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Background: 4 years after Cast Lead

November 15, 2012 01:34

Since 2011, over 1,100 rockets have struck Israeli territory, almost 800 of which were launched in 2012.

IDF soldiers walk to Gaza in Operation Cast Lead

IDF soldiers walking to Gaza during Operation Cast Lead 311R. (photo credit:Ho New / Reuters)

The targeted killing of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday comes nearly four years after the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, the last serious round of armed conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

Heavy rocket fire from there in November and December 2008 prompted the Olmert government to initiate a wide-ranging operation against the terrorist infrastructure, beginning with a series of air strikes.

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The air campaign lasted for seven days, after which a 15- day ground invasion was launched aimed at severely harming Hamas’s operational capabilities. Just under a thousand rockets and mortar shells pounded southern Israel during the offensive, including dozens of missiles that reached as far as Beersheba and Yavne.

Several senior Hamas commanders were killed during the conflict along with several hundred terrorist fighters.

According to IDF figures, 1,166 Palestinians were killed during the operation, of whom 709 were combatants.

Ten IDF soldiers died, four from friendly fire, and Palestinian rockets killed three Israeli civilians.

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The two years following Cast Lead witnessed a dramatic falloff in rocket and mortar fire from Gaza. Whereas more than a thousand rockets were fired at Israel in 2008 before Israel initiated its campaign, just over 250 were launched in the whole of 2009 and 2010.

However, Hamas and other groups in Gaza swiftly embarked on a rearmament program after the operation and succeeded in smuggling into the Strip thousands of rockets and mortars, as well as anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and even shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles via their extensive network of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border.

Since 2011, more than 1,100 rockets have struck Israeli territory, almost 800 of which were launched in 2012, according to the IDF.
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