Though maybe I haven't looked very hard, I haven't seen much good analysis of what is going on there. What I read in the news tends to focus either on what is happening (fine for it's purpose), without analyzing what it all means. I realize threads like this tend to degenerate into who'se-fault-is-it battles that end up going nowhere, but what's going on there now is too important not to discuss. and I intend for this thread to be an analysis of the goals of each side and how their actions are helping/hurting those goals. I'll ask Evo to help clamp down on the tired who'se-fault-is-it thing. There is more to discuss that never gets discussed if it degenerates into that. There are two levels to warfare, strategic and tactical. Tactical is things like 'do I attack from the north or south and do I use the tanks or the artillery?' Strategic is 'how does this particular act help/hurt my overall goal?' In this particular conflict, ground level decisions have both tactical and strategic impacts: every little action is scrutinized. My main thesis here is two-fold: 1. The two sides are both tightly managing the action due to the overlap between the tactical and strategic. 2. Both sides are, for the most part, acting correctly insofar as their actions are properly calculated to further their goals. The strategic situation is very straightforward and is dominated by severl facts: 1. The Israelis have control of some land. 2. Hamas wants that land. 3. Israel has vastly superior military capabilities. Because the Israelis have control of the land and Hamas does not have the means to extricate them, Israel is in the position of strength and their only strategic goal is peace that maintains as much of the status quo as possible. For Hamas, the statis quo is what they don't want, so they need to do whatever possible to continue hostilities. That's why the cease fire could not be renewed. And since Hamas does not have the capacity to attack Israel directly, poking at them until Israel strikes back is all they can really do. Then they have to work on generating international and domestic support for their cause. Now for the specifics of the current conflict... Hamas needs to provoke Israel and firing rockets, though they don't do much damage, do that very well. Also, by not doing much damage, they ensure any response by Israel is going to be "disproporionate". So these rocket attacks are exquisitely well calculated and coordinated: Despite some claims to the contrary, that Hamas is not in control; they are. Israel, as I said, would accept the status quo if there was no fighting, but since perhaps the most important function of government is to protect it's people, they must react or lose their mandate for governing. So they let the rocket attacks go as long as they could to ensure a clarity of who provoked who (in this particular case), then attacked with overwhealming force. Israel's goal is to force Hamas back into a truce - back to a peaceful status quo. As all invasions do, this one started with a heavy aerial bombardment. Perhaps if it had caused Hamas to back down, there would not have been an invasion, but Hamas cannot back down. Their strenghth comes from fanaticism combined with sympathy which, though contradictory, has kept them going for decades. Now that the war has started, neither side can back down lightly, as perception is critical to their strategic goals. Hamas, in particular, needs both foreign and domestic support and their actions are calculated to maximize the type of support they want. In 1990, Kuwait screamed for aid and played (appropriately) the role of the bullied little country. Hamas cannot do that because their power base depends on showing defiance. So they responded with "Gaza will be your cemetary". It is a very difficult game, but while they have lost-out in foreign support, they gain domestic support for fanaticism and terrorism via their strategic tactics. Hamas's tactics and their place in the strategy are then straightforward: 1. They must continue the rocket attacks to show strenght. A cease-fire is a loss. 2. As they are militarily outmatched, they must protect their fighters and avoid direct conflict at all costs. The best way to do that? Hide amongst civilians. 3. Domestic fanaticism and international support require Israel to be viewed as villians. The best way to achieve that: by maximizing their own civilian casulaties. Yes, I am suggesting that they are purposely maximizing their own civilian casualties. High civilian casualties are critical to their strategic goal, and that goal dovetails nicely with goal #2. I won't get into it much, but their ideology also supports that type of tactic. And note what I said in my thesis: given their ideology, strategic goals, and the realities of the strategic situation, their tactics are correctly calculated to give them the best chance of success. Israel also is acting appropriately for their goals. They have gone to great lengths to limit civilian casulties (I won't accept argument about that: we discussed the facts in the other thread) but they must be able to attack Hamas, so they can't completely avoid civilian casualties. The best they can do is to limit them as much as possible while highlighting Hamas's tactics (such as with the school bombing incident today where Hamas was said to be using an occupied school as a fortress). Israel is also surrounding Gaza city but not (yet) going into it with ground forces. In addition to increasing civilian casualties, it'll also increase Israeli casualties, both of which Israel needs to avoid. I suspect that Israel is going to move slowly now - they may slow take over the city, but it will be a long fight if they do. Right now, they are kind of in a stalemate. They were in one before, with the cease-fire, but now they are in one more favorable to Hamas. So Hamas will want to maintain the current situation as long as they can. The more civilians die, the more fanaticism they can breed and more foreign support they will garner. The more Israeli soldiers die, the more tired of war the Israeli populace will become. Hamas now has a bargaining chip they did not have before the war - something they can use when the inevitable next cease-fire is negotiated. Long term, that's their best course of action - and lets face it, it's working. Israel is slowly giving more and more territory back and Hamas really hasn't ever given any permanent concessions. Israel gives permanent land, Hamas gives temporary peace, lather, rinse, repeat.