It''s not clear. Among the signs inviting assessment are:
- The IDF appears to be upping its efforts to exact higher costs from Hamas and those supporting or tolerating it. Among recent targets have been a 14 story apartment building that collapsed as the result of two rockets, perhaps igniting munitions stored in the building, and a shopping complex. The military broadcast a general warning that anyone in the vicinity of actions against Israel must leave the area or risk their lives. Insofar as rockets and mortars were being fired from or alongside UNRWA facilities, schools, clinics, hospitals and mosques, decisions about targeting and the record of casualties and international complaints may be things to watch in the coming days or hours.
- The effort of the IDF appears to show a concern to avoid mass casualties, but to target individuals. Assassinations or targeted killings in recent days have taken the lives of at least three major military commanders of Hamas, perhaps its military commander in chief and more certainly his wife and children, one of Hamas chief financial officials, plus a growing number of lesser figures picked off while riding in cars or motorcycles.There are reports of Hamas political figures also being targeted, perhaps with some success.
- The US is operating along with Iran and Syria against the fighters and bases of Daish, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Reports are that the US is helping Assad, both with equipment or with intelligence about the location of Daish forces worthy of his attack. Along with this are assessments that certain figures close to the top of the US government and military are taking another look at Bashar Assad, seeing him as as source of stability in the fluid mess of the Middle East, which may outweigh his status as a source of evil.
- Reports about Palestinian politics are all over the map. Khalid Mashal supports a cease fire or opposes a cease fire. Mahmoud Abbas returned from meeting with Mashal saying that all Palestinian organizations were agreed about returning to Cairo for cease fire and longer term discussions under the leadership of the Egyptians. It did not require half a day for a Hamas spokesman to deny Abbas'' claim about Palestinian unity. Some Hamas figures are talking about postponing some of their demands, while some insist on agreements about air- and seaports and open borders as conditions for a cease fire. Abbas should not be counting on Hamas support for the roles in wants in monitoring a cease fire or imports to Gaza.
- Khalid Marshal has claimed that Hamas only aims at military targets, but the poor quality of its weapons means that some manage to harm civilians and their property. He also claims that Hamas has sent warnings in advance of attacking.
- The British have identified their citizen who, while a leading figure in Daish and speaking in a London accent, removed the head of the American journalist.
- Hamas has executed in public some two dozen men and women said to be collaborators with Israel. West Bank Palestinians compare their cousins to the most radical of the ISIS Islamists, and say that some of those killed were selected only because they supported Fatah.
- Israelis living in the small settlements (kibbutzim and moshavim) close to Gaza are mounting a protest, heightened by the death of a four year old as a result of a mortar attack. The mortars fall without enough warning for residents to reach shelter or for the operation of Iron Dome. Families are leaving their homes, demanding assistance from the government, demonstrating at the Prime MInister''s residence, claiming to have been abandoned for years, and demanding a complete end to the threat of attack.
- Sunday morning news included reports of rockets fired from Lebanon to the Galilee and from Syria to the Golan. My initial assignment as an IDF draftee was guarding the entrance to Kibbutz Kfar Giladi in 1982 when northern settlements. were being bombarded from Lebanon. Despite a rare occurrence like that of Sunday morning, we have ended that threat to the north. It is too early to give up on southern settlements.
- There are European and American efforts to formulate a decision for the UN Security Council to demand a cease fire between Gaza and Israel. It may be difficult to arrange all the details given what may be the greater concern of international worthies for dealing with Daish. It will not be easy for the Europeans and Americans to formulate something for Israel to accept, given Hamas'' record with cease fires and the abject failure of an international regime using Third World rented soldiers attached to the UN to implement what Israel accepted when it left Lebanon in 2006.
- Libya is chaotic. Given its history and its supplies of energy, it should be adding to the worries of Europeans and Americans.
- Boko Haram has declared an Islamic State in Nigeria.
- A number of Arab governments, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have signaled their antipathy to Islamic extremists, including Hamas, Daish, and others.
- Palestinian campaigns to boycott products from West Bank settlements, or all products from Israel are gaining support from international leftists, labor organizations, and retailers concerned about consumer opinion. Would it be possible to demand an end to Palestinian incitement--including its boycott and sanction campaigns--plus assurance that rockets, mortar shells and other attack weapons be removed from Gaza as conditions for allowing the inflow of construction materials?
- Israel''s school year is scheduled to begin next week, putting pressure on local authorities where class rooms are not protected against missiles.
- Political commentators are pondering the criticism directed at Netanyahu from within his governing coalition. The current consensus is that if he lost control, an election would return a government even further to the right An election is not imminent, and Israel''s political history suggests that at least 60 days are required between the calling of an election and the voting.
There is a lot that defies any simple assessment, conclusion, or policy proposal. We''re deep in the do do, but it''s not all bad. Or not at all bad. The complexities and confusions among our adversaries, enemies, and those claiming to be our friends provide opportunities. There is room for Israel to maneuver, in order to gain advantage or avoid damage from what others would do to us, as well as to gain time to pursue what is important in Gaza. The principal task there is to destroy as much of the resources and as many of the people important to the evil that is Hamas, in order to depress the motivations or capacities to do us harm for years to come.
No one should expect that anything close to an ideal peace is close, or attainable.
Israelis and Jews appear to be in a period of increased hostility.
The barbarity of Daish, Hamas, Boko Haram, and whatever is happening in Libya may serve as our best means of explanation. At least some Europeans and North Americans already realize the costs of massive migration from the Middle East and North Africa. Current worries concern the return of home grown Islamists, fired to even greater enthusiasm to spread their madness after fighting along with ISIS in Syria or Iraq.