[Discussion] The Middle East in Crisis

A place to post and discuss news related to the recent events in Israel, including the Hamas/Islamic Jihad incursion and repercussions.

There are already drone factories making Iranian drones in Russia...

CW: Dead kids.

@chrislhayes.bsky.social wrote:

In the scheme of human suffering this observation doesn’t much matter, I know, but just at the level of political optics:

If the war in Gaza is still going in July, the DNC is going to be an absolute cluster. My god.

Fer f*ck's sake.

Explosion heard near Iranian city of Isfahan, Iranian news agencies report

An explosion was heard in the Iranian city of Ghahjaworstan, located northwest of the city of Isfahan, according to the Iranian semi-official FARS news agency, citing local sources.

"The city of Ghahjaworstan is located near Isfahan Airport and the eighth hunting base of the Army Air Force," FARS news said.

Iranian Press TV also reported an explosion was heard near the central city.

The cause of this explosion is unknown.

Repots I've seen from various OSINT social media accounts say the main target was an airbase that is (or was) home to the last F-14 Tomcats still in service.

Rat Boy wrote:

Repots I've seen from various OSINT social media accounts say the main target was an airbase that is (or was) home to the last F-14 Tomcats still in service.

Maverick has entered the chat...

Amazingly, this whole thing appears to have been the international equivalent of handbags.

Maybe I don't know how sanctions work but I don't think Netanyahu can reject sanctions that are put in place by another country.

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Biden tries to navigate the Israel-Hamas war protests roiling college campuses

NEW YORK (AP) — Student protests over the war in Gaza have created a new and unpredictable challenge for President Joe Biden as he resists calls to cut off U.S. support for Israel while trying to hold together the coalition of voters he’ll need for reelection.

The protests at Columbia University in New York and other campuses have captured global media attention and resurfaced questions about Biden’s lagging support from young voters. His handling of the Middle East conflict is also being closely watched by both Jewish and Arab American voters in key swing states.

At best for Biden, the protests are a passing distraction while the White House presses forward with negotiations over a cease-fire and the release of hostages held by Hamas while pushing Israel to limit casualties with more than 34,000 Palestinians dead. At worst, they build momentum toward the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, potentially triggering scenes of violence that could recall the unrest of protests against the Vietnam War during the party’s convention there in 1968.

“If it ends with Columbia, that’s one thing,” said Angus Johnston, a historian focused on campus activism. “If this sends the national student movement to a new place, that’s a very different situation.”

Already, Biden’s aides have had to work to minimize disruptions from antiwar protesters, holding smaller campaign events and tightly controlling access. Demonstrators forced his motorcade to change routes to the Capitol on his way to deliver the State of the Union, and they’ve thrown a red substance intended to symbolize blood near his home in Delaware.

The president could face more confrontations with students this spring. Morehouse College said Tuesday that Biden would appear at the iconic historically Black campus in May to deliver a commencement address that could draw protests.

FRUSTRATION AT COLUMBIA

More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators camped out at Columbia were arrested Thursday, with dozens more people arrested at other campuses. Many now face charges of trespassing or disorderly conduct. The protesters have demanded that their universities condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Some people have reported antisemitic chants and messages at and around the Columbia campus, and similar concerns have been reported at other universities. Some Jewish students say they’ve felt unsafe on campus. The White House, in a message Sunday to mark the Passover holiday, denounced what it called an “alarming surge” of antisemitism, saying it “has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country.”

Four Jewish Democratic members of Congress toured Columbia’s locked-down campus on Monday with members of the school’s Jewish Law Students Association. They condemned that things had escalated to where Jewish students felt unsafe and the university canceled in-person classes Monday. Columbia said it would use hybrid remote and in-person learning through the end of the spring term.

Rep. Kathy Manning of North Carolina called on the Education Department and Justice Department to work with the White House “to ensure that all universities take steps necessary to keep Jewish students and faculty safe.”

“This discrimination is simply unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue,” she said.

