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Anyone who doubted Ehud Olmert's resolution to go on to the end - this time - or who hoped or feared a ceasefire in a few days, must have been corrected by the Israeli announcement that reservists have been recalled to arms. No country calls reservists to arms unless it envisages a long campaign.

Israel has so far had two unexpected allies - General Winter and Russia. While the pro-Hamas media tried to stir up the usual wave of worldwide condemnation, Europe as a whole was more concerned with the coldest winter in years and with Russian economic warfare via denial of gas supplies. This had several consequences. First, the usual headlines about Israeli atrocities have been swept off most front pages by stories about European cities freezing and missing Russian supplies. Second, as a result, the obviously co-ordinated round of worlwide demos against Israel drew rather fewer Europeans/Americans/locals than had been expected, and turned into almost entirely Muslim affairs, with a few particularly obstinate local extremists sticking to it. As a result, they have been of a violence, a viciousness, and an explicit Jew-bashing odiousness, that the West had forgotten, and have done the jihadi cause nothing but harm. Even the BBC had to broadcast news of a gang of thugs savaging the quiet Jewish London quarter of Golders Green (which I know well). Third, it reminded Europe in particular of the unpleasant nature of depending on an enemy for energy supplies, which is indirectly bad news for the oil monopolies.

The call for a ceasefire has been thoroughly mishandled. Its proponents obviously hoped that the Lebanon 2006 script would be followed, but they had neglected one crucial point: when the call for a ceasefire went up in 2006, it started from Hezbollah. Nasrallah and his people were more than willing to stop fighting. Even so, the ceasefire nearly failed - what nobody remembers was that, at the time, Sarkozy sabotaged it at the decisive moment by refusing to send French troops under UN flags to Lebanon, until the Italian prime minister Prodi offered Italian troops instead. Prodi is now out of power, and the current PM, Berlusconi, has absolutely no desire to offer any more jihadi rescue packages. The point is however that Hamas have shown no interest whatever in any kind of ceasefire. The effort at replaying 2006 were therefore doomed; Israel was able to say a firm no in its turn, and the USA were able to allow the Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire to go through in the certainty that it would remain a dead letter. Indeed, the shameful collapse of the ceasefire resolution may well be of advantage to the USA, in that it diminishes further the UN's credibility and effectiveness.

The London branch of Hamas' outreach and public relations department - otherwise known as the BBC - never reports the numbers of Israeli losses, even though much of Hamas propaganda elsewhere hinges on the supposed "disproportion" between Israeli and Hamas losses. For this, I think, there is an excellent reason. The drip-drip-drip of small but steady losses would be too reminiscent to the British public of their own mission in Afghanistan, which most Britons support and which the BBC does not (yet?) dare openly attack. This is a mission against as vicious and uncivilized an enemy as Britain have faced in seventy years, and the BBC does not want to do anything that underlines that Israel in Gaza and Britain in Helmand are dealing with basically the same opponents, by the same means.
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