A horrible video is circulating on social media, of a Palestinian father in Gaza who is bringing a toy to his four year old son, only to find once he enters his home that his son’s head has been crushed by Israeli shrapnel. That is the face of Israel’s current military operation against Gaza to the outside world.
But from the point of view of Israeli hawks, the point of a campaign like the present one against the Gaza Strip is to degrade the military and organizational capabilities of the enemy. They clearly do not care if they thereby kill dozens of women, children and non-combatants (they are). The important thing for them is to accomplish what they see as a narrow military and counter-terrorism objective.
It is a bizarrely ahistorical quest, as though the Israeli leadership lives in a bubble isolated from the demographic and political realities of its neighborhood. They seem to think they are hanging by their fingers from a cliff, that Hamas is prying their fingers loose, and that if only they can push Hamas back, they can go on clinging to the cliff for another period of time, avoiding falling. They don’t seem to realize that if this is actually their situation, it is untenable in the long run. The current campaign will end in failure and likely will help doom the Israeli enterprise over the next few decades.
The Israeli hawks have been trying to destroy Hamas since the late 1990s, when it went from a favored client of the Israeli state (having received support from Tel Aviv in the 1980s to offset the Palestine Liberation Organization) to enemy. The military wing of Hamas launched a vicious campaign of terrorism inside Israel in response to the doubling of the Israeli squatter population on Palestinian land in the 1990s. In the early zeroes, the Israelis conducted a campaign of murder against Hamas leaders, including against civilian party leaders with no operational role. They assassinated Sheikh Yasin, the spiritual leader of the movement, with a rocket fired from a helicopter gunship at his wheelchair as he was issuing from a mosque, killing and injuring people around him, as well. Sheikh Yasin had spoken of the possibility of a decades-long truce with Israel even though he rejected its legitimacy. In his absence, the truce talk rather declined, though Hamas has proved itself willing and able to negotiate long-lasting cease-fires with Israel; most often it has been the Israelis who violated them.