But if war isn't the answer, why do the bombs and rockets continue to fly?
Nathan J. Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, said each side suspects the other of playing domestic politics.
"Palestinians fear that the Israeli government is making war with an eye to upcoming elections. Israelis suspect that Hamas -- whose full name is the "Islamic Resistance Movement" -- is lobbing rockets because it is tired of its rivals' taunting that it is not living up to its middle name," said Brown, who has authored six books on Middle East politics.
There is some truth to these charges, Brown said, but both sides have other goals in mind.
"The Israelis know that they cannot dislodge Hamas from Gaza without unacceptable cost and endless occupation. But they want to punish the movement so severely that it will be deterred from future violence," he said. "Hamas knows that the damage it inflicts serves no strategic value, but it hopes that its rockets will cause dislocation and even panic in Israel and send an international message that Gaza cannot be ignored."