Gaza War - Background

Background

See also: Timeline of the Gaza War, List of rocket and mortar attacks in Israel in 2008 and in 2009 following the Gaza War

The Gaza Strip is a coastal strip of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea bordering Egypt and Israel. Israel controls Gaza's airspace and territorial waters and restricts the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza. The UN, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs consider Israel to be the occupying power. Israel maintains that its occupation of Gaza ended following the completion of its unilateral disengagement plan in 2005.

January 2006 legislative elections brought Hamas to power as Palestinian National Authority. Since the formation of a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East imposed economic sanctions against the Palestinian territories. In 2007, Hamas overthrew Fatah in Gaza. President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas then dismissed the Hamas-led government and formed a government in the West Bank, bypassing the Hamas-dominated parliament. Israel imposed a ground, air, and maritime blockade, and announced it would allow only humanitarian supplies into the Strip. Palestinian groups were partially able to bypass the blockade through tunnels, some of which are said to have been used for weapons smuggling.

Between 2005 and 2007, Palestinian groups in Gaza fired about 2,700 locally made Qassam rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians and injuring 75 others. During the same period, Israel fired more than 14,600 155 mm artillery shells into the Gaza Strip, killing 59 Palestinians and injuring 270. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between 2005 and 2008, 116 Israelis, including civilians and Israeli security forces, which includes Israeli police, Israeli Border Police and members of the armed services, were killed in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories in "direct conflict related incidents" and 1,509 were injured. During this time, 1,735 Palestinians, including civilians and militants from various groups, were killed and 8,308 wounded in "direct conflict related incidents".

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