Israel Readies for the Counterattack

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RAMALLAH: The only certainty about the death of Hamas leader Mohiyedine Sharif is that his followers will wreak an ugly vengeance on Israeli civilians, says TIME West Bank correspondent Jamil Hamad. Sharif was found dead after a bomb explosion this weekend, but an autopsy discovered that he'd been killed earlier by bullet wounds. "Hamas is accusing Israel and the Palestinian Authority; the Palestinian Authority is blaming Israel; Israel is blaming Palestinians," says Hamad.

With Israel bracing for the inevitable Hamas response, the first casualty, as ever, is the almost moribund peace process. As predictable as the coming cycle of attacks and counter-attacks -- and the consequent breakdown of peace efforts -- may be, no side appears able to rise above the cycle and bring it to a halt. Grounds for optimism are few, says Hamad. "Israelis and Palestinians have by now become accustomed to the fact that they should accept the worst."