It looks certain that the upsurge in violence which followed the failure to renew the Israeli Hamas ceasfire will now spill bloodily into the New Year. As the bodies of Hamas militiamen and Palestinian civilians pile up in mortuaries in Gaza it looks increasingly likely that Isreal intends to follow up the waves of airstrikes with some form of ground offensive.
In a short term military view the Israeli air strikes have been more effective than some previous air strikes that Israel has undertaken. This is because on this occasion Hamas had little warning that the strikes were coming. In previous episodes Israel telegraphed its actions and Hamas was able to evacuate its facilities. The Israelis appear to have learned from this and the first wave of strikes this time caught Hamas before it could evacuate its compounds. In the short term Israel has struck a significant but not decisive blow at Hamas.
Hamas however is and was hungry for conflict with Israel. This is the core of its reason for existing - to fight the Israeli State and the occupation. No one in Hamas is likely to be stupid enough to believe that Qassam rockets fired into Israel will alter the occupation or bring about the end of the containment of Gaza.
The firing of rockets into Israel has only one purpose for Hamas and that is to provoke the very reaction that Israel is now embarked on. For the leadership of Hamas the broken bodies of the victims of Israeli bombs are a more powerful weapon for its cause than any rocket fired into Israel. As the dead mount up in Gaza then the outcry against Israel rises not only around the world but in particular in the Arab and Islamic states. This is meat and drink for Hamas. It needs the world to be outraged against Israel for only in this way can it seek to apply political pressure against Israel and raise the costs of Israels continued control over the Palestinians and their land.
The rockets fired into Israel were merely the first salvo that Hamas fired, they are small arms fire. The big guns that Hamas is now deploying are the bodies of dead Palestinian civilians.