Gaza Operation Cast Lead
On Saturday, December 27, 2008, the Israel Defense Forces launched an airstrike against Hamas terrorist cells in the Gaza Strip. This was the beginning of operation “Cast Lead”.
Operation Cast Lead came after three years of Israel suffering thousands of daily Palestinian rocket attacks on its southern cities.
Since the start of the operation, Hamas increased their number of attacks and had fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. Hamas fired an average of 80 rockets into Israel each day. Rockets were fired into Ashdod and Ashkelon and, for the first time, Grad rockets have been hitting Beersheba.
During the operation, Israeli Air and Naval Forces have struck Hamas terrorist cell headquarters throughout the Gaza Strip including a Hamas training base and outposts as well as Hamas government complexes.
Each time an airstrike was planned, the Israeli government warned the Gazans so as to give civilians enough time to take cover. The IDF has made it clear that their main targets are the terrorist cells, Hamas operatives and Qassam rocket launching pads in the Gaza Strip.
Unlike Hamas’s indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians in the Negev, Israel made it clear that it does not wish to hurt innocent Palestinians.
The IAF has taken extreme measures to avoid civilian casualties and have gone so far as to call apartment complexes that are known to house Hamas forces and warn the civilian residents of coming airstrikes.
90,000 Palestinian homes in Gaza received phone calls in warning of an airstrike. No other army in the world has ever gone to these measures so as to save innocent lives.
Moreover, since the first day of the operation, over 8,000 tons of humanitarian aid supplies were allowed into Gaza through the blockade. In addition, dozens of wounded and sick Gazans were transported into Israel through the Erez Crossing already.
Since the beginning of the operation, Palestinian sources claimed that approximately nine-hundred Gazans were killed – most of whom were Hamas militant forces. Israel military officials state that over 500 Hamas gunmen have been killed in Operation Cast Lead’s ground incursion
On January 18, 2009, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire and halted its operation in Gaza. The ceasefire agreement was initiated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Israeli Cabinet approved the initiative with the knowledge that it was signing a one-sided agreement. Hamas did not, nor was the terrorist group asked to, approve Egyptian-led agreement.