They trained and prepared for two and a half years so they wouldn't repeat the mistakes of the past. They received their responsibilities and performed their drills to make sure that they would be ready. They armed themselves with state of the art technology so they would have the upper hand over their enemies. But circumstances beyond their control intervened, delayed the battle that they had all been waiting for, and then shortened it to a mere three weeks of urban warfare. Of course, the soldiers in question are not those of Givati, Golani and the air force, but the combatants of Likud, Labor and Kadima. The cease-fire that ended Operation Cast Lead at 2 a.m. on Sunday reignited the political campaign after a three-week cease-fire that was thrust on the 34 parties running in February 10's election by the forces of political correctness, which prohibit infighting during a real war on the military battlefield. Naturally, the cease-fire was repeatedly violated, as seems to happen with all cease-fires. But the violations happened mainly at the level of the top commanders of Kadima and Labor, who fought among themselves, and did not carry over to the soldiers in the field. Now the political soldiers can finally begin to fight in what is bound to be an intense battle. Imagine the recent US election that stretched over 21 long months packed into 21 short days. Right now, the polls show Likud with a lead over Kadima of between two and eight Knesset seats. But almost anything can still happen in this election - from a Likud blowout to a surprising Kadima come-from-behind victory. The operation in the Gaza Strip and its aftermath could end up being the major focus of the campaigns, as it appears now. Or some unrelated, cataclysmic event could take over the headlines and make the Israeli public with its notoriously short memory forget the fighting and focus on something completely different. The one thing that is clear is that in such a short political battle, you cannot afford to make a single mistake. One misfire could decide an entire operation. And while the IDF could go back into the Gaza Strip at a moment's notice, no one wants to go back to elections any time soon. Whoever wins the battle that ends on February 10 will be our commander in chief for at least a couple of years, until the next political battle royal commences.