Hoping to have time to comment further on Gaza, but pretty pinned-down at work catching up after over a week off between Christmas and New Years.
With the Gaza Strip bisected and Gaza City itself effectively surrounded by the better part of two Israeli mechanized divisions (and the Israeli Navy on the sea side) one wonders what the Israeli end-game is? They've only got certain cover in the UN until the 20th or so, when Obama takes over, so if the Israelis mean to wreck Hamas, they had better be about it. Yes, this will mean fighting in built-up areas, but that's inherent in dealing with Hamas on its own ground, and the Israelis knew this from the beginning.
The Israelis have done a generally splendid job with the media this time around: in contrast to their performance in the Hezbollah War of 2006. They're mostly keeping the reporters away from the battle zone, mounting their own information operations on the Web, and they appear to be acting against Hamas's ability to get its own story out electronically, also. It is simply not possible to make war in the modern era without an organized and planned effort to use information and media power as simply a different kind of artillery.
Speaking of communications: it's apparently very dangerous for persons on the Israelis' Hamas target list to use cell-phones, it seems that the Israeli Air Force, or Israeli artillery, has been reaching out and touching them.
The attitude of the Arab states is interesting: the usual criticism, the usual pictures of howling mobs of protesters, but overall much more muted than I expected. Predictable on the part of the governments: the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Saudi governments all no doubt want Hamas crushed, but probably wish the Israelis would hurry up about it.
Hamas's only truly reliable friend is Iran. Iran's why Hamas has the 122 mm Grad rockets, in addition to its homemade Qassams, to fire at Israeli cities. But Iran now has problems of its own: its leadership is probably preoccupied with finishing its bomb, trying to keep discontent over its failing economy under control, and is hurting now that oil prices are low. . .
Israel has a window to really hurt Hamas. . .and conditions for the moment are in its favor. But the Israelis need to hurry.