This isn't just some political terrorist group, but one whose outlook is focused and based on Islamic precepts that demand nothing less than Israel be destroyed. For Hamas, it is a religious obligation. You can't reason with such a group. Such a group must be unconditionally defeated.
Any and all talk of a hudna or ceasefire undermines Israel's ability to actually defeat Hamas and improve Israel's security posture.
Since Hamas has taken over Gaza in 2005, Gaza has become an ever more violent wasteland as a result of Hamas deciding that war is preferable to living in an uneasy coexistence with Israel.
Via the Israel Project, here's a few numbers to keep in mind:
Iran-backed Hamas Rocket, Mortar Attacks and Nuclear DevelopmentsWhile the numbers don't matter to Hamas, they should matter to anyone paying attention to the conflict and thinking that the Palestinians have a case of mistreatment or that Israel is acting out of proportion to the violence perpetrated against it.
9,400+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since 2003. 
3,200+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in 2008 alone. 
6,500+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. 
543+ rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israeli territory during the ceasefire from June 19 to Dec. 19, 2008. 
28 deaths caused by rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel since 2001. The dead include Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers. Since the ceasefire ended, Iran-backed Palestinian groups in Gaza fired rockets and mortars that killed an Israeli-Arab construction worker and a mother of four who was seeking shelter in a bus station as a rocket warning siren sounded. 
1,000+ people in Israel injured from rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since 2001, including Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers. Since the ceasefire, 44 Israelis have been injured and 200 have been treated for shock. 
20,000 Hamas troops Israel is targeting as part of “Operation Cast Lead.” 
750,000 number of Israeli civilians Hamas is targeting and can reach. 
15 seconds Israelis have to get to a bomb shelter once a warning siren has sounded. 
8 years that Israel has been hit by rockets and mortars from Gaza 
3 mosques in Gaza used as weapons, ammunitions and explosives depots that were struck by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the operation in Gaza . 
4 UN Security Council resolutions passed since 2006 to try to stop Iran from enriching uranium. 
5,000+ number of centrifuges operating in Iran to enrich uranium, the material used to produce a nuclear weapon. 
Israel’s Humanitarian Aid to Gazahttp://www.theisraelproject.org/
179 truckloads of humanitarian aid that have been delivered through Israeli crossings into Gaza since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, including basic food commodities, medication, medical supplies, donations of governments and blood units.
106 additional truckloads of humanitarian expected to arrive in Gaza on Jan. 31 
6,500 tons of aid transported into Gaza at the request of international organizations, the Palestinian Authority and various governments since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. The World Food Program informed Israel that it will cease shipment of food to Gaza because warehouses are at full capacity, with enough food to last two weeks. 
What Israel Gave Up in Hopes of Peace - Gaza Withdrawal Aug. 2005
100% proportion of the Gaza Strip evacuated and handed over to the
300 square miles of the West Bank evacuated. 
21 Israeli settlements uprooted in the Gaza Strip. 
4 Israeli settlements uprooted in the West Bank . 
48 graves uprooted in Gaza ’s former Gush Katif Cemetery , including six graves of area residents murdered by terrorists. 
9,000 approximate number of Israelis, including 1,700 families, who lived in Gaza and the northern West Bank . All of them were moved out as part of the withdrawal. 
38 synagogues dismantled in the Gaza Strip. 
5,000 school-age children who had to find new schools. 
42 daycare centers that were closed in the Gaza Strip. 
36 kindergartens that were closed in the Gaza Strip. 
7 elementary schools that were closed in the Gaza Strip. 
3 high schools that were closed in the Gaza Strip. 
320 mobile homes, ordered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to serve as temporary housing for settlers. 
45,000 Israeli soldiers and policemen who participated in the Gaza withdrawal. 
$1.7 billion the approximate cost to the Israeli government for the withdrawal initiative. 
166 Israeli farmers who were moved out of Gaza . 
800 cows, which comprised the second largest dairy farm in Israel , moved out of Gaza ’s Gush Katif community. 
$120 million value of flowers and produce exported annually from Gush Katif and lost following the evacuation. 
1 zoo, the “Katifari,” that housed hundreds of animals and was moved. 
10,000 people who were employed in agriculture and related industries in Gush Katif, including 5,000 Palestinians. 
60% proportion of Israel's cherry tomato exports that came from the Gaza Strip. Israel ’s withdrawal from Gaza extinguished this economic resource. 
3.5 million square meters (almost 1,000 acres) of greenhouses abandoned in Gaza . 
70 percentage of Israel's organic produce grown in Gaza – another economic resource lost in the evacuation. 
