ISRAEL WENT into Operation Protective Edge in early July fighting a ruthless band of Islamist terrorists; it emerged a month later accused of the slaughter of innocent Palestinians. French President Francois Hollande called it a “massacre”; the US withheld surface-to-air missiles partly because it felt Israel had not done enough to avoid civilian casualties; in the UK a large majority thought Israel had used disproportionate force; there were angry anti-Israel demonstrations across Europe; the UN appointed a panel to investigate potential war crimes.

Given the international outcry, will Israel’s third major Gaza battle in less than six years turn out to be its South Africa-like Sharpeville moment on the road to international isolation? Or will it have only fleeting impact? Much will depend on the larger question of Israel-Palestine, and whether or not Israel is able to exploit new opportunities for a wide-ranging settlement opened up after the fighting.

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