To any casual observer, the current flare-up in the Middle East looks depressingly familiar. Yet again missiles fired at Israel's cities. Yet again Israeli forces hitting at the Gaza Strip, home to two million Palestinians. As always, innocent civilians get caught in the crossfire. And everyone knows that the outcome to the current fighting can only be another stalemate, leaving both sides just enough time to regroup, rearm and get ready for the next round.
Yet behind this cyclical misery, each such flare-up changes the Middle East in small but profound ways that become apparent only as time goes by. The present showdown between Israel and the Hamas militant group is no exception.