Timeline in the last week :-
1. Something happens to provoke some persons as yet unidentified in Gaza.
2. Some persons as yet unidentified may or may not have fired a Grad missile from the Gaza Strip towards the Israeli town of Sderot.
3. The Israeli Defense Force act “in retaliation” and bomb three locations in Gaza, killing at least one person and wounding eight.
4. Some persons as yet unidentified may or may not have fired a Qassam rocket from the Gaza Strip towards Ashkelon.
You may be forgiven for thinking this is all about simple tactical weaponry exchange, embedded cultural or religious hatred, or revenge attacks.
But you’d be wrong.
This escalation in violence is merely part of what looks very strongly like an ongoing strategy to keep Gaza from economic development, by preventing them from exploiting their largest natural resource – offshore sub-marine Natural Gas.
I am going to give you my first attempt at some history on this matter. I make any and every apology if I have got something wrong. Please correct me by comments below the post.
I have not even started to attempt to address the hypocrisy of the United Kingdom and the United States of America effectively giving weapons to Israel via a system of direct and indirect aid. All that is brilliantly covered by Robert Fisk, so I don’t need to :-
Gaza is being locked down under a “resource curse” – the Gazans are being forcefully detained in an open air concentration camp with scant resources, when all the time, just off-shore are enough hydrocarbons to make them all very wealthy. Many Gazans are succumbing to starvation of the body and mind, and many are unwell and have to endure appalling deprivation.
I should expect that the “final solution”, whatever that will be, will be announced by Israel in the next few years, unless the international community wakes up to the obvious risks that Gaza faces, and does something decisive about it.
Gaza Marine Timeline
1948 to 1973
Egypt and Israel fight four wars.
1973 to 1982
United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes conditions for Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), allowing control of all seabed assets out to 200 nautical miles from the shore, with adjustments for overlap between neighbouring nations.
17 September 1978
Camp David Accords signed between Egypt and Israel.
26 March 1979
Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty signed between Israel and Egypt.
20 January 1993
Oslo Peace Negotiations begin.
13 September 1993
Signing of the Oslo Accords.
4 May 1994
Signing of post-Oslo Gaza-Jericho Agreement, permitting Gazan fishermen to use Maritime Acitivity Zone extending 20 nautical miles out from Gaza shore.
24 September 1995 and 28 September 1995
The signed Oslo II Accord “Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” establishes the right of the Palestinian Authority to explore and drill for natural gas, fuel and petroleum within its territory and territorial waters.
BG Group (formerly part of British Gas) commence activities offshore to Gaza and Israel.
Noble Energy, (formerly Samedan), based in Houston, begin explorations for Natural Gas off the Israeli-Gaza coast in conjunction with Israeli partners Avner Oil and Delek Drilling (of the Delek Group) in the Yam Thetis (or Tethys) partnership. [ Note : In later reports, the consortium is reported to also include Isramco Negev 2, Dor Gas Exploration, Delek Investment and Razio. ]
Noble Energy drill successfully in the Noa prospect in the East Mediterranean, straddling the maritime border between Israel and Gaza. The Noa South field is almost entirely in the Gaza Maritime Zone.
BG Group first strike Natural Gas in the Gaza Marine maritime territory with its Gaza Marine 1 well. “The discovered gas field off Gaza, entitled Marine 1, is of top quality, as it contains 99.4 percent of methane and is free of sulfur pollutants that are harmful to the marine life,” Palestinian energy minister Azzam al Shawwa would later say.
8 November 1999
In London, Yasser Arafat for the Palestinian Authority signs a 25 year oil and gas exploration rights agreement for the Gazan prospects, eventually giving BG Group 60% development interest, 30% to a Palestinian infrastructure company Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), an Athens-based entity owned by Lebanon’s Hasib Sabbagh and Said Khoury families. The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak relinquished Israeli claims to the field, allowing the Palestinian Authority to hold 10% of the ownership rights to the Natural Gas resource, through ex-World Bank Salam Fayyad’s Palestine Investment Fund.
In 2000, the BG-Isramco group announced that it had discovered a large gas field 12 miles offshore of Israel at its Nir 1 well.
Noble Energy announces discovery of the Mari-B Natural Gas deposit, located approximately 15 miles offshore Israel and very close to the Gaza Marine Zone, west of Ashqelon (Ashkelon). At about the same time, following extensive seismic surveys, BG Group announces discoveries of Natural Gas within Gaza’s Maritime Activity Zone, about 15 miles off the coast, drilling wells named Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2. The Gaza Marine 1 is located within a few miles of the Yam Thetis (or Tethys) and BG-Isramco discoveries. BG Group plans an underwater pipeline 20 nautical miles from Gaza Marine directly to the Gaza coast. [ Note : this plan was to be abandoned when Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister in February 2001 and announced that the Israelis would never buy the gas directly from the Palestinians. ]
Negotiations for a final settlement at Camp David in the USA, in July, 2000 ended in deadlock. Both sides agreed on Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
25 July 2000
Yasser Arafat walks out on the Camp David meeting.