Biden on Monday sought the same middle ground that he’s staked out for months as he backs Israel’s military operations with weapons shipments while also pushing Israel to limit civilian casualties and get more humanitarian aid into Gaza, where the United Nations has said there is a looming famine.

“I condemn the antisemitic protests,” the president said at an Earth Day event. He then added, “I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a high-profile progressive who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, spoke before Biden at the same event. She said it was “important that we remember the power of young people shaping this country” and praised “the leadership of those peaceful student-led protests.”

HOW MUCH IS BIDEN TO BLAME?

Former President Donald Trump, Biden’s presumptive Republican opponent in November, pointed to the headlines and images coming out of Columbia to redirect focus from his criminal hush money trial in New York, telling reporters in the courthouse Tuesday that Biden bears the blame for the unrest.

“If this were me, you’d be after me. You’d be after me so much,” he said. “But they’re trying to give him a pass. But what’s going on is a disgrace to our country, and it’s all Biden’s fault and everybody knows it.”

In a sign of the political potency of the situation at Columbia, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana planned to visit the school Wednesday and meet with Jewish students.

Joel Rubin, a former State Department official and Democratic strategist who has worked in Jewish politics for years, rejected critics blaming Biden “for everything that’s gone wrong” but said the president would have to “make the argument for why the policy is the right one and let the chips fall where they may.”

“If it were purely politics and polling, it would be a very hard one,” Rubin said. “But I think Biden is making these decisions based on national security.”

Biden graduated from Syracuse’s law school in 1968, bypassing the campus convulsions over the Vietnam War. He distanced himself from that protest movement two decades later during his first run for president.

“I was married, I was in law school, I wore sports coats,” Biden said in 1987. “You’re looking at a middle-class guy. I am who I am. I’m not big on flak jackets and tie-dyed shirts. You know, that’s not me.″

Biden has been endorsed this year by many leading youth activist organizations and built his campaign around key social issues — such as defending abortion rights, combating climate change and canceling student debt for millions — that they believe can energize voters under 30 who are more likely to be concerned about his approach to Gaza.

He was in Florida on Tuesday to capitalize on the momentum against nationwide abortion restrictions and criticize a state law soon to go into effect that will ban abortions after six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant. A day earlier, Vice President Kamala Harris held an event promoting abortion rights in swing state Wisconsin.

Safia Southey, a 25-year-old law student at Columbia who is Jewish, has been participating in the protest and sleeping at the encampment on the university’s quad since Thursday. She believes outrage over the war will deflate Biden’s chances against Trump because staunch supporters of Israel are more likely to support the presumptive Republican nominee.

“I think Biden has tried to be very strategic and it’s backfired in a lot of ways,” she said.

However, Southey said she’ll vote for Biden “pretty much no matter what” in a matchup with Trump.

“The students who are upset, especially at these kind of universities, are smart enough to not stay home,” she said. “I think that they’re going to go out and vote, and they’re going to go for the most strategic option, even if they’re not happy for Biden. I think that they would do anything to make sure that Trump’s not in office.”

Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher was skeptical that campus demonstrations over Gaza would prove to be politically influential.

“What percentage of Americans are really in those narrow spaces, and how representative are they of a broader American audience, or even a broader youth audience?” he asked.

Johnston, the historian on student activism, said the current protests don’t approach the size or intensity of demonstrations in the 1960s, when school officials were held hostage and campuses were vandalized.

But over the years, he said, “there’s a lot of times where student protests have shaped the national debate.”

I do think it represents a bit of a problem for the modern Democratic candidate when they literally could not visit just about any campus in the country because they're gonna get protested so hard.

Searching for missing loved ones in Gaza’s mass graves

A mother will search anywhere for her missing child. And while she has the strength, she will never stop.

Whether he is alive or dead. It doesn't matter.

For four days Kareema Elras has moved through the noise, dust and overpowering stench of the mass graves at Nasser hospital.

She is the mother of 21-year-old Ahmed, who was killed on 25 January in the city of Khan Younis, in south central Gaza. His body has been missing since then.

On Tuesday, Kareema found her boy.