60 percentage of herbs exported from Israel that came from Gush Katif. 
15 percentage of Israel agricultural exports that originated in Gaza – exports lost following Israel ’s withdrawal from Gaza . 
$360,000 expected average compensation amount Israel expected to pay to relocate each family. 
$870 million approximate cost for Israel to facilitate the resettlement of former West Bank and Gaza residents elsewhere in the country. 
$500 million amount of money Israel's security establishment spent to relocate Israel Defense Forces bases outside the Gaza Strip and build new border crossing facilities. 
After Israel ’s evacuation from Gaza …
430,000 West Bank Palestinians able to move freely within and between Palestinian-controlled areas. 
1 Israeli remaining in Gaza . Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit was abducted from Israel on June 25, 2006 by Hamas in a bloody cross-border raid in which the terrorists also killed two IDF soldiers and wounded four others. 
1.2 million Arabs who remained full and legal citizens of Israel . All Israeli citizens – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – have freedom of speech, religion, press, and the right to vote. 
1.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip many of them in Palestinian Authority-controlled refugee camps, who live under their own leaders. 
820,000 Jewish refugees forced to flee without their belongings from Arab countries between 1947 and 1949, and who have never been compensated by Arab governments for their losses. 
650,000 Arab refugees who left Israel from 1947-1949 and still need Palestinian leaders who will end terrorism and the culture of hate. 
Israel’s withdrawal from four northern West Bank settlements created an area more than twice the size of Gaza’s 140 square miles under Palestinian control and devoid of any Israeli presence. 
The Israelis continue targeting top terrorists, and the attacks continue to produce results - namely killing top terrorists and blowing up caches of weapons for use against Israel. Hamas continues firing the kassams at Israel.
Meanwhile, some Fatah thugs think that they would be better off joining Hamas. As I've repeatedly noted, Fatah and Hamas differ only in the timeline of Israel's destruction, not the ultimate goal of supplanting Israel with a Palestinian state. Many of Fatah's goons are just as interested in killing Israelis as Hamas.
Egypt continues to hammer Hamas for not stopping its attacks on Israel. Egypt wants nothing to do with Gaza, and the threat of an Iranian proxy on its border has Egypt doing whatever it can to undermine Hamas' ability to operate. That said, Egypt can and should have been doing more to stop the smuggling of weapons and equipment between Gaza and Sinai if it were truly interested in stopping Hamas before now.
Egypt is also asking Israel refrain from hitting mosques. Fat chance of that, especially as Hamas is using mosques as weapons depots.
As for the anti-Israel demonstrations around the world this Friday, from Jordan to Indonesia, it's more of the usual anti-Israel tripe, which is usually a frothy mix of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment that exists regardless of what Israel does. Israel's actions to defend itself from Hamas has the anti-Israel crowd whining and bitterly seething because they simply don't like the fact that Israel is taking the fight to the terrorists who demand Israel cease to exist.
The anti-war demonstrations in Israel are self-defeating for Israel as Hamas knows that if sufficient numbers of Israelis demonstrate against the Israeli operation, Hamas will eventually wear down Israel's resolve and secure yet another hudna that enables Hamas to regroup, while Israel's long term security is undermined yet again.
Internationally, it's most curious that the so-called anti-war demonstrators are uniformly demanding Israel cease and desist from fighting, all while ignoring Hamas' role in precipitating the conflict, as well as Hamas engaging in terrorism and war crimes on a daily basis. It reveals not an interest in stopping war and conflict, but stopping Israel and undermining Israel's right to exist.
If anyone wants to know what Israel's exit strategy should be for Gaza - including the feckless US State Department, here's what it should be. Victory. Demand nothing less than the unconditional defeat of Hamas in Gaza. Nothing would improve the situation for Palestinians and Israelis so much as an Israeli victory over Hamas. It would fundamentally undermine the Islamists in the region and Palestinians would have to admit the disastrous course of action undertaken for years has resulted in nothing but death, destruction, and mayhem for Gazans and all Palestinians.
Through it all, the US media continues its ongoing biased reporting. MSNBC headlines that Israel is attacking Palestinian homes and mosques. It ignores the fact that Hamas is hiding in homes, and using mosques as weapons depots. MSNBC highlights that children are among those injured in the attacks. MSNBC ignores that Hamas hides behind women and children when firing its rockets; including using schools as rocket launching locations, and uses hospitals to hide out from Israeli reprisal raids.
As always, Carl in Jerusalem, Aussie Dave, and Muqata are covering the situation closely.
