Not surprisingly in this decades-long conﬂict, either option is as probable as the other. In the very immediate future the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is under threat. He is in imminent danger of losing both his positions as Likud Party chairman and as Prime Minister. If this happens the Knesset is likely to call new parliamentary elections, producing months of inward-looking Israeli political strife.
The ﬁnal sunset over the small beachfront settlement of Shirat Hayam was breathtaking, a red ball of ﬁre sinking rapidly into a deep blue sea. But the residents of the doomed community were not at leisure to enjoy their last chance to see the spectacle from their Gaza homes. The handful who had not been dragged, kicking and screaming, onto buses heading out of the occupied Gaza Strip had barricaded themselves behind barbed wire on a rooftop in a last-ditch attempt to defy the might of the Israeli military.