I knew Gaza well before the attacks, so when Israel ended its ban on foreign journalists reaching Gaza on the day the ceasefire was announced, I was able to see for myself.
One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt.
...For the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference. And the same can be said for the mindset of many of Gaza's 1.5 million residents. Outsiders might have expected some sort of collective anger at the loss of life, or mass outrage at the Hamas authorities whose policy of firing rockets against Israel had brought down the wrath of the Israeli armed forces.
This next paragraph needs to be emphasized:
But I found that, so steeped is the Gazan mindset in the narrative of victimhood, there was no internally-focused groundswell of anger at what had happened. Palestinians in Gaza have felt victims since 1948, when a small number of locals were suddenly swamped by a larger number of refugees, forced to flee land taken by Israel at the creation of the Jewish State. For 60 years they have dwelled on victimhood, a supplicant people grown dependent on foreign aid and reliant on the role Israel plays as the scapegoat for all ills.This is the relevant fact that needs to be addressed for any real peace to ever happen. When one side always blames the other for every problem and loses the ability for introspection, there is no chance that they can change for the better.