On December 27, 2008, Israel embarked on an extensive offensive against Hamas’ military and government assets in the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’ decision not to extend the ceasefire and instead expand the scope of its attacks against Israeli civilian targets. Despite the many assessments, including in the media, about the possibility of military action, Hamas was surprised by the timing of the Israeli operation and its extent. In the first stage of the fighting, the Palestinians sustained heavy losses – some 300 dead and 600 wounded – alongside widespread damage to installations, command centers, and arms caches. Hamas responded with rocket and mortar fire against Israeli settlements, though at least initially to a degree less than anticipated – probably because of the shock caused by the heavy damage inflicted on its launch capabilities and some successful interception by Israel of Hamas launch teams. Read more.

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