The Situation in Gaza After Operation Cast Lead
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September 2005. In 2007, Hamas seized power in Gaza in a bloody fratricidal coup. Between September 2005 and December, 2008, over 8,000 rockets were fired into southern Israel. In an attempt to stop the incessant barrages of missiles and mortars, on December 27, 2008, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas regime in Gaza.
The following is a summary of the situation on the ground since a ceasefire was brokered in mid-January 2009.
While missile fire has declined greatly in the past year, it has not stopped entirely. According to Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre (ITIC), between the end of Operation Cast Lead and December 8th, 2009:
- 242 missiles – on average 22 per month – have been fired from Gaza, which represents a 90% decline in attacks compared to the period prior to Operation Cast Lead.
- There have been 91 attempted attacks on IDF soldiers at the Gaza border; most of those incidents were of small arms shootings.
- Israel has taken these attacks seriously, and while the IDF has shown restraint it has hit 143 targets in Gaza, including Hamas facilities and smuggling tunnels.
Humanitarian Aid to Gaza
Despite the ongoing missile firing, Israel continues to provide substantial aid to the civilian population in Gaza. As reported in November 2009 by Col. Moshe Levi, Head of the IDF Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, the following details provide a picture of that humanitarian aid going into Gaza (supplemented by figures from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs):
- Humanitarian aid to Gaza has increased by close to 900 percent in 2009 compared with 2008. In coordination with the IDF, the aid is supplied by various international organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNRWA and the World Food Program.
- In the first six months of 2009, international organizations transferred 5,300 aid trucks into Gaza, as compared with 606 trucks in the first 6 months of 2008. By the end of October 2009, that number reached 17,750, providing over 600,000 tons of food and medicine to Gaza’s civilians. In addition, 24.5 million gallons (92.7 million litres) of heavy duty diesel fuel were delivered to Gaza between January 19 and October 31, 2009.
- The monthly average amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza since mid-January 2009 is over 57,000 tons.
- The IDF transferred building materials to Gaza that enabled the construction of a protective corridor that links the outskirts of Gaza City to the Erez Crossing at Israel’s northern border with Gaza. Israel does restrict the transfer of certain raw materials into Gaza such as cement, since cement has been used by Hamas to build military infrastructure.
- In 2009, the IDF issued over 18,500 permits for Palestinians to leave Gaza and enter Israel or to travel overseas.
- In 2009, over 4,000 Palestinians (along with 3,600 family members) from Gaza were given permission to enter Israel for medical treatment.
- Israel’s Ministry of Tourism announced on December 16, 2009 that Christian Palestinians living in Gaza have been granted permission to enter Israel and visit Bethlehem over Christmas.