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Over the years, Israel has punctuated brief, intense and increasingly frequent escalations. One of the bloodiest was in March 2012, when Israeli forces launched a four-day attack on Gaza, leaving 25 dead and 100 injured. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel.
In the afternoon of 14 November 2012, Israel launched its largest military campaign against the Gaza Strip since the invasion in December 2008/January 2009. Before launching the attack, Israel secured support from the United States and Europe. The Israeli government stated that the aims of the military operation were to ‘strengthen our deterrence; to inflict serious damage on the rocket-launching network; to deliver a painful blow for Hamas and the other terrorist organizations; to minimize damage to our home front’. Since then Israel has maintained the siege on Gaza by denying Palestinians access to a 300-1,500 metre-wide imposed ‘buffer zone’ and free entry of persons and goods into the territory, by shelling areas close to the Gaza-Israeli border, firing at Palestinian fishermen crossing the three-nautical mile limit, and by the extrajudicial killing of Gaza militants. The border has witnessed weekly Israeli incursions, leading to rocket attacks from the Palestinian side, by Hamas and non-Hamas fighters.