Frustrated in the Field: IDF Troops On Gaza Border Itching to Enter (VIDEO)
Seven days into Israel’s Operation “Protective Edge” to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, close to 40,000 IDF troops are holding fire awaiting the order that may – or may not – come for a ground incursion.
“We were brought down to the Gaza border from the north, especially for this role,” one infantryman told Israel’s Channel 2 News on Monday.
“My mom’s not happy that I’m here in this area, but she says ‘at least you’re not in Gaza,'” he noted, but added “We’re 100 percent ready and there are those who are waiting for it to happen.”
However, American Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly set to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday, in order to try to cobble together a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, before an Israeli military foray into the coastal enclave.
The State Department has not confirmed the report.
An Administration spokesman on Monday cautioned against an Israeli incursion into Gaza.
“Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put more civilians at risk than are currently in the crossfire of attacks on Hamas,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at the daily press briefing.
However, the White House said Israel had a “right” and “responsibility” to quell rocket attacks against its citizens.
Some analysts believe a cease-fire could end up being similar to that which ended fighting in 2012’s Operation Defensive Shield, which was also meant to end rocket attacks.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Monday told a group of naval SEAL commandos that Operation Protective Edge “is not over, and may even be widened,” according to the Walla News site.
Meanwhile, “You have to continue with your duties,” Gantz said.
On Sunday, four soldiers of the secretive unit were lightly wounded in fighting with Palestinian terrorists, when they came ashore to destroy of rocket launch site that contained long-range rockets.
Back on the Gaza border, another soldier said of the hair-trigger situation, “Hamas thinks that they can continue hiding underground – but we’ve got a few surprises of our own.”
While, “it may end up not being necessary,” if a cease-fire comes into effect, one Golani soldier said he was “ready to go in to the Strip,” and that “our officers are, too, but they’re constrained by the government.”
Meanwhile, Palestinians along the border on Monday fired an anti-tank missile at an army tank. The armored vehicle’s Trophy Active Protection System thwarted the attack without injury or damage to the crew, the army said.
Overall, the IDF said it has carried out some 1,500 air strikes on rocket sites, weapons construction facilities, terrorist homes and headquarters.
Army forces “struck some 1,320 targets across the Gaza Strip, including 735 concealed rocket launchers, 64 training bases and militant compounds, 58 weapons storage and manufacturing facilities, 32 Hamas leadership facilities, 29 communications infrastructures and additional sites used for terrorist activities.”
According to Haaretz military and strategic affairs analyst, Yossi Melman, “Israeli intelligence estimates that 55 percent of Hamas’ launchers and 40 percent of their rocket arsenal has been destroyed.”
However, he added, they “still have inventory for 20 days.”
Meanwhile, back on the border, the troops are churning dust and checking and rechecking their tools of war.
“The truth is, most of us want to go in, in order to show what we can do,” one soldier told Channel 2. “Truth is, by us, everything is ready – down to the last detail.”
Watch a video of Gantz’s visit with the troops: