The fact that the Israeli elections are just around the corner (January) isn’t something that’s been emphasized enough in mainstream media coverage of the Gaza strikes. As this Daily Beast piece points out, there are internal political reasons why Israeli leadership could’ve been inclined to break the ceasefire:
Israel has tried assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades but the resistance persists. Israel launched a devastating and brutal war on Gaza from 2008 to 2009 killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, but the resistance persists.
Why, then, would Israel choose to revert to a failed strategy that will undoubtedly only escalate the situation? Because it is far easier for politicians to lie to voters, vilify their adversaries, and tell them ‘we will hit them hard’ than to come clean and say instead, ‘we’ve failed and there is no military solution to this problem.’
With Israeli elections around the corner, the right-wing Israeli government chose the counter-productive path of escalation even though civilians would pay the price and their domestic opposition rallied behind them.
Trading bodies for ballots is an equation Israeli leaders are happy to be engaged in, especially since all the ballots are Israeli and the bodies are almost always Palestinian.
This is an assessment echoed by The New Statesman, which points out that a similar flareup of violence happened prior to an Israeli election in 2008:
The parallels with Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza in late 2008 are clear. Then, around 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed in a bloody, 22-day offensive that Israel launched just after Obama was sworn-in as president and just before an Israeli election. Yesterday, Zehava Galon, who chairs Israel’s left-wing Meretz party, described the Israeli government as: “A team of pyromaniacs that want to cause war on the eve of elections.” The assessment is that prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his defence minister Ehud Barak are showing some of the forceful leadership that Israelis seem to love at the ballot box. War, or course, removes other issues – such as rising social discontent – from the campaign agenda for elections taking place in late January 2013. Now Israeli politicians of all the main parties are backing Netanyahu’s strikes on Gaza – to do otherwise, when the war drums are beating, would be tantamount to treason and an electoral turn-off…
Unfortunately, western media outlets almost uniformly focus on Israeli casualties, ignoring the fact that when violence erupts in the occupied territories, many more Palestinians are injured and killed. This skewed coverage plays into the ability of Israeli leadership to portray Israel as the victim rather than the instigator of clashes. And as anyone who was paying attention in the weeks after 9/11 can attest, nothing can rally a population around a president or prime minister faster than the feeling that the country is under attack.