Critics say that strategy, coupled with policies that divide the Palestinians, is shortsighted. Even those who argue for the necessity of "mowing the lawn" every few years acknowledge that it won't uproot the seeds of hatred, cultivated in Gaza's schools, mosques, and society at large.
"We see indoctrination as the key issue," said retired Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, at a briefing before the conflict. "It's got to be something really profound that stops it."
At least six Israelis and 176 Palestinians were killed in the latest conflict – far fewer Palestinian casualties than in the 2008-09 war, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Israel credited its use of precision weapons for limiting casualties while targeting militants and missiles.
Plenty of Israelis were disappointed that the government didn't cause greater damage. According to one poll released hours before the fighting ended, 70 percent of Israelis opposed a cease-fire.
In one of the more incendiary comments, Gilad Sharon called for Israel to "flatten Gaza" and invoked America's nuclear bombing of Japan, saying the United States didn't stop with Hiroshima but hit Nagasaki as well. It was Mr. Sharon's father, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who made the controversial decision to end the Israeli occupation in Gaza in 2005. Some Israelis say that move paved the way for greater militancy there.