GIGOT: Do you think the president, Dorothy, should have gone to the border, and looked like he was inspecting this and on top of the issue?
RABINOWITZ: Yes, the answer is. However, I don't think the president feels quite like the president he was before that. And this was an expansion of his "so sue me" attitude towards public relations. This is the same person who went to hold Governor's Christie hand after the flood - -
GIGOT: Hurricane Sandy.
RABINOWITZ: Yes. And took the trouble to do that, who suddenly can't move from a billiard-playing excursion --
GIGOT: Because you think this is awkward politics for him, as Kim says, or -- or --
RABINOWITZ: It's awkward. And I also think it's a kind of helpless -- I actually think it's a kind of psychological breakdown of a sort, the kind of resistance to the role of a president, and it's saying, I don't have good approval in the ratings. Here's some more. I don't have to have a portrait of my compassion. You better know who I am.
GIGOT: All right, Dorothy Rabinowitz, thank you very much.
When we come back, tanks mass at the Gaza border as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to end Hamas' assault on his cities. So what's Israel's next move?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: No country on earth will remain passive in the face of hundreds of rockets fired on its cities, and Israel is no exception.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday announcing that Israel is stepping up its Gaza offensive in response to a rain of rockets fired from the region by the terror group Hamas. Israeli war planes this week hit hundreds of suspect militant sites and the government authorized the call up of some 40,000 army reservists, mobilizing for a possible ground invasion of the territory it withdrew from in 2005.
"Wall Street Journal" foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stephens; and editorial board member, Matt Kaminski, join me with more.
So, Bret, why is Hamas doing this now? Because they're bearing the brunt. Their people are bearing the brunt of the retaliatory response from Israel?
BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: Well, a couple reasons. They were strategic back-footed both by the pressure on Assad -- they lost their patron in Syria, Bashar Assad -- and also by the fact that Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president, sympathetic to Hamas --
STEPHENS: -- was overthrown --
GIGOT: They're doing this out of weakness?
STEPHENS: Well, partly, there was a question of their weakness. But also the killing of an Arab boy, following the killing of three Jewish teenagers, sparking days of rioting in the West Bank. And I think Hamas saw an opportunity to spark or incite a third intifada where they could both sideline their principle Palestinian rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Fatah Party, and take the initiative against Israel.
GIGOT: By "intifada" you mean a general Palestinian uprising --
STEPHENS: That's right.
GIGOT: -- against Israel.
But Hamas, Matt, is bearing the brunt of, as I said, the retaliation. They're -- what do they really think they can gain from this?
MATT KAMINSKI, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, I'm not sure they're concerned about the civilian casualties. The last time you had -- in any war between Hamas and Israel, you had 10 times as many casualties because Gaza is so closely packed in.
KAMINSKI: And when Hamas sends its rockets, they either miss the target or they're shot down by the Iron Dome, this missile-defense system. But I think Hamas is obviously -- it's not very concerned about its civilian casualties. But it -- it will get the sympathy of a lot of the world or a lot of the world. And as Bret pointed out, it is fighting an internal Palestinian battle, you know, who is going to be representing the Palestinians.
GIGOT: So, this would help them within the Palestinian movement --
STEPHENS: Right. And it's also -- they look at -- Hamas is a very cynical terrorist movement that looks at Palestinian civilian casualties as a propaganda victory for their side. And too many people in the West play into precisely that game that they plan. So, Hamas is firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel.
STEPHENS: The only reason they're not killing people is that they missed, that they're not effective. But it's indiscriminate fire at civilian targets. The Israelis are trying to fire very precisely, but when you're firing into densely populated areas, and the rocket fire, that Palestinian rocket fire is coming from cities who are going to have collateral damage.
GIGOT: Now, in 2008, there was an incursion that Israel made into Gaza to try to really stop these missile attacks and get to these launchers and so on. And yet, here we are, a few years later, back again. And we were, back in 2012, doing the same thing. That time, Israel didn't go into a ground invasion. What is the goal of the Israeli response? Are they fated every two years or so to have to do this all over again?
STEPHENS: Well, Israel has been reluctant to reoccupy the Gaza Strip since it withdrew all of its settlers, all of its settlements in 2005. I think they're going to need to start rethinking that proposition. Part of the problem, Hamas now has these very long-range rockets that --
STEPHENS: -- are hitting in areas of central Israel, all the way to Haifa in the north. And that's because there is extensive tunneling between Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza.
GIGOT: Into Gaza, right.
STEPHENS: Well, I think Israel will have to, at some point, reoccupy a wide corridor to separate Egypt from Gaza in order to prevent that kind of smuggling because these rockets are getting increasing sophisticated.
GIGOT: Is it possible to eliminate Hamas as a military and political force with that kind of a ground incursion? Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said this week it was not possible.
STEPHENS: No. I think that's a silly proposition. Israel has been in the Gaza Strip before. Now it would be --