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December 31, 2008

Israel and Gaza

Back in June, 2008, Egypt helped broker a 6-month cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the ruling body in the Gaza Strip. Though the cease-fire was broken several times by both sides, it largely held. Toward the end of the cease-fire in December, Israel, while closing Gaza's borders since November, indicated that it might extend the agreement, if Hamas ceased all Qassam rocket attacks. Qassam rockets are the crude but deadly homemade missiles often launched towards Israeli territory (over 3,000 times in 2008 alone). Hamas leaders, angered by the blockade and seemingly little political headway made over the past 6 months, recently stepped up rocket attacks on Israel once again. Israel has now responded with five days (so far) of air attacks and Naval bombardment on Gaza, resulting in over 350 dead, nearly 1,500 wounded and countless buildings and smugglers' tunnnels destroyed. Hamas has threatened to increase the rocket attacks send suicide bombers into Israel in retaliation, and Israel is massing troops and tanks around Gaza for a possible ground assault. (37 photos total)

A trail of smoke is seen after the launch of a rocket from the northern Gaza Strip aimed towards Israel on December 27, 2008. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad run with homemade rockets to put in place before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra) #

Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad place homemade rockets before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra) #

A Palestinian man inspects the damage where a rocket fired by Palestinian militants - intended for a target in Israel - accidentally hit a building in Gaza City, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Palestinian Iyad Dremly, who works for the Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution, was injured in the explosion, Palestinian sources said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) #

An Israeli Apache helicopter launches a missile during an attack inside the northern Gaza Strip on December 29, 2008 as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

Smoke rises above Gaza after another Israeli air strike on a Hamas target, December 29, 2008 along Israel's side of the Gaza border. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

Wounded Palestinians are treated on the floor of crowded Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on December 29, 2008, following an Israeli air strike on the nearby Jabalia refugee camp. Israeli tanks massed at the Gaza border today as warplanes continued pounding Hamas targets in the densely populated enclave. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images) #

Samera Baalusha (34) (right) sits with her daughter Eman (15) and surviving son Mohamad (15 months) while waiting to see the body of her 4-year-old daughter Jawaher Baalusha during the funeral held for Jawher and her four other sisters who were all killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Jawher Baalusha and her sisters were killed during an Israeli air raid while they were sleeping together in their bedroom. Medics stated that the raid had targeted a mosque near their home in Jabalia. (Abid Katib/Getty Images) #

An Israeli F15 fighter flies over the northern Israeli-Gaza Strip border on December 28, 2008. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

Smoke billows from a targeted location in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli air raid, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border on December 30, 2008. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

Many bodies lie outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images) #

Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish flames at a medical warehouse after an Israeli airstrike targeted at a fuel tank nearby in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Israel widened its deadliest-ever air offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers Sunday, pounding Hamas targets, smugglers' tunnels and a central prison. (AP Photo/Xinhua) #

Israelis take cover during a rocket warning siren in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, Monday Dec. 29, 2008. (AP Photo / Tsafrir Abayov) #

Smoke rises after an Israel air strike in Gaza Strip December 28, 2008. Israel launched air strikes on Gaza for a second successive day on Sunday, piling pressure on Hamas. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa) #

A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on December 28, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Abid Katib/Getty Images) #

A Palestinian man gestures, as smokes is seen from a burning building after an Israeli missile strike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar) #

Palestinian rescue workers carry a wounded prisoner past a fire, as another lays under the rubble in the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike in in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan) #

A dead cat lies in the rubble of destroyed houses and a mosque after they were hit by an Israeli missile strike that killed Jawaher Baalusha, 4, and her four sisters on December 29, 2008 in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. (Abid Katib/Getty Images) #

Smoke from three days of Israeli air strikes against Hamas militants blends with brewing storm clouds to create a dramatic sunset over the Palestinian territory on December 29, 2008 viewed from Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (David Silverman/Getty Images) #

A Palestinian man looks out towards destroyed Hamas government buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. Early Tuesday, Israeli aircraft dropped at least 16 bombs on five Hamas government buildings in a Gaza City complex, destroying them, setting fires and sending rubble flying for hundreds of yards, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) #

Mangled cars lie buried under rubble at the site of the Hamas ministry buildings compound, which was destroyed during an Israeli airstrike on December 30, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. (Abid Katib/Getty Images) #

An Israeli police officer and reporters take cover during a rocket attack in the southern town of Sderot, Israel on December 30, 2008. (NIKOLA SOLIC/Reuters) #

A medic crouches over the body of an Israeli man after he was killed in a rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip and hit the southern Israeli town of Netivot on December 27, 2008 following Israeli bombardment on the Palestinian costal strip. The rocket attack killed one man and wounded four others, according to the Magen David Adom, Israel's equivalent of the Red Cross. (HAIM HORENSTEIN/AFP/Getty Images) #

Palestinians inspect a crater caused by an Israeli air strike at a police station in Gaza City on December 29, 2008. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images) #

The body of a Palestinian security force officer lays in the rubble after an Israeli missile strike on a building in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Fadi Adwan) #

A wounded child awaits medical attention at the Shifa hospital on December 27, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Abid Katib/Getty Images) #

An Israeli tank drives near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

Scores of Israeli army tanks and armored personnel carriers are massed on December 29, 2008 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (David Silverman/Getty Images) #

An Israeli soldier wearing a prayer shawl prays near a tank as troops take position on the Israeli-Gaza Strip border on December 30, 2008. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Israeli police officer kneels over a dog that was badly injured after a rocket landed in the southern town of Sderot, Israel on December 30, 2008. (GIL COHEN MAGEN/Reuters) #

A Palestinian boy looks up from inside a damaged house after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. (IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/Reuters) #

Mahmoud Tark, an nine-year-old injured Palestinian boy, is transported by Red Crescent officials on an ambulance at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to a hospital in Al-Arish December 30, 2008. Palestinians wounded in the Israeli attack on Gaza trickled into Egypt on Monday after a day and a half of confusion and disagreement between the Hamas and the Egyptian government. (REUTERS/Amr Dalsh (EGYPT) #

An Israeli tank moves near the border with the northern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL) #

Israelis sit in a bomb shelter in the southern city of Ashkelon December 31, 2008. Hamas rockets had hit the major Israeli city of Beersheba earlier, on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL) #

Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel. (MOHAMMED SALEM/Reuters) #

Eli Azran father of Irit Shitrit (39), a mother of four, leans over her dead body as he mourns during her funeral on December 30, 2008 in Ashdod, Israel. Shitrit was killed yesterday by a Hamas rocket in Ashdod, Israel, after hearing a warning siren and taking shelter in a roadside bus stop. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

A detained Palestinian stands blindfolded and handcuffed in his underwear next to an Israeli army vehicle, after a pipe bomb was found in his belongings, at Beit Iba checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) #

 
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