UK & World News
Sinister Edge To Israel's Divisions Over Gaza
Five years ago I covered Operation Cast Lead, the precursor to Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza. This week I went back for the latest sequel and its aftermath.
Some things were different, but depressingly despite the passage of the time, many things were the same.
This time the Israelis allowed the world's media into Gaza, rather than keeping them out and stuck on one hill overlooking the coastal strip.
Israel's Iron Dome system has made them better at shooting down Hamas rockets. Hamas has become more effective at killing Israeli soldiers and firing longer range rockets.
But, more broadly speaking, the fundamentals haven't changed.
It was another futile exchange of missiles across the Gaza border with massive loss of civilian life inside the strip, ending in a stalemate that both sides know means they will be at it again before long.
Israel prides itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East.
It's always been a vibrant rambunctious democracy with room for sharp differences and fierce argument. Israelis would have it no other way.
But there's been a sinister edge to the divisions thrown up by this war that seems new.
Protest has always played an important role in Israeli political life. For the first time they were accompanied with violent counter protest.
Leftist groups taking to the squares of Tel Aviv to protest against the war were set upon by nationalist thugs, hurling abuse, spitting and in some cases assaulting the demonstrators.
The police in some cases intervened to protect the victims but not always in time.
The Israelis were shown little of what British news audiences saw every night on their television screens of the carnage in Gaza. And there was little criticism.
One journalist who dared speak out against that consensus received death threats so serious his newspaper has been forced to hire him a bodyguard.
Left-wing journalist Gideon Levy broke an Israeli taboo by using his column in Haaretz newspaper to criticise the Israeli Air Force pilots bombing civilian homes in Gaza while trying to kill Hamas fighters.
The backlash on the streets has left him stunned.
There are parts of Tel Aviv he no longer visits because of the abuse he can expect from the public. On Facebook, people warned him he could soon be the "late Gideon Levy".
The response to his article baffles him. He says: "I try to raise my voice, which is quite a lonely voice here, and I really wonder why do they freak out so much.
"The majority is so clear. The media is speaking so much in one voice, why does one single voice in one single newspaper (matter)?"
Levy views it as a dangerous development in a country that has long regarded its liberal democracy as one of its greatest assets.
"Above all, it worries me about the future because I'm not sure that this is reversible.
"I'm very worried that this lack of tolerance towards any kind of critics in times of war might turn also into a lack of tolerance for any minority and any criticism in times of peace."
Opinion polls suggest Israel has moved further to the right during the war and were an election to be held today politicians on the right would benefit.
That has implications for whatever is left of hopes for the two-state solution to the conflict.
Danny Danon, a rising star of the right, was fired from his job of Deputy Defence Minister for accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being too soft during the conflict. But he remains a powerful force in the ruling Likud party.
Israel should have stayed in Gaza and finished the job, Danon believes.
And the events of recent weeks, he says, are further grounds for rejecting the idea of a Palestinian state.
"I don't want to see a terror state in my backyard," he told me.
"If we were to allow a Palestinian state today to be evolved in Judea Samaria it's only a matter of time until Hamas will take over in Judea and Samaria, so you do a copy and paste to what is happening today in Gaza into Judea and Samaria."
Many people have reservations about the idea of a two-state solution, though for wildly diverging reasons.
It is still the only peace plan in town but many here and some in Western governments fear its time has already come and gone.
William Hague told me the window of opportunity for the creation of a Palestinian state was closing more than three years ago.
When I asked him about that 18 months later he said some windows close slower than others.
Publicly, policymakers may still support the idea but they sound less and less convincing and less and less convinced.
The problem is no one else seems to have a clue what to do instead.
Mr Danon's plan is for a three-state solution.
Egypt takes some kind of responsibility for Gaza, which it will not want. Jordan does the same for the West Bank, as if the addition of more than a million Palestinians to those already within its borders would be welcome.
And all Israeli settlements on occupied land stay with Israel leaving a Bantustan network of isolated Palestinian towns and villages.
Serious attempt to address the interests and needs of 2.5 million people or Zionist fantasy? You take your pick.
There are several other imaginative solutions, none of them likely to fly with Palestinians or the international community.
And without the support of either, peace will not come, which means a lot more of what we've seen in the last few weeks.