Gaza Invasion Delays Raise Questions in Israel


He has since brought political rivals into his government to bolster public confidence and has formed a small war cabinet that includes more experienced and professional decision makers.

Still, there is bad blood between the senior members. In March, Mr. Netanyahu fired Mr. Gallant, the defense minister, after he openly criticized the government’s judicial overhaul plan. He reinstated the defense minister weeks later under intense public pressure.

Benny Gantz, the leader of a centrist party and a former military chief who left the opposition to join the war cabinet, has his own unhappy history with Mr. Netanyahu, who reneged on a power-sharing agreement with him in 2020.

“He was always risk-averse,” Amos Harel, the military affairs analyst for the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, said in an interview of Mr. Netanyahu, who has been in power for 16 years altogether. “He is in the worst place in his political life, and going into Gaza is the biggest strategic gamble ever,” he added.

Recent opinion polls have shown that the Israeli public has far more faith in its army than in the government. There is a consensus among Israelis after the atrocities of Oct. 7 that they will not feel safe until the threat of Hamas is removed from their doorstep, even if the details of how to achieve that remain vague.

On a recent weekday, Itai Indig, an English teacher, was staging a one-man protest opposite the military and Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, with a homemade sign with a caricature depicting President Biden pressing Israel’s leaders into submission. The American president, he suggested, had nixed a ground invasion.

“Biden is now running our cabinet,” Mr. Indig fumed. “If we don’t go into Gaza now, it will be 10 times worse the next time.”

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