Israel caught Hamas off guard.  While Hamas reasonably could have expected retaliation for stepped-up missile fire, it did not anticipate the nature of the retaliation — the assassination of the head of Hamas’ military wing and the bombing of numerous long-range missile depots.

The lesson of Lebanon and the prior Gaza conflict is that air power alone cannot stop missiles from being fired by people who hide among civilians.  The international community of thugs and anti-Israeli journalists will scream about Israeli retaliation, so Israel always has only a very short window to inflict decisive damage on the ground.

That short window is gone.  This analysis at DEBKAfile is spot on, For Israel, a truce is the worst of all worlds: Tied hands, Hamas unbowed:

Jerusalem, Cairo and Gaza were all waiting for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to arrive Tuesday night, Nov. 20, for tying up the ends of a Gaza ceasefire accord. Until then, Israel held back from its approval and the Palestinians were hurling as many deadly missiles as they could.

DEBKAfile’s analysts say that by giving in to international pressure for a ceasefire, Israel’s leaders Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would show they have failed to learn from their predecessors’ mistakes in ending the last two wars against terrorists inconclusively and prematurely.

After those wars, Israeli civilians were again thrust into the front line against missiles. In 2006, it was the population of northern Israel; in 2012, a million people living in southern Israel are in this intolerable predicament. And after Hamas’s rockets reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for this first time in this round of Palestinian missile aggression, the next round will no doubt spill over into the central Israeli heartland as well.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and reservists were meanwhile held on the Gaza border in suspense for a ground incursion. They stood there and watched as the missiles flew over their heads to explode in their towns and villages and in Cairo, the politicians wrangled over an early ceasefire….

 They had gone along with Obama’s devolution of the ceasefire brokerage effort on three avowed foes of the Jewish state: Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood; Erdogan who keeps on slamming Israel as “a terrorist state;” and the Qatari ruler, who is bankrolling Hamas’s purchases of sophisticated weapons smuggled out of Libya.