Depending on who you read or listen to, the Israeli assault on Gaza is either an appropriate means of protecting their citizens and cracking down on Hamas militants who persistently fire rockets into Israel……or an over-reaction in a brutal show of force disproportionate to the threat.

The world’s media have it both ways. Israel has tried to ‘extend the hand of peace and been rejected’, forcing this offensive.

Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters Monday, while “Hamas is looking for children to kill.”

“Hamas is targeting deliberately kindergartens and schools and citizens and civilians because this is according to their values. Our values are completely different. We are trying to target Hamas, which hides among civilians,” Livni said.

Or…the world is rallying around Palestinians and not focusing on the actions of Hamas.

Now, news reports of retaliatory strikes may be referring to either side. And it has become the worst standoff in decades.

One the one hand

A senior Hamas official in Damascus said there is no chance of a new truce with Israel unless all attacks on Gaza cease and the border crossings are reopened.

But on the other…

The Israel Defense Forces said Monday that the battle in Gaza was only beginning, and that “the worst is not behind us — it is still ahead of us” during a briefing to southern communities.

“After this operation there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza,” said IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier-General Dan Harel, according to YnetNews.

Some even say

The harder Hamas is hit the greater the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. If the rockets don’t stop from Gaza, almost no one in Israel will be prepared to relinquish territory from the West Bank that would merely then become a rocket launching site to fire at Israel from.

World leaders are issuing their call for a ceasefire, which can sound pretty futile right now.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on both Israel and Hamas to “halt their acts of violence and take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties”.

“The suffering caused to civilian populations as a result of the large-scale violence and destruction that have taken place over the past few days has saddened me profoundly,” he said.

Pope Benedict made an urgent plea, an impassioned one, and it was more than diplomatic correctness aimed at the two warring parties. Always speaking to the spiritual and moral dimension of humanity, Benedict implored the people of the world to do everything possible to help find a solution to this crisis.

“The Holy Land, which occupies the thoughts and sentiments of faithful around the world during these days of Christmas”, the Holy Father said, “has again seen itself struck by an outbreak of unprecedented violence”.

“I am profoundly saddened by the deaths, the wounded, the material damage, the suffering, and the tears of the peoples victim to this tragic recurrence of attacks and reprisals”.

“The earthly homeland of Jesus”, he exclaimed, “cannot continue being witness to such bloodshed that is repeated without end! I implore an end to the violence, which is to be condemned in all its forms, and the re-establishment of the truce in the Gaza Strip. I ask for a show of humanity and wisdom in all those who have some responsibility in this situation. I ask the international community to do everything possible to help the Israelis and Palestinians out of this dark alley and not to resign themselves – as I said a few days ago in the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ message – to the twisted logic of confrontation and violence, but to give precedence to the path of dialogue and negotiation”.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....