"But understanding is no substitute for wisdom, and the inherent desire for retribution does not necessarily have to blind us to the view from the day after. The expression 'time for combat' still does not elucidate the goals of the assault. Does Israel seek to 'just' send Hamas a violent, horrifying message? Is the intention to destroy the organization's military and civilian infrastructure? Perhaps the goal is far-reaching to the point of removing Hamas from power in Gaza and transferring rule to the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas? How does Israel intend to realize these goals? The aerial assault on its own, as one may recall from the Lebanon War, cannot suffice. Does the IDF plan on deploying thousands of soldiers in the streets of Gaza? And what will the number of casualties be at this stage?"
The government says the goal is to create a "new security environment," which is rather vague. The IDF has two exit strategies:
"According to the first scenario, a third party, possibly Egypt, Turkey or even a European country, would volunteer to serve as a mediator between Israel and Hamas in an effort to attain a cease-fire between the two sides...
"Under the second scenario presented to the cabinet, the current fighting between Hamas and the IDF would create 'new understandings' between the two sides, under which Hamas would cease the rocket attacks against the South and Israel would stop its operations."
Both of those seem to indicate that "new security environment" simply means that Israel has demonstrated toughness. I suspect that both this operation and the Hamas resumption of Qassam fire which provoked it are aimed at trying to get some advantage in the new ceasefire.
(Crossposted to American Footprints)