Eruption of Conflict
Large-scale conventional warfare beyond the peripheries of the Gaza Strip began when Israel launched "Operation Summer Rains" in the Gaza Strip that began on 28 June 2006, in response to the Palestinian militants abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit. It became the first major mobilization into the Gaza Strip since Israel's unilateral disengagement plan was implemented between August and September 2005.
The Gaza beach blast was an event on 9 June 2006 in which eight Palestinians were killed — including nearly the entire family of seven-year-old Huda Ghaliya — and at least thirty others were injured in an explosion on a beach near the municipality of Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip. The incident received considerable attention from news media worldwide, with blame for the explosion hotly disputed in the following weeks.
Israel maintains that it mobilized thousands of troops in order to suppress Qassam rocket fire against its civilian population and to secure the release of Gilad Shalit. It is estimated that between 7,000 and 9,000 Israeli artillery shells were fired into Gaza between September 2005 and June 2006, killing 80 Palestinians in 6 months. On the Palestinian side, over 1,300 Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel from September 2000 to 21 December 2006. Israeli forces also continued to search for underground tunnels, used by militants to smuggle weapons, as well as monitor operations at checkpoints (with some assistance from the European Union at Rafah) for security reasons, specifically possible weapons transfers and uninhibited return of exiled extremist leaders and terrorists. As of 18 October 2006, Israel has discovered 20 tunnels used for illegal arms smuggling under the border of the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Israel had said it would withdraw from the Strip and end the operation as soon as Shalit was released. The Palestinians had said that they were willing to return Shalit in exchange for the release of some of the Palestinians held in Israeli jails. The Palestinians and others have also said the assault was aimed at toppling the democratically elected Hamas-led government and at destabilizing the Palestinian National Authority, citing the targeting of civilian infrastructure such as a power station and the captures of government and parliament members. Some 300 Palestinians had been targeted by the IDF in the Gaza Strip since the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit.
Operation Autumn Clouds was launched on 1 November 2006. The Beit Hanoun November 2006 incident occurred on 8 November 2006 when Israel Defense Forces shells missed their target and hit a row of houses in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, killing 19 Palestinians and wounding more than 40. It occurred the day after the Israeli withdrawal following Operation Autumn Clouds, a week-long operation by the Israeli military in the northern Gaza Strip aimed at curbing Qassam rocket attacks fired by Palestinian militants from the town.
The 2006 Franco–Italian–Spanish Middle East Peace Plan was proposed after Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in Operation Autumn Clouds by Spanish Premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero during talks with French president Jacques Chirac. Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi gave his full support to the plan.
On 26 November, a ceasefire was signed by Palestinian organisations and Israel, and Israel withdrew its troops while the Palestinian Authority forces deployed to stop Qassam rocket launchings. Following the truce over 60 Qassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, and 1 Palestinian (armed with guns and grenades) was killed by the IDF. On 19 December, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad began taking open responsibility for the Qassam rocket firing, because they said Israel killed two of their members in Jenin.
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