[Later reports put the number of dead members of the Samouni clan at 30, in contrast to the original Telegraph report saying "up to 60". In any case, the available evidence suggests that a significant violation of the Laws of Land Warfare was committed by members of the IDF.]
I will be posting an article later in the week analyzing the impact of Gaza on U.S. policy, which is undermined by stories like this one.
Right now the combatants, their sponsors and accomplices are watching the clock. My sense is that Israel and the Bush White House will want the Gaza war brought to a halt prior to the inauguration on January 20th. The Israel/U.S. Endgame is quite transparent by now, which is to say that Hamas will survive as a movement but will be expected to resubordinate itself to the PA and stop the rockets. The border of Gaza and Egypt will be subject to strict and beefed-up controls, and Israel's economic siege of Gaza will be reduced in scope. Given the time that it will take to put monitors in place, respond to the massive humanitarian crisis caused by Israel's air and ground strikes, and bring bring the fighting to an end, Israel will need to wrap up its war in a seven or eight days. The longer Hamas hangs on and the closer we get to January 20th, the lower the likelihood that the I/US Endgame will be satisfied. Hamas has a low hurdle to get across in order not to lose, namely to remain standing, whereas Israel has several high hurdles get over in order to win. Israel's major problem is that in order to defeat Hamas in a week, it is going to have to use brutal tactics, meaning the proportion of civilian casualties will grow. Pressure for a ceasefire will necessary grow in the days to come. Will the U.S. or Israel blink?
For his part, Barack Obama has been silent, but he has indicated that he will have a lot to say as soon as he is inaugurated. If he is serious about reaching out to the Muslim world, there is now way that he will be able to look at the catastrophe in Gaza and pin all the blame on Hamas as the lame duck George Bush has done. If Obama does so, he will simply have mortgaged U.S. foreign policy to Israel's militarism just as his supine predecessor has done so avidly.
Israel strike kills up to 60 members of one family - Telegraph