As anyone who could read the handwriting on the wall, it was expected that israel would beat a retreat from Gaza at the 11 hour before the Bush presidency would expire. It declared a cease fire. Hamas said that it would give Jerusalem a week to live by the terms of its own withdrawl. Israel has more to fear from the new American president than it does from Hamas. It has much cottong to threat if it parsed Barack Obama's inauguration speech; for the first international issue that Mr. Obama spoke of was improving relations with the Arab world. It was an announcement that the US would take a more even handed approach towards Israel, say along the lines of George HW Bush.
In the Israeli daily 'Ha'artez' [20 Jan 2009], the writer David Grossman summed up Israel's trail of death and destruction in Gaza: his message can best be summed up in the old saying, 'might doesn't make right'. Israel's 3 week war in Gaza was predicated on visiting as much sock and awe and terror on a population which voted Hamas into office. Ingenuous as Jerusalem's statement that it had invited the Palestinian civilian population to flee the war, Israel kept the borders firmly closed. Thus the civilians were cut between a rock and a hard place. Prime minister Olmert's apologies to Gazans that Israel meant no harm to civilian Palestinians does not pass the test of what actually happened from the air and on the ground. Here, we're in the land of Orwell's 'newspeak'. Jerusalem's 'blitzkrieg' targeted public buildings, schools, universities, libraries, mosques, and houses, thereby making the civilian population pay with its lives and and its property; its purpose was plein enough: to bomb Gaza almost back to the year zero so that Palestinians would rise up and overthrow Hamas. Which despite recrimination, they didn't do, but bonded more firmly with it.
Israel introduced ground troops late in the fighting; they hardly engaged Hamas, but continued the work which bombs couldn't complete, and tried to complete the physical destruction of Gaza's infrastructure. The Israeli government broke rules of civilised behaviour; it did it with impunity. For whom would bring it to account before the international court of justice in the Hague? Yet by posing the question in no way absolves Olmert, Livni, Barka, Peres & co from the weight of their crimes. The Bush administration shares in the blame through acts of omission and commission.