But these are details.
The main point to note is that, notwithstanding claims to the contrary, Operation Pillar of Defense was NOT a response to the recent escalation of rocket firing by Hamas. The rockets being fired from Gaza has very little to do with Israel's repeated deadly military operations against Gaza.
Consider this. During the present conflict, Hamas rockets killed five Israelis, injured not more than a couple of dozen people and partially damaged two buildings. Hardly figures to invite a massive military operation that lasted eight days, killed 161 Palestinians and inflicted unimaginable misery and destruction on the Gazans.
The reasons for Israeli operations go beyond the rocket firing activities of Hamas. Israel's reasons and objectives go much, much deeper.
Put simply, behind it all is Israel's objective to have all of Palestine. It wants to establish Eretz Yisrael on all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, complete with biblical Judea and Samara.
Israeli leaders have long maintained that Jordan is the homeland of the Palestinians and Palestine, all of it, is the God given homeland of the Jews.
Several Israeli leaders have openly stated that their aim is to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that they will eventually flee to neighboring countries.
To ensure that Palestinians never have the ability to stand up against or challenge Israel, Israel is committed to preventing any arms coming into Gaza (even as shiploads of arms keep flowing into Israel from the USA and other countries!), preventing Gazans from manufacturing any such arms, even primitive rockets, and destroying from time to time any rocket making facility that Gazans may put up, as also destroying periodically all stockpile of such arms that Gazans may accumulate.
Another goal of Israel's repeated attacks on Gaza is to cowe the Gazans and beat them into submission.
None of Israel's military operations has succeeded in weakening Hamas. After every Israeli military operation, the Gazans, though suffering huge human and material loss, have emerged stronger.
Operation Pillar of Defense has made them stronger than ever. Arab leaders, taking a lesson from the Arab Spring, and sensitive to the sentiments of their people about Israel and Palestine, for the first time came together to try and save Gaza from further death and destruction. World leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, Turkey's foreign minister, a delegation of Arab foreign ministers, Khaled Mashaal, the top Hamas leader in exile -- all of them converged on the region.
The UN Security Council held closed door consultations at the request of Russia. A resolution would have emerged but for the feet dragging by one of the members.
In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, is now in power in Egypt and Tunisia and Hamas is also getting support from Quatar and Turkey.
The political situation has changed dramatically.
As to the spirit of Gazans, it is best illustrated by a message given by a 13 year old girl from Gaza who sustained shrapnel injuries throughout her upper body, with some pieces still in embedded in her chest. Here is her message: "I say, we are children. There is nothing that is our fault to have to face this. They (the Israelis) are occupying us and I will say, as Abu Omar said, "If you're a mountain, the wind won't shake you.' We're not afraid. We'll stay strong."
Trying to beat the Gazans into submission apart, the Israeli attacks ion Gaza are, as pointed out by Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, a continuation of Israel's "policies of war, illegal occupation of Palestine, siege of Gaza, carrying on building illegal settlements and confiscating Palestinian land", not to mention transferring a large number of its citizens onto occupied West Bank, bulldozing Palestinian homes and razing Palestinian villages.