Bleak Friday: Israeli Reservists Return Home Disappointed; Bibi Drops in Polls

As Wednesday night’s cease-fire went into effect–amidst continuing rocket fire from Hamas–many Israeli reservists returned home disappointed that the government had not launched the ground attack for which they had been called up. One soldier, quoted by Ynetnews, said that “as a resident of Beersheba [which was hit by several rocket attacks] there is a sense of disappointment. (The violence) will repeat itself and we’ll find ourselves back here again and again. They (government) should have let us complete the mission.”

Much of the Israeli public agrees that a ground war would have been preferable to no war at all, given the continued threat of attacks from Gaza–and given that Hamas is declaring victory. A new poll suggests that support for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fallen sharply, by as much as 25 percent, since he accepted the cease-fire, likely after intense pressure from the Obama administration. A poll prior to the cease-fire indicated that 70% of Israelis opposed it, and wanted to fight to remove Hamas from Gaza altogether.

Once a lock for re-election early next year, Netanyahu is now considered politically vulnerable. He is at pains to convince his own voters that Israel came out of the conflict as a winner by destroying much of Hamas’s rocket infrastructure–perhaps because Hamas was able to replenish and improve its arsenal with help from Iran since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. He may draw some comfort from the fact that his left-wing opponents are split with the imminent return of former opposition leader Tzipi Livni to the scene.

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