EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The accumulated deterrence achieved in the three previous rounds of wide-scale fighting between Israel and Hamas in 2008-9, 2012, and 2014 has come to a temporary halt. Israel must start preparing for a massive fourth round – a round in which Israel will, one hopes, replicate the cumulative deterrence it scored against the Arab States in 1973. This would mean subjecting Hamas to a threshold of pain sufficiently unbearable to induce it to stop fighting Israel altogether.
The three previous rounds of wide-scale fighting between Israel and Hamas, in 2008-9, 2012, and 2014, can be seen in retrospect as a winning streak for Israel. Every round secured greater deterrence. Before the 2008-9 round, Hamas launched on average 1,000 missiles per year, but that figure declined to 400 between the first and second rounds in 2012, and then to fewer than 250 between 2012 and 2014.
Then, after 2014, “the land became quiet for nearly four years” (in Scriptures, it was usually forty).
Fewer than 80 missiles were launched during that period, most if not all by the wayward Salafi organizations, which is why many of them fell in Gaza itself. There were no casualties and almost no damage from these launchings. The professionals with the real firepower in Gaza – Hamas, the effective ruler of the Strip; and Islamic Jihad – stayed out of the fray.