The dark curtain rises again on the tragedy of Israel and Gaza, and the next act begins much like its forerunners.
Rockets hunt humans. Bombs crush buildings. Blood spills. The dead ride in caskets through streets, and mothers wail their grief to the heavens.
As Israeli reserves gather like a storm over Gaza's horizon, the added bloodshed of an incursion appears imminent, and millions watching around the world ask:
What could they hope to achieve?
There is no dramatic endgame in this, but there are concrete objectives, says Israeli military analyst and columnist Ron Ben-Yishai.
There are official ones and unofficial ones, short-term and long-term, that make sense for Israel, he argues.
Many of them will work, concedes critical Israeli columnist Gideon Levy. But he disagrees about their wisdom.
They won't cure the disease but instead feed it, he argues.
Military objective No. 1
First, the conservative government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to stop the rocket fire by force.
And weaken the Hamas militants and other groups behind it, Ben-Yishai says.
"Erode the political clout and the ability of Hamas to act both as a political and military-terrorist movement."
Those are the official goals given by the Cabinet for the military operation named Protective Edge, he says. And they'll probably be achieved, Ben-Yishai says.
"For the short-run, no doubt," Levy concurs. But he also thinks Hamas will come back stronger militarily and politically.
That's what happened over two years ago in operation Pillar of Defense and over five years ago in Operation Cast Lead, he says.
In the latter, 1,300 Palestinians and more than a dozen Israelis died.
Levy sees the rocket fire from Gaza as the boiling over of cumulative tensions.
He points to the peace process initiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry between Israel and Palestinians. The one that broke down weeks ago.
The whole time, a piece was missing from the negotiating table, he says. "Gaza was ignored totally."
Then a litany of youth killings ignited passions on both sides.
Three Jewish teens were murdered, and Israeli forces swept the West Bank for suspects, making arrests that had nothing to do with the case, Levy says. Palestinians were killed.
The murder of a Palestinian teen quickly followed; his body was torched. Suspicions arose that it was revenge for the Israelis' deaths.
Add to that the desperation in Gaza. The narrow strip of land is locked in on all sides, and people there live in dire poverty and deprivation. "Gaza is today the biggest cage in the world," Levy says.
The rocket fire is just a part of it all, he says. It's a way of Hamas pounding the table, pointing out Gaza's misery.