27 September 2000
Yasser Arafat travels 19 miles off the Gaza coast to light the first flare stack flowing up from the Natural Gas deposit. The project had been held up by a legal challenge from an Israeli Oil consortium that had contested the Palestinian rights to the Natural Gas discovery but this was overturned in the Israeli Supreme Court.
28 September 2000
Ariel Sharon’s fateful visit to Temple Mount, the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque, holy to Muslims. Second Intifada begins. After the outbreak of the Second Intifada the Israelis begins an ever-tightening blockade of Gaza with decreasing road freight and no foreign boats allowed to enter.
The US called a summit conference in Sharm-El Sheikh. All sides agree truce. Mitchell Report into the violence is commissioned. Shortly thereafter, Yasser Arafat takes part in Arab League Summit in Cairo, which calls for international investigative commission instead. Two weeks later, a suicide bombing in Jerusalem puts an end to the truce.
10 October 2000
Isramco, Incorporated presents the reports from the Med Ashdod license to a meeting of its partners, showing estimates of the total gas reserves in place in the Nir 1 discovery.
Attacks by Israeli military patrol boats against Gazan fishing boats begin, initiating a campaign of daily intimidation and harassment against vessels that venture near or beyond a 6 nautical mile limit.
27 December 2000
Peace negotiations in Washington fail to produce an agreement.
In 2001, a BG Group technical review recommended a sub-sea development and pipeline to an onshore processing terminal.
21 – 27 January 2001
Last minute peace negotiations in Taba, under European and Egyptian patronage, the sides failed to reach a settlement despite further Israeli concessions.
28 January 2001
Ehud Barak breaks off negotiations, suspending them until after the elections.
Ariel Sharon is elected Prime Minister for Israel. He reaffirms that Israel would never buy gas from the Palestinians. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court.
Following the “9/11” 11 September 2001 attacks the US State Department declare Hamas and Hezbollah (Hizbollah) as terrorist organisations.
In 2002, an outline Development Plan from BG Group was approved by the Palestinian Authority.
3 January 2002
Interception of “Karine A”, a boat containing illegal weapons.
3 January 2002
Visit of US envoy Anthony Zinni.
12 March 2002
UN Security Council passes Resolution 1397, calling on the sides to stop the violence once again, mentioning the Saudi Peace Proposal of Crown Prince Abdullah, and for the first time since 1947 calling for creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
late March 2002
US Envoy General Zinni visits once more. Almost daily suicide bomber attacks.
27 March 2002
Hotel bombing in Netanya.
29 March 2002
Start of the Israeli Defense Force’s “Operation Defensive Shield” in Palestinian West Bank. Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah (where he was confined) raided and sieged.
30 March 2002
UN Resolution 1402 calls upon Israel to withdraw troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah; and calls upon the parties to “cooperate fully with Special Envoy Zinni and others…for implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement.”
1 April 2002
IDF invade Tulkarm and Qalqiliya.
2 April 2002
IDF invade Bethlehem.
3 April 2002
IDF invade Jenin and Nablus.
3 – 21 April 2002
Strict curfew imposed by Israel in West Bank.
8 April 2002
US Envoy Anthony Zinni meets Ariel Sharon.
12 April 2002
Women and children of Jenin refugee camp publish a letter in al-Quds newspaper inviting US Secretary of State Colin Powell to visit them. By the time Powell had left the region, Israel had withdrawn from some towns, but Yasser Arafat was still imprisoned in Ramallah, and the Israelis were besieging the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where armed Palestinians had sought refuge from the IDF.
during April 2002
The US government initiated a series of consultations with a group of diplomats that became known as the “Quartet.” The quartet evolved a roadmap for a settlement, including Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and establishment of a Palestinian state.
News of a suicide bombing committed by the Hamas comes while US President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are meeting, causing the Israeli PM to cut the visit short and return to Israel.
The sieges of Muqata and Church of Nativity are resolved. Militants in the Church of Nativity are exiled to Cyprus and Europe.
29 or 30 May 2002
Yasser Arafat signs transitional constitution of Palestinian Authority. Palestinian law will be based on the principles of Islamic law (Shari’a or Sha’ariyeh).
5 June 2002
Megiddo Junction bus bombing – one of 46 bombings that year.
18 June 2002
Israel start to build the “separation fence” security wall between Israel and the West Bank.
22 July 2002
IDF airstrike on residential area in Gaza City.
Start of major offensive by IDF into Gaza.
5 August 2002
Israel launches helicopter airstrikes.
In response to a request from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the Secretary General of the United Nations appoints Ms. Catherine Bertini as his Personal Humanitarian Envoy to assess humanitarian needs of the Palestinians. At the end of her visit to the area she makes numerous recommendations including one that deals with the fishing boats. In her report she included a list of “Previous Commitments Made by Israel”. Item 2 states: “The fishing zone for Palestinian fishing boats off the Gaza coast is 12 nautical miles. This policy needs to be fully implemented.”
5 March 2003
Haifa bus bombing.
8 or 9 March 2003
Senior Hamas leader Ibrahim al-Maqadma (Ibrahim Al-Makadma) assassinated in Gaza City from IDF helicopter.
20 March 2003
US, British and Australian military forces invade Iraq.
