideast peace deal between Israel and Palestine with adjustments made to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Those pre-1967 boundaries are a tripwire in the rhetoric and realpolitik over how to achieve peace between Israel, Palestinians and the wider Arab world. In his Thursday speech on the Middle East, President Obama included this statement: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas officially requests a bid for statehood at the UN Security Council. The request came after months of failed European and U.S. efforts to bring Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table. Abbas followed up the request with a speech to the General Assembly in which he said, “I do not believe anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for full admission in the United Nations.”
Gilad Shalit, a twenty-five year old Israeli soldier, is released after being held for more than five years by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group. Shalit is exchanged for hundreds of Palestinians who have spent years in Israeli jails.
Ahmed al-Ja’abari, the head of Hamas’ military operations, is killed in one of a series of “surgical” Israeli airstrikes against terrorist organizations in Gaza. Israel says the strikes, code-named “Operation Pillar of Defense“, are in retaliation for increased rocket attacks from Gaza. Egypt recalls its Ambassador to Israel in protest.
Opposition to “Operation Pillar of Defense” is as expected:
President Hamid Karzai condemned Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza and called for an “immediate stop” to violence against civilians.
Algeria strongly condemned, through Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman Amar Belani, the “Israeli aggression against Gaza strip” and urged the United Nations Security Council and the international community to assume their responsibilities and “put an end to this dangerous escalation”
Bahrain reiterated its strong condemnation of the “brutal Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.” The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ghanim bin Fadl Al Buainain urged the international community to step up efforts to halt the “repeated and unjustified Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.” On 20 November a Bahrain lawmaker said he set fire to an Israeli flag during a parliament session in a show of support for the Palestinians in Gaza. Al-Tamimi said he sought to “send a clear message to the international community” about Bahrain’s support for the people of Gaza as they face Israeli attacks in retaliation for stepped up rocket strikes by the Palestinian group Hamas.
The Egyptian ambassador was recalled to Cairo and Israel’s ambassador received an official protest. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sated that “The Israelis must realise that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region”. Demanding that the Arab League call an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss “criminal Israeli aggression” on Gaza, and sought an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council.
The Foreign Ministry of Egypt berated the operation and called on Israel to halt its attacks. According to The Guardian, the chairman of the Freedom and Justice party, Saad El-Katatni, said: “The Egyptian people revolted against injustice and will not accept an attack on Gaza. The brutal aggression on Gaza proves that Israel has not yet learned that Egypt has changed”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast berated the Israeli strikes, saying that they were a “sign of the regime’s brutal nature”
Iraq’s envoy to the Arab League called on the Arab countries to “use the weapon of oil, with the aim of asserting real pressure on the United States and whoever stands with Israel”
Jordanian Information Minister Sameeh Maaytah said: “Israel’s aggressive policy placed the area again in a cycle of violence and instability. This additional hostility… closes all doors on negotiations and the achievement of political arrangements. Israel deprives the Palestinian people of their political and national right to create an independent state… Israel’s aggression needs to be stopped and the Palestinian people need to be protected.”
Libya condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza, calling them “criminal”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that “these criminal attacks which resulted in the killing and wounding of dozens of the Palestinian people” were a challenge to the international community and to “resolutions of international legitimacy”. The statement said the attacks exposed Israel’s “aggressive, expansionist and terrorist” intentions and merited condemnation by the whole world.
In a phone conversation with President Morsi of Egypt, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said that Pakistan strongly condemns Israeli air attacks in Gaza “that have targeted not only the Hamas leadership but also innocent civilians”. He said Pakistan considers Israeli action as “a grave violation of international law and all humanitarian norms”. He added that Israeli threats of a ground offensive against Gaza were even more disturbing. Raja also said that unless the Palestinian problem was resolved, peace in the Middle East would remain elusive. He expressed concern that the escalation in violence could lead to a spreading of conflict, which may engulf the region.
In Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Arabia expressed its condemnation of the “Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip” and called for a stronger and more united Arab stance in the face of the “Israeli occupation practices”. In his speech before the extraordinary meeting of the Arab League Council at the ministerial level held in Cairo, the Saudi Foreign Minister Nizar Madani said “It is no longer reasonable or acceptable to pass this new aggression unpunished and that Arab stances earlier which did not exceed words and sought, in vain, binding decisions of the Security Council made Israel careless of observing the Arab and international community’s demands”. Madani said “The Kingdom sees that it is time for the Palestinians to enjoy, like other peoples of the world, peace and security and to have a homeland free of violence, killing and destruction”.
The Syrian Government called Israel’s actions “barbaric, reprehensible crimes” and called on the international community to pressure Israel into halting its strikes.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of aggressively attacking the armed organization in the Gaza Strip. According to Erdogan, Israel’s strikes were motivated by the Knesset elections scheduled to take place in about two months. In a speech in Cairo University on 17 November 2012, “Everyone must know that sooner or later there will be a holding to account for the massacre of these innocent children killed inhumanely in Gaza,” Erdogan also praised Egypt for recalling their ambassador to Israel.
