By Donald Macintyre
"Israel is playing a 'wait and see' game to test Hamas's resolve and international opinion, but it is a high-risk strategy that could backfire......
According to Yossi Alpher, an eminent one-time Mossad official and former director of the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies, the operation is a "big gamble" which Israel could have chosen to avoid given the progress Israeli air power had already made against Hamas targets, the uncertainty over future Israeli casualties, and the lack of a clear exit strategy. "We could have ended this yesterday and declared a victory. It would have been a controversial and incomplete victory but it would certainly not have been a defeat."
Conversely he acknowledges that – for now at least – the operation appears to be sufficiently "modular" to allow a choice between withdrawal "if things begin to look bad" or, in the event of a Hamas "collapse" to "go all the way".
Which raises the question of whether Israel now has wider war aims than the military's limited, if still daunting, official goal....."