Until last weekend, the Biden administration was counting on the Middle East to remain relatively calm while it quietly pursued its main policy goals there: brokering Israeli-Saudi detente and containing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Those hopes were shattered when Palestinian Hamas militants infiltrated from Gaza and rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday, killing hundreds and abducting scores more. Israeli forces have retaliated by pounding the coastal enclave, killing hundreds and imposing a total blockade there.

After keeping the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict at arm's length, President Joe Biden now finds himself thrust into a crisis likely to reshape his Middle East policy, and into an uneasy alliance with far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is dispatching U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to meet with Israeli leaders this week.