If you follow Middle Eastern politics you couldn't have missed the rising tension over here in the past few months. For a while Israel remained relatively calm even with the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and the changes in Jordan, Oman, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the current situation, we are now also part of the rising tension. (although, if you read BBC or CNN you might not know this because they have chosen not to report on the dramatic increase in rockets for the first time since Cast Lead two years ago)
Many are/were nervous that there would be another "Palestinian uprising" due to frustration with the situation here, and it seems to be going in that direction. The IDF and IAF (Israeli Defense Force and Israeli Air Force) have been attacking military personnel (either involved with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, etc) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip all along, and occasionally civilians are injured as well. It's an unfortunate truth but it is common knowledge that, especially in the Gaza Strip, the terrorist organizations operate in densely populated civilian areas.
On the receiving end, Israel has seen an increase in rockets and attacks over the past few months. Along with many more rockets and mortars landing in israel each week, the strength of the rockets is also increasing. More Grad (stronger, more destructive) rockets are landing in Beer Sheva (a densely populated southern city) as well as Ashkelon and other cities. The first day of Purim, March 19th, 55 rockets landed in Israel, last weekend hundreds landed. Aside from the increase in rockets there have been other isolated incidents. on March 11th 5 family members were brutally stabbed to death in a settlement named Itamar in the West Bank. A mother, father, 11 year old, 4 year old, and 3 month old baby. On March 15th a ship was intercepted carrying an enormous amount of weapons and ammunition from Iran to Gaza. On March 22nd a bomb exploded at a busy bus stop near the central bus station in the center of Jerusalem killing 1 and injuring over 30. On April 7th an anti-tank missile was shot from Gaza at an Israeli school bus critically injuring the only teenage boy left on the bus and lightly injuring the driver. That day 45 more missiles, rockets, and mortars landed in israel, 40 the next day, April 8th, and 65 the day after, April 9th. Read about the Iron Dome, a missile defense system.
To each of these incidents Israel has, of course, responded. Israel's response is usually less quantitative and more qualitative, if that makes sense. Because of the increased intelligence and artillery of the IDF and IAF Israel is able to more directly shoot and kill Hamas militants and members of the Popular Resistance Committees as responses to the attacks on Israel. They also target shooting cells, smuggling tunnels, etc. The response from Israel is a strong one, Israel is certainly not going to sit back and let their citizens be bombarded with rockets and mortars upwards of 50 times a day without responding with force.
So the severity of the situation here is on the rise, but as of now it is a bit unclear which direction it is going to take. Neither Hamas nor Israel wants to see another Operation Cast Lead, there has to be another way.
My point in writing this was not to ignite any arguments or debates, it was just to remind you to remember that when you read news articles about the Israeli Palestinian conflict it is necessary to remember that there are many sides to the situation. Israel gets blamed a lot for the force that they use in response to attacks, but I personally find it hard to blame a military for trying to be the best is can be to defend it's citizens. There are known enemies who are firing rockets, missiles, and mortars, planning and executing attacks on citizens, and they live a KM away from the borders. I can't imagine any other country would sit back and allow this to happen to their citizens, on their land.
I didn't touch on the "occupation." I suppose that's for another entry.