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