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Operation Cast Lead was a three-week military conflict between Israel and Hamas that took place in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel during the winter of 2008–2009.

On 18 December Hamas declared the end of a six-month ceasefire with Israel and on 24 December began an intensification of rocket fire towards the country's towns.  On December 27 Israel began a wave of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of stopping the rocket attacks from and arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces attacked military targets, police stations and government buildings. Hamas further intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, hitting civilian targets throughout the conflict and reaching major Israeli cities like Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod for the first time. An Israeli ground invasion began on January 3, 2009. The war ended on January 18, when Israel first declared a unilateral ceasefire, followed by Hamas' announcing a one-week ceasefire twelve hours later. Israel completed its withdrawal on January 21.

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