A Whole New World for Israel vs. Hamas

Technical advances, Arab Spring make this a new fight.

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Now, Israel is once again considering a ground campaign following the seven days of rocket attacks it launched on Gaza as a part of Operation Pillar of Defense. The Israeli parliament voted to call up 70,000 reservists on Nov. 20.

This most recent offensive measure is in response to an increased barrage of rocket attacks from Hamas in recent weeks, the government says. Others believe the fighting is an extension of other incidents, such as the supposed military installation that exploded in Sudan in October. It was a known stop for Iranian arms shipments through Egypt to the Gaza Strip. Israel did not claim credit for what U.S. analysts later determined was an aerial attack, but Iran shortly afterward docked two warships at the Sudanese coast.

[READ: Israel Attacks Gaza, Kills Hamas Military Chief]

"There's more of a perception in the U.S. and the West that what's going on is not an Israeli-Palestine conflict, but actually a proxy war with Iran. This highlighted the Iranian approach to Gaza in a way the West cannot ignore," Rubin says.

Previously, regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt did not mind boxing Hamas in, fearing the radical group could upset stability in the region, according to a Stratfor report. This changed before the 2008 conflict between Israel and Hamas, when Iran saw an opportunity to foster a "militant proxy" and began shipping arms through the tunnel network.

"Building up a stronger militant proxy network in the Palestinian territories was the logical next step in Tehran's efforts to keep a check on Israeli threats to strike the Iranian nuclear program," according to the report.

"Hamas would not be able to strike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem [in 2012] with long-range rockets had it not been for Iran," the report says, "which supplied these rockets through Sudan and trained Palestinian operatives on how to assemble them in Gaza."

Whether Tuesday's ceasefire can be effective remains be seen.

"Both sides want to save face and climb down," says Byman.

"The question is whether Hamas will be able to claim any sort of victory," Rubin says, adding that a ceasefire is less of a temporary peace for Hamas as it is a chance to rearm.

Israel will likely keep fighting unless it can find assurances that the tunnels into Gaza will be monitored, he says.

"I don't see any peace here," he says. "As long as the Iranians are going to supply Hamas, I don't think Hamas is going to stop."

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  • Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at pshinkman@usnews.com.