This article by William Lind struck me as significant when it came out a week ago. It looks all the more so now that the crisis in the Middle East has escalated to include Lebanon and Hezbollah:
Normally, that captured Israeli would be a Hamas asset. But now that Hamas is a state, it has discovered Cpl. Gilad Shalit is a major liability. Israel is refusing all deals for his return. If Hamas returns him without a deal, it will be humiliated. If it continues to hold him, Israel will up the military pressure; it is already destroying PA targets such as government offices and arresting PA cabinet members. If it kills him, the Israeli public will back whatever revenge strikes the Israeli military wants. Hamas is now far more targetable than it was as a non-state entity, but is no better able to defend itself or Palestine than it was as Fourth Generation force. Fourth Generation forces are generally unable to defend territory or fixed targets against state armed forces, but they have no reason to do so. Now, as a quasi-state, Hamas must do so or appear to be defeated.
Does the sign really say "No Exit" for Hamas? It may – so long as Hamas remains a state, or has aspirations to be one. (Antiwar.com)
Lind is essentially arguing that the crises in Gaza and Lebanon, are like the war in Iraq, a test case for the thesis of Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld that the state as an institution is in decline.