Saturday, December 27, 2008

israel and gaza

Israel has apparently had enough with Hamas and launched a very aggressive series of air strikes today, killing 200 or more and wounding perhaps three times that number. The large majority of the casualties appear to be military in nature but there have been others, as well. It is not clear if this will be followed by a ground attack, although the suspicion is that it will be, albeit one of a probably limited variety.

It's hard to blame Israel for losing patience--the south/southwest part of the country has become pretty much unlivable owing to Hamas rocket fire of late. If the rockets were intended as a bluff, that bluff has pretty clearly been called. So far the Israeli attacks seem reasonably well targeted.

But one hopes that calls for a large-scale offensive or reoccupation of Gaza--"lesader otam sof-sof," as the Hebrew puts it, to take care of them once and for all--will be resisted as long as possible. An Israeli occupation of Gaza has been tried and failed once already, and it's not clear that any European or other country is ready to step in. For the nascent Obama Administration, it is less than an optimal circumstance. Having accused the Bush Administration of paying too little attention to regional quarrels, it faces the prospect of its charges proving only too true: potential wars in both South Asia and the Middle East, with no end to either conflict in sight.


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