“We don’t want to enter Gaza, but if we have to, we will”
https://www.jpost.com-By ANNA AHRONHEIM
Givati soldiers outside the community of Beeri.(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
The IDF is calling it “Guardians of the Wall.”
In the 24 hours since the first seven rockets were fired at Jerusalem, at least 630 have been shot from the Gaza Strip, with 480 crossing into Israeli territory.
Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Nir Am, Nir Oz, Be’eri, Karmiya, Netiv Ha’asara, Be’er Ganim, Beit Shikma… the list of municipalities under attack is long.
Rockets were fired throughout the day on Tuesday, one every three minutes, the IDF said. Thousands of Israelis are in bomb shelters. Schools have been closed, and businesses are only allowed to remain open if they have easily accessible shelters.
“Deterrence isn’t built in a day, and it doesn’t disappear in a day,” said former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot. But in terms of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it sure seems like it.
Walking around Sderot in the afternoon, there were interceptions of rockets every few minutes. But the few residents who ventured outside did not even raise their heads to see where the boom had come from.
It was eerie.
Driving in the South on Tuesday, the roads were almost empty.
Many of them were blocked by the Military Police out of concern that Hamas and PIJ might target civilian vehicles with anti-tank guided missiles like PIJ did on Monday.
But those who could get past the blockades were greeted only with military vehicles carrying troops or munitions.
On one road close to Sderot, I drove past a convoy of 15 trucks carrying artillery shells for the batteries deployed in the area.
In the various nature reserves that dot the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, dozens of soldiers could be seen.
Many of them – from Maglan, Givati and other units – were dispatched to the South as reinforcements for the Gaza Division.
Speaking to troops, one got the feeling that another war is about to start.
“We have to hit them hard,” one officer told me. “We can’t be suckers anymore.”
“We don’t want to enter Gaza,” said a Givati soldier blocking a road toward Be’eri. “But if we have to, we will.”
Commenting on the violence that rocked Lod and Ramle, a soldier from the Nahal Brigade said the clashes on the Temple Mount were the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“People are fed up,” she said. “The coronavirus pandemic is over, and tempers are flaring. The Gazans are no different. They are fed up, and they need to vent [their anger]. Unfortunately, we are the address of their anger.”
None of the soldiers I spoke to ever took part in a military operation, and none have entered Gaza.
The officer I spoke to enlisted just a few months after Operation Protective Edge ended, while the Givati soldiers enlisted in the IDF only six months ago.
Operation Protective Edge in 2014 was the last time Israel entered Gaza. Neither side won. Should Israel decide to conduct a ground operation, it’s highly likely nothing will change.
Both sides will lose combatants. Civilians will die. Hamas will remain. So will PIJ.
What has changed are their capabilities. Israel has better missile defenses and intelligence. Hamas has more advanced rockets.
So what is Israel to do? Send those same Nahal and Givati soldiers into Gaza? What would that achieve?
The IDF has to do something different. It has to be more creative – and not just with the names it gives military operations.