Foreign Ministry of Turkey condemned the Israeli strikes with a written statement. “We strongly condemn this Israeli attack and immediately demand that it be stopped,” the statement said, adding that no country, Israel included, is above international law.
According to a statement released to the Saba News Agency from a government source, “Yemen has announced its strong condemnation and denunciation of the “brutal Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip, and standing of the Yemeni people with their brothers in Palestine at all times”. The unnamed spoken also said that “The Yemeni government calls for the international community to bare their responsibilities towards the Zionist offensive and take swift action to stop this brutal aggression”. The Yemeni parliament has denounced the Israeli operation, considering it an “aggression against all Arab and Muslim countries” and calling for using oil as a weapon to end the Israeli operation. It called on the Arab parliaments and shoura councils to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the “Israeli aggression against Gaza”, calling for visiting Gaza in sympathy with its people. On 17 November, Permanent Representative of Yemen to the Arab League, Mohammed al-Haisami called “all Arab states to put an end to the cruel Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip and to stop the crimes committed by Israel on the Palestinian people”. Al-Haisami demanded “to urgently set up an Arab ministerial committee to evaluate the conditions and move immediately to the Gaza Strip to get acquainted with the situation there”
Israel’s cabinet approves the call up of 75,000 reservists as the IDF says it is “mobilizing forces” in preparation for a “possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.”
Israel expanded its fierce air assault on rocket operations in the Gaza Strip, striking Hamas government and security compounds, smuggling tunnels and electricity sources. It slowly expanded its operation beyond military targets and before dawn, the Gaza Interior Ministry reported, missiles smashed into two small Hamas security facilities as well as the massive Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, setting off a huge blaze that engulfed nearby houses and civilian cars parked outside. No one was inside the buildings at the time.
By now, Israel has carried out 750 airstrikes since the campaign began on Nov. 14, while militants unleashed 500 rockets against Israel. Eight Israelis, including five civilians, were lightly wounded Saturday, the Israeli army said. On that same time, Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket-defense system knocked down a rocket headed toward Tel Aviv.
Hamas calls for an end to Israel’s long blockade of Gaza and its raids on the territory as part of its conditions for any cease fire. Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath says the group wants an end to “the harassment and draconian siege so there wll be a normal life for the people of Gaza.”
Civilian casualties in Gaza began to shoot up, after Israel said it was stepping up attacks on the homes of suspected Hamas activists. After that warning, an Israeli missile flatted a two-story house in a residential area of Gaza City, killing at least 11 civilians, most of them women and children. the new tactic ushered in a risky phase of the operation, given the likelihood of civilian casualties in the crowded territory of 1.6 million Palestinians.
Meanwhile, an Israeli envoy was whisked from the tarmac at Cairo’s international airport to talks with senior Egyptian security officials. The top Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mashaal held talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who also spoke by phone with the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.
Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers traded fire and tough cease-fire proposals, and threatened to escalate their border conflict if diplomacy fails, but no deal appeared near. An Israeli airstrike targeting a Gaza media center killed a senior militant and engulfed the building in flames, while Gaza fighters fired 95 rockets at Israel, nearly one-third of them intercepted by an Israeli missile shield. A total of 38 Palestinians were killed, bringing the death toll since the start of Israel’s offensive to 111, including 56 civilians.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rushes to Jerusalem from Cambodia for a late-night meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where she calls for a “durable outcome.” Netanyahu said that he preferred a diplomatic solution to the conflict between his country and Hamas militants, but also said that Israel would “take whatever action is necessary to protect its people.”
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announce a cease-fire has been signed. Both sides agree to end hostilities toward each other and Israel says it will open Gaza border crossings, allowing the flow of products and people into Gaza, potentially lifting the 5-year blockade that has caused much hardship to those living in the region.
The United Nations General Assembly approves an upgrade from the Palestinian Authority’s current observer status to that of a non-member state. The vote comes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the General Assembly and asks for a “birth certificate” for his country. Of the 193 nations in the General Assembly, 138 vote in favor of the upgrade in status. While the vote is a victory for Palestine, it is a diplomatic setback for the U.S. and Israel. Having the title of “non-member observer state” will allow Palestine access to international organizations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). If they join the ICC, Palestine can file complaints of war crimes against Israel. In response to the UN vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces that Israel will not transfer about $100 million in much-needed tax revenue owed to the struggling Palestinian Authority and will resume plans to build 3,000-unit settlement in an area that divides the north and the south parts of the West Bank, thereby denying the Palestinians any chance for having a contiguous state.
