The Israeli President, when recently asked about Israeli's response to rocket attacks by Hamas, said that when would it become disproportionate, after ten rockets, hundred rockets or a thousand rockets. Well its therefore normal to ask the question when will the Israeli Defense Force understand that they have killed one, two, ten, or a hundred children too many and then they can say the objective of silencing rockets will be achieved. I know many readers will find this offensive for me to say, but quite frankly for Israeli's to allow their government and army to kill so many civilians in Gaza is pure and simple genocide. I am not for one moment saying that Hamas firing rockets was fine, in my eyes both acts of violence are wrong and misplaced. However, it has always seemed to me that Hamas have been always shooting these rockets more to bolster their own image amongst their own people rather than really inflict any serious damage on Israeli citizens, considering not one person was killed in these attacks. The issue of who started this war first will never be resolved and it can be traced back to decades if not centuries. The issue is that both sides need to understand that innocent people are dying and there is not other way about seeing this.
As for the outcome of the Gaza invasion there will obviously be a weakening of Hamas, perhaps even their removal from the power structure, and they may return to more underground tactics. However, it is still not clear whethere Hamas has been marginalized enough by the current invasion for Palestinians in Gaza to actually reject them. Perhaps if the effect of the invasion was actually dead Hamas fighters rather the children and civilians then perhaps the ensuing discomfort of a military occupation would make Gazans realize that indeed the problem is the Hamas. However, at the moment the Israeli overhanded brutality has meant that Gazans relate their suffering directly to the Israeli invasion and not the actions of the Hamas. Eventually a stalemate will be achieved when Israel will realize the Hamas fighters they went after actually got away, or were not as badly effected as hoped for and then perhaps an honorable withdrawal will be done.
A wider war is not possible mainly because the Arab countries have either feebly condemned the invasion or in the case of Hosni Mubarak's Egypt and the Palestinian Authorities Mahmmod Abbass actually blamed the Hamas for their own political motives. If the string is drawn to when the rocket attacks started then yes Hamas is to be blamed, if the string is to be drawn further back then Israel, and to some extent Egypt's, controlled blockade of the Gaza strip are perhaps the starting point for this round of conflict. Either way, the issue remains that a wider war cannot be possible given Israel's military might, and the Arab leaderships inability to even agree to switch off the oil tap for one hour. (not that oil embargoes bring any solutions).
A Hamas defeat? Well on one side one could argue that how do you militarily defeat an army that tends to dissolve into society when it chooses too. This is not some large standing army with armored tanks and planes. So in the sense of a military defeat of Hamas its more likely that they will be weakened and perhaps politically out flanked but defeated seems a bit hard to see given the nature of this movement.
Overall the Palestinians and the Israelis have a sorry story to tell for themselves. Decades of conflict, and not a single step worth mentioning towards peace for their people. While the Palestinian leadership lacks the courage to carve a new deal with Israel based on realities, Israel continues to be an occupier in most of the territory to seized in 1967 and its recent actions in Gaza are shameful and a war crime. So in a sense both sides will continue to behave like criminals and the world leadership doesn't have the conscious or the will to tell them otherwise.