The recent 22 day war against Hamas touched a nerve with many Israelis, who are not happy with the constant rocket and mortar attacks coming out Gaza, and Hamas insisting that Israel must be destroyed and all Jews killed. So many of the Israeli troops going into Gaza were eager for a little payback. The Israeli army chaplains are a conservative bunch, and told the troops that the battle against Hamas was something of a holy war (because of the virulent anti-Semitic attitudes of Hamas) against a force that was dedicated to destroying Israel. Now the mainstream media has picked up on this and run with the "Israeli soldiers ordered to commit atrocities in Gaza" angle. All this is long on speculation and short on facts, but it sells newspapers, and that's what it's for.
Israel revealed that it has sent warplanes down the Red Sea to attack a convoy of trucks, near the Egyptian border in Sudan, carrying Iranian long range rockets destined for Gaza. Iran brings the rockets (and other weapons) in through Port Sudan, and then trucks them to Egypt. Sudan is an ally of Iran, and thus does not interfere. Egypt is not a friend of Iran, but the border police can be bribed. The January attack destroyed 17 truckloads of weapons, and killed the 39 men operating the vehicles. Since then, the smugglers have resorted to individual trucks, and the use of small boats moving up the Red Sea coast.
Negotiations between Hamas and Israel are stalemated over the release of about a hundred experienced and dedicated terrorists. Israel does not want to let these guys go, because that will result in dead Israelis. A major reason for the terrorist lack of success over the last few years, is the Israeli campaign against the terrorist leaders and technical experts. Hundreds have been killed or captured, and this has crippled the Palestinians terrorism capabilities. Hamas wants to get their terror mojo back by getting a hundred of their major players out of jail.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army is preparing for a second round of fighting in Gaza. With a new Israeli government formed (after the recent elections), decisions on military operations in Gaza can be made. Most Israelis believe that Hamas is beyond redemption, and that the only solution is to go in and do major damage to Hamas in Gaza. The Israelis feel that you can't really negotiate with a group who keeps insisting that the only end game here is the destruction of Israel and the death to all Jews.
March 25, 2009: The Iron Dome anti-rocket system successfully passed a crucial test, and is expected to be in service within the year. Iron Dome can knock down rockets with a range of up to 70 kilometers.
March 22, 2009: Israel now has two NATO members (Canada and Netherlands) are renting Israeli UAVs for their troops in Afghanistan. The big loser here is France, whose Sperwer UAVs have proved disappointing when used in a combat zone.
March 21, 2009: Police found and defused a hundred pound car bomb in the parking lot of a shopping center. The bomb was poorly made, another result of the many years of going after the bomb makers themselves. Police fear that Israeli Arabs were involved in getting the bomb into the crowded parking lot.