Israel commenced its operation against the terrorist forces in Gaza primarily in response to thousands of rocket attacks fired at Israel from Gaza over a period of 8 years.
- Over 5,000 rockets and mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip, striking southwestern Israel – Sderot, Ashkelon, Netivot, and many rural communities in the area; as reported by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
- Repeated attacks against the crossing points between Israel and Gaza, crossings where fuel, food, medicines and other humanitarian aid is transferred from Israel into the Gaza.
- Continuing buildup of military weaponry to be used for attacks against Israel.
The Gaza situation deteriorated after June 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, neutralized Fatah and the Palestinian security services, and established a radical Islamic entity in the Gaza Strip separate from the Palestinian Authority. A report posted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry a year later – June 2008 – described the overall deteriorating situation within Gaza, as well as Hamas’s continuing aggression against Israel. A separate Foreign Ministry report listed at length the terror attacks coming from Gaza during the 12 months after Hamas had taken over the Strip.
As a result of the continuing aggression against Israel, the Israeli Security Cabinet in September 2007 designated the Gaza Strip as a “hostile territory”.
An Egyptian-brokered lull arrangement took effect on June 19, 2008. The six-month lull required Hamas to end rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, to halt its military buildup in Gaza, and to release Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom it was holding hostage. In exchange, Israel agreed to ease the blockade of Gaza and to halt military raids into Gaza. As part of the deal Egypt promised to stop the smuggling of arms and weapons from its territory into Gaza.
However, during the six months of the lull, the Gaza terrorist organizations still fired hundreds of rockets and mortar shells, most of them during the six weeks between November 4 and December 19, after Israeli forces briefly entered Gaza to destroy a tunnel built for offensive military purposes. The lull expired on December 19, when Hamas and the other terrorist organizations formally announced its end. After it was over, the terrorist organizations again attacked Israel with rocket and mortar shell fire, the attacks peaking on December 24, when at least 60 rockets and mortar shells were fired. Three days later Israel commenced its operation.
- Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center, Hamas’s use of human shields – February 2009
- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FAQ: The Operation in Gaza-Factual and Legal Aspects – 19 Aug 2009
- Palestine Media Watch, Eye-witnesses: Hamas used human shields in Gaza war – 16 Sep 2009
- Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center, Hamas’s judicial system legitimizes rocket attacks at Israel – 2 Feb 2010
- NGO Monitor, Web resources on the conflict and the Goldstone Report – 4 May 2011.