29 April 2003
Mahmud (Mahmoud) Abbas (Abu Mazen) elected Palestinian Prime Minister.
29 April 2003
Two Britons conduct suicide bombing for Fateh and Hamas in Tel Aviv.
29 or 30 April 2003
IDF conduct extensive raids in Gaza on military targets.
30 April 2003
President George W. Bush presents roadmap to the Quartet group.
US released updated road map on April 30 immediately after the election of Abu Mazen (Mahmud (Mahmoud) Abbas).
28 May 2003
Ibrahim Abu Habla shot in the eye by IDF at Tulkarm.
early June 2003
Israeli military crackdown at Balata refugee camp and Nablus.
4 June 2003
At the Aqaba Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) pledge to fulfill the conditions of the road map and shook hands in the presence of US President George Bush. Abu Mazen called for an end to violence.
4 June 2003
Palestininan Red Crescent Society ambulance stopped from rescuing injured from Balata refugee camp.
5 June 2003
Ibrahim Abu Habla dies.
4 or 5 June 2003
IDF incursion into Deir al Balah in the Gaza Strip.
5 or 6 June 2003
IDF ambush at Tulkarm.
8 June 2003
Joint Palestinian fighters attack Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and in Gaza. Up to ten casulaties on both sides.
9 June 2003
Israeli army begin to dismantle illegal outposts of Jewish settlers in the West Bank as part of the “roadmap” from the Quartet.
18 August 2003
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vetoes the BG Group deal to supply Israel with Natural Gas from the Gaza fields. BG Group’s plan was to pipe it directly ashore at Ashqelon (Ashkelon) for the use of Israeli power stations. Mr Sharon is reported to prefer to buy gas from Egypt, which already sells Israel oil from its Sinai fields, although BG Group stands ready to re-open discussions if a Cairo deal cannot be sealed. The Israeli Prime Minister is reluctant to put money into the Palestinian treasury without knowing what it would be used for. The Palestinians had agreed that it would be paid into a central account audited by the international community. National Infrastructure Minister, Yosef Paritsky is enthusiastic for the Gaza option, and the Finance Ministry advocates buying Natural Gas from both Palestine and Egypt in order to create competition.
The Mari B platform comes on line, delivering around 100 million cubic feet per day of Natural Gas to Israel by pipeline. The Noa field, which sits further out to the West of the Mari B) is scheduled to be brought on line at a later date through a “sub-sea tieback” to the Mari-B platform. Accusations of slant drilling into the Gaza Marine from the Mari-B platform are made. [ Note : In 2004 Mari-B production increased significantly. ]
22 March 2004
Israeli intelligence service Mossad ascertained that Ahmed Yassin, founder and leader of the Hamas Islamist movement, had gone to prayers without his wife and children, and the green light was given to assassinate him.
17 April 2004
The IAF (Israeli Air Force) kill newly elected Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantissi. Dr. Mahmoud Zahar was apparently elected in his place, but no official announcement was made for fear of Israeli retaliation. Zahar is reportedly the last of the seven founders of the Hamas still alive. The others were all assassinated by Israel.
9 July 2004
The International Court of Justice delivered its advisory opinion on the Israeli security barrier. The court ruled that the barrier violates human rights and that Israel must dismantle it. Israel announced that it would not abide by the court decision, but it did plan changes in the route of the barrier to satisfy requirements of the Israeli High Court.
31 August 2004
Hamas perpetrated a double suicide attack in Beersheba, in revenge for the killings of their leaders. The attackers came from the area south of Hebron in the West Bank, where no fence had been built. The attack accelerated construction of the barrier, and Israel took bloody revenge by bombing a Hamas training camp in Gaza. In October of 2004 Israel conducted operation Days of Repentance to overcome Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns. The operation killed many civilians and left many others homeless.
11 November 2004
Palestinian Authority Chairman and long-time leader Yasser Arafat dies, leaving an uncertain future. Some signs indicated that the death of Arafat had opened up new possibilities for peace, as well as for reform and democracy in the Palestinian authority.
It is reported that “An agreement between Israel Electric [Corporation] and the Egyptian company EMB was under negotiation late in 2004”.
In mid-December, Egypt, Israel and the US signed a Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) treaty that would give Egypt trade advantages in the USA for cooperative ventures with Israeli participation. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman visited Jerusalem. The agreement permits Egyptian companies using Israeli agricultural products tax-free exports to the United States.
In early 2005, British Gas, after failing over a period of several years to interest other international oil and gas companies to participate in the project, returned almost all its Israeli fossil fuel license rights to the Israeli government for a combination of geo-political and commercial reasons while retaining its Palestinian and Egyptian interests.
9 January 2005
Mahmoud Abbas elected President of the Palestine National Authority.
8 February 2005
At the Sharm El Sheikh conference, attended by Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Mubarak as well as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, both sides announced an end to the violence. Israel would be releasing over 900 Palestinian prisoners and gradually withdrawing from Palestinian cities according to newspaper reports
20 February 2005
Israeli Knesset approves the disengagement plant, calling for unilateral evacuation of 21 settlements in Gaza and 4 in the West Bank by the summer of 2005.