"I have been coming here all the time until now," she said, "until I found the body of my son, my son Ahmed, the cherished little boy, his mother's love. He lost his father when he was 12 years old, and I raised him."

Nearby, other families walk along the perimeter of the graves.

It is a scene depressingly familiar from war zones around the world.

The bulldozers clawing at the earth to reach the dead. An arm, stiff, extending from beneath the soil. The gravediggers marking out the individual spaces where exhumed corpses will be buried. And the families of the lost, hoping to find their loved ones among the dead.

But the universality of the imagery does not necessarily suggest the same explanation. Each mass grave - whether in the Balkans, central Africa, the Middle East, or elsewhere - is the consequence of its own local conditions.

In a war that has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 34,000 people in a constricted land space, burying the dead has become a complex and often dangerous task.

Some cemeteries are full. Others are impossible to reach because of fighting. Because of these pressures bodies have been buried in the grounds of hospitals where Israeli forces said they fought Hamas.

In some wars that I have reported on it was possible to tell reasonably quickly what had happened to the victims. This is because forensic investigators were on the scene relatively soon afterwards and journalists were able to access the area.

In the current conditions in Gaza - with Israel and Egypt refusing to admit international journalists, and fighting creating extremely dangerous conditions for any potential team of forensic investigators - it is an immense challenge to specifically determine how and when each of those being exhumed from the graves at Nasser hospital and also at al-Shifa hospital, to the north in Gaza City, met their deaths.

Were at least some executed by Israeli forces, as Hamas and local rescue workers claim?

Or are the hundreds of dead in mass graves all the victims of air strikes and fighting in the area inside and around the medical complexes, as well as other victims of disease and malnutrition caused by the war? Did the Israelis move bodies from one grave to a new grave?

Joe Biden praised legislation he signed today that rushes in foreign aid including more than $26bn to Israel as a bipartisan legislative victory on a “good day for world peace”.

The president, in remarks delivered from the White House, shortly after signing the legislation, said: "It’s going to make America safer. It’s going to make the world safer."

The bill includes about $1bn in humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza.

In remarks delivered from the White House, Biden urged Israel to ensure the humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the bill reaches Gaza “without delay”.

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Prederick wrote:

I do think it represents a bit of a problem for the modern Democratic candidate when they literally could not visit just about any campus in the country because they're gonna get protested so hard.

I'm sure they'll just dust off the old "free speech zones" thing from the George W. Bush administration.

Blog with sign-up and email verification required. Here's half:

Spoiler:

Somewhere beyond death, in a realm of judgment and pain, a concrete labyrinth filled by countless names, a man walks. He is Jewish, and has been made hard and cruel by his experiences in the Nazi death camps. He's also a mutant, gifted with the power to manipulate metal and the electromagnetic spectrum. Since his first appearance in the inaugural X-Men comic, he spent six decades of Marvel publication history oscillating between supervillainous heel, messianic terrorist, swaggering nationalist, and increasingly heroic anti-fascist. He stood trial for crimes against humanity and tried his hand at state building; he’s variously fought against, allied with, and led the X-Men. He’s taken and abandoned many names: Max, Erik, Magnus. Only one ever stuck: Magneto.

This is the setup for Resurrection of Magneto, an ongoing miniseries by Al Ewing and Luciano Vecchio. In it, Marvel’s master of magnetism, who is also the company’s most famous Jewish character, counts his many sins, tortured by the fear that he’s wasted his life on a poisoned dream. The comic arrives at a fraught time. When it debuted earlier this year, Israeli bombs had been falling on Gaza for three months; 25,000 people were dead. That number has now topped 34,000, and the bombs are still falling.

It is a low and shameful moment. It is also one that suits Magneto entirely too well—a distillation of all the ambiguities and anxieties of American Judaism as it reckons with the sacrifices made to the promise of “never again,” and the increasingly fraught question of what that actually means.

