If there is a lesson to be learned from Operation Pillar of Defense, it's that the Israel Defense Forces has gone back to preferring air strikes to ground operations and has tacked on a preference for surprise over preparedness. If such operations are kept to a few days and the home front suffers little, that's a military achievement that saves soldiers' lives.
But politically it's the opposite: Israel doesn't gain time but borrows it at an exorbitant rate, because down the road is a world ever more hostile to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies. The strike that launched Pillar of Defense was meant to behead Hamas. The organization's military commander, Ahmed Jabari, was targeted at a good time, when he wasn't surrounded by civilians. Israel also could have targeted any one of four or five other Hamas leaders. Just a few minutes after Jabari was killed, Hamas and Islamic Jihad's strategic arm, their Fajr missiles, were hit.
The Israel Air Force has a unique skill in planning (based on intelligence, combat doctrine and training ) and implementing its plans in a few hours, sometimes in less than an hour. This happens from the moment a ministerial decision is made and sent down the short chain of command from the chief of staff to the IAF commander to IAF operations to the squadrons. The rest of the military machine is too ponderous to take advantage of brief windows of opportunity.
Surprise requires disconnecting the operation from background noise that might reveal it. It must therefore not follow a major terrorist act, after which everyone expects an Israeli response and the other side gets ready.