The Israeli Government accepts a report on illegal outposts (built without proper permits and government authorisation in the West Bank since March of 2001) prepared at the request of the government by Talia Sasson.
April and May 2005
Ariel Sharon and Mahmud Abbas visited with the President of the United States. Symbolically, this visit was very important, because it signaled that the US was ending the isolation of the Palestinian Authority.
21 June 2005
On June 21, 2005, Sharon and Abbas met in a long-awaited summit, but nothing at all appeared to result from the meeting, other than an announcement by Ariel Sharon that he had attained Palestinian consent to coordination of the Gaza pullout. As violence flared following the summit, Israel launched air attacks against rocket launchers in Gaza, killed several Islamic Jihad terrorists and also announced it was resuming its policy of targeted killings of Islamic Jihad terrorists.
29 June 2005
The Palestinian Authority (PA), BG Group and the Egyptian government sign an agreement that gives the PA access to Egypt’s gas pipeline network at El-Arish, to transport and market the Gaza Natural Gas via sales to Egypt, and the possibility of international exports of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). This plan would allow the gas to be piped to Israel, but avoid Israel having to deal directly with the Palestinians. Palestinian energy minister Azzam Shawwa says there is a possibility of a swap deal with Israel, involving the supply of Gaza gas in return for electricity, preventing the exchange of money, which Israel fears could be used to bankroll terrorism.
30 June 2005 or 1 July 2005
Egypt agrees to provide Israel with a constant stream of Natural Gas at a fixed price, the 15 year “Gas Agreement”, a contract between the Egyptian East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) and Israel Electric Company (IEC), with power plants in Tel Aviv and Ashdod. Under the agreement, a maritime pipeline will transport Egyptian gas to Israel’s Mediterranean port of Ashkelon. Although gas from Gaza is the most cost-effective alternative, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is opposed to it for political reasons.
13 July 2005
After agressive protests by Israeli settlers (Yesha) against the disengagement plan, and violence against Palestinians, the Israeli Government close the Gaza Strip to Israeli citizens.
22 or 23 July 2005
Four car bombs exploded July 22 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and nearby Naama Bay hotels. Egyptian police report that one car bomb exploded at Sharm el-Sheikh bazaar while three other car bombs exploded – at a tourist bazaar, the Ghazala Hotel and the Moevenpick Hotel – in Naama Bay.
15 – 24 August 2005
Israeli evacuation of Gaza settlements and four West Bank settlements.
BG said it also plans to begin test drills in September at the Noa Darom field near the Israel-Gaza offshore border while looking to use the $120 million Yam Thetis pipeline to transport gas to the Palestinian power plant in Gaza, replacing the energy supplied by an Israeli electric company.
11 September 2005
Last Israeli soldiers leave Gaza.
12 September 2005
The settlements were officially handed over to the Palestinians.
Israel announced that it had ended the occupation of Gaza and withdrew its forces. But it continued to maintain control of air and sea-lanes as well as all border crossings on land. The amount of vehicular traffic remained extremely limited and never approached a typical pre-occupation daily level. The ability for persons to enter or leave Gaza continued to be restricted. Permission or denial for passage was often arbitrary and unpredictable. The conditions of an occupation continue to prevail.
25 November 2005 – 25 June 2006
Subsequently a passage was opened between Gaza and Rafah in Egypt to ensure that Palestinians are not cut off from the world. Egyptians, Palestinians and EU representatives monitor the passage to prevent smuggling of arms, but Israelis claim that Palestinians are smuggling in substantial qualities of arms.
BG Group’s original plans were to sell the Gaza’s Natural Gas to Egypt. In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.”, according to an article published in The Times of London on 23 May 2007. According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt. The company reopened earlier failed negotiations with Israel for a pipeline development that would land the gas at Ashkelon, a southern Israeli city with a petroleum refinery.
25 January 2006
Hamas freely won the legislative elections on Jan 25 2006. After a battle with Fatah elements that were supported by both Israeli and US interests Hamas took control of Gaza. Israel and the United States immediately reiterated that Hamas was a terrorist organization and that they would continue to have no public contact with it. The Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) threatened to cut funds to the Palestinian Authority. The restrictions at the border crossings were tightened further with even more severe limitations on the admission of produce, materials, medicines and people. Anaemia and malnutrition are widespread as a result.
After the 2006 Palestinian election results, Israel began stalling in its negotiations with BG Group. Any deal that could result in funds reaching Gaza would seriously undermine official Israeli policy toward Hamas. For its part, Hamas assured it would not interrupt development of the project, but reserved its right to restructure parts of the deal it deemed harmful to Palestinian interests. In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Minister of Economy Ziad Shokri (Shukri) al-Zaza reiterated Hamas opposition to any sale of fuel to Israel.
After the Hamas election victory, Israel embarked on an intense campaign to eliminate the movement as a viable political entity in Gaza while at the same time attempting to rehabilitate the defeated Fatah as the dominant political player in the West Bank. By leveraging political tensions between the two parties, arming forces loyal to Abbas and the selective resumption of financial aid, Israel and the United States effectively re-installed Fatah in the West Bank, projected the party back onto the international stage and revived the possibility of concluding the energy deal.
