Analysis: Israel-Hamas: a clash waiting to happen
JERUSALEM – Since Israel completed a devastating military offensive in the Gaza Strip four years ago, military officials have warned it was only a matter of time before the next round of fighting. Violence erupted this week with little warning, driven by Hamas' ambitions to make its mark on a changing Middle East and an Israeli government reacting to public outcry over rocket attacks just weeks ahead of national elections.
It is a clash of wills driven by wildly contradictory narratives nurtured over the years by two deeply antagonistic societies with little in common save a deep-seated sense of historical grievance and victimization.
From Israel's perspective, the fact that it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, pulling out all soldiers and settlements after a 38-year occupation, should have been the end of its troubles with the 1.6 million Palestinians there. The continued rocket attacks – especially since Hamas militants seized the coastal strip from the more moderate Fatah faction in 2006 – are seen as an outrage that justifies extreme measures. No country, Israelis argue, could possibly be asked to tolerate a decade of rocket attacks.
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