Timeline: Violence escalates in Gaza Strip

(Reuters) – Here is a timeline of events in the Gaza Strip since late 2008 and the start of a three-week war between Israel and Hamas militants.

December 27, 2008 – Israel launches huge air strikes across the Gaza Strip after heavy rocket and mortar fire from Hamas.

January 3, 2009 – Israel launches a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, sending tanks and infantry into battle with Hamas.

January 17 – Israel declares unilateral ceasefire.

January 18 – Hamas announces a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

January 21 – Israel completes a troop pullout from Gaza. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis are killed in the war.

August 14/15 – Twenty-eight people are killed in fighting between Hamas and a rival group aligned with al Qaeda, the Jund Ansar Allah (Warriors of God) led by Abdel-Latif Moussa.

September 15 – The Israeli army and Palestinian militants committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the Gaza war, according to a report by the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel did not cooperate with the investigation.

May 31, 2010 – Six ships taking supplies to Gaza ignore warnings by Israel that they should not breach its blockade of the territory. Israeli commandos land on the lead ship, Mavi Marmara, killing nine Turkish activists. Israel says they acted in self-defense when passengers attacked them.

July 30 – An Israeli air strike kills Hamas military commander and rocket-maker, Issa Batran — the first Hamas commander killed in an Israeli air strike since the war.

Sept 22 – Israeli attack on Gaza-bound flotilla in May was unlawful, says a panel of three experts nominated by the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel rejects the findings.

November 3 – Israel kills Mohammed Jamal al-Nimnim, an Army of Islam leader. The group is inspired by al Qaeda.

December 6 – Militants fire advanced missile against Israeli tank, revealing sophisticated nature of smuggled arms arsenal.

December 8 – Israel announces a relaxation of its Gaza blockade, saying exports of manufactured goods are now permitted.

December 18 – An Israeli air strike kills five Palestinian militants belonging to a small militant group, Ansar al-Sunna.

January 8, 2011 – Gaza mortar wounds two men at Israeli farm.

January 9 – Hamas calls on other militant groups in Gaza to halt recent upsurge of missile fire into Israel.

January 11 – An Israeli missile kills Islamic Jihad member.

February 11 – Hamas celebrates downfall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, says new rulers bound to adopt softer line with Gaza.

February 23 – A Gaza rocket hits Israeli city of Beersheba. No injuries reported. Israel responds with several air strikes.

March 15 – Israel seizes arms aboard a cargo ship in the Mediterranean. Says arms came from Iran and were headed to Gaza.

March 19 – Israeli strikes wound 5 Hamas security officials and a boy after militants launch mortar bombs into Israel.

March 22 – Israeli air strikes and shelling kill nine Palestinians in Gaza after barrage of mortars fired into Israel. The death toll is the highest for a single day in months.

March 23 – Grad rockets fired from Gaza hit the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Beersheba, wounding one resident.

March 30 – Israel says its aircraft kill a Palestinian gunman and wounded another in the southern Gaza Strip.

April 2 – Israeli aircraft kill three gunmen in Gaza. Israel says they were from Hamas and were planning to kidnap Israelis.

April 2 – Israel calls on the U.N. to cancel a report which said it had committed war crimes during the 2008/09 Gaza offensive, after its author, South African jurist Richard Goldstone, backtracks on key part of it.

April 7 – Hamas fires anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus, wounding two. Israel retaliates, killing five Palestinians. Gaza militants fire 45 rockets and mortars into Israel.

April 8 – Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip kill two militants from Hamas and three Palestinian civilians. More rockets fired into Israel.

Timeline: Violence escalates in Gaza Strip