As polls close in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims victory for what will be his third term, but the election is not the expected landslide. The overwhelming favorite, Netanyahu is followed closely by Yair Lapid, who founded Yesh Atid, a new centrist party. With 99 percent of the vote in, Likud-Beiteinu, Netanyahu’s party has 31 seats, followed by 19 seats for Lapid’s party.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invites former foreign minister Tzipi Livni to join his coalition and head Israel’s peace talks with Palestine. Livni, who formed the Hatenuah party to run against Netanyahu in last month’s election, will also serve as Justice Minister. Netanyahu and Livni make the announcement at a press conference, both saying they have set aside past disagreements and rivalries to work together.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agree to new peace talks with the goal of reaching an agreement within nine months, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The initial meeting takes place at the State Department in Washington D.C. and is attended by Israel’s Justice Minister, chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat. During their meeting with Secretary of State Kerry, both sides vow to meet again within two weeks to begin negotiations. Erekat says, “It’s time for the Palestinians to live in peace, freedom and dignity within their own independent, sovereign state.” Livni adds, “I believe that history is not made by cynics; it is made by realists who are not afraid to dream. Let us be these people.”
Israelis and Palestinians officially begin peace talks in Jerusalem. Expectations are low going into the talks, the third attempt to negotiate since 2000, and nearly five years since the last attempt. The talks begin just hours after Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoner release is a step on Israel’s part to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table. Israel says the prisoner release will be the first of four. However, Palestinian officials are concerned over Israel’s ongoing settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, land that will be part of an official Palestinian state.
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dies. The official cause of death is heart failure, although Sharon had been in a coma since suffering a stroke on January 4, 2006.
When Israel fails to release the promised last batch of prisoners in late March 2014, U.S. Secretary John Kerry heads there in an attempt to rescue the latest round of peace talks. Israel had promised to release Palestinian prisoners in four groups and released the first three groups as promised. But Israel’s failure to release the last group of 26 prisoners as well as their continued settlement expansion in the West Bank threatens to derail a peace agreement. Palestine says the peace talks will end on April 29 if Israel does not release the 26 prisoners.
The troubled peace talks hit another snag when Palestinian leadership and Hamas forge a new reconciliation agreement. The new unity deal angers the Israeli government. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted by saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was choosing “Hamas, not peace.”
The day after the Palestinian leadership announces its new unity deal with Hamas, Israel responds by halting the peace talks.
The deadline for the latest round of peace talks passes without an agreement.
The body of a missing Palestinian teenager is found the day after the burial of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed while hiking in the West Back in June. Both incidents increase tension between Israelis and Palestinians, including riots in East Jerusalem and an exchange of rocket fire in Southern Israel and Gaza. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks the police to investigate what he calls “the abominable murder” of the Palestinian teenager in what may have been a revenge killing in reaction to the death of the three Israeli teenagers. Netanyahu also promises to punish those responsible for the killing of the three teenagers. Hamas leaders praise the kidnapping and killing of the three teenagers, but do not take credit for the incident.
Several Israeli Jewish suspects are arrested in connection with the killing of the Palestinian teen.
Hundreds of rockets are launched into Israel by militant groups in Gaza. The rockets reach areas in Israel that previous rocket attacks did not. Israel’s Iron Dome intercepts at least one rocket over Tel Aviv, while another reaches the outskirts of Jerusalem. In response, Israel launches an aerial offensive in Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians, and calls up 20,000 reservists for a potential ground operation.
Israel launches a ground offensive into Gaza. Israeli officials say that the mission’s main focus is on tunnels near Gaza’s borders that are used to enter Israel. Within hours of the invasion’s start, one Israeli soldier is killed. At least 20 Palestinians are killed, bringing their death toll to more than 260 by the end of the first day of the offensive.
- Shattered Dreams of Peace
- Remembering the Second Intifada
- Timeline: Israel-Gaza Conflict
- Passover Massacre
- The effects of Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield on Palestinian children living in the West Bank
- U.N. Assembly Asks World Court to Review Israeli Wall
- Key Israeli distortions about “Operation Rainbow” in Rafah
- How Israel Targets and Suppresses Opposition to Its Annexation Wall
- Sharon’s new ‘disengagement’ plan has four stages
- Hamas’ past casts shadow over peace plans
- 2006 Lebanon War
- International Reactions to the 2006 Lebanon War
- Palestinians Reach Deal on a Government
- Abbas Lashes Out at Hamas; Israel Strikes Gaza
- 2008 Israel – Hamas Cease Fire
- Ehud Olmert resignation throws Israel’s politics into turmoil
- Israel To Hold New Elections
- Operation Cast Lead
- The Killing of Nizar Rayan
- Israel Forces Bisect Gaza, Surround Biggest City
- The Gaza War: An Update
- Venezuela, Bolivia Cut Ties to Israel Over Gaza
- Israel Begins Unilateral Gaza Cease Fire
- Israel Completes Gaza Withdrawal
- Obama Seeks ‘New Beginning’ With Muslim World
- Palestinian Rivals Hamas and Fatah Sign Reconciliation Deal
- Israel’s pre-1967 Boundaries
- Palestine Seeks Membership with the U.N. Security Council
- Reactions to Operation Pillar of Defense
- Timeline of Recent Israel-Gaza Violence
- Timeline: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Since 2000