Timeline: Key events in Middle East crisis


Timeline: Key events in Middle East crisis

Sunday, June 25: Palestinians attack army post on Israel-Gaza border, killing two soldiers, capturing a third. Israel starts to mass forces around Gaza, from which it withdrew in September 2005.

Monday, June 26: Three Palestinian groups – the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), the armed wing of the ruling Hamas movement and the Army of Islam – say they captured 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit. They demand Israel free detained women and minors.

Tuesday, June 27: Hamas, which dominates the Palestinian government, signs agreement to end bitter internal conflict and which implicitly recognises Israel’s existence.

Wednesday, June 28: Israeli ground forces enter southern Gaza. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will use "extreme measures" to rescue Cpl Shalit. Washington says Israel has the right to defend itself.

Thursday, June 29: Israel detains scores of Hamas members, including one third of the Palestinian cabinet. International community steps up calls for restraint. Mr Olmert suspends a ground offensive expected in northern Gaza as Cairo tries to mediate.

Friday, June 30: Israeli jets blitz Gaza, set interior ministry ablaze. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh insists government working to free Cpl Shalit.

Saturday, July 1: Israel rejects Palestinian demand to free 1,000 prisoners.

Sunday, July 2: Israel hits Mr Haniyeh’s Gaza office.

Monday, July 3: Israel sends troops and armour into northern Gaza. Palestinian militant is killed. Cpl Shalit’s captors give a 24-hour deadline for Israel to free Palestinian prisoners. Israel rejects ultimatum.

Saturday, July 8: Israeli forces advance toward Gaza City, killing four Palestinians. Other units pull back from northern Gaza. Mr Haniyeh calls for mutual cease-fire.

Monday, July 10: Exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal says Cpl Shalit will not be freed without prisoner swap, pledges he will be protected. Israel says some Palestinian prisoners could be released, but only after safe return of Cpl Shalit.

Wednesday, July 12: Hezbollah captures two Israeli soldiers and kills eight, prompting first Israeli ground operation into Lebanon since its 2000 pull-out. In Gaza, 23 Palestinians are killed by Israeli air strikes.

Thursday, July 13: Israeli planes bomb Beirut airport, kill at least 44 civilians in air strikes across Lebanon. Two Israelis are killed, more than 35 wounded by Hezbollah rockets. Russia, France, Britain and Italy criticise "disproportionate" use of force by Israel. US blames "terrorists who want to stop the advance of peace". US vetoes UN resolution calling Israel to halt military operations in Gaza.

Friday, July 14: Israel bombs Beirut home of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. He declares "open war" on Israel. Israel sets conditions to end offensive: halt rocket attacks, release its soldiers, and Lebanon to implement UN resolution calling for Hezbollah’s disarmament. Two Israelis killed by rocket fire from Lebanon.

Saturday, July 15: Hezbollah attacks Israeli warship. Israel recovers body of one of four missing sailors, bringing Israeli servicemen toll since Wednesday to nine dead.

Monday, July 17: Israeli strikes kill 43 Lebanese. Hezbollah rejects Israeli terms for a cease-fire. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan calls for end to hostilities, suggests UN "stabilisation force" along Lebanon-Israel border.

Tuesday, July 18: Fifteen people, most of them soldiers, killed in Lebanon as Israel pushes on with attacks. Helicopters, ferries and cruise liners commandeered to retrieve trapped foreign nationals.

Wednesday, July 19: At least 70 civilians killed by Israeli bombing on deadliest day of its Lebanon offensive, pushing overall toll to 325. Two Arab-Israeli children killed by Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon on northern Israeli town of Nazareth. Two Israeli soldiers killed, nine wounded in border clashes.

Thursday, July 20: Israeli troops battle Lebanese guerrillas and planes bomb suspected Hezbollah bunker as Lebanon pleads for international help. Thousands of foreigners pour out of Lebanon by land, sea and air, leaving homes and possessions to head for the safety of Cyprus, Syria and Turkey. Israel warns civilians in the Gaza Strip that every home storing weaponry is now a target.

