The latest story from Reuters (read it here), paints the picture of a defiant Israel determined to punish Hamas, even if it means leveling Gaza in the process. Several incidents, such as the destruction of schools and even explosions killing kids, are rapidly empowering sympathetic feelings for the Palestinians.
What's the end game in Gaza? Will world opinion force Israel to back off the attacks?
According to the Israeli government, some of those attacks were the result of Hamas weapons misfiring or landing in the wrong spot--both of us aren't that far-fetched, given that militias don't normally possess smart weapons or other advanced targeting systems. Let's be honest here, too, by saying that extremists wouldn't shy away from creating civilian casualties to pull world opinion on their side. They must know that the West is soft and prone to sympathy; why wouldn't they use that to their advantage?
The situation is clearly lopsided, however, and Israel isn't really fighting a war so much as punishing a gang of ruffians. There's no contest to be seen, only a superior military force doing what it feels necessary for security. It's also possible that Israel, and by extension the Western nations, are engaging in a provocative act to stir up even more unrest in an otherwise unstable region.
Problems in Syria are ongoing; Libya is in turmoil following a recent revolution; Iraq is falling apart after years of American intervention; and the Taliban is still active in Afghanistan. Oh, let's not forget about the U.S. providing "evidence" that Russia is attacking Ukraine (check my previous posts for more info).
So what's going on over there in Israel? There are Hamas guerillas sneaking into Israel through tunnels, posing a risk for assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, and who knows what else; what's to stop Iran or any other regime that despises Israel and the West from giving Hamas something deadlier than rockets? Syria has chemical weapons; Iran sure as hell has WMDs (they'd be stupid not to keep some handy); and Russia has no love for the West--intervening in the Mid-East would rankle the West and make the Kremlin smile, methinks.
Israel tried to do the whole cease-fire thing, which seemed pointless right from the get-go. If Hamas is continuing the attack, despite being hammered and overwhelmed by the IDF, then it seems logical to assume they have no illusions about defeating Israel.
What's their goal? Likely, it's to cause enough humanitarian concern about Gaza that international efforts force a truce; then, they pull out something like captured IDF soldiers to bargain for Hamas prisoners, or they highlight all the dead children to guarantee U.N. intervention and monitoring. Why else continue to let your own forces and the people you claim to represent get pummeled so violently?
My instincts tell me it will end with the above scenario--Hamas using the civilian atrocities and hostages to barter for some deal using U.N. sympathies to bolster their case--or, it will end with external armies forcing it to end. With all the other chaos in the region right now, this loaded conflict between two blood-enemies will never end without annihilation.