Magneto debuted in 1963, as the lead villain of the first issue of Uncanny X-Men #1. The comic was a late, weak product of the long-running partnership between artist Jack Kirby (who did most of the work) and Stan Lee (who claimed most of the credit). The narrative engine was simple: A team of teenage mutant superheroes, led by kindly mentor Charles Xavier, seek to protect a suspicious populace from the depredations of evil mutants. “The human race no longer deserves dominion over planet Earth!” Magneto snarls as he slinks through Kirby’s rushed layouts, swearing to “make homo sapiens bow to homo superior!”

Kirby (née Kurtzberg) and Lee (née Lieber) were both American Jews, and the product of one of the great Jewish cities: New York. Their relationships with that community varied; Kirby maintained a muscular ethnic and cultural pride in his Judaism, while Lee tended to avoid associating with it. The X-Men’s original creators wrote about people who, though sometimes able to pass as WASPs, were inescapably and essentially different, and the subject of both elaborate conspiracy and unthinking prejudice. They were human and not; eternal Others hiding in the upstate suburbs, longing for acceptance from a world that hated and feared them. That otherness would be interpreted in many ways over the coming decades, as imperfect stand-ins for various identities and populations. But the American Jewish anxieties of the midcentury were there first, and undergirded much of what came after.

If the X-Men can be read as crypto-Jews, what was Magneto? Kirby had fought in World War II, and Magneto fit alongside his other supervillains—if not explicit Nazis, then fascists and bullyboys and tinpot dictators. Magneto himself is a supremacist lunatic, barely cloaking his conquering urges in self-justification. “They would kill us all if they could!” he says in an early issue, fleeing a nuke that he’s primed to destroy a small country he’s just tried to conquer. “We fight only in self defense!”

It’s a revealing line, but only in retrospect. The original incarnation of X-Men, canceled due to low sales in 1970, was essentially a rough draft; so was its lead villain. In 1975, Chris Claremont, a young Anglo-American Jewish writer, inherited a freshly reinvented X-Men comic and set about turning the book into a much more explicit metaphor about persecution.

Magneto, he realized, needed an overhaul. Trying to work out where the character’s ranting antipathy toward humanity might have come from, Claremont—who’d kicked around on a socialist kibbutz in Israel among Holocaust survivors four years before he got the job—made a change that utterly redefined the character: He tied Magneto’s origins and explosive rage to the German death camps. “I remember my own childhood—the gas chambers at Auschwitz, the guards joking as they herded my family to their death,” the villain recalls during his big return in 1981’s X-Men #150. “As our lives were nothing to them, so human lives became nothing to me.”

While initially playing coy about whether Magneto was explicitly Jewish, Claremont wasn’t quite able to stop himself from implying it, either. From the beginning, Israel and Israeli politics are woven through Claremont’s conception of the character. Menachem Begin, founder of Israel’s right-wing Likud party and a former terrorist who masterminded the lethal 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, was an explicit inspiration. In a later issue, Claremont establishes that Magneto and Professor X are old friends who had first met in Haifa after World War II. There, as Jewish militants were waging open war against both the British Mandate and their Palestinian neighbors, the two sparred genially over whether oppressed mutants should pursue Xavier’s liberal integrationism or something more violent. “Mutants will not go meekly into the gas chambers,” Magneto tells Xavier. “We will fight, and we will win.”

The narrative substitution here is deft but familiar—tie the cartoonish supremacist to monumental tragedy, and render him more human. But there were other undercurrents here. Throughout the midcentury, the Holocaust went largely unspoken of in America and Europe, and was a source of pity and embarrassment in Israel. Even as Claremont took over X-Men, however, a new Holocaust memory culture took shape at home and abroad, fueled by a powerful surge of expansionist Israeli nationalism. The spectacle of Israel’s rendition and trial of (arguable) Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann in 1961 resurfaced the issue. Wars in 1967 and 1973 against coalitions of Arab nations led by Egypt, which effectively destroyed the Labor party’s long dominance in Israeli politics, left the state awash both in the heady rush of military conquest and a siege mentality. In America, Jewish organizations—rattled by the Arab wars and perhaps not immune to the “white ethnic revival” that emerged in reaction to the civil rights movement—began tying themselves ever more closely to political Zionism.

