If only Operation Protective Edge could be summarized as a success story, which would guarantee Israelis a long period of calm. Unfortunately, it's quite likely that in the coming days we may find ourselves facing a different definition of what happened here in the past week: Operation Hopeless Situation.
If a ceasefire fails to guarantee the establishment of a reliable mechanism to ensure that Hamas does not renew its effort to arm itself with long-range missiles, and if it fails to lead to the start of an international effort that will offer hope to millions of Gazans for an exit from what they define as "life in a huge prison," this whole affair will not be worth the damage we suffered.
This must be said explicitly: All the clichés raised in the public discourse - that Hamas has been beaten, that it missed a victory shot - are baseless. The solid fact is that an Islamist terror organization made millions of civilians lie on the floor, seeking shelter from rockets. The Arab world can take note that Israel is vulnerable, that it is weakened by rockets arriving from the south to the north.
The call-up of tens of thousands of soldiers, while there is no intention of ordering their entry into the Gaza Strip, leaves the other side with the understanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes threats, but has no intention of following through on them.
The lesson remembered by the Israeli side will possibly be that even the power of the strongest army in the Middle East is limited; that leaders must provide far-reaching ideas in order to deal with the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Otherwise, the period between the end of the current round and the beginning of the next round will be short indeed.
Nothing bad will happen if the prime minister suggests that the international community helps rebuild the Gaza Strip, investing billions in the construction of a naval port, and airport and power stations, after which Israel would stop supplying the Strip with electricity. Without such a plan, we should better keep entrenching ourselves, because next time it will be much worse.
The real question is whether the current government is willing to acknowledge reality and admit that we have achieved a draw at the most, and not even extra time, until the next round.