Israel’s forces are gearing up for what might be a ground strike into Gaza, ruled by Hamas. At Tse’elim, just a hop from Ashkelon, their troops are getting a crash course in city fighting at a spot they call “The Strip,” set up after Hamas hit on October 7th.
“Five days ago, there was nothing here,” remarks Lt. Col. Mati Shechavch, who’s getting his soldiers up to speed for what’s gonna be a messy, door-to-door chase after Hamas fighters in Gaza’s streets.
Hamas boasts about their sprawling 300-mile tunnel web used for striking out.
“Some will hide in the tunnels,” Shechavch spills to CBS News, “Some will hide inside civilian houses. Some will take off their uniform because they’ll be so scared and put [on] civilian uniform, and some will come to fight to die.”
Even with danger knocking, Lt. Col. Shechavch says his troops worry more about being pulled back too soon than not making it at all. “I think the major concern for most of the soldiers is we’re gonna have to stop at one point of time because we really want to end this war once and for all,” he told us.
Back in Israel, the word is Hamas’ attacks on Oct. 7 took out around 1,400 people and left 3,500 hurt. Over in Gaza, they’re saying the comeback from Israel has taken 5,087 lives, kids making up over 2,000 of that number.
But the soldiers training up in Israel are still pumped to go, even with the high stakes. Take Major Ron—he’s all in, keeping his last name under wraps. “We want to get in cause this was, it was a genocide,” he said, referring to the attacks on Oct. 7
Then there’s the crew at Palmachim Airbase, with their Black Hawks ready to soar. They’re just as geared up to take on missions against Hamas.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the main voice for Israel’s military, laid it out plain to CBS News: “Hamas took you hostage. He kills his own people.”
When it comes to facing down Hamas, Hagari gets real. “I don’t think we can kill an idea. We must kill the leaders. We must destroy the governing. We must destroy the infrastructure of the terror … We need to show them that this idea is wrong.”
On the chance of a new crew popping up if Hamas is dusted, Hagari admits that’s more for the suits to hash out, but yeah, it could happen.
“We’ll do the aftermath together with, with the world, with the world and our partners and our original partners in order to understand what grow up, because we don’t want another ISIS to grow up,” he said.
Lt. Col. Shechavch is clear too—his soldiers will stick out the Gaza fight ’til the coast is clear for their people back home.
“What’s gonna happen after that’s a question for a politician or, I don’t know,” he added.