At 11:30 AM on 27 December 2008, without any specific warning regarding timing or targets, the Israel Defense Forces launched a massive bombing attack on the Gaza Strip. Thus begun an operation which earned the military nickname “Cast Lead.” Its declared goal was to destroy the weaponry and infrastructure of Hamas and other Palestinian factions – which had been used to launch thousands of rocket attacks on the Israeli civilian population dating back to October 2000 – and to bring these attacks to an end.
By all accounts, over 1,000 Palestinians – including hundreds of unarmed civilians – were dead by the time Israel and Hamas each declared unilateral ceasefires on 18 January 2009. Likewise, vast swaths of the Gaza Strip had been completely destroyed, leaving thousands homeless. The local economy, already in a grave state, effectively shut down.
This report seeks to draw attention to what seems to be a profound change in the IDF’s theory of war – one expressed quite clearly during Operation “Cast Lead” – by examining the words of senior political and military officials before, during and after the operation.