50,000 IDF reservists were called up for duty over the course of Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’. They left their families, their jobs, their lives, and rallied to their country’s call to duty.
A cease-fire was announced on November 21st, before a ground incursion occurred, the next stage in the operation in which the reservists were supposed to participate. The reservists expressed their willingness to endanger their lives for this mission, understanding the necessity of such an action.
Now that they have been ordered to stand down, they feel disappointed and degraded. Thousands of reservists still in service have signed a petition calling on the government to initiate the ground incursion with the intent of eradicating all terror infrastructures in the Gaza Strip.
Yahel, 29, a father of two, a banker and a combat medic in the reserves was called up early Friday morning. “They fired on us, we fired on them, nothing was achieved at the end. It’s only a question of time before everything starts up again. Meantime, in Gaza they are rejoicing at their victory, while we are still dug in. I feel an unpleasant sense of disappointment. We have been humiliated,” he told Tazpit News Agency. Even though the operation is seemingly over, he doesn’t expect to go home until sometime in the middle week.
Oriyah talks about a general feeling of disappointment, but takes a more calculated stance. He is 32 years old, a father of four, who left his legal practice to man his position as an armored personnel carrier driver. He states he is not completely in unison with the general feeling of humiliation. “A ground incursion would have its costs. The test now is a simple one: when will the fire be renewed, and it will be renewed. The other point is the magnitude of the Israeli response when it is renewed. Only then will we really know if we have achieved anything now. There are political issues to take into consideration. Ultimately, we will have to wait and see how things develop in the future.” He raises another fundamental question. “The timing – why did they wait tell Wednesday to agree on a ceasefire. What have we gained over the past days that we couldn’t have a few days earlier? If they wanted a ceasefire, why wait so long?”
Major N. (name undisclosed for security reasons), a senior IDF officer in the reserves, offered a more in-depth analysis of the situation. “We need to view the situation in context. Militarily, we could have brought Hamas to their knees in a short time. For what ever reason, we did not receive the order from the political echelon, and that is a source of disappointment for me. Militarily, this was not a tie, as many people feel. We have complete domination of Gaza; we seriously crippled their military capabilities; we took out many of their military commanders and command posts, and in that aspect Hamas was completely defeated. The Iron Dome defense system completely negated Hamas’s rocket abilities, and in a sense gave Hamas life, because without the system the Israeli civilian casualties would have been much higher, forcing the government to respond much more harshly. The Iron Dome defense system prevented a further escalation and gave the Israeli political leadership leeway and time.”
“I am disappointed by the fact that we did not achieve a clear and decisive victory, one which could not be interpreted in any way. We did not clearly deter the Hamas from attacking Israel ever again. In the near future Hamas will try to develop new capabilities, such as anti-aircraft capabilities, and surface-to-sea capabilities with the intent of creating a new balance of power with the IDF. They have managed to open the land passages through the recent rounds of diplomacy, and will try to open a passage through the sea as well. The big question is how Israel will respond to these advanced capabilities.”
He too feels it’s a question of time before the firing is renewed. “The next time, it will be much more difficult and complex for Israel to operate. Egypt will not serve as Israel’s watch dog, will not stop the arms smuggling into Gaza and will not try to contain or be able to contain the various terrorist organizations. President Morsi is going to face a very difficult period in the near future, and should beware of the terrorist organizations.”