Operation Pillar of Defense (, ʿAmúd ʿAnán, literally: “Pillar of Cloud”) was an eight-day Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip, which began on 14 November 2012 with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas. The operation was preceded by a period with a number of mutual Israeli–Palestinian responsive attacks. According to the Israeli government, the operation began in response to the launch of over 100 rockets at Israel during a 24-hour period, an attack by Gaza militants on an Israeli military patrol jeep within Israeli borders, and an explosion caused by IEDs, which occurred near Israeli soldiers, on the Israeli side of a tunnel passing under the Israeli West Bank barrier. The Israeli government stated that the aims of the military operation were to halt rocket attacks against civilian targets originating from the Gaza Strip and to disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations. The Palestinians blamed the Israeli government for the upsurge in violence, accusing the IDF of attacks on Gazan civilians in the days leading up to the operation. They cited the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the occupation of West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as the reason for rocket attacks. During the course of the operation, the IDF claimed to have struck more than 1,500 sites in the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchpads, weapon depots, government facilities, and apartment blocks. Gaza officials said 133 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict: 79 militants, 53 civilians, and a policeman. They estimated that 840 Palestinians were wounded. Many families were displaced. One airstrike killed ten members of the al-Dalu family. Some Palestinian casualties were caused by misfired Palestinian rockets landing inside the Gaza Strip. Eight Palestinians were executed by members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades for alleged collaboration with Israel. During the operation, Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) further intensified their rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns, in an operation code named Operation Stones of Baked Clay (, ḥijārat sijīl) by the al-Qassam Brigades, firing over 1,456 rockets into Israel, and an additional 142 which fell inside Gaza itself. Palestinian militant groups used weapons including Iranian-made Fajr-5, Russian-made Grad rockets, Qassams, and mortars. Some of these weapons were fired into Rishon LeZion, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and other population centers. Tel Aviv was hit for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, and rockets were fired at Jerusalem. The rockets killed three Israeli civilians in a direct hit on a home in Kiryat Malachi. By the end of the operation, six Israelis had been killed, two hundred forty were injured, and more than two hundred had been treated for anxiety by Magen David Adom. About 421 rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, another 142 fell on Gaza itself, 875 fell in open areas, and 58 hit urban areas in Israel. A bus in Tel Aviv was bombed by an Arab-Israeli, injuring 28 civilians. Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western countries expressed support for what they considered Israel’s right to defend itself, or condemned the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel. Iran, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and several other Arab and Muslim countries condemned the Israeli operation. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session on the situation, but did not reach a decision. After days of negotiations between Hamas and Israel, a ceasefire mediated by Egypt was announced on 21 November. Both sides claimed victory. Israel said that it had achieved its aim of crippling Hamas’s rocket-launching ability, while Hamas stated that Israel’s option of invading Gaza had ended. According to Human Rights Watch, both sides violated the laws of war during the fighting.


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