JERUSALEM — After 49 days of war, the armies of Israel and Hamas appear to have run out of new ideas – but not bombs. They are now slugging it out in a lopsided war of attrition.

As rumors fly that another cease-fire could be imminent, Hamas and Israel are groping for a diplomatic solution that could allow both to declare victory – or in the case of Hamas, at least avoid an obvious loss.

But without a permanent truce, the war of attrition could drag on for weeks or longer. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Sunday, “If the leaders of Hamas think they can wear us down, they are wrong.”

As the conflict enters its eighth week, the populations on both sides are less angry than exhausted.

In Israel, apps ping warnings of incoming rockets with the dull monotony of traffic updates.

In Gaza, more than a quarter of the population has been at least temporarily displaced.

They are not alone. In Israel, communities along the border with Gaza now resemble ghost towns.

In briefings with foreign journalists and visiting U.S. delegations, Israeli commanders have always stressed that whenever Israel goes to war, it wants to achieve quick, decisive victories, measured not in months or weeks but in days.

The 2006 Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah lasted 33 days. The last two wars in Gaza against Hamas, in 2009 and 2012, went 22 days and eight days, respectively.

This time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning that a war that began July 8 might continue into September, when Israeli schoolchildren are scheduled to return to classes – a potential setback for Netanyahu and Israeli military leaders, who have made a return to “peace and quiet” their metric for success.

Hamas began the current conflict with about 10,000 rockets, most of them short-range projectiles that have done relatively little physical damage and caused four civilian deaths.

At its current burn rate of firing 100 rockets a day, Hamas can continue for another month.

The Israeli air force, resupplied by the United States, can continue to strike targets almost indefinitely.

Over the weekend, Israel leveled a 12-story building in central Gaza City. Before that, Israeli airstrikes killed three senior Hamas commanders. On Monday, Israel pounded two mosques that it said were used as storehouses for weapons or as meeting points for militants.

For its part, Hamas has sworn that it will never surrender or give up its arms. The group publicly executed 24 alleged collaborators over the past five days.

Hamas may be running out of rockets, but not mortars – or martyrs.

U.N. agencies in Gaza report that 2,042 people have been killed, most of them civilians, including 491 children.

The Israel Defense Forces tweeted that Hamas is launching, on average, a rocket every 10 minutes, equal to the rate in the first week of hostilities in July.

The unknown numbers of mortars in the Hamas arsenal are easily deployed by two-man teams using a simple metal tube; the men can pop up anywhere, fire their round and disappear. The weapons have a range of about a mile.


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