And The Beat Goes On

As Netanyahu vows a “significant expansion” of the ground offensive in Gaza, the WaPo’s live blog updates the body count so far:

Israeli forces launched a ground operation in Gaza Thursday night. Since then: 28 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have died. This brings the Palestinian death toll to more than 260, with more than 2,000 injured. The Israeli death toll is at 2.

Emma Green digs deeper into how the toll of the conflict is measured and how that contributes to the media narrative:

Even the tallies of rockets fired and shelling exchanged aren’t simple: The numbers themselves are imbued with meaning. The New York Times has a running count of “the toll in Gaza and Israel, day by day“; aggression from Hamas is measured in “X rockets launched from Gaza,” while aggression from Israel is measured in “X targets struck by Israel.” The unit of measurement is the important part: Palestinian firepower is measured as discrete weapons, rockets that Hamas is intentionally hurling at Israeli civilians. Israeli firepower is measured in hits, which are called “targets” (not people, or houses, or “militants”). And yet the two numbers are placed side by side for comparison, implying clarity of fault, or even clarity of what’s happening on the ground in Gaza and southern Israel.

Gregg Carlstrom expects no breakthroughs anytime soon, partly because Hamas’s conditions for a ceasefire are unacceptable to Israel and Egypt:

Hamas has been clear about its demands since the conflict began: It wants Israel to lift the siege of Gaza, and to release the dozens of prisoners freed in the 2011 deal for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who were rearrested this summer in the wake of the killing of three kidnapped Israeli teens. Neither of these demands, however, are politically viable. Members of Netanyahu’s government, including the hawkish Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, have demanded an end to prisoner swaps. And the military-backed government in Egypt, which labeled Hamas a terrorist organization and spent a year demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood, is unlikely to agree to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza.

Comparing the situation in Gaza to the US military’s experience in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, Juan Cole expands on his longstanding argument that Israel can’t achieve permanent “quiet” with force:

The Israelis cannot actually destroy Hamas or its capabilities as long as significant numbers of Palestinians in Gaza support it. That support is political, having to do with the organization’s role in at least trying to stand up to Israeli oppression, occupation and blockade. Just as the enemies of the US ultimately prevailed in Falluja, so the enemies of Israel will prevail in Gaza.

Oppression and occupation produce resistance. Until the oppression and the occupation are addressed, the mere inflicting of attrition on the military capabilities of the resistance will not snuff it out. Other leaders will take the place of those killed. If Israel really wanted peace or relief from Hamas rockets, its leaders would pursue peace negotiations in good faith with Hamas (which has on more than one occasion reliably honored truces). Otherwise, invading Gaza will have all the same effects, good and bad (but mostly bad) that the US invasion of Falluja had on Iraq.