Israeli soldiers say they're fighting an improved Hamas — and paying a steep price

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Aaron Schachter: Israeli troops fighting in and around Gaza are taking some of their worst losses in years. The Israel Defense Forces say they've lost seven soldiers today, 13 others were killed on Sunday. They died in fierce fighting in Shujaiyeh, the Gaza city neighborhood we mentioned earlier. Yossi Melman is an Israeli military expert. He's the author of Spies Against Armageddon. I spoke with him earlier about Israel's objectives on the ground in Gaza. Yossi Melman: The IDF is trying to secure a buffer zone between the Israeli border and the Israeli communities on the Israeli side of the border, and Gaza, in order to stop the tunnel building and even maybe eradicate some of the loungers. So they had to get into that neighborhood, or to the outskirts of the neighborhood, and they were ambushed. So, it's a war. Hamas is giving, is fighting a fierce battle. One has to admit it. Schachter: Yossi Melman, from what I am reading Israel has been kind of shocked by that, what your talking about - that Hamas has upped its game, I guess. And become more of a proper military force. Melman: I disagree with you. Israel hasn't been shocked. I believe the IDF had knowledge about Hamas preparations for the next round. Maybe they didn't know everything, maybe they didn't estimate that they would be that qualified or skillful, but the public is less knowledgeable. But as someone who has lived here for most of my life, and I fought in battles during all these wars, either in the military or as a civilian in Tel Aviv, I sense that this is one of the very few wars in which the public is not losing, so far, its patience. Because the Israeli public is known for, Israeli public opinion is known to be very capricious. There is a Hebrew saying that they, that our mood is switching from festival mood to a funeral mood. So it's, you know, it's very, very jumpy in that sense. And this is the only, the first war in which I see there is a solid support of this war that the public is standing behind the government, even we are a divided society. Despite the tragedy, and the sadness, and the grief, still the public is now showing more restraint and readiness. The public wants to see it solved once and forever. Schachter: But Yossi, do you really believe that this operation, or any operation for that matter, can solve this once and forever as you say? Melman: If we prolong the period between the war and the next one. Look, Syria's battles in Gaza in January, 2009, in November, 2012, and now. So if we can prolong the period of peace and quiet and calm to another three, four years, I think most of the Israeli public would be happy and would say it's sufficient. Schachter: Well that's fine that you prolong the space between fights, but that isn't getting rid of the problem once and for all. It's postponing the problem. Melman: Well, I think the problem of the rocket shelling for a quite longer period. I mean no one is thinking about peace, you know, eternal peace. Now Hamas doesn't recognize the right of Israel to exist, full stop. They refuse to recognize the state of Israel, and I don't think they'll ever recognize the state of Israel. Why? Because then there would be, It won't be Hamas. It will be something different. Schachter: Yossi Melman, Israel military analyst. He spoke with us from Tel Aviv. Yossi, thank you so much. Melman: Thank you.