This article documents the involvement of foreign powers in "Operation Cast Lead", the 2008-2009 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. It may be useful for the reader to review foreign support available during other, related conflicts such as Operation Orchard, the 2006 Lebanon War, and 2003 invasion of Iraq.

United States

Military support

Unnamed US diplomatic sources confirmed on or around January 25, 2009 that United States Navy warships stationed in the Gulf of Aden had been ordered to track Iranian arms shipments. Israeli intelligence reports that were distributed to cabinet ministers suggested that Iran's Revolutionary Guard has an arms resupply program for Gaza.[1]

Political support

The U.S. initially blocked the 30 December 2008 ceasefire proposal at the U.N. Security Council. [2] [3] [4] On 31 December, the U.S. sought to hire a merchant ship to deliver more ammunition to Israel.[5] Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip has been made possible by weapons supplied by the U.S.:

"Israel's intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by US supplied weapons paid for with US tax dollars," says a background briefing released Thursday by the Arms and Security Initiative of the New York-based New America Foundation.[6]
The U.S. was the only UNSC member that refused to support the 8 January 2009 ceasefire resolution.[7] Other Security Council members were stunned by the U.S. abstention.[8] Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is said to be proud of the role he played in persuading U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to refrain from supporting a ceasefire resolution she herself had helped to prepare:
Rice did not end up voting for Resolution 1860, thanks to a phone conversation Olmert held with US President George Bush shortly before the vote, the prime minister told a meeting of local authority heads in Ashkelon as part of a visit to the South.[9]
Israel succeeded in persuading the U.S. to prevent the UNSC from condemning Israel's alleged white-phosphorous attack on the Gaza UN headquarters. The U.S. veto of the proposal came only after being contacted by Israel's representatives. Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, Danny Carmon, commented: "this is the first time we have succeeded in thwarting an attempt to act against us thanks to reliable firsthand information received from the Foreign Ministry and the IDF".[10]

On 9 January, Secretary Rice defended Israel on the issue of deaths of civilians in Israeli operations and blamed Hamas' alleged practice of fighting from populated civilian structures - use of human shields - for Palestinian deaths.[11] Also on 9 January, the U.S. House voted 390-5 to support the Israeli offensive(H.R. 34).[12]

The Institute for Policy Studies has condemned the U.S. role in alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip . "The Israeli air strikes represent serious violations of international law -– including the Geneva Conventions and a range of international humanitarian law -– and the U.S. is complicit in all of it," wrote IPS fellow Phyllis Bennis.[13][14] The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition of anti-Israel organizations, claim that the Israeli assault was made possible by U.S. military assistance and diplomatic backing. Amnesty International has expressed concern about the U.S. role in the conflict. CODEPINK, a grassroots women's antiwar group, has criticized a recent American Senate vote in support of the Israeli offensive.[14]


Egypt's participation in blocking off the Gaza Strip, and when Egyptian authorities denied foreign doctors entry into the area, has been seen by some as abetting Israel's siege of the strip.[15]. Cairo has officially refused to give an Iranian relief ship permission to unload Gaza-bound humanitarian aid at an Egyptian seaport[16]. On 28th of December 2008, the second day of the war, after the first bombing of the Rafah tunnels, hundreds of young Palestinians tried to seek refuge in Egypt. Egyptian guards opened fire on unarmed civilians and injured 10 Palestinians. Palestinian resistance shot back and killed an Egyptian guard. Egyptians arrested about 40 Palestinians that have fled to Egypt[17] ISM activists have taken footage of the incident of that day.[18]


Iran is viewed by many observers to be a serious component of the "Battle of Gaza." [3] Hosni Mubarak warned that "the Persians are trying to devour the Arab states." [4] Saudi Arabia's Shura Council member Mohammed Abdallah Al Zulfa stated that "Iran is the big threat in today’s world, supporting all the terrorists from Hamas to Hezbollah to some other terrorists that we don’t know their names yet," and that "Iran destabilized the region by supporting all the illegal activities and activists such as Hamas." [5] "Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman reportedly told the Israelis that Egypt wouldn’t oppose a quick strike designed to bring down Hamas." Palestinian Authority chief Abu Mazen blames Hamas, which is largely an Iranian proxy, for the fighting."[6] Hamas "has drawn itself increasingly into Iran's orbit. Much of its imported weaponry, and the expertise with which it now produces and refines its own rockets, have been provided by Iran. Dozens of its commanders have been trained in Iran in recent years, coming home and disseminating that 'education' as Hamas has built an army in Gaza. And, increasingly too, Hamas has come to act in the service of Iran's aims," according to a Jerusalem Post analysis. [7]Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on December 28, ordering them to "defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible", and calling those who die as "martyr[s]".[19] More than 70,000 Iranian student volunteers have registered to carry out attacks against Israel. Several riots broke out in Tehran where students demanded to be sent to Gaza where they could fight the Israelis.[20] Several weeks before the start of the war, Iran allegedly attempted to send military experts to Gaza on board a Libyan ship, which was intercepted and turned back by the Israeli Navy. Iran sent several ships and a plane with humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians. Iran also asked Egypt to open its borders to enable it to send oil, clothing, and other "basic human needs".


