Troops leaving Gaza
Photo: Reuters
Reservist: We did not bring Hamas to its knees
Soldiers drafted during Gaza offensive frustrated by government's inability to propel military leverage into lasting results. 'It's as if we did nothing,' says one. 'We set out to protect southern communities but the fire continues,' adds another

Six weeks after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, many of the reservists who took part in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip are frustrated by what they call "the political echelon's incompetence".


"It's as if we did nothing," G., an officer who was drafted by proxy of the campaign's emergency orders, told Ynet on Monday.


While in uniform, Major G. commands a special forces unit. The offensive saw him and his troops operate in the northern Gaza districts of al-Attatra and Beit Lahiya.


"We were inside (Gaza) for 10 days and preparing for that took three weeks of being away from family and friends. From life, really.


"Luckily, no one in my force was injured, but when we left we were sure that the government had struck some sort of an agreement. It is very disappointing to see what's going on now," he added. "Renewed fighting seems inevitable.


"We should have gone in deeper, into southern Gaza," he continued. "Anyone in their right mind can see where this is going. I'm waiting for the next draft order."


'Letting the cat watch over the canary'

Other believe that the military did all that it could to curb the rocket fire plaguing Israel's southern communities and that it was the political echelon that failed to make use of the momentum: "We did not bring Hamas to its knees," said Netanel Elyashiv, a sergeant with the Paratroopers.


"There is a great deal of disappointment. Knowing the enemy, we'll be going back in soon. The military's actions were well executed but the problem was the political echelon."


Wasted leverage? Soldiers leaving Strip (Photo: Reuters)


"There was a sense that we were somehow disregarding Hamas. Some thought that if we just scared it enough it would fold. It is a vicious organization and a very serious one. By the end of the fighting I knew we did a good job, but it wasn’t nearly enough.


"Killing a lot of operatives is not a strategic achievement. We have to assert control over the borders again, otherwise it would be like letting the cat watch over the canary."


'Government failed to use leverage'

"We were holding all the cards. The current situation is the politicians' fault," said reservist Boaz Chalamish.


Chalamish left his wife and his eight-day old son to join his company in the Strip. "I was literally pulled away from my life and I was not the only one. We set out to protect the communities in the south and I for one am very disappointed to see the rocket fire continue.


"No one really expected the fire to stop completely, but now we're hearing about another rough night they had and children can't go to school because of the rocket fire again," he said.


"The political echelon made this decision… When we were pulled out of Gaza we had a definite military advantage, but ever since then, we've been going back to square one. We expected the government to make use of its leverage to produce quality results, but it didn’t do so."


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