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For years, they trusted the army to defend and inform them. Now many Israelis feel abandoned
Most Israelis thought it was an ironclad social contract
JERUSALEM (AP) — It was, they thought, an ironclad social contract. Israeli citizens would serve in the military and live along enemy borders. In exchange, the army would defend them.
That contract was shattered Saturday when hundreds of Hamas militants breached Israel’s defenses from the Gaza Strip, pouring in by air, land and sea on a rampage that would leave hundreds dead. The infiltration caught Israel’s storied high-tech army completely unaware and stunned a country that prides itself on military prowess.
Further shocking Israelis was how long it took the military to respond. As thousands in southern Israel suddenly found themselves besieged, their cries for help went unanswered for hours. Holed up inside homes and safe rooms as militants sprayed bullets, torched homes and hurled grenades, they turned in desperation to social media, to journalists and to friends, beseeching the army to save them.
The weekend attacks and the military's response brought an unsettling new sense of vulnerability and abandonment. Thousands of families had no idea whether loved ones were alive or had been taken as captives to Gaza. At the height of the violence, there was no one to turn to for guidance or information. Contact centers were eventually set up, but the focus was on soliciting information from families rather than offering it.