Israeli missiles hit smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza in Rafah, southern Gaza, on July 9, 2014.
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The current violence between the Israeli military and militants in Gaza is the latest in a long history of fighting in the region. Here’s a look at some events along the way.

Gaza's earliest references include Samson and Delilah. (Image from the Art History Museum, Vienne.)

Biblical references

Early mentions of the area in Scripture date back to the 15th century B.C. It was an early Egyptian base, a royal city of the Philistines and “the place where the Hebrew hero Samson, betrayed by Delilah, met his death,” according to World News Digest.

Map: Israel

From empire to empire

Across the centuries, various empires conquered the region, including the Assyrians, Persians and Hasmonean kings of Judea known as the Maccabees. Rome overtook it. In the year 632, it was conquered by Arabs. “Crusaders found Gaza almost deserted in the 12th century,” World News Digest says. It later fell to Napoleon and the Ottoman Empire. It fell to Britain during World War I, becoming part of the British Mandate of Palestine, the CIA World Factbook explains. In the following decades, bloody battles broke out at times between Jewish and Arab populations in Gaza.


In Israel’s war for independence, known as the Arab -Israeli War, Egypt gained control of Gaza. In 1967, after the Six Day War, also known as another Arab-Israeli War, Israel gained control of Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat  join U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords in September 1993.


In the Oslo Accords, which ended the first Palestinian Intifada, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from most of Gaza in 1994.

Will current conflict spark a ‘third intifada?’


Militants burned down offices of the Palestinian intelligence services in southern Gaza, protesting against then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s restructuring of security services. He later agreed to “a Palestinian version of reform.” Arafat died in November.


After efforts to achieve peace talks failed, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced a plan to remove all Jewish settlements and Israeli troops from Gaza by the end of 2005. It was completed in September. Rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza continued. Palestinians say Israel maintains control over Gaza through its grip on the skies, waters and entry points. Israel says such measures are necessary for security.

January 26, 2006

Hamas, which is listed by the United States, European Union and others as a terrorist group, won a landslide victory in Palestinian legislative elections.

June 2006

In a Hamas video, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is seen holding a Palestinian newspaper.

Palestinian militants stormed into Israeli territory, killed two soldiers and abducted Gilad Shalit, a 19-year-old soldier at an army post.


After vowing to work together in a unity government, Hamas and Fatah, the other main Palestinian faction, battled each other, carrying out kidnappings and killings. Hamas declared control of Gaza, while Fatah maintains its grip on the West Bank.

December 27, 2008

After continuous rocket attacks into southern Israel, the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead, which lasted three weeks and included a ground offensive into Gaza. Israel and Hamas reported different death tolls.

April 27, 2011

Hamas and Fatah again announced a unity government, which failed to materialize. The two sides made a similar announcement a year later.

Palestinians celebrate the release of Palestinian prisoners in a deal that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

October 18, 2011

Gilad Shalit was freed after five years in captivity. In a deal brokered by Egypt, Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Their walk to freedom drew cheers from thousands in Gaza and the West Bank.

November 14, 2012

The Israeli military killed Ahmed Jabri, head of Hamas’ militant operations, in one of a series of airstrikes targeting terrorists and their infrastructure in Gaza. After eight days of violence, a cease-fire went into effect. More than 160 Palestinians were reported killed, as were six Israelis, including a soldier.

June 2, 2014

Hamas and Fatah swore in a unity government. Israel called on the United States and other nations to continue to reject Hamas.

June 12, 2014

Three Israeli teens on their way home from school in the West Bank were abducted. One was a dual U.S. citizen. Israel blamed Hamas. Their bodies were found on July 1 in the West Bank.

July 2, 2014

A Palestinian teen was abducted in the early morning. His body was found about an hour later. Palestinian and Israeli officials condemned the killing. Days later, Israel announced suspects were arrested and a “strong indication” it was a revenge killing. As clashes took place in a usually quiet part of Jerusalem, rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel increased. Israel carried out airstrikes targeting militants in Gaza.

July 7, 2014

Israel declared Operation Protective Edge, which is ongoing.

CNN’s Amy Chillag contributed to this report.