2 February 2006
The Palestine National Authority accuse Israel of “practicing collective punishment after it snubbed US calls to unblock funds owed to the Palestinians.”
18 February 2006
Ismail Haniya of the militant Islamic group Hamas criticised Israeli proposals to restrict the movement of money, people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under a Hamas-run Palestinian Authority.
Hamas Government sworn in after January elections.
25 June 2006
Just as PNA announced the conclusion of an agreement on a truce with Israel, Hamas attacked an Israeli army border outpost at Kerem Shalom, killing two soldiers and capturing a third, Gilad Shalit. Hamas offered to trade the soldier for Palestinian prisoners. Israel refused to negotiate and began a siege of Gaza and later invaded in Operation “Summer Rains” in an attempt to force Palestinians to return the soldier alive and stop the rain of Qassam rockets.
28 June 2006
Following the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli Air Force attacked the only electrical power plant operating in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of the morning. Six missiles were fired at the power plant’s six transformers. Two of the missiles missed their target, so two more missiles were fired a few minutes later, destroying the remaining transformers
29 August 2006
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports on worsening conditions in the Gaza Strip under the “Hermetic Blockade”.
12 July 2006 – 14 August 2006
The “July War” or the “Second Lebanon War”. Israel responds to a Hezbollah attack “Operation Just Reward”. During and after the Israeli offensive in Lebanon, IDF operations continued unabated in Gaza as Palestinians continued to rain down Qassam rockets on the Western Negev and the Hamas insisted solemnly that it was keeping a truce.
October and November 2006
Palestinians shoot a relentless rain of Qassam missiles on the Western Negev and in particular the town of Sderot, killing three Israelis. IDF operations in Rafah uncovered extensive tunnels used for smuggling, but IDF operations in the north of Gaza, intended to stop the firing of Qassam missiles, were terminated under increasing international pressure, as Israelis had killed over 50 Palestinians, including several civilians.
8 November 2006
Following the Israeli withdrawal, an especially heavy barrage of Qassam fire prompted an Israeli shelling response. The shells missed their target, hitting a residential neighborhood and killing about 20 Palestinian civilians.
26 November 2006
the Palestinians and Israelis announced a surprise truce that was to apply only to the Gaza strip. Despite continuation of Qassam fire by the Palestinians for several days thereafter, Israel held to the truce.
27 November 2006
On the day following the truce announcement, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert announced a new Israeli diplomatic initiative offering peace to the Palestinians and other other neighbors along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative. This was the first time that an Israeli leader had referred to the initiative in a positive way. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the speech. The United States, the Iraq Study Group report, which recommended active US involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, also gave rise to talk of peace negotiations.
The truce was violated repeatedly in Gaza by barrages of Qassam rockets fired at Israeli towns. The dissident Islamic Jihad claimed that it would not adhere to the truce unless it was extended to the West Bank. However, it was revealed that the Hezbolla were paying thousands of dollars for each Qassam rocket fired.
23 December 2006
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert finally met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and announced some concessions to make life easier for the Palestinians including release of tax funds frozen by Israel and removal of a number of checkpoints. A plan to release prisoners for the Eid al Adha holiday was abandoned however. Following the meeting, Israel agreed to a large transfer of weapons to the Fatah group loyal to President Abbas from Egypt. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni hinted at a new peace initiative in press interviews. These moves were seen as attempts to support President Abbas in his rivalry with the Hamas-led government of Ismail Hanniyeh.
17 March 2007
Salam Fayyad was re-appointed finance minister, within the Fatah-Hamas coalition government.
by April 2007
The Israeli Cabinet had reversed an earlier decision to prohibit the purchase of natural gas from the Palestinian Authority.
early May 2007
The Israeli Cabinet approves a proposal by Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, to buy Palestinian Natural Gas. An Israeli team of negotiators is set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority. Under BG Group’s plans, gas from the field would be transported by an undersea pipeline to the seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel. The Israeli authorities are concerned that Palestinians should be paid in goods and services so that no money can go to the Hamas-controlled government.
23 May 2007
The Times of London discloses that, back in 2006, BG Group had been close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt before Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened and asked the company to give Israel a second chance.
24 May 2007
The Times of London reports Hamas vows to block the BG Group plans, as pumping gas to Israel is an “act of theft”.
7 – 15 June 2007
The Battle of Gaza takes place, a military conflict between Hamas and Fatah.
14 June 2007
Ismail Haniyeh is dismissed as Prime Minister in the Fatah-controlled West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas, and Salam Fayyad is appointed in his stead.
15 June 2007
Following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Salam Fayyad is appointed Prime Minister of a new “independent” government in the West Bank.
late June 2007
International sanctions against Gaza are terminated.
late June 2007
Israel reinforces the Gaza Strip Blockade. Egypt does likewise, sealing border crossings.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad attend a signing ceremony between OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The PIF, ostensibly overseen by the Palestinian Authority could generate revenue, potentially available to a Hamas-led government.