Friday, July 21: Israel calls up thousands more troops, warns of possible invasion of Lebanon. Israeli raids hit Baalbeck and Tyre, killing at least five Lebanese. Lebanese civilians flee from south; foreign nationals’ exodus gathers pace. Rockets hit north Israel town of Haifa, wounding 19. Hezbollah rejects UN plan for immediate halt to hostilities and release of two Israeli soldiers.

Saturday, July 22: Israel masses thousands more reservists on Lebanese border; warns it would not rule out full-scale invasion despite increasing calls for cease-fire. Foreign governments step up efforts to evacuate remaining nationals.

Tuesday, July 25: An Israeli air strike kills four United Nations (UN) military observers at their base in southern Lebanon. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan condemns what he calls the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the base in Khiam. Israel expresses sorrow for the deaths, which it calls a mistake, and promises an investigation.

Saturday, July 29: An Israeli air strike in the south of Lebanon kills at least 51 Lebanese civilians, including 22 children, in the village of Qana. Hamas vows to carry out attacks on Israel in response to the air strike on Qana.

Wednesday, August 2: Fierce fighting between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters intensifies as tens of thousands of Israeli forces pour across the border on four new battlefronts.

Thursday, August 3: Eight Israeli civilians and four soldiers are killed on bloodiest day for Israel so far. Hezbollah’s chief threatens to rocket Tel Aviv.

Friday, August 4:Israeli jets bomb bridges on a coastal highway north of Beirut, killing five. At least 23 people, mostly Syrian, are killed in an Israeli raid at Qaa on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Israel hits the Sohmor power station, cutting electricity to Bekaa Valley and south Lebanon. Hezbollah fires 220 rockets at Israel, including one at Hadera, 40 kilometres north of Tel Aviv.

Saturday, August 5: Israel pounds Lebanon in its heaviest bombardment yet. One Israeli is killed near Taibe and eight commandos are wounded in a raid Israel says killed four senior Hezbollah members in Tyre. The UN, US and France at odds over the first UN resolution on the conflict.

Sunday, August 6:Ten Israelis are killed in rocket attack on Kfar Giladi near the border. Israeli jets kill at least eight civilians in attacks on south Lebanon villages. The UN Security Council debates the Franco-US draft resolution demanding "full cessation of hostilities" – but Lebanon, Iran and Syria reject it.

Monday, August 7:An Israeli air raid kills more than 40 people in the Lebanese village of Houla. Seven people in the Palestinian Prime Minister’s office in the West Bank fall ill after opening a letter containing an unknown substance, government and hospital officials say.

Tuesday, August 8:Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, says about 100 Australians are still trapped in southern Lebanon and it will be highly risky to get them out. Lebanon says it is ready to deploy 15,000 troops near the southern border when Israel pulls out all soldiers from the area.

Wednesday, August 9:Israel’s Navy shells Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, killing one person and wounding several others. Palestinian officials say Israel has also attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, killing two members of Islamic Jihad in a helicopter strike.

Thursday, August 10:Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vows to turn southern Lebanon into a "graveyard" for invading Israeli troops. The Israeli army pushes up to 10 kilometres into southern Lebanon just hours after Cabinet approves an extension of ground operations.

Friday, August 11:Hezbollah fires up to 70 rockets into Israel, killing a woman and a toddler in an Israeli Arab village. France announces a breakthrough could come soon in diplomatic efforts to end the war, and Israel says plans for a deeper ground assault into southern Lebanon are on hold to give diplomacy a chance.

Saturday, August 12: The United Nations Security Council votes unanimously for a resolution calling for a "full cessation of hostilities". The resolution calls on Hezbollah to stop all attacks immediately and Israel to end "all offensive operations". It also authorises the deployment of a 15,000-strong peacekeeping force.


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