The situation in Israel and Gaza is rapidly spiralling down the path toward war, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying early Sunday that Israel's military is prepared to "significantly" expland their offensive against Gaza.
How did we get to this point? Here's a brief guide to the Israel-Gaza conflict, explained in six videos:
1) Israel and Hamas engage in a 22 day war in Gaza in 2008-09.
On December 27, 2008, Israel and Hamas fought a three-week armed conflict in the Gaza Strip (known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead and by Hamas as the Gaza Massacre). Israel began by launching an opening wave of airstrikes, hitting Hamas headquarters, police stations, and government offices. The IDF infantry began a ground operation on January 3, 2009 to cripple Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and militant groups like Islamic Jihad fired rockets into Southern Israel (over 750 during the conflict). On January 17, Israeli officials announced a unilateral ceasefire. On January 18, Hamas and other militant groups said they would stop launching rockets into Israel.
The conflict resulted in somwhere between 1,000 and 1,500 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths. In September 2009, South African Justice Richard Goldstone produced a controversial report accusing both Palestinian militants and Israeli Defense Forces of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. In January 2010, the Israeli government released a response criticizing the Goldstone Report. Israel maintained that Hamas used civilians as human shields as part of its war doctrine. Israel was criticized for using disproportionate force, targeting civilians, and utilizing white phosphorus, a weapon illegal under international law. See video of Israeli soldiers discussing here:
2) Wednesday, November 14: Israel launches strike killing senior Hamas leader, in response to rocket attacks into Southern Israel.
Israel launched a pinpoint assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari as he was driving his car down the street in Gaza City, followed by aerial attacks against targets in Gaza. At least 10 Palestinians were reported dead, in the most extensive ground assault since Operation Cast Lead. Jabari, 52, was commander of the Hamas military wing. He was responsible for the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He was driving with his bodyguard in Gaza City when the vehicle was bombed.
According to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, "Israel is not interested in engaging in war, but Hamas's provocation in the past days has made it impreative that we act sharply and decisively."The operation's goals are to deal a harsh blow to the rocket firing capabilities... It won't happen at once, but we will achieve the goals of this operation. We are at the start of the events and not at the end... In the long run, I believe this will lead to deterrence and the restoration of quiet in the south."
Hours later, aerial footage of the kill shot was posted to YouTube — and went viral, racking up nearly two million views.
3) Hamas launches rocket attacks into Israel, including on the civilian and financial metropolis of Tel Aviv and on Jerusalem.
In response to Israel air strikes, Palestinian militants launched rocket attacks into Southern Israel and on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the first time rockets have gone that far into the Israeli mainland. The rocket attacks set off air raid sirens across the major Israeli cities.
Israel's Iron Dome missile defense shield has intercepted several Hamas Fajr-5 missiles in Tel Aviv. Israel now has five Iron Dome systems operational throughout the country. According to Israel Radio (as of Saturday), over 60 rockets have fallen on the South, and the Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted 15 of them. Iron Dome has intercepted 345 projectiles in total, and the IDF claims it has had a 90% intercept rate.
4) Sunday, Nov 18: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows "significant" escalation possible, Israeli air strikes take out media outlets in Gaza.
Early Sunday morning, Israel attacked two media centers in Gaza, and at least six journalists were injured, according to Palestinian medical authorities. Among the media outlets affected were Britain’s Sky News, Rusiya Al-Yaum, Lebanese al-Quds TV, Italian RAI, German ARD, Kuwait-TV and others. An IDF report of the strike described the target as “a communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the State of Israel.” Seven Palestinian civilians were killed in airstrikes, including five children.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said early Sunday that his military forces are prepared to "significantly" expand their offensive against Gaza. "The operation in the Gaza Strip is continuing, and we are preparing to expand it." "The army is prepared to significantly expand the operation," he said.
Many analysts are interpreting Netanyahu's latest statements, along with his amassing of thousands of troops on the Gaza border, as preparation for a possible invasion. "Reservist and conscript soldiers are ready for any order they might receive," he said.
5) U.S. supports Israel's "right to defend itself."
President Barack Obama fully supports Israel's operations in Gaza. Speaking at a joint press conference in Thailand, where he is on a state visit, Obama said, "There's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders," he said. "We are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself."
"We are actively working with all the parties in the region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further escalation of violence in the region," Obama said.
On board Air Force One on Saturday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during the president's flight to Asia, the United States believes “the precipitating factor for the conflict was the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We believe Israel has a right to defend itself, and they'll make their own decisions about the tactics they use in that regard."
"These rockets have been fired into Israeli civilian areas and territory for some time now,” added Rhodes. “So Israelis have endured far too much of a threat from these rockets for far too long, and that is what led the Israelis to take the action that they did in Gaza.”
What did I miss? Feel free to share links to other videos, and additional info below. As one of the most divisive issues in politics and global affairs, I realize some will take issue with this narrative of the events. Let me know what you think in the comments.