Netanyahu: Forces to redeploy as tunnel task ends, but all options open | The Times of Israel   ‘PM says operation not ending, only changing; Israel will make every effort for kidnapped soldier Goldin, has to worry about all soldiers, civilians’

Exactly when both sides begin to start losing the plot here is hard to say. But there must come a time for each of them to cast about for a suitable exit strategy, one not looking too much like a face-saving ploy. And most definitely not seen as such by their own people.

Israel simply cannot go on causing more and more civilian casualties without doing irreparable damage to its image as an enlightened and democratic country. Equally the Hamas organisation must have noted the repercussions from its continual rocket bombardment against Israel and the uses it makes of its now severely degraded tunnel network. Gaza City and lots of outlying areas would seem to have suffered most from the consequences. And these are known to be of no small amount.

But, having incurred and inflicted so much death and destruction, what withdrawal policies can now be adopted by either of the two belligerents? A statement of completion for all military objectives by Israel? The demonstration by Hamas of having played the Palestinian David to the Israeli Goliath? These might impress the home crowd but not, I suspect, all that much. As for the outside world, it can only survey the ruins of Gaza and ask the perennial question. Why has this happened at all? Shouldn’t there have been a much better way to handle such a situation well before now? But not even once in every one of the past 66 years has a solution surfaced to adequately address and rectify the position.

Then maybe it’s high time there was. Otherwise, what has happened in the last three weeks or so seems destined to be repeated all over again. Only with even more casualties, more destruction and even less hope in the future than ever before. And, just right about now, there must be the feeling that this hope is almost all gone. And, maybe, gone forever.  – ‘ for those of us with better things to do.’