Strategy Page offers this assessment of the situation existing between Israel and Gaza:
The deadlock continues, with Hamas refusing to compromise on its goals of destroying Israel and driving Jews from the region. Even though nearly three billion dollars in aid is being offered if Hamas will make peace, Hamas refuses to do so. Hamas is on a Mission From God, and acts the part. Negotiations over the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for three years, also broke down (over the issue of how many senior terrorists would be released, and how many would be released outside if Gaza or the West Bank). In response to this, Israel arrested ten Hamas leaders in the West Bank, and restricted visitors and packages for 11,000 Palestinian prisoners. Israel has also continued its operations against terrorist group leaders in Gaza (where they are killed by missiles) and the West Bank (where they are taken alive, if possible.)
Israeli military and intelligence officials talk openly of "finishing" the military operations against Hamas. The January 18 ceasefire is considered just that, and it's expected that Hamas intransigence during any negotiations will result in a deadlock and the resumption of fighting. The second round is expected to be a death match, with no end until the Hamas leadership is captured or killed, and Hamas weapons (especially the thousands of rockets) captured or destroyed.
Israel now believes that Hezbollah and Hamas have over 50,000 rockets in place, to fire on Israel. Most of these rockets are small (under 100 pounds, with a range of under ten kilometers). Most of the rockets are controlled by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and can only reach largely Arab communities in northern Israel.
Eliminating Hamas is what the Israelis should have done the first time around, and why they didn't is a mystery. Their dilatory policy has only dragged out the inevitable and increased the suffering of the Palestinian people.RLC