Israel launched the attack ostensibly to end random rocket attacks by Hamas and Hamas-backed militants on Israeli military posts and Israeli civilian areas surrounding Gaza. Gaza had been in a state of siege by Israeli forces since 2007.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported a death toll of 1,455 Palestinians. The Israeli army reported a Palestinian death toll of 1,116. Based on the cross-checking of multiple fatality lists, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs identified the records--each confirmed by at least two sources--of 1,383 Palestinians killed, including 333 children. Most of the fatalities were not involved in the fighting. Israel claims a total of 295 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 89 children under 16. Eleven Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians were killed during Operation Cast Lead.
The Israeli siege of Gaza continued after the war. The United Nations requires food and humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza unimpeded, but Israeli authorities have yet to implement the requirement.