Timeline: Israel's Two-Front Offensive

What began with the capture of an Israeli soldier in late June has escalated into a deadly two-front conflict. A timeline of the events in the current Mideast crisis:

June 25: Palestinian gunmen from Gaza kill two Israeli soldiers and capture a third, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, at an army post near the Kerem Shalom border crossing. The gunmen tunneled under the border fence. Some of the gunmen are members of Hamas; the organization, which is classified as a terrorist group by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union and is known for its suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, now leads the Palestinian government. At least two of the Palestinian gunmen are killed.

June 26: Diplomatic negotiations between Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh continue for the release of Shalit, 19. Israeli tanks and armored infantry units move near the Gaza Strip's southern border. Three militant groups claim to have the soldier and refuse to release him until the release of Palestinian women and children under the age of 18 held in Israeli jails. Israel refuses the demand.

June 27: Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas leads negotiations to have Shalit released. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reportedly asks Hamas and other militants to free the soldier, who is believed to be held in southern Gaza.

June 28: The Israeli army fires artillery into the northern Gaza Strip, and Israeli forces occupy an area in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warns of a larger offensive in Gaza if the soldier is not released. Tanks move into a village east of Rafah, and then to the Palestinian airport.

June 29: An Israeli air strike destroys Gaza's sole power plant, in central Gaza; it is the only power source for more than half of Gaza's 1.3 million people. Israel also arrests dozens of government leaders and lawmakers from the Palestinian group Hamas in Ramallah. Eight members of the Palestinian Authority cabinet are among the detainees.

June 30: Israeli warplanes strike the Palestinian Interior Ministry building, setting it on fire. Tanks continue to move through Gaza.

July 1: The three Hamas-linked militant groups claiming to have the Israeli soldier demand that Israel release 1,000 Palestinians held in its prisons. This demand is in addition to an earlier demand for the release of women and children under 18. Israeli officials refuse to negotiate.

July 2: Israeli helicopters fire missiles at the unoccupied Gaza City offices of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Israelis also hit a school in Gaza City and Hamas facilities in northern and southern Gaza. Two Hamas militants are killed.

July 3: The militants issue an ultimatum: Israel must release Palestinian prisoners by July 4 or face unspecified consequences. Also, Israeli tanks move into northern Gaza to find tunnels and explosives, officials say.

July 4: Israeli planes continue to bomb Gaza buildings for the seventh day in a row. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatens a long war if Palestinians do not free the captured soldier.

July 5: Israeli ground troops move into Gaza. Tanks are situated in Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza town, and the Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing. The night before, Israeli missiles cause heavy damage when they hit the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza City.

July 6: Ground fighting intensifies to its highest levels since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip last summer. The Israeli government sends mechanized infantry farther north in Gaza, including into the town of Beit Lahiya. This comes after Hamas militants struck the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon with longer-range rockets earlier in the week. To date, at least 16 Palestinians have been killed, including militant fighters and some civilians. One Israeli soldier has been killed and two wounded.

July 7: Israeli air strikes targeting northern Gaza continue.

July 8: Israeli forces leave most of the northern Gaza Strip, including the town of Beit Lahiya. Forty Palestinians have been killed in northern Gaza.

July 12: Hezbollah — the militant Shiite organization based in Lebanon — captures two Israeli soldiers and kills seven others as they patrol Lebanon's border. Israel then sends tanks into southern Lebanon, bombing several targets, including bridges and roads, to prevent militants from taking hostages north.

July 13: Israel bombs a Lebanese military base near the Syrian border and part of the international airport in Beirut. This is the largest Israeli air assault against Lebanon in more than 20 years. Israel also imposes an air, sea and land blockade on much of Lebanon. In south and central Gaza, Israeli forces continue with air and ground operations.

July 14: Israel continues bombing Beirut. Israeli planes destroy Hezbollah's headquarters; reportedly, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is unharmed. The Israeli military also severs the main road between Beirut and Damascus, and again bombs runways at Beirut's international airport.

July 15: Israeli forces bomb the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli and a Lebanese border crossing into Syria in the east. Forces also bomb roads and bridges throughout Lebanon and gas stations in central Beirut. Lebanese authorities report the death toll is 100, mostly civilians.

July 16: Hezbollah fires rockets into Israel's northern cities of Haifa, Acre, Nahariya, Upper Nazareth and Afula. In the port city of Haifa, eight people are killed. Israeli warplanes bomb parts of Beirut's southern suburb where Hezbollah is headquartered. Bombing continues in the northern city of Tripoli, leaving parts of Beirut without electricity. The Israel Air Force also attacks the port of Tyre in southern Lebanon, killing at least nine people.

July 17: Israeli warplanes kill 42 people across Lebanon. Thousands of foreign countries evacuate their citizens from Lebanon. Hezbollah begins sending rockets deeper into Israel; the northern Israeli city of Haifa is mostly shut down. Twenty Israelis, including 12 civilians hit by rockets, have died in the fighting to date. Israeli officials say they destroyed a long-range missile in Lebanon capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

July 18: Israel bombs southern Beirut, targeting a strong Hezbollah area. To date, about 200 Lebanese have died in the attacks. The United States plans to evacuate Americans still in Lebanon. The U.S. government orders Marine and Navy ships to waters off Lebanon to help in the evacuation; they are not expected to arrive for a day or two.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.