The continued failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for grave breaches of international law and the perpetration of war crimes sends a clear message that the State of Israel is free to act at will in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
The intensity and brutality of Operation Cast Lead - launched against the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008 - in which at least 1359 Palestinians were killed, should therefore have come as no surprise.
Following its last major invasion of the Gaza Strip launched in February 2008, in which Israeli forces killed over 100 Palestinians, the international community remained silent.
On behalf of the victims of the latest grave violations of international law in the Gaza Strip, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights urges the international community to study the findings of this report, and to take immediate and effective action to bring to justice those responsible for destroying tens of thousands of lives.
The continued failure to act constitutes complicity not only in the most recent attacks, but in all future war crimes that will be perpetrated unless the State of Israel is held to account.
On Saturday 27 December 2008, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launched a far-reaching military offensive against the Gaza Strip which was to continue uninterrupted for over three weeks.
Israeli forces unleashed the full might of their military machine against the people of Gaza with intense air and ground attacks.
The Israeli military offensive – unprecedented in scale and brutality since 1967 - was aimed at massive destruction in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli war planes alone – without accounting for tank, ground troop and warship ammunition – dropped around a thousand tons of bombs, according to the Israeli television Channel Ten.
This massive use of force overwhelmingly targeted a civilian population; commercial and industrial premises; civil and governmental institutions; agricultural land; and places of worship.
The offensive left in its wake a humanitarian tragedy in this densely populated enclave – home to nearly 1.
5 million people - of just 350 kilometers of land.
 The Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip continued for 23 days until Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire which commenced at 2am on 18 January 2009.
The invading Israeli forces withdrew three days later.
The scale of the destruction wrought in such a short time was immense; in terms of civilian victims, and the destruction of civilian homes, public premises, and private commercial and industrial establishments.
Information available to Al Mezan initial documentation indicates that at least 1359 people were killed and according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, over 5300 people were injured.
Data collected by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that more than 4000 homes were completely destroyed and more than 17,000 partially destroyed.
In addition, hundreds of industrial and commercial premises and thousands of dunums of agricultural land were destroyed.
 According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics ‘Central Census of Population, Housing and Establishments 2007,’ the number of residents in the Strip at the end of 2007 was approximately 1,416,543 million and with an annual growth rate of 3.
3% is expected to be 1,463,289 at the end 2008  This figure reflects the results of initial documentation.
It is expected to rise as the full documentation of the casualties of Israeli attacks during Operation Cast Lead ends.
 Al Mezan is currently preparing a comprehensive survey of human and material loses caused to Gaza’s population during the Israeli operation codenamed ‘Cast Lead’