April 4, 2024

10 key moments in Israel-Hamas war

Rafah: Hamas approves Gaza truce, as Israel plans invasion

File: Boys sit with empty pots as displaced Palestinians queue for meals provided by a charity organisation ahead of the fast-breaking “iftar” meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

On October 7, members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government responded to the worst attack in the country’s history. They launched a devastating military campaign in Hamas-ruled Gaza that has killed nearly 33,000 people. Most of the victims are women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

This report looks back at key moments in the six-month war. The war has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and brought the north to the brink of famine.

October 7: Hamas attacks

At dawn on October 7, hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrate Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air. It was at the end of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

They kill civilians in the streets, in their homes and at a desert music festival. And they also attacked troops in army bases.

They bring around 250 hostages back to Gaza, some of them now dead.

Israel vows to destroy Hamas and begins bombing Gaza.

October 13: exodus

On October 13, Israel calls on civilians in northern Gaza to move south within 24 hours. They declare the north, which includes Gaza City, a war zone.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flee to the south of the Gaza Strip as entire districts in the north are razed to the ground.

October 27: tanks enter Gaza

On October 27, Israeli tanks roll into Gaza at the start of a ground offensive.

The troops fight their way towards Gaza City.

November 15: hospital raid

On November 15, Israeli troops launch a night-time raid on Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s biggest medical facility. Since then, bodies had been piling up after food, fuel and anaesthetics ran out.

The raid causes an international outcry.

Israel claims Hamas is running a command centre below the hospital, which the armed group denies.

In March, Israel again targets the hospital in an intensive two-week operation. It leaves hundreds dead and the complex in ruins.

November 24: truce and hostage swap

On November 24, a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas negotiated in talks mediated by Qatar goes into effect.

Hamas releases 80 Israeli hostages over seven days in return for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Twenty-five other hostages, mainly Thai farm workers, are released outside of the deal.

Israel allows more aid into Gaza during the pause but the humanitarian situation remains dire.

When the war resumes, Israel expands its actions into southern Gaza.

January 12: strikes on Huthis

On January 12, the US and Britain launch air strikes on targets in rebel-held Yemen. This was after weeks of attacks on Red Sea shipping by the Iran-backed Huthis acting in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The strikes add to fears of a regional war.

Jan 26: call to prevent ‘genocide’

In an interim ruling on January 26 in a case brought by South Africa, the International Court of Justice finds it “plausible” that Israel’s acts could amount to “genocide”.

The world’s top court orders Israel to do “everything” to prevent any acts of genocide in Gaza. But it stops short of ordering a halt to the war.

February 29: deadly food stampede

On February 29, Israeli forces open fire on desperate residents of northern Gaza who rush towards a convoy of food aid trucks. Israel says they believed they “posed a threat”.

Gaza’s health ministry says 115 people were shot dead and hundreds wounded in what it calls a “massacre”.

The Israeli military says most of the victims were trampled or run over by the trucks.

The US, Jordan, and other countries begin airdropping food into Gaza.

On March 15, the first food shipment along a new maritime corridor arrives in Gaza.

Mar 25: US abstains in UN ceasefire vote

On March 25, the UN Security Council for the first time adopts a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after the US, which had vetoed previous drafts, dramatically abstains.

Israel reacts furiously to the US abstention. Israel vows to press ahead with a ground offensive on Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinians are taking shelter.

April 2: Aid workers killed

On April 2, seven aid workers from the US charity World Central Kitchen are killed in an Israeli strike. They were leaving a warehouse in central Gaza where they had just unloaded a portion of food aid from a ship.

The dead are Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian.

Their killings draw global condemnation. A “heartbroken” US President Joe Biden says Israel has “not done enough to protect aid workers” in Gaza.

Earlier in the day, an air strike hits the Iranian consular annex in the Syrian capital. It kills at least seven Revolutionary Guards, including two generals. Both Tehran and Damascus blame Israel, and Iran vows retaliation.

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