What if the Israel-Hamas clash stops today or tomorrow? (I know, a big assumption; things could certainly be more drawn out or escalate) Where would that leave things? Some speculation:
Israel will probably have reduced weapons stores of Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Perhaps Israel will have especially reduced the longer-range rockets. Perhaps Israel will have taken out missiles that came from Libya to Gaza.
Iron Dome appears to have proven its effectiveness. (which, as a side note, leads me to believe Hamas and others will think about how to innovate to circumvent the limits imposed by Iron Dome. Look for different means, different technology etc Just like missiles are more appealing when Israeli walls closed off other tactical options.)
Hamas and others have demonstrated they can aim for Tel Aviv and, possibly, Jerusalem or its environs. (I am less *certain* than @mkoplow that central Jerusalem was the target. But maybe I was not paying attention) [I don't claim to know which of various factions are firing the missiles. For more on factions in Gaza, see this Crisis Group report, Radical Islam in Gaza]
I don’t know whether for one or both sides this was a dress run for a confrontation connected to an Israeli military attack on Iran. (Amir Oren wonders regarding the Israeli side).
Neither side articulated or demonstrated a new strategy. This is Groundhog Day. Various levels of escalations this year in March (here, here) and June (here, here). Now November. The 2008-09 battle was only four years ago.
Both Hamas and the Government of Israel will claim victory and say they stood strong in the face of danger. That would likely help Netanyahu and Likud at the polls next year.
I don’t see how this changes perceptions much – Israelis and Palestinians about the other or Arab states, the US, and the international community about Israelis and Palestinians. Despite the much-talked about battle of social media, does much actually shift? Are lower casualty numbers meaningful?
My wildcard: what does this mean for Egypt?
I have written this with a lot of uncertainty, even about some things that have been reported on (like Iron Dome numbers). Moreover, how a cease-fire or de-escalation takes place might be meaningful but that has not happened yet. More to come….