In this context, the slogan “Never Again,” popularized in English by the American-born Jewish supremacist and terrorist Meir Kahane in 1971, became a common rallying cry among American Jews and Israelis alike. Many understood it to have a specific meaning: Never again for Jews. Such circumstances favored the rise of men like Begin, who took over as Israeli Prime Minister in 1977 and invaded Lebanon to attack the PLO in 1982; the war left Beirut a smoking ruin and tens of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese dead. Begin was among the first Israeli leaders to seek justification in the Holocaust, both for the invasion of Lebanon—“Believe me, the alternative to this is Treblinka, and we have decided that there will not be another Treblinka,” he said before the war—and his vision of Israel’s identity. To him, Palestinians and other Arabs were the new Nazis, Palestinian political leader Yasser Arafat the new Hitler, and the next genocide forestalled only by Israeli walls and guns.

Yet Begin appealed to Claremont as a model not simply for his terrorist past, but also for his participation in the 1978 Camp David Accords that brought peace with Egypt, which won him a statesman’s reputation. Over the course of the writer’s run, the regretful Magneto increasingly sought to distance himself from his 1960s behavior, first—in Uncanny X-Men #200—by agreeing to stand trial for his crimes, and then by taking over Xavier’s school in the professor's absence, teaching his students, and furthering his integrationist goals. Whatever his reservations, the old supremacist terrorist would try to pursue liberalism and coexistence.

Unfortunately, Begin proved a more apt model than Claremont had intended. By the end of the 1980s, Marvel editorial mandated that Magneto turn heel again, a decision that played a large part in driving Claremont off the book. In the absence of the writer that redefined him, Magneto became an increasingly unstable antagonist, spending a good chunk of ‘90s X-Men comics manipulated, insane, or in a coma—but always at war against the non-mutant world. In one 1999-2000 arc, the supervillain bullied the UN into granting him a mutant nation on the fictional island of Genosha, the refugee population of which he soon sought to turn into a conquering army. If the root of Claremont’s reinvention could not be wholly ignored, it bubbled out in Magneto’s bristling paranoia and monomaniacal focus on mutant power and safety, with ugly hints of eliminationism underneath. Here was “Never Again” framed as the blind pursuit of power and the false safety of the preemptive strike.

In 2001’s New X-Men, Scottish writer Grant Morrison mined that queasy space for maximum discomfort. That run, a barn-burning 2001 attempt to reinvigorate the series in the wake of the blockbuster 2000 X-Men film, begins by re-staging the Holocaust in grand sci-fi scale, with mutant-killing robots wiping out the 16 million mutants of the mutant nation of Genosha, Magneto seemingly among them. The terrorist became a martyr, and the island’s ruins a monument to his memory. Disaffected students at Xavier’s school don Che-like T-shirts emblazoned with his face and the slogan “Magneto Was Right.”

And then, in “Planet X,” the penultimate arc of the comic, Magneto returns and wrecks it all. Having infiltrated the Xavier school under a false identity, he subverts students into terrorists, badly thrashes many of the X-Men, and turns Manhattan into a death camp for humans before the team finally kills him.

“What people often forget, of course, is that Magneto, unlike the lovely Sir Ian McKellen [who played him in the blockbuster], is a mad old terrorist twat,” Morrison once said. “No matter how he justifies his stupid, brutal behavior, or how anyone else tries to justify it, in the end he's just an old bastard.” It’s as thorough a rejection of the Claremont model as could be imagined. Morrison’s Magneto is a frightening but strangely feeble presence. His own propaganda of power and grievance—it’s literalized as a sentient power-boosting drug because, hey, it’s comics—leaves him utterly unconnected from reality. He’s reduced to ranting on a rooftop to a crowd that can’t hear him, while marching the humans of New York into abattoirs. “This all started as politics and freedom,” one of his students says in dawning horror. “When did we all turn into such total Nazis?”

