Why did Hamas start this war...
The Australian knows why...
It may be that Hamas gravely miscalculated Israel's resolve, and its own ability to inflict casualties on Israeli soldiers. But why did Hamas want such an Israeli response in the first place?
The answer is to have Israel painted again as the international villain. It also wanted to inflame Islamic opinion. In this it has succeeded. Even in moderate Islamic majority states such as Indonesia and Malaysia, Israel has been demonised in recent weeks. In the Arab world it is much worse. It is true that the leaders of key Arab nations, such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, fear the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a branch, and fear Iran, which sponsors Hamas, much more than they hate Israel. Therefore their response to Israel's action was moderate. But this was only possible because there is no democracy in the Arab Middle East. In democratic Turkey the Prime Minister had to engineer a public confrontation with Shimon Peres. A number of the smaller Gulf states have been awash with virulent anti-Israel hatred. This all has something like the effect Hamas wants.
Hamas's goals and motivation are theological and filled with sectarian hatred and anti-Semitism. If you doubt this just google the Hamas charter and read gems such as: "The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: 'The (end of days) will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!"'
Hamas has engaged in countless atrocities against Palestinians it doesn't like. It has murdered many Fatah men, but the media subjects this behaviour to very little scrutiny. Hamas is somehow accepted as just a force of nature, not held morally responsible for its actions.
Even if Hamas has been partly discredited by this conflict, the wider ideology of Islamist jihad, under various brands, has currency in the Palestinian population, and among the Shiites of southern Lebanon.
So Hamas has absolutely no desire to negotiate a peaceful Palestinian state living in neighbourly quiet next to Israel. Hamas, and many Palestinians, have effectively abandoned the two-state solution. They instead have a long-term demographic strategy. In 1950, there were 240,000 Gazans, Now there are 1.5 million. By 2040 there will be three million. Eventually, they believe, they will swamp Israel with sheer numbers. And they will never let Israel be free of responsibility for them, either by an association with Egypt, which is what Israel tried to achieve by its withdrawal in 2005, or by becoming an independent state at peace.