...with the Israeli response to Hamas rocket attacks does not lie in considerations of proportionality. It lies in the fact that none of the strategies under contemplation going forward will have any effect on anything beyond the shortest of short terms. Furthermore, nobody in the Israeli leadership structure really expects them to. Here's Yossi Alpher, from a couple of days ago:
The official end of the six-month cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza is not going to change very much in Israel-Hamas relations. Of course, it could change a lot for those Israelis and Palestinians who may now again be exposed to more intense physical danger. But just as before the cease-fire and during the cease-fire, the country will continue not knowing what to do about Hamas.
AN ALTERNATIVE military strategy not yet invoked would be to launch a full-fledged military invasion aimed at reoccupying Gaza and physically eliminating Hamas. The high price the country would pay in civilian and military casualties, the difficulty in maintaining control over 1.5 million civilians in reoccupied Gaza, the trauma of an unsuccessful military campaign in Lebanon in 2006, the regional and international complications and, most glaringly, the absence of a workable exit strategy that could turn over a pacified Gaza Strip to an alternative sovereign capable of maintaining control - all combine to prohibit such an adventure. Of course, this doesn't prevent some of our politicians from talking about it endlessly.
Meanwhile, yet another strategy - cease-fire - has failed, at least for now. The development of effective anti-Kassam and anti-mortar weapons that could neutralize Hamas' offensive capabilities is years away. Hamas appears to be here to stay - on the Israeli, Palestinian and Middle East Islamic scene. Under these circumstances, whether we are now entering into an informal cease-fire, a new round of conflict or something in between appears to be largely irrelevant to the big picture. That we have difficulty acknowledging this fact - that our ineffective leaders continue to bluster day in and day out with an utter lack of credibility about what we are going to do to Hamas rather than acknowledging strategic bankruptcy as a first step toward more constructive thinking - is part of the problem.
Here's Yossi and others from today's Guardian. Note that the most anybody is hoping for is, come the next cease fire, "more acceptable terms".