I meant this to go up last night, and saved it only as a draft. In the meantime, both of my "indicators" came true today:
And so it begins, the next stage. In the wake of an attempted "pause" that fizzled out, rocketeers from Gaza - some certainly Hamas this round - fired nearly 70 rockets into Israel in the last 24 hours, and tonight the Israel Air Force and Navy launched a rain of fire on Gaza in an operation dubbed in English "Protective Edge" and in Hebrew צוק איתן, so the English is not exactly literal. Whatever its name, the coining of an operational name is meant to communicate to the Israeli citizenry that the Government of Israel has finally made up its mind. After 4 days of hemming and hawing (which brought the long-simmering feud between Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the breaking point) the folks at the Kiryah were instructed to produce another tough-sounding 2-word combina and let 'er rip.
For every onlooker who believes this tit-for-tat was orchestrated by an Israel chomping at the bit to torpedo the recently announced Palestinian unity government, there is a similar contingent who are convinced that Hamas was itching for a grand confrontation with the Zionist occupiers during the sacred month of Ramadan.
Both conspiracy theories sound wise and plausible; far more likely neither is true. Instead, the simple explanation seems best. The discredited US "peace processors" who argued that the absence of even the hint of a diplomatic process would lead to certain disaster turn out to be exactly correct. In this conflict, take away the diplomats and all you have left are angry, humiliated people with long-festering grudges.
Predictably, the Twitter-verse is immediately taking sides. In one corner are the #GazaUnderAttack people. who are blind to the horror of lobbing rockets willy-nilly onto a civilian population. In the other corner are the #IsraelUnderFire folks who are blind to the horror of lobbing not-nearly-as-precise-as-imagined munitions onto a civilian population.
If experience is a guide, the Islamic Jihad rocketeers will pull out their longer Fajr models, the ones that can put metropolitan Tel Aviv on edge. Two things to be looking for in the next 24 hours: 1) will anything be heard from Hezbollah in the north? and 2) how widespread will the next round of military mobilization (formally announced at a "mere" 1,500 so far) in Israel be? Watch for these two indicators - they will tell you if this pile-on will be more like 2009's Cast Lead (i.e., ground invasion) or 2012's Pillar of Defense (i.e., air alone). So far, less than 12 hours in, it looks like this confrontation will be more like the latter than the former.