The surprise attack started around 6 a.m., with a barrage of rocket fire followed by cross-border attacks. Yet it wasn’t until late afternoon that buses and trains were mobilized to ferry soldiers south. It took some 10 hours for the first troops to arrive in towns overrun by militants.
Miri Regev, Israel’s transportation minister and a longtime Netanyahu ally, was in Mexico. Private citizens donated food, flashlights and other basic supplies to the reservists as they waited for hours to receive guidance.
The Gaza border, it soon became clear, was minimally manned, and it took hours to redirect units stationed in the West Bank, which has been the main area of focus for the military this year. Palestinian militancy has surged in the occupied territory, from Jenin to Jericho, and Israeli raids have been increasingly common and deadly. Some in Netanyahu’s far-right government had called to annex the West Bank. Gaza, by contrast, appeared stable.
“There was a need for more soldiers, so where did they take them from? From the Gaza border, where they thought it was calm,” said Farkash, the former IDF military intelligence chief. “Not surprising that Hamas and Islamic Jihad noticed the low staffing at the border.” [Continue reading…]