Inside Israels Swords of Iron fight using teddy bear bulldozers

Israel is amassing dozens of military vehicles on the border with the Gaza Strip as it is widely expected to soon launch its “Swords of Iron” ground operation.

Merkava battle tanks, seen as some of the most powerful tanks ever built, flying the flag of Israel can be seen lined up near the border, not far from several armoured bulldozers.

While the tanks’ name means “chariots” in Hebrew, the Caterpillar D9R bulldozers, have been nicknamed “Doobi”, which means “teddy bear”.

These armoured vehicles are capable of smashing fences and fortifications and are designed to cross the maze of narrow streets and tunnel networks awaiting the Israeli army inside Gaza.

If the expected ground operation does take place, these bulldozers will likely pave the way into Gaza for the rest of the army.

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Troops, including hundreds of thousands of reservists, are also poised for action.

Among them is a young conscript who, until a fortnight ago, was working in an advertisement agency in Tel Aviv.

After the harrowing massacre carried out in Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7, an event which she said “changed everything”, she signed up to join her country’s fight.

She told the Daily Mail: “This is our fight for survival. We are trained for this and we will win.”

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Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant suggested on Thursday the ground operation was just days away.

Addressing military personnel, he told his forces to “get organised, be ready”. He added: “Whoever sees Gaza from afar now, will see it from the inside.”

Despite Tel Aviv being seemingly poised for the attack, officials haven’t so far provided a timeline for an incursion.

Inside Gaza, Israeli troops would face a difficult environment, with booby traps and narrow streets possibly the war into urban guerrilla.

The ground battle is made even more difficult by the presence of some 200 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, as well as thousands of civilians.

Palestinians living in Gaza City were urged by Israel last week to leave the northern part of the strip ahead of an attack.

A ground operation would be included in one of the three attack phases described by Mr Gallant on Friday, with the first phase already underway and involving the destruction of Hamas military infrastructure through air strikes.

A second phase, he continued, would aim at destroying “pockets of resistance”, while the last act of the operation would “require the removal of Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel”.

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