It’s the seventh day of Operation Protective Edge, and the Israeli press is growing increasingly impatient.
With no political solution in sight, the Hebrew newspapers hope something — whether ground offensive or ceasefire — will break up the endless barrage of rocket fire aimed at southern Israel.
In Yedioth Ahronoth, the tension is most apparent, with one of its headlines reading “The border of patience,” and another: “Firing and waiting.”
The paper’s Yossi Yehoshua outlines the growing frustration: “Hamas fires, the IDF retaliates, and no progress is in sight. Yesterday, for the first time since the beginning of the operation, frustration was voiced in the army, which up until then was reserved [for] behind closed doors. Even if before the cameras, senior officers claim that from their perspective the operation can continue, in practice they think differently. From the army’s perspective, the time has come for a decision, and quickly,” he writes.
“The memory from Operation Pillar of Defense, when some 50,000 reserve soldiers got dehydrated outside Gaza, and were greatly frustrated, it still fresh. This time, the situation is even worse,” he adds, stressing that whereas in 2012 the waiting period was about a week, here five weeks have lapsed — not since the heavy rocket barrages bagan, but since Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 were killed, and the IDF has yet to respond.
Over in Israel Hayom, the exasperation with the lack of a government policy permeates its headline as well: “Our troops are ready, and waiting,” it reads. The paper’s news coverage focuses on the mounting international pressure, concluding that: “It seems the developing events are leading toward a ceasefire.”
The newspaper’s Dan Margalit argues that “a clear but not impulsive decision is needed over the next few days, one way or the other.”
Meanwhile, Haaretz continues to call for a ceasefire, and in its editorial offers rare –- and cautious — praise for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an unusual move for the left-leaning paper which has long been critical of his policies. In the editorial, titled “No to a ground incursion,” it writes:
“Rather than being dragged after Hamas and letting it dictate the intensity and character of the confrontation, Israel must be proactive and seek diplomatic solutions that will serve its interests. At this point, even declaring a ceasefire for a few hours would serve Israel’s interest by restoring its international legitimacy, which is fast running out as images of Gaza’s dead are being broadcast all over the world.
“The prime minister has until now demonstrated restraint and measured judgment, and has avoided being swayed by the agitators in his government. He must hold to this course to save lives on both sides. A leader is not someone who is moved by thugs and mobs, but someone who guides his people toward the best possible solution. A ground incursion into Gaza is not the solution he seeks.”
Yet despite its official stance, the paper predicts that Israel is headed toward a ground offensive.
“The security cabinet convened for a night session and discussed the possibility of expanding the campaign in Gaza,” it reports. “Political officials assess that due to the continued rocket fire at Israel for over a week, the prime minister will have no other choice but a ground offensive – a limited one. With that, it seems at this stage Israel still prefers avoiding a wide-ranging operation to topple the Hamas rule, amid fears of military complications, and increasingly harsher international criticism of its actions.”
With the speculation of Israel’s next step, coverage of the seriously injured Ashkelon teenager Yarin Levy, 16, is tucked deep into the national papers.
Israel Hayom reports that Levy is sedated and in stable condition, and was on his way home from the barber when the rocket struck.
Yedioth writes that the teenager hid behind a wall when the sirens sounded, and though the projectile fell some 25 meters (82 ft.) away from him, he was badly hurt from shrapnel – some of which penetrated his chest and pierced a lung. While serious, his condition is not life-threatening, it reports.
Moments before the attack, his father called him to tell him to stay off the street, to which Yarin told him not to worry.
“Yarin told me not to worry because he knows what to do and where to run to when there is a siren,” Avinoam Levy says. “He is a responsible and mature boy who doesn’t take risks. But this time, when the siren sounded, he had nowhere to run to and was hurt.”