Ed Morrissey notes that Israel warned the people in the building where top Hamas thug Nizar Rayan lived with his family, including multiple wives and children. Israel is undermining its own policy by warning the terrorists in advance of their operations. This is something I've noted in the past as well. Israel would be better served not issuing any warnings at all, as it gives the terrorists the opportunity to run and hide. Israel has already warned Hamas and all those in Gaza for carrying on the terror war against Israel. Everything that happens from here on out is the fault of Hamas and the Gazans. It is Hamas that operates behind civilians as human shields, and all the casualties are the fault of Hamas, not Israel.
It's time to get your moral clarity in focus. Carl in Jerusalem disagrees with Charles Krauthammer's assessment of the Gaza withdrawal, noting that Israel's security picture got worse after the IDF ceased operating inside Gaza. It was Israel's military that prevented the level of kassams and mortars from being fired even prior to the withdrawal; and the number rose steadily even before Hamas overthrew Fatah in 2006.
Mere Rhetoric notes that Hamas has turned Gaza's main hospital into a huge weapons dump. They have turned a center for protecting and saving people into an instrument of death and destruction, and count on Israel's protection of civilians and moral clarity to not attack the hospital. It's the same thought that goes into hiding the weapons in mosques and homes. Hamas thinks that Israel will not attack Hamas weapons, terrorists, and the terror infrastructure if they're hiding in and among civilian targets.
Hamas urges a day of rage. How is that different than any other day. Hamas inflicts carnage on a daily basis, its preachers demand Muslims go on jihad and kill Israelis, and fosters a culture of death and destruction. So far, while Jerusalem security officials are on alert, no major incidents have been reported.
The grievance theater of the absurd continues. Israel attacks terrorists; Palestinians go shoeless and are being deprived of proper footwear. Who benefits? Shoe manufacturers.
Heil Hamas or we'll get you with our papier mache rockets, and your little dogs too?
If Islam means peace as politicians are so fond of saying, why the knives and guns and koranic imagery all in one?
Papier mache rockets? We've got 'em too. And little kids in white hoods. How precious.
This is crocodile tear grievance theater. And the media just laps this crap up.
No, there's no anti-Semitism involved in the anti-Israel demonstrations. None. At all. [that would be serious amounts of sarcasm.]
Useful idiots meet to demand Israel stop killing terrorists. No demands that Hamas stop firing the rockets at Israel, which precipitated Israel's response against a terrorist group that seeks Israel's destruction or which purposefully targets civilians while hiding behind Palestinian women and children.
Hamas and the Gazans view the dead as props. Nothing more. It's all for the camera's benefit, and to stir even more hatred and venom. Note that the Palestinians are more interested in demanding vengeance against Israel than demanding accountability of Hamas, which brought down Israel's response in the first place by firing rockets and mortars against Israel during a six-month ceasefire that was repeatedly violated by Hamas and in reality didn't exist after the fifth day.
An AP sourced photo, as published in the Jerusalem Post today:
How did the AP get this photo? Can you imagine the outcry had Israel carried out an attack against the terrorists as they were preparing to fire these kassams into Israel and injured or killed the photographer? They'd call Israel cold-blooded murderers for killing the photographer, ignoring all the evidence that he was nothing more than a propagandist for Hamas. This photographer put his life in the hands of terrorists, and Hamas couldn't care less about the safety or his wellbeing.
Meanwhile, another major Hamas thug is now out a house. That follows yet more airstrikes in retaliation for Hamas rockets fired into Israel.
For anyone who continues to think that Hamas can be reasoned with or that peace can be achieved by negotiating with Hamas, this should clarify things for you. It's written by someone who met Hamas terror master/ideological leader Nizar Rayyan:
There was no flexibility with Rayyan. This is what he said when I asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (or cease-fire) with Israel: "The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don't need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel." There is no chance, he said, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. "Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God."This isn't a group you can reason with. They seek Israel's destruction. They will lie, cheat, and murder children to achieve their goals. They don't care how many thousands of Palestinians die just as long as Israel gets wiped off the map.
I asked him if he believed, as some Hamas theologians do (and certainly as many Hezbollah leaders do) that Jews are the "sons of pigs and apes." He gave me an interesting answer that reflects a myopic reading of the Koran. "Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce. So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people."
There are some rumblings that the Israeli ground operation is imminent. I don't have any special insight as to when the ground operations will begin, but when they do, I hope that Israel doesn't stop until Hamas surrenders. Only then can Israel have any chance at peace and Palestinians might get to know something other than decades of indoctrination in genocidal hatred of Israelis.