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TIMELINE

Conflict in the Middle East

On June 25, Palestinian militants launched their first deadly raid into Israel from Gaza since the pullout in 2005, killing two soldiers and capturing a 19-year-old Israeli soldier. The abduction triggered a swift response from Israeli forces, which are now engaged in offensive operations in the Gaza Strip. In a separate attack July 12, Hezbollah militants ambushed Israeli soldiers along its border, killing three and capturing two. Following are the latest major developments in the growing conflict.

July 19 - Israeli airstrikes hit targets in Beirut's main Christian enclave; warplanes batter southern Lebanon, killing dozens of civilians

Hundreds of U.S. citizens evacuate by chartered cruise ship (see video)

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora calls for cease-fire and urgent humanitarian aid

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will go to New York to discuss crisis with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan

July 18 Israeli bombs Lebanon for a seventh straight day; Hezbollah continues rocket attacks on Israeli port city of Haifa

U.S. begins first major evacuation of Americans by air and sea

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan expects European nations to contribute troops to a proposed international "stabilization" force

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says cease-fire should happen only when "conditions are conducive"

July 17 - Israel batters targets across Lebanon killing at least 38 people, many of them civilians. Hezbollah rockets land near Nazareth in the deepest strikes yet on the Jewish state.

Several Western nations, including the United States, launch plans to evacuate their citizens from the battered country.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan call for deployment of peacekeepers to Lebanon.

In speech before parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vows to continue Lebanon offensive until conditions are met.

July 15 - Israel targets a Hamas office in northern Gaza as well as roads and bridges. Israel demands the return of the corporal, but Hamas wants to exchange him for prisoners held by Israel.

July 14 - Israel bombs Hezbollah's headquarters and radio station in Shiite neighborhood of Beirut and destroys more roads and bridges, effectively sealing Lebanon off from the outside world.

Hezbollah rockets land in Haifa and in many northern Israeli communities; a missile also hits Israeli naval vessel, killing one sailor. Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah vows "open war."

July 13 - Israel broadens Gaza offensive with armor rolling into Khan Younis, effectively splitting off the lower third of the Gaza Strip. An Israeli air raid on a house kills nine members of a Gaza family.

Israel imposes a naval blockade on Lebanon, bombs Beirut's international airport, roads and bridges. Hezbollah rains rockets onto northern Israel, killing two people.

July 12 - Hezbollah, the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim movement, launches Katyusha rockets and mortar shells toward military posts in the disputed Shebaa Farms area and the Israeli town of Shlomi.

Hezbollah seizes two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack at Shtula that Israel calls an act of war. Eight Israeli soldiers die in the raid.

Israel immediately strikes back by bombing roads, bridges, power stations and Hezbollah posts in southern Lebanon.

Israel demands that the soldiers be released and vows to continue attacks until Hezbollah disarms. Hezbollah wants to exchange the soldiers for prisoners held by Israel.

July 3 - Israeli forces move into northern Gaza after a Hamas rocket hits the Israeli city of Ashkelon.
June 28 - Israeli forces move into central Gaza in pursuit of the seized soldier.
June 25 - Palestinian gunmen launch raid into Israel near Kisufim, killing two soldiers and capturing 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
June 13 - Israel kills 11 Palestinians, including nine civilians, in a missile strike on a van in Gaza.
June 9 - Explosion kills seven members of a Gaza family. Witnesses blame Israeli shelling, but Israel denies allegation. Hamas calls off 16-month-old truce.
March 29 - Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas sworn in after the Islamic radical group wins January elections.

SOURCE: Staff and Wire Reports | GRAPHIC: washingtonpost.com

© 2005 The Washington Post Company