Background: U.S.-Israeli Aggression in Gaza

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA.

January 7, 2009

Below we print a timeline of key events leading up to the bloody Israeli massacre of hundreds of Palestinians going on today. We begin with a day in the summer of 2004 when Israel decided to withdraw its military from the Gaza Strip and end with the January 3 invasion. Political deception, economic strangulation and overwhelming military force are among the methods being used by Israel as it tries to dictate its will through terror and crush the Palestinian nation.

These events prove yet again, that the rights and sovereignty of the Palestinian people can only be reclaimed through uncompromising struggle against the aggressive, colonial Israeli state and its sponsor U.S. imperialism.

The struggle of the Palestinian people for their very salvation and for liberation is a call to the conscience of all Americans, a demand that we rise in struggle to end U.S. imperialism's support for Israeli occupation and aggression and support the Palestinian people's inalienable right to a sovereign state in their historic homeland.

 

June 6, 2004  The Israeli government adopts a “Disengagement Plan” for implementation starting August 2005. The plan calls for the Israeli military to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and hand control to the Palestinian Authority. It also calls for Israel to close 21 settlements in Gaza and to withdraw from 4 settlement outposts in the West Bank.

January 9, 2005 

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza vote in Palestinian Authority presidential elections boycotted by two major Palestinian political parties. Fatah leader Abbas wins.

April 15, 2006

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. President George W Bush meet at the White House.  Sharon receives assurances from Bush that, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers,” Israel would not have to meet its legal obligations under United Nations (U.N.) resolutions 224 and 338.  The UN resolutions call for complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank to pre-1967 borders.

September 12, 2005

Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip is complete and the Palestinian Authority takes control there.

January 25, 2006 

Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem vote in elections for the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority.  Hamas wins the majority of the available seats which also means that it will form a majority government. 

February 14, 2006

The New York Times reports that a U.S. and Israeli “destabilization plan” is underway.  It includes plans to cut all funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority to delegitimize Hamas in the eyes of the Palestinians.

February 19, 2006 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya forms the new government.  The U.S. and Israel threaten to block payment of funds owed to the Palestinian Authority and to cut off all aid. By this time, because of a previous agreement that kept Palestinian territorial tax collection in the hands of Israel, Israel controls Palestian funds amounting to one third of their budget. Before the new government, the Palestinian Authority had a monthly cash shortfall of at least $60 million.

April 7, 2006 

The U.S., Canada, and the European Union (E.U.) refuse to recognize the new government and they cut all economic aid.

June, 2006 

The Israeli army begins using a model of Gaza City to train for a ground invasion.  On January 5, 2009, Israeli military spokesperson Avi Benayahou told Israeli public television, “For a year and a half our soldiers trained on a reduced model of Gaza City built on the Tsehilim base.”

June 25, 2006 

By this time the number of Israeli artillery shells fired into Gaza over the preceding 9 months is as many as 9,000. Palestinian fighters in Gaza capture an Israeli soldier. 
 
June 28, 2006
 
Israel invades the Gaza Strip with more than 5,000 Israeli soldiers, equipped with hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles.  Many more Israeli military offensives will follow.

March 18, 2007 

As part of Palestinian Authority attempts to resolve a financial and diplomatic impasse, Hamas, Fatah, and other Palestinian parties and independents form a unity government.

June 7-15, 2007 

Hamas takes control of Gaza and routes Fatah forces. President Abbas dismisses Prime Minister Ismail Hinaya and claims rule of Gaza and the West Bank by presidential decree. A Hamas spokesperson calls the decision, "in practical terms...worthless," and asserts that Prime Minister Hinaya "remains the head of the government even if it was dissolved by the president." The West Bank is no longer run by the Hamas-led government.

Hamas reveals that it has captured thousands of small arms and eight armored combat vehicles supplied by the United States, Egypt, and Jordan to the Palestinian Authority.   Muhammad Abdel-El of the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees refers to quantities of captured CIA files and other foreign intelligence describing them as “more important than all the American weapons we obtained in the last two days.” 


June 18, 2007

The U.S. and the E.U. normalize ties to the West Bank and resume direct aid.  Israel announces that it will return $800 million in frozen tax revenue to the new administration.

September 2007 

Israel officially begins the policy of collective punishment against the people of Gaza by issuing a declaration naming the Strip “hostile territory” and calling for Israel to block the transfer of electricity, fuel, and other supplies into Gaza.  In fact, the blockade started in June. 

January 17, 2008 

Israel seals the Gaza border completely.

January 23, 2008 

The economic crisis drives Palestinians to blow up part of the border barrier and at least half of the population of Gaza pours into Egypt looking for food, medicine, and other supplies.

February 29 –
March 3, 2008
 
Israel carries out a military offensive called “Hot Winter,” killing at least 110 Palestinians. The operation consists of airstrikes and incursions into Gaza. On March 2, Israel sends an entire regiment into the northern part of the Strip and attempts to occupy Jabalya and Sajiyah but meets stiff resistance from Palestinians.  Israel pulls its troops out of the Gaza Strip on the evening of March 3.

June 17, 2008 

Israel and Hamas confirm their agreement to an Egyptian-brokered truce. The six points of the truce are: 1) It will start on June 19; 2) Israel will open the Karni and Sufa commerical crossings into the Gaza Strip on June 22 with the flow of goods set at 30% of pre-January 2006 levels; 3) Hamas will ensure that all Palestinian groups abide by a prohibition on the use of violence towards Israel; 4) By June 29 Israel will lift all limits on the flow of goods through the Karni and Sufa crossings except for materials potentially usable for creating explosives; 5) Hamas and Fatah will arrange administration of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt; 6) Talks on other named topics will continue.

June 17, 2008 onward

Israel keeps border crossings closed and continues to blockade Gaza. The Israeli military violates the truce regularly, including by continuing cross-border incursions. The crippling economic and humanitarian crisis steadily intensifies.

November 4, 2008

Israel begins a series of military offensives into Gaza by launching an assault and raiding houses inside Gaza, arresting seven and killing at least six Palestinians.  Palestinians retaliate by firing rockets and mortar shells causing no casualties or property damage.

December 19, 2008 

The six-month truce officially expires.

December 27, 2008 

Israel begins a massive air and sea bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

December 31, 2008 

The U.S. vetoes a United Nations draft resolution calling for an end to Israeli military attacks on Gaza and for the opening of border crossings to let in humanitarian aid.   

January 3, 2009
 
Israeli tanks roll into Gaza.
January 6, 2009 11 days into Israel’s unrelenting military offensive, 600 Palestinians are dead and as many as 3,000 are wounded.