Israel bombed a UN school in Gaza killing 40 something people. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. We’ve all known the capacity that Israel has for overreaction for quite a while. So has Hamas. And yet they, or at least people under their control in Gaza, continued to provoke Israel. I’ve been told that those rockets really aren’t much of a threat, certainly as compared to the Israeli air force. So I see a couple of possible scenarios.
1) The missiles being launched from Gaza do not really pose a real danger to Israel. This means that their launch is completely symbolic.
2) Hamas is actually trying to kill Israelis with those rockets. Of course since they can’t aim them very well, the potential targets are more or less at random.
I’m guessing that #2 is more likely. If #1 was the case, the best reaction Israel could have made was to sneer at the attempt. If people are in danger, the political pressure to retaliate would be unbearable. Everyone knows this.
The actual damage those rockets cause is up for debate, but their potential for damage isn’t really. As I wrote to a friend of mine, if you are constantly being threatened by an armed lunatic, is it wise to spit on him? What, exactly, will be accomplished by antagonizing him? What will be accomplished when he then uses those weapons to kill bunches of your people?
But they’re not idiots, there is a political upside to drawing Israel into a more active war and I’m pretty sure that’s why it keeps happening. People tend to paint this as an Israel/Palastine issue when it looks much more like an Israel/Hamas issue. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is happening in Gaza and not in the West Bank. Hamas needs conflict to remain politically viable. Part of me wonders if Hamas needs Palestinian casualties to remain popular… Cynical? Oh yeah, but Fatah doesn’t seem to have any of these characteristics and they don’t seem to be in the middle of death either. The same goes for the Israelis. There is a lot of popular support for killing Palestinians, so launching the occasional attack pays political dividends. It’s a true prisoners dilemma. Breaking the political benefits will end the hostilities…