Mahmoud Darwish on Yasser Arafat- Ramallah (photo by GZ) Old city of Hebron (photo by GZ) Drone flying over KhanYounis, Gaza. (Photo by CdV) Hisham's Palace, Jericho (photo by GZ) Corridor from Erez crossing into Gaza (Photo by CdV) Bypass road north-south - Jerusalem (photo by GZ) Mahmoud Darwish in the presence of absence (photo by GZ) Gilo settlement - Beit Jala (photo by GZ) Cremisan Road, Beit Jala (photo by GZ) Anti-wall demonstration in Bi'lin. (Photo by LS) Wall grafitti made by Berlin residents. (Photo by CdV)

2006-2011 Gaza in crisis

The larger part of this time line is an adaptation of the historic overview in ‘Before their Diaspora, a photographic history of the Palestinians 1876-1948’ by Walid Khalidi.



Israeli PM Sharon suffers a massive stroke that incapacitates him; his Deputy Ehud Olmert is appointed Acting Prime Minister, later assuming the role officially.

PA legislative elections are held. Hamas' Change and Reform party, who was pushed by the international community to participate in the elections, wins a surprise majority, taking 74 seats. Fatah wins 45 seats. PA President Abbas asks Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to form a government and the first ever Hamas-led cabinet is sworn in. The US and EU formally cut off all direct aid to the Hamas-led government. Israel seals off the Gaza Strip.

Following a blast in which seven members of one family and one other Palestinian are killed on a Gaza beach, Hamas’ armed wing calls off its 16-month-old truce with Israel. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is captured by Palestinians who attack an army post at the southern Gaza border. Two other soldiers are killed in the operation. Israel begins an assault on the Gaza Strip.

June 27: Fatah and Hamas adopt the so-called Prisoners Document that calls for the creation of a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders, alongside Israel, and asserts the right of Palestinian refugees to return to lands within Israel proper.

July 2: Under mounting pressure from UN and international aid agencies, Israel temporarily opens the border crossings at Karni and Kerem Shalom to allow food, fuel, and medical supplies to enter.

July 12: The Israel-Lebanon war begins when militants from the group Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli border towns. Israel responds with airstrikes, killing at least 1,200 people, mostly Lebanese citizens. Lebanese civil infrastructure is severely damaged, and approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000–500,000 Israelis are temporarily is placed.  Israel casualties number 1,500, mostly soldiers.

August 11: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1701, which calls for the cessation of Israeli-Lebanese hostilities, the deployment of an armed international force to secure south Lebanon, and disarmament of Hizbullah.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Haniyeh agree on formation of national unity government. Shortly after, rivalry and violence erupt between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.



Hamas takes control of the Gaza Strip and removes Fatah officials. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announces the dissolution of the unity government. This leaves Fatah effectively in charge of the West Bank, with Salam Fayyad as Prime Minster, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip headed by Ismael Haniyeh.



(June) Cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Following the killing of a few Hamas combatants, Israel tightens siege on Gaza, sealing off the strip entirely. UNRWA, responsible for food aid to 80% of Gaza civilians runs out of supplies. Hamas announces that it will not extend the cease-fire due to the fact that Israel has not lifted the siege as agreed, and recommences firing rockets at Southern Israel. In December Israel launches a massive attack in the Gaza Strip, killing 1400 people, and wounding thousands, mainly civilians. The destruction of thousands of homes, schools and businesses are a heavy blow to the already impoverished citizens of the Gaza Strip.



Israel begins a ground operation with a massive artillery barrage all along the Gaza boundary. Troops are sent into Gaza. Israeli missiles hit the UN storehouse, setting fire to tons of food supplies. In the attacks Israel uses white phosphorous. International law forbids the use of this highly toxic chemical in populated areas. After 23 days both Israel and Hamas declare a cease-fire. Israel continues the siege. Limited import of food, medication and building material add to the post-war devastation.

June: US President Obama, in an attempt to reignite peace negotiations, demands Israel to stop the settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses.

September:  A UN special mission, headed by the South African Justice Richard Goldstone, produces a report accusing both Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and recommends bringing those responsible to justice. The UN Human Rights council endorses the recommendations of the Goldstone Committee. The Netherlands are among the states opposing Goldstones findings. The UN Security Council rejects it.

Some months later Goldstone writes that he no longer believed that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in Gaza, following a pressure campaign by Israel targeting him personally. The other authors of the report reject Goldstone's reassessment.



The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) states in a report that the blockade of Gaza violates international law — something the organization had never explicitly said before.

March: Indirect peace talks commence. The Palestinian delegation withdraws after Israel announces the approval of 1600 housing units in East-Jerusalem settlements. Both UN and the US condemn the construction of these units.

The European Parliament endorses the recommendations of the Goldstone report.

May: The Israeli navy attacks and enters the Free Gaza flotilla, a convoy of 700 passengers carrying tons of humanitarian aid and construction materials. The flotilla was sailing in international waters towards the port of Gaza with the intention of breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip. Eight Turkish civilians and one American on board the Mavi Marmara are killed. The raid draws widespread international condemnation and results in the deterioration of Israel-Turkey relations. 

The UN Human Right Council appoints an investigation committee that takes evidence from 112 eyewitnesses, reviews forensic evidence, including autopsy reports and inspects the Mavi Marmara.  It finds that, because a humanitarian crisis exists in Gaza, Israel's blockade is unlawful. Since Freedom Flotilla 1 neither presented an imminent threat to Israel nor was designed to contribute to any war effort, intercepting the flotilla was ‘clearly unlawful’ and could not be justified as self-defense.



January: The Palestine Papers were leaked out and released by Aljazeera news network. The Papers, comprising of thousands of files including maps, memos, mails and even minutes of high level meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators and high officials. The Palestine Papers show the extent to which the Palestinian leadership was ready to give concessions to reach an agreement with the Israeli side - often against the Palestinian consensus on crucial issues like settlements, Jerusalem and the right of return -. The papers also show how these far reaching concessions were met with constant Israeli refusal.

The Turkel committee, Israel’s own investigatory panel exonerates the commandos, then saying the blockade was legal. The commission bases their conclusion in testimony of the Israeli military and did not interview any of the Flotilla’s passengers or crew members.

September: A second UN investigation, headed by former prime minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer, ex-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, A Turkish and Israeli member contradict the earlier UN report. The Palmer report fins the naval blockade in accordance with international law and interception of the Flotilla justified.

Turkey dramatically downgraded its relations with Israel, expelling the Israeli ambassador and cutting military ties with its former ally.

The Israeli human rights organization Gisha criticizes the Palmer Commission for not reviewing Israel's overall closure of the Gaza Strip and states: “For it [the naval blockade]to conform to the principles of international law, Israel must remove the sweeping restrictions on export of goods, movement of people between Gaza and the West Bank and entrance of construction materials.”

The PNA announces a campaign to join the United Nations as a full member state.