It isn't easy responding to the threats of kites and balloons that carry home made fire bombs and explosives, when children as young as 8 are used by Hamas to send them toward Israelis fields and towns.
So far, Israelis have decided to accept the damage, rather than escalate into another round of fighting that will kill lots of Gazans, a few Israelis, and leave things pretty much where they are.
The IDF has not been entirely passive. It has bombed facilities of Hamas, but careful to kill no one or very few. Some of this has brought forth more serious missiles from Gaza, but so far they have done little damage. Hamas may also be careful, i.e., sending a message but not one likely to bring a massive response.
There's political pressure from within Israel to end the firebombing. Daily pictures of flames, then the extent of burnt fields and parkland provoke complaints from people living near Gaza as well as demands for an apocalypse from right wing politicians.
Saner voices from within the military have noted that the fields and parkland will revive, and that damage to date has been limited to less than a million shekels (perhaps $300,000). That does not represent a serious threat to Israel. It's more than a nuisance, but not worth risking the lives of soldiers sent into combat, especially when the maximum result likely is another few years of relative--but not complete--quiet..
Proposals to bomb more extensively are getting some response, but military personnel and some politicians are explicit in urging that no children be attacked.
Somewhere in the air is a concern for international opinion and sanctions, as well as the reception given to Donald Trump's clumsy policy of separating children from parents in the case of illegal immigrants.
More pressing is the question of what Israel could gain from a serious attack. The maximum, according to just about everyone, is a combination of Gazan casualties and piles of rubble, but no assurance of good behavior.
Few Israelis are anywhere close to advocating conquering Gaza, with the subsequent responsibility for governing two million restive Palestinians.
Widespread is the view that Gazans are the captives of themselves, being governed by fanatics willing to use children and other civilians to make a case in the international community, and delighting whenever there is a fatality that can add to their campaign.
With respect to a recent story of a young child said to have died from inhaling Israeli tear gas, a relative reported that Hamas paid the family 8,000 shekels ($2,200) to report that she died after being exposed to tear gas, when actually she had died from a genetic blood disorder that had killed her brother a year earlier.
Gaza has benefited for 70 years from its special status as a community of refugees, allowed by a special UN provision to pass their status from one generation to the next, with the UN paying for what other refugees can only dream of in programs for education, food, and health.
Gaza has surpassed the tolerance of major Arab governments, yet none avoid criticizing Israel. Turkey and Iran are currently prominent in milking Gaza's problems for all their worth, providing political support and--especially in the case of Iran--money and military supplies, when they can evade Israel's efforts to uncover and intercept the shipments.
Israelis have been heartened by Iranian crowds protesting against their government's support of actions in Syria and Lebanon, and their support of Palestinians. We've even heard chants n Farsi saying Kill Palestinians, rather than Kill Americans or Kill Israelis. Trump's promise to re-impose sanctions have led international concerns to cancel their dealings with Iran, and have pushed the Iranian currency to 42,400 to one US dollar, and by one report it spiked to 90,000 to the dollar. Whatever the details, more Iranians are have more trouble paying for what they need, and many of them are blaming their own leaders..
Gazans using young children as kite and balloon launchers is a public relations nightmare for Israel, with the IDF's primary concern to avoid making things worse.
Some of our politicians have signed on to notions of allowing greater openness to Gaza by way of an off shore port, which Israel or some other entity will monitor to avoid the transit of fighters or munitions. Other politicians and key security professionals ridicule the notion of such monitoring as likely to challenge the administrative capacity even of individuals who are well intentioned. Experience with UN "monitors" of Israel's frontiers with Lebanon and Syria have provided ample demonstration about the unreliability of international organizations.
What we've had for some weeks is the military equivalent of a elaborate dance, with nightly explosions produced by the Israeli airforce or tank corps causing lots of noise, some property damage, but few or no casualties.
Foolhardy? A waste of valuable munitions? Or reasonable attempts to quiet a crazed regime willing to sacrifice children and other civilians, in the hope of achieving a period of relative calm at lower cost (in money and Israeli lives) than a serious invasion?
What's written here is appropriate at the time of its distribution. Such issues are fluid, and depend on decisions taken at the top of security services and the Israeli government. Those, in turn, depend on what Hamas does, and what may happen without anyone intending for it to occur. One missile or one flaming kite that falls on an Israeli kindergarten filled with kids can result in a major assault on Gaza.
Israel's hi-tech inventors have gotten into the game, and recently tested an optic device that could spot a kite far away just as it left the ground, and could locate it for an attack by another hi-tech drone.
Among the questions is whether the investment in research and equipment would be equal to Gazans launching lots of low-tech kites at the same time, each of them carrying low-tech bottles of gasoline already alight.
There's also a possibility that the entire effort of Hamas was not only to pressure Israel for some economic goodies, but to pressure Israel to pressure the Fatah regime of Mahmoud Abbas to be more forthcoming in sharing resources with their Gazan rivals.
Whatever messages were sent between Hamas, Israel, and whoever else, optimists see an opportunity for a deal. Pessimists see indications of a desperate Hamas set on escalation.
Occasionally we hear the view from the military or from a politician who is not an extremist, that the IDF is preparing to make Hamas especially sorry if its escalation goes too far.
Skeptics are sure that there is no solution.
Almost all agree that Gaza is troubled, and troubling.