Israeli soldiers fear return of Gaza population, scaling down of IDF operations

New grassroots initiatives by Israeli soldiers and reservists have called on the government to reverse course and take bolder action to achieve decisive victory in Gaza.

By Avraham Shusteris, World Israel News

Over one hundred Israeli soldiers and officers are demanding that the government intensify operations in Gaza and bar Gaza civilians from returning to the northern Gaza Strip.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly defined his government’s war aims as defeating Hamas, returning the hostages, and preventing Gaza from threatening Israel in the future, Israel has recently been scaling down its Gaza operations and demobilizing reserve forces.

The government’s decision to start drawing down IDF forces on the Gaza front has infuriated many soldiers and reservists who fear the scaling back of the war could see Israel’s gains erased.

One commander from the Negev Division, Col. (res.) Ariel Ben Gigi said, “I think the main achievement that the IDF achieved in the war is actually the evacuation of the population from the north of the Strip, and we have to remember that the defeat of Hamas there is a long way ahead.”

Ben Gigi was one of 130 IDF officers and commanders who cosigned a letter imploring the Israeli government to prevent Gazan evacuees from returning to northern Gaza.

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With thousands of Hamas terrorists still around in northern Gaza and with much of the Hamas infrastructure still intact, aside from the fact that the hostages are still not released, if Israel allowed Gazans to return to northern Gaza, it would be “operationally wrong. It will endanger them, it will endanger us, and it will prevent operational freedom in these areas…”, said Ben Gigi.

In another act of protest, a group of army reservists who had been called back to return their weapons to the Tzeilim army base in the Negev, hung up large signs on their vehicles saying, “We too were released without decisive victory.”

This initiative was spearheaded by the “Mate Bereshit” group led by Uria Loberbom, who demanded that the Israeli army complete its mission of achieving victory in Gaza. “It wasn’t for nothing that we went through Gaza for three months…and now they are releasing us without a clear victory” said Loberbom.

The army has put out a statement that “protesting while on active duty and using army vehicles to do so” is a violation of army commands, and they will be investigating this incident.