Preparing for a possible invasion

IDF soldiers on the border with Gaza share their thoughts as they wait for orders from above.

idf troops 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
idf troops 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
"The combat vests are ready and the weapons are greased," the first soldier said. "Our parents are phoning, but we just don't answer," said another. On Sunday, soldiers from a wide range of units deployed outside the Gaza Strip. Tanks from the 7th Armored Brigade deployed not far from the northern end of the border as infantry from the Paratroop and Golani Brigades arrived at bases throughout the South ahead of a possible ground incursion. Soldiers from Battalion 101 of the Paratroop Brigade said they were ready for an operation to begin. "The soldiers don't show it, but they are scared," one officer said. "We're getting ready and believe that we're prepared for whatever we will face in Gaza." On the northern edge of the border, soldiers from Battalion 75 of the 7th Armored Brigade were preparing their Merkava Mk 3 tanks. Tanks rolled down to the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, ready to go in. One senior officer in the Ground Forces Command told The Jerusalem Post the tanks were being outfitted with extra equipment - including food and supplies - in case they were deployed inside Gaza for a lengthy period. Defense officials said that while Hamas might have advanced anti-tank missiles, it would be more difficult for the terrorists group to use them effectively against Israeli tanks than it was for Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War. IDF assessments are that Hamas has smuggled into Gaza a significant amount of anti-tank missiles, including Russian-made models. There is also concern that Hamas has planted large bombs under main access roads into Gaza that it plans to detonate beneath Israeli armored vehicles. "We're better prepared today than we were in 2006," one tank commander said. "This is what we've been training for."