Although restrictions on the movement of people in and out of Gaza have existed in different forms over the years, the current blockade of the Gaza Strip began in June 2007.
Hamas sees Palestinian rival Fatah’s recognition of the state of Israel as a mistake, and Israel wants to weaken it by restricting access of goods. Israel allows some aid into the Strip, but the UN says it is not enough for the population.
June 2007: Ismlamic group Hamas seizes control of Gaza from Palestinian President Mahnoud Abbas’s Fatah, after Western-favoured Fatah refuses to step down upon losing the election.
January 2008: Breach of the Gaza-Egypt border. When an explosion was set off near the Rafah border crossing, destroying part of the Gaza Strip barrier, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt. Egypt at first permitted crossings, but resealed the border some days later.
June 2008: Hamas and Israel reach truce to halt the cross-border rocket attacks, and end Israeli offensives against Hamas and its leaders.
November 2008: Palestinians resume rocket and mortar fire into Israel after Israeli incursion.
Dec. 19, 2008: Hamas formally declares the truce over.
Dec. 27, 2008: Israel launches air offensive, killing more than 200 Palestinians in the first day, in response to ongoing rocket fire from Gaza.
Jan 3, 2009: After days of strikes on Gaza, Israel launches ground invasion.
Jan 21, 2009: Israel withdraws. The Gazan Ministry of Health said that 1,314 Palestinians were killed. Other sources said there were fewer deaths. Israel suffers 13 casualties.
January 2009: An unsuccesful attempt by aid workers and activitsts aboard the Spirit of Humanity to break the blockade.
June 2009: Another unsuccesful attempt by a ship to reach Gaza, this one containing US representative Cynthia McKinney and Bahraini officials.
Aid Flotilla Timeline
May 30, 2010
– Six of the eight ships bound for Gaza depart from international waters off the coast of Cyprus. The other two ships are delayed due to mechanical faults. The bulk of the passengers were aboard the MV Mavi Marmara, a Comoros-flagged passenger ship specifically for the Gaza mission by Turkish organisation The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief.
– A dozen Israeli naval vessels set sail from the ports of Haifa and Ashdod to intercept the aid flotilla in international waters
May 31, 2010
– Israel’s navy makes calls in English for the flotilla to turn around or be escorted into the port at Ashdod. These calls are ignored and commandos begin boarding the vessels via dinghies and helicopter.
All of the vessels apart from the MV Mavi Marmara are boarded swiftly with few injuries or disturbances. When boarding the bigger passenger vessels, the Israeli commandos are reportedly overwhelmed by activists armed with clubs and possibly even knives. Israel says the commandos pulled out pistols to defend themselves, and nine activists – most of them Turks – die in the ensuing chaos. A media blackout on those arrested means the details of what happened the MV Mavi Marmara remain unclear.
– The MV Mavi Marmara is officially in Israeli hands, and is escorted to shore.
– The ships begin arriving in Ashdod, and detained activists are taken ashore for questioning.
– Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cancels his visit with US President Barack Obama and flies home to deal with the crisis. He says Israel’s navy were acting in self-defence against ‘a lynching’.
June 1, 2010
– Dozens of activists aboard the flotilla are prepped for deportation.
– Israel’s government faces world condemnation, with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling for a full inquiry into the incident. Bilateral relations between the nations – already low following the use of forged Australian passports by Mossad agents – again sink when Mr Rudd calls for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
– Israel’s strongest ally, the US, remains relatively quiet on the issue, saying it is saddened by the deaths, but refusing to condemn Israel’s actions.
– Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announces an Australian man aboard the flotilla had been shot and wounded, and confirms that two journalists are safe and in detention after being removed from the boats.
– Mr Netanyahu meets with wounded marines before convening a security cabinet meeting.
– Major Australian cities hold protests against the raids. These come after a day of collective action across the globe to condemn Israel’s actions.
June 2, 2010
– Israel confirms it will deport all foreign activists detained during the raids.
– Mr Rudd calls Mr Netanyahu regarding the incident, and says all Australians on board the flotilla have been offered consular assistance.
– Nicaragua cuts all diplomatic ties with Israel over the flotilla raid, becoming the first country to do so over the incident.