Gov't. Orders IDF to Leave Gaza

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak rescinded earlier statements that IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops would remain in Gaza.

"If Hamas entirely ends its rocket fire on Israel, Israel will consider an IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip," Olmert told Cabinet ministers at Sunday's meeting, a statement echoed by his spokesman Mark Regev.

"We can't talk about a timetable for withdrawal until we know the cease-fire is holding," Regev told reporters.

But despite their statements, the government ordered the IDF to begin withdrawing its troops. In fact, according to the Israeli media, all the soldiers may all be out of Gaza before US President-elect Barak Obama's inauguration Tuesday.

Many soldiers, including reservists who left family and jobs to bolster the regular troops, said the operation was prematurely aborted.

"Clearly the job is not completed," one soldier said. "The rocket-firing hasn't stopped, and there's still a soldier left in Gaza," he said, referring to kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas since his capture on June 25, 2006.

"I'm sure any reservist would be willing to give another month if he knew that at the end, Gilad Shalit would be returned home," one reservist said.

Asked if the IDF was victorious, as Olmert claimed, a soldier responded, "I don't know, but I do know we'll have to go in again."

One reservist said they would have liked the opportunity to finish what they started.

"We don't mind staying [in Gaza] longer and making sure we're not needed here again in two years," he said.

"We didn't abandon our wives and children for nothing," he said.

There's a consensus among many of those who fought that the government ended Operation Cast Lead too soon.

Source: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news

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