August – September 2007
Israel arrange shuttle bus services which allowed Gaza residents to travel via the Erez crossing directly to the Nitzana and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Israel and Egypt.
19 September 2007
The Gaza Strip is unanimously declared an “enemy entity” by Israel’s security cabinet. The declaration was immediately backed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and followed by a series of collective punishment measures that crippled Gaza’s already suffering economy, including halted the movement of people to and from Gaza – including those in need of urgent medical care. The “enemy entity” declaration follows months of Israeli closure of the Egyptian-Gazan border crossing at Rafah, during which thousands of Palestinians were stranded in Egypt.
6 September 2007
Israel launch “Operation Orchard”.
26 – 28 November 2007
Following the revival of support for the Arab Peace Initiative, and following a call from the Iraq Study Group Report for progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the Annapolis Conference is held. The conference provided recognition of Mahmoud Abbas as acknowledged leader of the Palestinians. Israel and the Palestinians agreed to renew negotiations for a permanent status agreement, with the hope of completing them before the end of 2008, and both sides vowed to implement the roadmap in parallel, with the US to monitor progress. No mention was made of the problem posed by Hamas control of Gaza.
BG Group announces it is pulling the plug on negotiations with Israel due to a protracted impasse, and is again considering Egypt as a buyer of the Gaza Marine field Natural Gas.
In 2008, Noble Energy commissions a permanent onshore receiving terminal in Ashdod for distribution of Natural Gas from the Mari-B field to purchasers. Israel Electric Corporation’s (IEC) Gezer power plant begins to buy Natural Gas from Noble Energy.
December 2007 – January 2008
Israel resume shuttle bus services temporarily.
9 – 11 January 2008
US President George W. Bush tours Middle East, failing to achieve support for US Middle East policy goals.
early January 2008
BG Group sells its share in Israel’s offshore Med Yavne (Yeven) Natural Gas field on the border with Offshore Gaza maritime territory. It also announces the closure of its office in Israel, and calls off negotiations with the Israeli Government for the sale of gas reserves, stating, “The price of Natural Gas doubled last year, and this cannot be ignored. Israel will have to pay much more for Natural Gas in the future, because the price keeps going up”.
15 January 2008
Nineteen people killed in Gaza, including the son of Hamas head Mahmoud al-Zahar. Several fighters were amongst them but also three farmers and a student.
17 January 2008
Following three days of Israeli raids and air strikes on Gaza that killed at least 30 people, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak orders the total closure of the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials insist “there will not be a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
20 January 2008
Following an Israeli decision to cut fuel supplies to Gaza
the Gaza power plant, supplying abut 20% of Gaza’s electricity, is shut down by Hamas.
23 January 2008
Hamas blasts holes in the Gaza-Rafah border barrier, allowing Gazans to migrate and trade.
28 January 2008
Egyptians partially re-close the border breach.
8 February 2008
Israel starts to cut the amount of electricity it supplies to Gaza, as part of a new economic campaign targeting Hamas, as Israel seeks to “disengage” from Gaza.
27 February 2008
An Israeli missile strike kills 5 Hamas terrorists who it later claimed were plotting to carry out a large scale terror attack.
28 February 2008
Hamas respond with a barrage of 30 rockets, some of which landed as far as Ashqelon. The rockets included Iranian manufactured Grad rockets, which are a version of the Katyusha.
29 February 2008
A large scale Israeli raid began February 29 and continued for several days, killing over 100 Palestinians. Israel claimed that only ten Gaza civilians were killed, while the Hamas claimed that the raid killed mostly civilians. Ahead of a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the United States called for an end to the violence.
3 March 2008
The Israeli attack was ended March 3, though the IDF had planned to continue it.
5 March 2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resumes direct negotiations with Israel. Hamas declares victory. Though rumors of a “truce” and truce negotiations were floated persistently in March, Palestinian rockets continued to fall on the Western Negev, and Israel continued to kill Palestinians.
6 March 2008
Israeli raids in the West Bank almost stopped, despite a terror attack March 6 on Yeshivat Merkaz Harav in Jerusalem, in which a Palestinian gunman from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber killed eight religious seminary students. Hamas claimed the attack but later denied it was involved.
Following urgings by Secretary of State Rice, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed. According to Abbas, the sides were discussing core issues such as the future of Jerusalem, but no details were made public. Israel announced contracts to build housing for settlers in the Har Choma neighborhood of East Jerusalem and other areas in the West Bank, angering Palestinians. This announcement was followed by several contradictory announcements by Israeli government officials regarding settlement expansion policies. In April, Israel removed a number of checkpoints in the West Bank and allowed Palestinian forces to enter Jenin.
The Natural Gas began to flow from the Mari B field onshore to Israel.
11 May 2008
It is reported that the Israel Corporation, controlled by Sami Ofer and his son Idan, is negotiating with BG Group to buy its holdings in the Gaza Marine Natural Gas field off the Gaza coast. In addition, Israel Corporation owners have been attempting to sound out government authorities as to the validity of the BG Group’s franchise for the field, which it received from the Palestinian Authority. The Israel Corporation has also been inquiring into whether the state will support such a move.
