There is an unspoken assumption that underlies most of the reporting from the area since Israel withdrew form the Gaza strip. That assumption is that, like the scorpion who kills the frog and thus drowns, Hamas and the Gazans must attack Israel with their rockets because "its their nature." In this conception, Hamas cannot possibly want war because it would devastate Gaza, kill many innocent Palestinians, and destroy Hamas's power base. There may be some truth to this, but it is always worth considering, when an escalation takes place, cui bono?, who benefits?
The Middle East has always been an incredibly complex web of interconnecting moving parts. An action in one area often has reverberations elsewhere in the region. Most often the connections are hidden; this is facilitated by a compliant, easily manipulated and managed press, and an incurious West.
In the Middle East, trends lines emerge, meander about, and intersect unexpectedly. It is certainly possible that any impending war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza will be triggered by a successful terror attack on Sderot or Ashkelon in Southern Israel. Hamas fires rockets into Southern Israel which have no guidance system and strike randomly with the goal of killing as many Israelis as possible. The only reason war has not yet occurred is because the Gazan terrorists are inept. Yet as they increase the number of rockets fired and acquire and use more sophisticated rockets (from their patrons in Iran) with greater range and accuracy the likelihood of Israeli casualties increases. Even Hamas must know that there is a relatively low threshold for an Israeli response, up to and including an incursion and re-occupation of Gaza. Why would Hamas risk such a move at this time? Is it just that with their recent opening of the border with Egypt, they now have the means to escalate? Does Hamas and Iran leave their foreign policy up to the vagaries of random rocket attacks? I doubt it. Which means that Iran and Hamas must want war.
The government of Ehud Olmert, which gives the impression of conducting foreign policy in an ad hoc basis with minimal strategic vision, are willing to oblige:
As Hamas drew Ashkelon into the circle of communities coming under heavy rocket attacks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Foreign Ministry on Thursday began preparing both Israeli and world opinion for the possibility of a large-scale incursion into Gaza.