Israel and Hamas need help looking beyond their immediate concerns.
When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, it achieved some military success. It degraded the armed capability of Iran-backed Hezbollah and caused the international community to engage more constructively in Lebanon. But such success was limited and not the main measure of the outcome – points worth remembering now as Israel engages in intense attacks in Gaza.
Two years ago, world opinion turned against Israel while Hezbollah claimed a moral victory as images of widespread destruction from Israeli bombing shocked even Israel's friends. Now, the militant Hezbollah is in a stronger position politically with veto power in Lebanon's cabinet.
The Israeli attacks that began Dec. 27 in Gaza appear to be better targeted than the Lebanon campaign, hitting key security installations of the ruling Hamas, which the US also terms a terrorist group. This time, most of those killed – more than 250 and counting – were uniformed members of Hamas's security forces. Still, civilians have lost their lives and hundreds are wounded.
The reason for the attack seems more compelling than what sparked the war in Lebanon – Hezbollah's killing of three Israeli soldiers and kidnapping of two others. Hamas has been acquiring longer-range rockets that can reach farther into Israel and has continued to smuggle in arms despite a six-month cease-fire that expired Dec. 19. In the intervening days, its missile attacks on Israel have escalated.