One of the most depressing characteristics of the dysfunctional Palestinian-Israeli relationship is the self-destructive tit-for-tat mentality that often seems designed to keep the conflict alive rather than to end it.
Anyone who follows the news is familiar with how this cycle works. It might begin with a Palestinian child dying while stopped at an Israeli army checkpoint on his way to the hospital. In response, an enraged Palestinian shoots into a crowd of Israeli soldiers at a bus stop. To show that it will not tolerate such behavior, an Israeli army helicopter then fires a missile into an apartment building in Gaza, targeting militants but killing civilians as well, after which outraged Palestinians fire a rocket into Israel, which in turn leads the Israelis to tighten whatever embargo or travel restrictions or security rules are in place at the moment. That increases Palestinian rage still further.
Needless to say, the cycle doesn't end there but continues until, after a while, it becomes completely impossible to say with any authority who began the hostilities or to distinguish actions from reactions.
We're currently witnessing the cycle in real time. On Saturday, five members of an Israeli family living in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near the Palestinian city of Nablus, were killed, including an 11-year-old boy, a 4-year-old boy and an infant girl, presumably by Palestinian militants. In response to this brutal tragedy, the Israeli government announced that it would build 500 more houses in existing settlements in the West Bank. Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Sunday that 500 was not enough and that Israel should build 1,000 new homes for every Israeli who is killed there.