As Palestinians hide in their homes and Israelis stay in their bomb shelters we could almost be forgiven for thinking that these sorry and terrible events were unforeseeable.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Hamas since taking power in a coup d’etat have slowly built up their military capacity and spent $10,000s on equipping their internal security services.
Across the border Likud presides over a motley coalition of rightwing politicians and those far more interested in lining their pockets than finding peace in the Middle East.
In many respects, Hamas and Likud are meant for each other.
Neither of them really wants to go the extra mile, to recognize the reality of the necessary coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. Both are prisoners of their own rhetoric and incapable of moving beyond their own limited mindsets.
The current terrible events, where hundreds of rockets and projectiles had deliberately been targeted at Israeli civilians in the past week, was entirely predictable.
Hamas know that they don’t have the military force to defeat the IDF, so allow Islamic Jihad or their own members to let off steam by targeting Israeli civilians. They do it partly to prove their radicalism and stay in power, and knowing how the Israeli government will respond they garner international support as the IDF’s actions kill Palestinian civilians.
It is a convenient and dismal game that Hamas and Likud play. Hamas provokes the Israeli government, who in turn must be seen to be protecting Israeli civilians, even though this and past incursions into Gaza have not actually stop the rockets and missiles.
Hamas and Likud are more concerned with staying in power and short-term goals than any long-term solution to this conflict.
And that is the problem.
Until the leaders are capable and willing to take the bold steps towards final status negotiations then rockets will rain down on Israelis and the IAF will bomb Gaza every few months.
My analysis might seem cynical, but years of watching the respective parties do little but stay in power or enhance their own prestige makes me pessimistic about the future.
As an antidote to my cynicism I recommend readers follow Hussein Ibish on Twitter. He’s smart, clear headed and attacked from both sides, which is not a bad sign!
This is one of his latest columns (written prior to the current conflict), MB and Salafists: the Closest of Frienemies is worth a read.
Ibish’s Hamas Rising? from October 2012 was prescient.