As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighs whether to agree a truce with Hamas or send the Israeli army into Gaza, a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday may sway reluctant national opinion behind a ground invasion.
“The time for restraint is over,” said Deputy Speaker Danny Danon of Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party, after a blast that wounded 20 bus passengers and shocked a city just getting used to the idea of being in rocket range of the Gaza Strip.
“We must declare war on the terrorists wherever they may be,” Danon said.
A weekend poll by the daily Haaretz showed only 30 percent of Israelis supported invading the Palestinian enclave, though 84 percent back the week-old air force offensive against Hamas and other Islamist groups firing rockets at Israel.
That poll was before the bus bomb.
“We have to stop all these attacks, all this rocket fire. I would say we should wipe Gaza off the map, that’s where all the trouble comes from,” said Aliza Danino, 53, at a Jerusalem bus stop. “They should be wiped off the face of the earth.”
However, some Israelis were still leery of a full-scale invasion involving thousands of conscript soldiers and reserves.
“Definitely not,” said Ruth Barzilai, strolling by Jaffa port. “There are 75,000 reservists, with let’s say a family of four. That makes half a million people who will be in agony.”
“No,” said a middle-aged manager called Koby. “There would be too much risk, for us, and for them.”