20 May 2008
Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif requests that Israel pay more for its Natural Gas. Egypt has adjusted energy contacts with other countries already, a move driven by worldwide rise in energy prices. Global prices for energy, led by oil, have soared since the Gas Agreement in 2005.
19 June 2008
A truce (“lull”) between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza comes into effect. Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip and rocket launches into Israel continued until minutes before the ceasefire came into effect. Hamas is lead to believe that significant increase in shipments would be allowed to enter Gaza. Before the truce roughly 70 trucks were allowed to bring provisions into Gaza each day compared with some 900 permitted before the Israeli clamped down in 2000. Instead Israel allowed only an increase from the 70 to 90 trucks.
According to military sources, reported later in the year, Ehud Barak gives orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas’ security infrastructure, along with that of other militant organizations operating in the Strip. This was the first step towards the Israeli Air Force invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead”.
29 June 2008
On June 29, the Israel cabinet approved a deal to swap convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar and numerous Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners for what are apparently the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose kidnapping sparked the Second Lebanon War.
Israeli authorities contact BG Group, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas. Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG Group of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.
24 August 2008
Two boats, the Liberty and Free Gaza sailed into Gaza Harbor from Cyprus carrying 44 international supporters of the Palestinians. They were the first vessels to break the Israeli siege in 41 years. The venture had been organized by Free Gaza Movement.
17 September 2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wins the Kadima primaries.
Negotiations between BG Group and Israeli officials begin, presided over by Ehud Olmert.
26 October 2008
Tzipi Livni announces that since she was unable to form a coalition, new elections were set for 10 February 10 2009.
on or before 13 November 2008
Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with BG Group, on the purchase of Natural Gas from the BG Group’s offshore concession in Gaza, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.
last part of 2008
Noble Energy begins prospecting at Tamar field.
Septemer / October 2008
According to the Israeli Intelligence Heritage Center one rocket had been fired from Gaza in September 2008 and two in October 2008. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev was later forced to concede that Hamas had not fired these few rockets.
4 November 2008
Israel break the 6 month truce, as the IDF launch a major incursion into Gaza to destroy a tunnel that it said Palestinians were digging from Gaza into Israel. Six Palestinians are killed. In the following days, the Hamas and others responded by launching about 35 larger (Grad) rockets into Sderot and Ashqelon, and IDF responded with an incursion into Khan Yunis. During the next five weeks 237 rockets are fired into Israel. The provoked increase in rocket fire was Israel’s public justification for launching the long planned “Cast Lead” invasion despite offers by Hamas to renew the ceasefire.
9 November 2008
A meeting of the Quartet was held in Sharm el Sheikh to reaffirm support for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the framework of the Annapolis process and the roadmap. Both sides expressed support for the process. Hamas cancelled its attendance at a Palestinian reconciliation meeting that was to have been held in Egypt this week.
18 November 2008
Israeli naval vessels attack three Palestinian fishing boats located seven miles off the coast of Deir Al Balah, clearly within the limits permitted in the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement.
18 November 2008
Egyptian court ordered the government to stop shipping Natural Gas to Israel. A lawsuit followed seeking to bar delivery since the Parliament had not given its approval.
19 November 2008
Following dozens of Qassam rockets and mortar rounds which exploded on Israeli soil, the plan for “Operation Cast Lead” was brought for Barak’s final approval.
18 December 2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak met at IDF Kiryat headquarters in central Tel Aviv to approve the operation.
24 December 2008
Hamas bombards Israel with some 60 rockets and mortar shells.
27 December 2008
Israel begings bombing Gaza as Phase 1 of Operation “Cast Lead” (Oferet Yetzuka). The Gaza harbour is bombed during the hostilities damaging a number of the fishing boats. In the space of a few hours, Israeli Air Force (IAF) flies about 100 sorties, destroying arms caches, arms factories, smuggling tunnels, missile launching sites, and Hamas command and control centers in Gaza.
28 December 2008
The UN Security council issued a statement December 28 calling for both sides to stop the violence, but US objections prevented a binding cease fire resolution.
18 January 2009
The major fighting ends, when Israel declares a unilateral cease fire. Hamas likewise declared a cease fire. Rocket launchings and retaliations continued until after Israeli elections on February 10, 2009.
18 January 2009
Noble Energy announces the discovery of a large Natural Gas field offshore from Haifa, known as Tamar 1, and claims it will be able to produce 50% more than the daily capacity of the old Mari-B site.
23 January 2009
Kelly Bornshlegel makes a Freedom of Information request to the UK’s Department for International Development, with regards to “all documents that you hold referring to BG’s Gaza Marine Field, BG’s exploration licence offshore Gaza, or sale of gas from this gas field to Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.” The FoI was eventually refused.
24 January 2009
A father and his daughter walking on a Gaza beach are wounded by gunfire from Israeli ships shooting at Gazan fishing boats.
A delegation from the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) renews negotiations in London with BG Group over the Gaza Marine field, expected to be operational by 2012.
