This report was issued in 2nd August 2009, and modified in 26/12/2011
In late December 2008, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launched a major offensive, unprecedented in scope and brutality, against the Gaza Strip.
The offensive was launched at approximately 11.
30am on Saturday 27 December 2008, with a surprise airstrike campaign carried out by 80 warplanes.
This attack targeted the majority of police stations and security premises throughout Gaza, in addition to numerous other targets.
Lasting just five minutes, this attack was devastating, due to its timing, scale and types of weaponry used.
It became clear in the first moments of the attack that the IOF intended to inflict a high level of destruction and killing.
From the outset of the offensive, the IOF did not appear to pay any concern to the fate of civilians, such as the hundreds of police officers working inside their stations as the airstrikes were carried out.
At the main police headquarters in Gaza City, many of these young men were just graduating from training.
The attacks were carried out at the peak time of police activity, with many civilians attending police stations across Gaza to respond to summons or file complaints.
Many civilians were therefore killed in these places.
The timing of the attacks also sparked a state of panic among Gaza’s children as it coincided with school arrival and departure times when nearly all of Gaza’s school students were in the streets or inside school grounds.
Several school children were killed in these attacks.
The offensive continued with intense air, artillery and naval attacks on the Gaza Strip until 2am on 18 January 2009 after the Israeli Government had declared a unilateral ceasefire.
Israeli military attacks concentrated primarily on North Gaza district and Gaza district although less intense attacks were carried-out across the Gaza Strip.
This 22-day military offensive was unprecedented in terms of the scale of grave and systematic violations of the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) and especially the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians at Time of War of 1949 (GCIV) and Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 Relative to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts.