Gaza – Operation Guardian of the Walls – 2021


Israel commenced its operation against the terrorist forces in Gaza following several weeks of escalating Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

  • The Hamas terrorist organization fired over 40 rockets at Israel in April.
  • Incendiary balloon devices launched from Gaza caused dozens of fires, resulting in widespread environmental and economic damage throughout southern Israel.
  • In a shooting attack at the Tapuah Junction in early May, a Palestinian terrorist killed a 19-year-old yeshiva student and injured two others.
  • Border police stopped an attempted stabbing attack in Hebron and prevented a serious mass attack when they diverted a minibus carrying three heavily armed terrorists to the Salem Junction border police base.

Combined, these attacks left almost seventy Israeli civilians injured in just the month before the escalation.

In addition, violent rioters led by the Hamas terrorist organization and the Palestinian Authority met in planned clashes, with the goal of igniting violence and unrest in the city of Jerusalem. Deliberately manufactured flashpoints were used to stoke the flames. Every Israeli attempt to deescalate the situation was either ignored or drove the Palestinians to focus on a new issue after the removal of their contrived excuse for unrest. 

The deteriorating situation gave Hamas an excuse to trigger renewed conflict between Israel and Gaza.  A significant factor was that Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, canceled Palestinian elections slated for May 22, fearing Hamas’ success. Exploiting the moment, and spurred on by Iran, Hamas instigated violence at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Palestinian passions in eastern Jerusalem were inflamed by reports about the possible eviction of four families who had not been paying rent to the legally recognized owner in a long-running property dispute (Sheikh Jarrah: A Legal Background, 9 May 2021).

On the afternoon of 10 May 2021, Jerusalem Day, Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel to remove all its police and military personnel from both the Temple Mount and Sheikh Jarrah by 18:00 that day. If it failed to do so, they stated that it and the other terrorist organizations of the Gaza Strip would strike Israel. Minutes after the deadline passed, Hamas fired more than 150 rockets into Israel from Gaza. Seven rockets were fired toward Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. One was intercepted. An anti-tank missile was also fired at an Israeli civilian vehicle, injuring the driver.

Operation Guardian of the Walls ensued.

[About Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad]


Timeline of Events

10 May 2021
Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)

Hamas issues ultimatum and fires several  missiles at Jerusalem and salvoes many other civilian areas in Israel.  In response the Israeli operation begins.

11-21 May 2021
21 May 2021

Ceasefire takes effect between Israel and Hamas after more than 4,300 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.

22 May 2021
27 May 2021
UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution

The UN Human Rights Council adopts a resolution establishing an on-going Commission of Inquiry to investigate only Israeli actions in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria, not Hamas or others. The vote : 24 in favor, 9 against, and 14 abstaining.  Countries voting against: Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Additional Resources (Most of the legal and related issues that arose in this operation were previously addressed in relation to prior Gaza conflicts.  See, for example, the 2014 conflict, Operation Protective Edge, and the 2008 conflict, Operation Cast Lead.)