14 February 2009
23 year-old Rafiq abu Reala is shot by Israeli naval forces whilst fishing in Gazan territorial waters, approximately two nautical miles out from the port of Gaza city. He was in a simple fishing vessel, not much larger than a rowing boat, with a small outboard engine, known locally as a ‘hassaka’. Rafiq, his brother Rajab and another friend were following the course of a shoal of fish.
30 March 2009
Noble Energy announce the discovery of Natural Gas in the Dalit field in the Michal concession, located about 30 miles off shore from Israel, considered sufficient to cover Israel’s energy needs for many years, beginning delivery in 2014 at the earliest. As a result Hezi Kugler, Director General of Israel’s national infrastructure, instructs state owned Israel Electric Corporation to renew negotiations with BG Group over the Gaza Marine field which could be operational by 2012. A delegation from IEC was in the UK in February, 2009 for talks with BG. The incentives remain for Israel to guard and control the natural gas deposits under Gazan waters.
12 April 2009
An unmanned fishing boat blows up about 300 yards off the Gaza coast. The IDF claims that it had been booby-trapped in an attempt to attack an Israeli patrol boat. They cite this account as justification for their “monitoring” of Gazan boats and for the latest restrictions that limit fishing to a zone within 2 miles of the coast. Palestinian observers on shore claim the vessel was sunk by gunfire from an IDF ship.
4 June 2009
US President Barack Obama gives an historic speech to the Muslim and Arab world, calling on Palestinians to renounce violence, calling on Arabs to recognize Israel’s right to exist, reiterating US support for a two state solution and calling for an end to settlement construction
14 June 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gives an address at the Begin-Sadat Center, giving Israeli support for a two state solution, and pledging that Israel would not build new settlements or confiscate land for settlements, but would continue to build housing units for what he termed “natural growth”.
Javier Solana offered support of the EU for unconditional acceptance of a Palestinian state as a member of the UN in two years, if negotiations fail.
24 July 2009
The Israel Electric Corp.’s board of directors has approved an agreement to purchase 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas over the next five years from the Yam Thetis consortium, the power company announced Thursday.
The Fatah movement hold their first congress in twenty years, issuing the Fatah Foreign Policy Program that calls for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but insisting on the right of return for Palestinian refugees and endorses “resistance,” but only “in accordance with the legitimate norms and laws,” apparently ruling out violence. The Palestinian Authority issue a plan for establishing a state unilaterally by 2011, endorsed by the European Union and claiming all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. At the end of August, the “moderate” Palestinian Authority announce that it would declare a state in two years, regardless of negotiations. Solana welcomes this as well.
24 November 2009
The Netanyahu government in Israel agrees to a ten month freeze on settlement construction – to last until September 2010.
15 December 2009
Noble Energy announces it has signed a 17-year agreement with Dalia Power Energies for the supply of Natural Gas commencing in 2013.
28 December 2009
Noble Energy signs Letter of Intent to sell Natural Gas from the Tamar field to the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) as of 2012. IEC intend to convert to using mostly Natural Gas. In a separate Letter of Intent, Israel Electric Corporation states that they expect to purchase Natural Gas from the partner companies operating in Matan prospect licensing area, which would go to establish a strategic inventory reserve in the Mari-B field. The Mari-B partners would provide Israel Electric Corporation with injection, storage and withdrawal capabilities for this inventory under a related service agreement.
late February 2010
Yam Thetis announced that the flow of gas would be halted temporarily due to the need to drill two more production wells (Mari 8B and 9B) in the Mari B licensing area, located off the coast of Ashkelon. They suggest these drillings are necessary due to the anticipated reduction in pressure over the next few years as the reserve declines.
3 or 4 March 2010
Avner Oil Exploration and Delek Drilling announce the proved preproduction reserves of natural gas in the Mari B site are higher than original estimates.
The US Geological Survey publishes a report that estimates that the Levant Basin Province, based in the Eastern Mediterranean region, is rich with about 122 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable Natural Gas.
31 May 2010
IDF attacks Gaza Peace Aid Flotilla.
The Press obtain an Israeli government document that describes the blockade not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.
3 June 2010
The Yam Thetis (or Tethys) Consortium announces led by billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva announced it has struck natural gas in a field called ‘Leviathan’, in the Amit and Rachel licenses off the coast of Israel. Tshuva also says there may be an oil field beneath the gas. The consortium claims that their offshore discoveries may hold twice as much Natural Gas as the UK. “Today is a day of celebration for all of us. The State of Israel is an energy independent country,” Yitzhak Tshuva said.
14 June 2010
Hezbollah claim that offshore gas is Lebanese.
9 July 2010
Catherine Hunter, oil analyst with IHS Global Insight, says it is too early to make categorical claims about the size and ownership of the potential reservoirs, which “may well extend into Lebanese waters”. She said Leviathan is also located toward Cypriot territorial waters. Hezbollah warns that it will not allow Israel to steal Lebanese gas resources. In turn, Israel’s Minister of Infrastructure Uzi Landau cautions that Israel will not think twice about using force to safeguard investments in the gas fields.
A question forms in my mind : just why was it necessary to remove the Israeli settlers from Gaza ? The military assault on Gaza in late 2008 would never have been sanctioned by the IDF if there were still Israelis living in the Gaza Strip…