It's no surprise that Israel has struck back at Hamas, but the intensity of the attacks "appeared to stun Western governments and analysts," writes Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post. Barack Obama's camp has remained largely mum so far on the air assaults that have killed more than 200, but it will likely come under pressure to rein in Israel. In the meantime, any hope Obama had of an early Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement has gone up in smoke.
"If the casualty reports are accurate, Hamas is going to respond," said one Mideast scholar. "And this isn't a two- or three-day deal in which the genie is put back in the bottle." Saudi Arabia urged the US to intervene with Israel, but Condoleezza Rice instead blamed Hamas for the new violence. She did not ask Israel to stop its attacks but cautioned against the loss of civilian life.