ANALYSIS / Let's Hope This Time We'll Know When to Stop

The world shows very little patience for the stronger side, and Israel is certainly that.

The other shoe dropped Saturday with full force, as if Hamas had asked for the shoe to be sent its way. Now we need to start thinking about the end game, an end which will not be cut and dry as we would like. In wars, the beginnings are usually the easy part, and only later do they become dicey. I can only hope that this time, for a change, we will know when to stop.

This war must be described from the get-go as a war "to be on the safe side," rather than of necessity, and it is still unclear whether the last missile fired will be fired by us or by them.

There is also no use in expecting international understanding to last, despite the hints sent our way to that effect recently from both near and far. A single strike will not be condemned, and if so then only as lip service, but ten strikes will be - and harshly.

The world shows very little patience for the stronger side, and Israel is certainly that. Forbearance will quickly become exhausted, not only externally but internally as well. It is therefore not recommended to rely on the declarations of public servants and rank-and-file civilians who swear by "letting the IDF win," giving it all the time in the world, and dealing with the Gaza problem "once and for all."

It is best not to deliver too many speeches. The more speeches are given, the more illusions and disappointment arise, forcing the war to become drawn out and lose its purpose.

Speeches have a tendency to identify goals that are by nature unreachable: phrases like "destroying the Hamas government" (which is actually likely to be strengthened) or about its "infrastructure" (which is cloaked in ambiguity - does that mean water and electricity, or also food and medicine?) These foggy declarations only lead us into ever more complicated territory.

It is important that this much is understood from the start - no matter what happens in this war, the crossings into Gaza must open.

A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting.

The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face.