When indeed? Magneto’s broader heel turn coincided with a shift among some Jews, who began to regard the trajectory of the Jewish state—by then expansionist, swaggering, increasingly adept at leveraging the sympathies and shames of Europe and America—with a troubled eye. Survivors of Auschwitz with deep emotional ties to Israel, like Jean Améry and Primo Levi, nonetheless condemned the torture of Arabs in Israeli prisons and the Jewish supremacism behind Begin’s rise. In a clear-eyed 1980 column, the Israeli writer Boaz Evron dissected the ways that Israeli politicians increasingly bent the Holocaust to their own purposes, as a means of policing diaspora politics and excusing their own nationalist policies. That management created in the Israeli consciousness “a peculiar moral blindness,” Evron observed: an ideological framework that set Jews as a whole (embodied, in their view, by Israel) outside of humanity—eternally hated, eternally feared, permitted everything and forbidden nothing. Orthodox polymath and theologian Yeshayahu Leibowitz was more strident still, warning throughout the 1990s that adherence to Israeli nationalism was corrupting global Judaism as a whole, a position that led him to eventually decry the “Nazification of Israeli society.”

That is half? I noped out after a paragraph or two.

It reminds me of the scene in A River Runs Through It, where the kid brings up his assignment and the dad says, "good now half as long", and the kid redoes it.

It was interesting. Why'd you nope out?

Defector lets you give out gift links for blogs. Here's the full thing.

Robear wrote:

It was interesting. Why'd you nope out?

Just the length, not the content.
I feel a bit bad but we live in a 40 character type world.

farley3k wrote:
Robear wrote:

It was interesting. Why'd you nope out?

Just the length, not the content.
I feel a bit bad but we live in a 40 character type world.

That's literally the in-between point of using pop culture as a metaphor to describe current events to simply just saying "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra."

Holocaust Survivor's POWERFUL Message to Gaza Protesters

iaintgotnopants wrote:

Defector lets you give out gift links for blogs. Here's the full thing.

Having read it, I'm picturing Marvel firing the first person who floats the idea of giving Magneto a Netanyahu arc.

We told them they could do anything and we would support them...so they did.

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IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/nDbvVXN.jpeg)

Horrifying. But not a surprise.

Questions in rocket-hit Sderot over whether IDF can ever destroy Hamas

The two men, faces blurred and voices disguised, are screened by a dense scrub of fig and trailing vine and thorns in northern Gaza as they film themselves loading a rocket launcher.

It is daylight and the fighters, wearing civilian clothes, work quickly and calmly, the sound of fighting audible around them as they prepare the weapon in less than a minute. Metal scrapes on metal as four missiles are slotted into tubes and wires connected to a red timer for launch against the nearby Israeli border city of Sderot and neighbouring communities.

Posted on social media by the Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the footage appears to show missiles being prepared for an attack last week that damaged a storage shed in a neighbourhood of low villas lining narrow streets.

In neighbourhoods of Sderot such as the one hit last week, it is hard to escape the consequences of the strikes. Damage is visible where rockets have struck walls or punched through red-tiled roofs, blue sheeting patching one badly damaged building.

Six months into Israel’s war against Hamas, a conflict that has levelled whole neighbourhoods in Gaza and killed 34,000 Palestinians in the coastal territory, Sderot is still being hit.

While the city’s residents have long experience of rocket fire coming out of Gaza, the return to the situation that existed before the 7 October Hamas attack, which killed 70 people in the neighbourhood, is causing anxiety.

The continued targeting of Sderot, long held up by Israeli leaders and officials as a security bellwether, has raised questions among Israelis about the war and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, repeated promise of a “total victory” against Hamas and other groups.

If Sderot has been here before, it is because when the threat of rockets fired from Gaza emerged almost a quarter of a century ago, it was one of the principal targets.

In those days, organised tours would take visiting politicians and journalists to see what life in Sderot was like under “grad” fire, to see remnants of rockets in the media centre housed in a converted bungalow, and observe the damage done. The city, the guides would explain, was the “bomb shelter capital of the world”.

