This evening attended a talk in the village by Meron Benvenisti on his new book, which, in the current reality seemed like a form of escapism. (I wonder how many people died in Gaza while he was speaking?) Benvenisti told how his experiences and perception of regional realities had led him to believe that there is no chance for Israelis and Palestinians to live separately, and that therefore they will need to learn to live together. He says that he doesn't make prescriptions about how that may happen: the job of a writer, according to him, is mainly to ask questions and pose dilemmas for the reader to try to deal with.
In Gaza, Israel continues to pound the residents. Today it moved away from its so-called precision strikes, with a result that around 26 people were killed, including many children. It proceeds with this barbarism thanks to a warm mantle of world support - particularly from the White House. At the same time, it apparently knows that it won't get the leeway to continue like this for very long before the tide of world opinion turns against it. Still, with all those troops on the border - more than in the Cast Lead campaign four years ago - it wouldn't take very much to spur them into a ground invasion. Perhaps a direct hit that scrores a few casualties would be enough. Beyond human intelligence, or lack of it, much about warfare is chance; like the trajectories of Hamas's wayward rockets. Some of these, according to the army, are actually duds: they've been stripped of their payloads in order to give them a longer range. "They're basically pipes," said one official. So Israeli and American taxpayers are spending $50,000 a shot to knock hollow pipes out of the sky.
No Israeli really believes that this military campaign will produce anything substantial. So whereas the human toll and the risks are great, the possible tangible benefits are few. Israel is spending millions and risking a great deal in order to win a bit of quiet. And it could have obtained that quiet more successfully by other and cheaper means.