Israel's no-holds-barred bombardment of Gaza, which commenced on Tuesday, is the latest chapter in the Palestinians’ seemingly never-ending saga of misery. While Palestinians throughout the occupied territories have been victims of Israeli high-handedness for decades, Gaza’s plight has been particularly tragic.
Israel vowed no let-up in its aerial bombardment of Gaza, which has claimed more than 162 Palestinian lives, as a defiant Hamas rained more rockets on the Jewish state.
Both sides have dismissed calls for a truce, and Israel continued to build up troops along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion, warning Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes.
Israeli navy commandos launched a ground operation overnight in the north of the Gaza Strip, the first since the offensive against Hamas began, Israeli public radio said early Sunday.
Below is a pictorial overview of events that led to the brutal bombardment of Gaza.
|The latest violence appears to have been triggered by the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank — Photo by Al Jazeera|
|The murder of the Israeli teens sparked anger in Israel, who accused the Palestinian movement Hamas, which has its power base in the Gaza Strip, of kidnapping them. This led to the retaliatory killing of a Palestinian youth Mohammad Abu Khder, who was reportedly kidnapped and killed. In this picture, a mourner holds the national flag as mourners gather for the funeral of 16-year-old Mohammed — Photo by AFP|
|Days later, Palestinian teen Tariq Abu Khdeir was arrested during clashes with Israeli police sparked by the murder of his cousin Mohammad Abu Khder. Tariq was badly beaten before he was arrested by Israeli security forces at a demonstration. This picture was taken when he reunited with his mother — Photo by AFP|
|In the aftermath of these incidents, tension had been building up, with Israel blaming Hamas for the abductions, a charge the militant group denied. As Israel started rounding up Palestinians in the wake of the murders, rocket fire into the Jewish state commenced from Gaza. In retaliation, Israeli Defense Forces started an air campaign in Gaza. In this photo smoke billows from buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 11, 2014. — Photo by AFP|
|A pro-Palestinian activist shouts slogans during a rally against the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza strip outside the Mexican Foreign Ministry building in Mexico City on July 11, 2014. — Photo by AFP|
|A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows rockets being fired from the Gaza strip into Israel, on July 12, 2014. — Photo by AFP|
|Israeli residents, mostly from the southern Israeli city of Sderot, sit on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip, on July 12, 2014, to watch the fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants. — Photo by AFP|
|This picture shows Palestinian children asleep on the floor at a UN school after evacuating their home near the border in Gaza City on July 13, 2014. Israeli marines mounted a first ground assault on Gaza, further escalating a deadly six-day offensive hours after the UN Security Council unanimously called for a ceasefire. — Photo by AFP|
|Washington Post’s foreign correspondent William Booth writes, "A colleague in Washington asked me what the Palestinians do during an air strike. Do they run to the bomb shelters? I think about this. It is not a dumb question. There aren’t any shelters or sirens. The Palestinians don’t really do anything. When they run around is afterward" — Photo by AFP|
|An editorial pubslished in Dawn read, "While the murders of the Israeli teens and the Palestinian youth are equally condemnable, Tel Aviv’s brutal yet predictable response of pounding Gaza is totally unacceptable" — Photo by AFP|
|"It is a heated night, where we don't know who will be in the news. It could be all of us," a 31-year-old Palestinian father told Al Jazeera, as his eldest child, three-year-old Mohammed, grabbed at his leg and didn't let go — Photo by AFP|
|Palestinians react after their relatives were killed in what hospital officials said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 12, 2014. — Photo by Reuters|
|A Palestinian woman gestures as she stands behind a missile which witnesses said was fired by Israeli aircraft, at a shack belonging to Bedouins in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip July 13, 2014. — Photo by Reuters|
|"It is only [in the] daylight that we can live. I never liked nights during Israeli wars, whether we are being bombed by F16s or [Palestinian] rockets are fired from nearby, we are afraid, as the noise is too loud," Palestinian father Ala al-Jarwsha told Al Jazeera. In this picture, a Palestinian woman, who fled her house that is adjacent to the border with Israel, combs her daughter's hair as they stay at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City July 13, 2014. — Photo by Reuters|
|Palestinians mourn their relatives in the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Saturday, July 12, 2014. — Photo by AP|
|In one telephone call, a loud boom could be heard on the line, so close the two were not sure on which side of the border fence the explosive had fallen. “I think it’s your side,” Mehanna told her Israeli friend. “Hitting our side?” - excerpt from Washington Post report. In this picture, mourners carry bodies of Palestinian people killed in an Israeli air strike on a building near their family houses, during their funerals in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Friday July 11, 2014. — Photo by AP|
|Police question a protester after he was detained during a demonstration calling for an end to the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington July 11, 2014. — Photo by Reuters|
|A Palestinian protester holds a picture of Gaza's victims as he argues with an Israeli army soldier during a protest against Israeli air strikes on Gaza, at Hawara checkpoint near the the West Bank city of Nablus July 12, 2014. — Photo by Reuters|