Today, those bomb shelters remain on every street, many painted with gaudy murals. All that has changed is that, in the aftermath of 7 October, many are now equipped with doors that can be locked from the inside, evidence that the threat, far from lessening, has developed.

And while rocket alerts have dropped significantly since the high point of the first weeks of the war, the threat has far from disappeared.

In the past two months alone 70 rockets have been fired towards the Sderot region, including several attacks in the past week.

Significantly, the rockets that targeted Sderot, Ashkelon, and Ashdod last week were fired not from Rafah, where Israeli leaders are threatening a new offensive, but from northern Gaza, whose distant ruins are visible from the edge of the city.

The rocket fire led to an IDF announcement that it was preparing to raid two neighbourhoods in Beit Lahia, the site of the rocket launches.

This week a steady stream of tour groups came to view the site of Sderot’s now demolished police station, taken over briefly by Hamas gunmen on 7 October. A poster promised a memorial would be built there and flags were tied to the tangles of rebar still sticking from the ground.

Among the visitors were Lisa and Eli Ovadia, from Petah Tikva, a sprawling central city immediately adjacent to Tel Aviv.

“It’s still not safe here,” Lisa said. “It needs to be made safe. And if Sderot is not safe, then Israel is not safe.”

“It will never be made safe until Hamas is destroyed,” Eli added. “We need to go into Rafah and kill every last Hamasnik.”

Eli was sceptical that Israel had the international support for a ground incursion. “Biden won’t let us finish the job,” he said.

Others have suggested, in interviews with Israeli media, that a push by the authorities to get people to return to Sderot, including financial incentives, was driving the renewed efforts to hit the city.

“I have a bad intuition,” Oshrat Hazot told Israel’s Channel 12 while packing in Tel Aviv to return last month. “I feel that when we go back there, everything will start again because Hamas knows that they [the Israeli government] set us a return date.”

The bigger question for many is whether the IDF’s objective of completely destroying Hamas is an achievable goal. Recent polling suggests a majority of Israelis think the likelihood is “fairly low” or “very low”.

That sentiment was backed by an assessment by US intelligence agencies, released in March.

“Israel probably will face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come,” the report stated, “and the military will struggle to neutralise Hamas’s underground infrastructure, which allows insurgents to hide, regain strength and surprise Israeli forces.”

Israeli officials recently told the New York Times that about 3,000-4,000 Hamas fighters were still present in the areas of northern Gaza closest to Sderot, despite Israel’s claims to have completed major combat operations there.

Michael Milshtein, from the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, believes that while a lot of Hamas’s offensive military capacity has been degraded, the “catch-22” facing Israeli security policy is that without a full Israeli occupation, for which there is no political will or international support, Israel will be forced to confront the threat of Hamas in Gaza.

“There has been a reset,” Milshtein said. But what is clear is that the reset is not a return to the pre-rocket days. “We can’t erase Hamas. It has not gone away. It has suffered dramatic damage. But it will be around for dozens of years to come.”

Outside one of Sderot’s strip malls, a man emerged carrying a toddler. He did not want to give his name but said he had returned a month before from staying with his wife’s family. “It’s strange being back here. We’re still at war. At night you can hear guns in the distance. They are still shooting rockets at us.”

In his wine shop, Yoav Buskila described how the outlook of those living and working in Sderot had changed since 7 October. “We lived with the rockets for 20 years,” the 61-year-old said. “And we accepted it. But now something has to change. We need a big war that finishes Hamas.”

I mean, I think it's pretty obviously clear that the goal of "destroying" Hamas is impossible, primarily shown through the fact that Israel has rescued, what, maybe 5 hostages as a result of military action?

Prederick wrote:

I mean, I think it's pretty obviously clear that the goal of "destroying" Hamas is impossible, primarily shown through the fact that Israel has rescued, what, maybe 5 hostages as a result of military action?

And killed how many as a result of military action? There's 2 we know of.

It's pretty clear that this isn't about destroying Hamas or rescuing hostages.