What happened
Israel rebuffed calls for a cease-fire and sent thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and helicopter gunships into Gaza over the weekend. The offensive began with air strikes meant to punish Hamas for firing missiles into Israel from Palestinian territory. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
"There is little doubt that Israel is morally justified," said Max Boot in The Wall Street Journal. It had to retaliate against Hamas rocket attacks. But Israel will not wipe out the enemy—that would be "unconscionable"—so once Israeli troops return home, the cycle will just repeat itself.

Wrong, said William Kristol in The New York Times. The conventional wisdom is that Israel is just replaying its 2006 fight against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, where the death and destruction yielded little strategic benefit. But defeating Hamas will show that force can stop terror attacks—and that will send a powerful message to Iran.

Sure, an Israeli victory could significantly reduce the threat from Hamas, said Jim Michaels in USA Today. It could also strengthen more moderate Palestinian leaders. But if Israel fails to achieve its goals, this fight could embolden radical Islamists and boost the prestige of Hamas in the region.

There can be no winner in this fight, said Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu, and Hassan Bin Talal in Lebanon's Daily Star. Dialogue, not violence, is the key to establishing peace in the Middle East. The latest clash is just another obstacle to reconciliation, and it's a dangerous waste of time.

Israel didn't want this war, said The Jerusalem Post in an editorial. But every nation has to show that it will "protect itself when it must." Hopefully, Israel's "reluctant return to Gaza" will deter its enemies from threatening a state that seeks peace.