Today was the eleventh day of the war between Israel and Hamas; the eleventh day of hearing the sirens go off, of taking shelter, and then hearing the explosions as the missiles are intercepted. Yet, today was somehow different. It was the first day of the ground assault into Gaza. You could feel it in the streets and in conversations with people. People are no longer worried about inconveniences and of the possibility of being endangered by a daily barrage of missiles. Instead, now, some of their children and/or husbands are, or would soon be, engaged in a ground war- a war that, however large our advantage was, would no doubt result in some casualties. Overnight, the number of those called to reserves increased, touching the children of friends. People who had been wondering whether to go on a planned trip, either for business or pleasure, quickly decided this was not the time to be away.
My son woke me up this morning to tell me that the first soldier had died. I did not know him, but it was a bit of blow to the gut. Only later in the day did I find out that he was from a unit in which I know many of the soldiers. A little later, we learned that the soldier was a casualty of a friendly fire accident. I am sure there are those who, reading this, wonder how I can be so concerned about the death of one Israeli soldier when so many civilians, including children, are dying in Gaza. Truth be told, they would be right. We should all care about any person killed. But inevitably, we all identify with our own. And, many of those now in Gaza are kids that I know.
This war is different from recent wars. Across the Israeli political spectrum, there is an acceptance that this was a war forced upon us - a war that nobody wanted, that Israel tried to avoid after agreeing to the various ceasefire proposals put forth. Therefore, support for at least a limited incursion into Gaza is near universal. If this war expands, that could change.
As to the war itself, by all indications the ground actions have been going well from the Israeli perspective. According to a report, half of the expected 12 tunnels have been discovered and work has begun to destroy them. Casualties have remained very light. Other than the soldier killed from friendly fire, there have a been only a few cases of lightly wounded soldiers.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the missiles have continued to fall. The cities surrounding Gaza have been fired on continuously. Sitting in Tel Aviv, as the day was coming to end, it was clear that at least one attack would happen soon. The Hamas has never let a day go by without firing missiles at Tel Aviv. At six this evening, the sirens began sounding. Another attack. Five more rockets fired, and five more rockets intercepted by Iron Dome.
How this war will end remains a big question. Prime Minister Netanyahu warned today, at the opening of a cabinet meeting, that he had ordered the military to prepare for a wider action. The Hamas has indicated that it has no interest in ending the conflict at the moment. It believes it has nothing to lose. Perhaps in a few days, with 30-40,000 Israeli troops already in Gaza threatening to expand their operations, the Hamas will finally take Israeli threats seriously and agree to bring this war to an end. Then, of course, I wrote maybe. But, maybe not. And that is what worries many Israelis tonight.