History has a habit of repeating itself.  Everyone seems to agree on that.  But circumstances are never exactly the same, and the outcome of apparently parallel events can never be accurately predicted.

Since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, it has provoked conflict with Israel on three separate occasions – in 2008, in 2012 and now again in July 2014.  Each episode was initiated in precisely the same way – an escalation of rocket attacks into Israel to such an extent that, in order to protect its citizens, Israel felt obliged to respond.  History, in short, is repeating itself.  But the circumstances each time have varied – and though Hamas emerged from its two previous adventures with discernible benefits, both materially and in terms of its public relations, there is no guarantee that it will do so on this occasion, and every reason for Israel ensuring that it does not.

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