Just hours after an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed Hamas senior military commander Ahmed Jabari, the start of an operation Israel is calling "Pillar of Defense," the Israeli Defense Forces's spokespeople are now signaling the country's willingness to deploy ground forces into the Palestinian territory.

In December, 2008 – also shortly after a U.S. presidential election, some analysts are pointing out – Israeli initiated Operation Cast Lead, which began with air strikes in Gaza and escalated to a ground invasion by January.

The number of Palestinian deaths in that conflict, which killed 13 Israelis, is disputed. The Israeli Defense Forces say Cast Lead killed 1,166 Palestinians, of whom 295 were civilians. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights says it killed 1,417 Palestinians, of whom 926 were civilians.