Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

On the Gaza-Israel border, Israeli reservists weigh a ground assault

As trucks hauled armored vehicles in southern Israel, thousands of reservists headed to training bases, resigned to a ground assault: If the rocket fire doesn't end, said one, 'we'll have no choice.'

By Correspondent / November 17, 2012

Israeli soldiers patrol the border near northern Gaza; a ground invasion of the Palestinian-held territory may be imminent.

Darren Whiteside/Reuters


On the Gaza-Israel border

On Saturday, Israel’s army seemed poised to launch a ground assault into the Gaza Strip after four days of war with Hamas, as flatbed trucks hauled armored vehicles around southern Israel and thousands of reservist call-ups donned rumpled uniforms en route to training bases.

Skip to next paragraph

The call-ups, whose numbers could be expanded to 75,000, make de-escalation more difficult because the move raises expectations in Israel for a ground assault and shortens the window of decision for the final order to deploy the soldiers. 

The veteran soldiers are considered the army's backbone, and several thousand were served notice on Friday, getting emergency draft notices in the middle of the Israeli weekend. 

Think you know the Middle East? Take our geography quiz.

"We are going to do what needs to be done, We’ll show them that no one is better than Israel,’’ said Yaniv, a 36-year-old medical officer with a paunch and an M-16 slung over his shoulder.

As he ordered a cappuccino at a gas station rest stop, he declined to ponder whether the operation would succeed in snuffing out rocket fire from Hamas militants. 

"I’m not a general. We are going to finish this off and bring quiet" to southern Israel, he said.

Focus on air attacks

So far, Israel has been focusing on air attacks in the conflict, but a ground invasion is expected to put added pressure on Hamas, just as in 2009.

In the past four days, Israeli aircraft have carried out 1,000 strikes on Hamas and militant targets with precision munitions, leaving 37 Palestinians dead, nearly half of them civilians. Meanwhile, Hamas and affiliated militant groups continue to launch rockets, raising the prospect of a ground assault.

"As in every air operation, there are limitations," said Brig. Gen. Eden Attias, who said the rocket fire was expected. "We didn’t anticipate to wipe out the long- and medium-range rocket fire in a few days. It will require more effort."

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said Saturday that he saw "some indications" of the potential for a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, though he offered no guarantees. 

Resigned to ground offensive

Many of the Israeli reservists said they were resigned to joining a ground offensive even though they could not articulate a clear goal beyond the government’s purpose of snuffing out rocket fire and hurting Hamas’s strategic assists.


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!