Some Israelis are feeling an unwelcome sense of deja vu as they watch military operations in Gaza grind on without a time limit and with doubts about their purpose. Dovish analysts and opinion columnists hark back to 1982, when an assassination attempt on Israel's ambassador to Britain, Shlomo Argov, triggered Operation Peace for Galilee. That offensive was to push 40km into Lebanon to secure northern Israeli towns from the firing range of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Katyusha rockets. In fact, the Israeli army went all the way to Beirut, taking a heavy toll in civilian lives, and installed Israeli ally Bashir Gemayel as head of what it hoped would be a new, Maronite Christian-dominated order in Lebanon. But Gemayel was assassinated and the new order rapidly collapsed into chaos. It took Israel 18 years and the deaths of hundreds of soldiers to extricate itself from what became known as the 'swamp' of Lebanon by pulling back to the international border. Israel's latest military campaign in Gaza, nearing the end of its third week, has two official goals: to free a kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, seized by militants on June 25 during a cross-border raid, and to put a halt to rocket attacks from Gaza to southern Israel. But the link between those goals and developments on the ground has, for some, been difficult to decipher. Suspicions of a broader agenda have been fuelled by the arrest - in the first and second weeks of the crisis - of 68 Hamas leaders in the West Bank, including cabinet ministers, members of parliament, and mayors, as well as the bombing of Gaza's only electricity plant, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's public adherence to a refusal to release Palestinian prisoners in order to free Corporal Shalit. On Tuesday, six Israeli human rights organisations petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the 'blatant harm' being caused by army actions to the Palestinian civilian population. Mr Olmert said Israel was trying to minimise harm to civilians. 'There is nothing I want less than to disturb them. We have no policy of punishing the Palestinian population,' he said on Monday. 'I think Olmert was looking for an excuse to remove Hamas from power,' said Akiva Eldar, an author and columnist for Haaretz newspaper. The heavy Israeli military pressure is aimed partly at turning the Palestinian population against Hamas even though such tactics have failed in the past, he said. Before the crisis, Israel used primarily financial pressure against the Palestinian government, formed after Hamas' stunning victory against the previously dominant Fatah movement in January legislative elections. The government has rejected international demands that it recognise Israel, renounce violence and uphold previous Palestinian Authority agreements with Israel. 'The desire to see a different kind of [Palestinian] government was always there,' said Leslie Susser, diplomatic correspondent at the Jerusalem Report magazine. With Corporal Shalit's seizure, 'Israeli leaders realised the international climate was favourable, Hamas was discredited and that Israel would be given a free hand', Susser said. Shaul Arieli, a colonel in the army reserves who served as an adviser to former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, warned recently that regime change was doomed to end badly, in part because using military force to install a government dominated by the moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, would be even less acceptable to Palestinians than Gemayel's installation by Israeli tanks was to Lebanese. 'Only a casual glance is needed to see that the march Israel is undertaking now is strikingly similar to 1982,' he wrote on Israel's Ynet news service. 'A further glance shows, though, that we can end up with even worse results.' Uri Dromi, an analyst at the Israel Democracy Institute, takes issue with the analogy to 1982. 'I think we've learned the lesson of Lebanon,' he said. 'What we're doing now is cautious and measured. The goals are very limited and this is not regime change ... I'm not saying that we might not get sucked in, but the intention is to not let that happen.' So far, 52 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have died in the fighting. On Tuesday, Israeli officials said the operation was entering a new phase that would include sending troops into further areas of Gaza, AP reported. Mr Abbas, who is constitutionally empowered to declare a state of emergency or to call new elections, would be both unwilling and unable to use Israeli tanks and assault helicopters to carry Fatah back into power, said Palestinian analyst Hani Masri. 'A new collaborator Palestinian Authority will have no legitimacy and would not be able to do a thing,' he said. Mr Olmert said on Monday: 'Palestinians will have to answer if they prefer to be ruled by a government of terror, by a terror group boycotted by the world or a civilised government prepared to make compromises based on reasonable agreements that can lead to peace between us and them. This is the choice.' But Tel Aviv University political scientist Shaul Mishal warns that if the crisis escalates and results in the total collapse of Palestinian political structures, the outcome may be that even more extreme elements than Hamas will gain the upper hand in Palestinian society. 'We might have a very chaotic situation that could lead to a turning point in which global jihad strikes roots in the Palestinian territories,' he said.