The 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, part of the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, started on 27 December 2008 (11:30 a.m. local time; 9:30 a.m. UTC) when Israel launched a military campaign in the Gaza Strip. Codenamed Operation Cast Lead (Hebrew: מבצע עופרת יצוקה), the campaign's stated intention was to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Israel's southern communities and target the members and infrastructure of Hamas. In the Arab World, the conflict has been described as the Gaza Massacre (Arabic: مجزرة غزة).
A six-month truce between Hamas and Israel expired on 19 December 2008. Hamas and Israel could not agree on conditions to extend the truce.Hamas blamed Israel for not lifting the Gaza Strip blockade, and for an Israeli raid on a purported cross-border tunnel in the Gaza Strip on November 4, which it held constituted a serious breach of the truce. Israel blamed Hamas for rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.
On 27 December 2008, Israel launched its military operation with the stated objective of halting Hamas rocket fire and the smuggling of weapons through underground tunnels from Egypt. Hamas demands the cessation of Israeli attacks and an end to the Gaza Strip blockade.On the first day of the Israeli operation, the Israeli Air Force, supported by the navy, bombed Hamas bases, training camps, headquarters and offices in the Gaza strip. Civilian infrastructure, including mosques, houses and schools, were also attacked. Israel claims that many of these buildings stocked weapons or personnel. Hamas has intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against targets in Israel throughout the conflict, hitting such cities as Beersheba and Ashdod.On January 3, 2009, the Israeli Defence Forces ground invasion began, with mechanised infantry, armor, and artillery units, supported by helicopter gunships, entering Gaza.
As of 28 January 2009, 13 Israelis have been killed during this conflict, including three civilians. About 1,300 Palestinians including 410 children and about 900 civilians (with the remainder being police officers and militants) were killed, according to figures compiled by the Palestinian ministry of health. The Israeli military claims that between 1,100 and 1,300 were killed, over 700 were militants and 250 were civilians.
International reactions during the conflict have included calls for an immediate ceasefire as in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860, and concern about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the hindrances in delivering aid.
Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on January 18 which came in effect at 0000 UTC (2 a.m. local time). Palestinian militants fired about 20 rockets over the border after the Israeli ceasefire announcement and Israel launched an airstrike in Gaza. Hamas offered its own one-week unilateral ceasefire. On 21 January, Israel completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
In the days following the ceasefire, the BBC reported that more than 400,000 Gazans were left without running water. As a result of the bombings, 4,000 Gazan buildings were razed and 20,000 severely damaged), and it was reported that Gaza 'looks like earthquake zone'. More than 50,800 Gazans were left homeless.
Human rights groups and aid organisations have accused Hamas and Israel of war crimes and called for independent investigations and lawsuits. On January 26, Israeli soldiers and officials were warned against traveling to Britain over fears they could be arrested and charged with war crimes.