• Professor Yoram Meital, chair of the Chaim Herzog Centre at Ben Gurion University, foresees dark days for Israel:
The current escalation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza will most likely continue for at least several days.
An escalation in the form of a ground operation would be drastic, and would probably only happen if a rocket launched from Gaza scored a direct hit and inflicted casualties on Israelis. Such a scenario would most likely narrow the options for Israeli decision-makers, leaving them no choice but to send troops into Gaza.
Israel has started to call up its reserve army, but it seems to prefer not to launch a comprehensive ground operation now. While there may be a limited ground operation, the re-occupation of Gaza is not practical.
Hamas’ military goals are different. Its now-proven ability to strike deep into Israel – rockets have been heading for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Hadera – is a major achievement, but targeting Israeli cities is little more than a moral and symbolic achievement. It’s not a game-changer.
The more difficult point is the exit strategy for the two parties. Netanyahu has specified his main goal is the renewal of the quiet, to provide safety and security with no rockets launched from Gaza into Israel. Hamas has said the return to the status quo is the goal.
It demands Israel immediately stop all its military operations and that the parties return to the previous agreement mediated by Egypt in 2012.
Soon, the parties will come under international and regional pressure, which will force them to regain a kind of calm.
• Paul Gross, director of the Israel Government Fellows Programme, recounts his experience of a Jerusalem air raid:
My wife was out for the evening, my two-year old daughter was asleep. I was hoping to watch the news until the World Cup semi-final, then escape reality for 90 minutes.
Except reality suddenly got a lot closer as the sound of the ‘Red Alert’ siren echoed through my flat. I walked into my daughter’s bedroom and took perhaps a second to look at her sleeping peacefully and, with regret, I lifted her out of her cot and took her downstairs to the bomb shelter in our building, where several neighbours were already sitting.
So now it seems Jerusalem is on Hamas’ target list. Never mind that 30 percent of the population in this city is Arab. Never mind that the unguided rockets fired from Gaza could just as easily hit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Not even the lives of other Arabs or the sanctity of Islam’s third holiest site matters to Hamas in its war against Jews.
Hamas is committing a double war crime: firing on civilians while using its own civilian population as human shields.
These hostilities will likely conclude with another ceasefire that holds for around a year before rockets fall again. How will it end? Will Israel have to respond with its full force to defeat Hamas for good? Casualties would be terrible and the tragedies would be incalculable.
My daughter is sleeping now, but we have a bag of essentials by the door in case we have to spend more than just a few minutes in the bomb shelters next time.