On 1 December 2008 (several weeks prior to the start of "Operation Cast Lead"), Libya sent a ship with what it claimed was 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip. Israeli warships intercepted the vessel and turned it back,[21] stating that the ship was suspected of carrying weapons and Iranian military experts. A senior Libyan government official responded:

"The Israeli warships are making it difficult for the ship to reach the Gaza coast, in spite of the fact that this is a civilian ship, sent to help Palestinians during the siege"[21].
On 3 January 2009, Libya, the only Arab member of the UN Security Council, called on all parties "to observe an immediate cease-fire.". In the draft, Libya expressed "serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, in particular, after the launching of the Israeli ground offensive". According to diplomats, the United States refused to back the Libyan-drafted text, killed the initiative, and refused to back a watered-down call for a truce.[22]


Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal resides in Damascus. On 31 December 2008, Syria and Turkey called on Arab and Islamic countries to encourage Israel to end its offensive.[23] Syria's Sana news agency reports that Syria sent 230 tons of food and medical products to Gaza on 3 January, this in addition to 50 tons sent on 31 December.[24]


Turkey has suspended indefinitely its mediation between Israel and Syria. Turkish diplomatic sources explain:

"Israel's policy to go to war with the Palestinians while talking about peace with the Syrians is very disappointing," the diplomatic source said, adding that "it will be difficult to continue from this point on".[25]
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, seeking ways to halt Israel's attacks.[23]


  1. Mahnaimi, Uzi (25 January 2009). "US Navy Seeks Arms Bound For Hamas". London: Times Online. Retrieved 26 January 2009. 
  2. Nidal al-Mughrabi (2009-01-04). "Israeli tanks, soldiers invade Gaza Strip". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  3. Edith M. Lederer (2008-01-04). "US blocks UN Security Council action on Gaza". AP. 
  4. "Draft UNSC resolution on Gaza rejected". Associated Press. 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  5. Stefano Ambrogi (2009-01-09). "US says arms shipment to Israel not linked to Gaza". Reuters North American News Service. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  6. Thalif Deen (2009-01-09). "US Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  7. Yitzhak Benhorin (2009-01-09). "Security Council approves truce resolution; US abstains". AFP.,2506,L-3653209,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  8. Julian Borger; Ian Black (2009-01-10). "US abstention stuns security council". The Guardian. 
  9. Yaakov Lappin (2009-01-12). "PM: Rice left embarrassed in UN vote". Jersulem Post. 
  10. Yitzhak Benhorin (2009-01-15). "Israel, US foil UN condemnation: Diplomats work together to prevent Security Council statement slamming Jewish state for UNRWA building strike". ynet,2506,L-3657080,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  11. "'Hard' for Israel to spare Gaza civilians : Rice". AFP. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  12. "Final Vote Results For Roll Call 10". 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  13. Phyllis Bennis. (2008-12-28). "The Gaza Crisis: Israeli Airstrikes & U.S. Complicity". IPS. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ida Wahlstrom (2009-01-10). "Rights Groups Condemn US Role in Gaza Conflict". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  15. "Egypt bars doctors from entering Gaza Strip". 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  16. "Cairo against Iran aid delivery to Gaza". 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  17. Reuters 28-12-2008 Egyptian guard killed by Hamas on Gaza border:TV [1]
  18. The War Tapes: Egyptian guards shooting at Palestinian refugees in Rafah [2]
  19. "Saudi cleric issues fatwa urging Muslims to avenge Gaza raids". Haaretz. 2008-12-28. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  20. Suicide bombers ready to fight Israel
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Israel turns back Libyan ship bound for Gaza with aid". Reuters. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  22. Louis Charbonneau (2009-01-04). "U.S. thwarts Libyan push for Gaza truce demand at U.N.". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 [Damascus, it was not immediately known if Erdogan had met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal "Turkey, Syria call on Islamic nations to pressure Israel to end Gaza offensive"]. Haaretz. 2008-01-31. Damascus, it was not immediately known if Erdogan had met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  24. "Syria sends aid to Gaza". AFP. 2009-01-03.,,2-10-1462_2448239,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  25. Nicholas Kimbrell (2009-01-01). "Turkey shelves mediation between Syria, Israel over Gaza". Daily Star (Lebanon). Retrieved 2009-01-15. 

Template:2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict

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