For Israelis to allow their government and army to kill so many civilians in Gaza is pure and simple genocide. I am not condoning Hamas's rocket firing; in my eyes, both acts of violence are wrong and misplaced. However, it has always seemed to me that Hamas has been shooting these rockets more to bolster its own image among its own people than to inflict serious damage on Israeli citizens.
The outcome of the Gaza invasion will be a weakening of Hamas, perhaps even its removal from the power structure. Its followers may then return to more underground tactics. However, it is still not clear whether the invasion has marginalized Hamas to such an extent that Palestinians in Gaza will actually reject them. If the dead were primarily Hamas fighters, rather than civilians, then perhaps the ensuing discomfort of a military occupation would make Gazans realize that Hamas is the problem. But at the moment Israeli brutality has led Gazans to relate their suffering directly to the Israeli invasion. Eventually a stalemate will be achieved when Israel realizes the Hamas fighters have escaped relatively unharmed. Then maybe an honorable withdrawal will be possible.
A wider war is not possible, mainly because the Arab countries have either feebly condemned the invasion or, in the case of Hosni Mubarak's Egypt and the Palestinian Authorities Mahmoud Abbas, have actually blamed the Hamas for their own political motives. The issue of who started this war first will never be resolved; it can be traced back decades, if not centuries. A wider war is not possible given Israel's military might, and the Arab leadership's inability to even agree to switch off the oil tap for one hour (not that oil embargoes bring any solutions.)
A Hamas defeat? How do you militarily defeat an army that dissolves into society as it chooses? This is not some large standing army with armored tanks and planes. It's more likely that they will be weakened, and perhaps politically outflanked.
Overall, both the Palestinians and the Israelis have a sorry story to tell for their decades of conflict. While the Palestinian leadership lacks the courage to carve a new deal with Israel based on realities, Israel continues to be an occupier in most of the territory seized in 1967. Its recent actions in Gaza are shameful and a war crime. Both sides will continue to behave like criminals. World leadership doesn't have the conscience or the will to tell them otherwise.
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