And here are only the most important past examples of lessons taught and learned: Qibya, 1953, Samu'a, 1966, "Security borders," 1967-73, Aerial bombing of Lebanon, 1974-5, Litani Operation, 1978, Lebanon War, 1982, "Iron Fist" suppression of the Intifada, 1988, Operations Grapes of Wrath, 1995, Defensive Shield, 2002, Second Lebanon War, 2006.
ALL OF THESE operations have in common serious provocations from Palestinian and, after the extended occupation to South Lebanon, Hezbollah insurgents; provocations including the loss of Israeli lives. The response of Israeli military professionals, in all cases, was that Israel's response would have to be disproportionate; that the attack was coming because Israel was perceived as weak and needed to improve its deterrent power.
But in no cases did the Israeli attack deter further attack and in many cases it unleashed unanticipated violence, prompting new alliances against Israel which then led to new, more complex attacks, along with increasing diplomatic isolation.
This morning, another Israeli was killed, as 57 rockets were launched from Gaza. Hezbollah is threatening to be drawn in. Israeli radio is reporting that Israel's ambassador to Jordan is being asked to leave "for his safety," and four Israelis were stabbed in Modiin. Meretz leader Haim Oron is arguing that Israel must immediately work to establish a new cease-fire, that if the shock of this attack leads to a firmer, better calm, Israel should accept this; that there is no military solution to Palestinian insurgency.
But can Israel's military leaders accept a cease-fire, after all this carnage, when 57 missiles have just fallen? When you are a hammer, is not every problem a nail?