Haaretz's English language edition on Monday said that most reserve units had complained about a lack of emergency supplies and even missing equipment. The fitness level of reserve soldiers was also cited as a problem.

The paper quoted a soldier as saying: "For two days, we barely made any progress. The soldiers simply don't really know what the mission is".

 

"You are mostly kept busy with protecting yourself," the reservist, named as "A", also said.

 

A. said that the war in Lebanon bore no resemblance to that Israel has been waging in the Palestinian territories since the start of the second intifada, six years ago.

 

"It is nothing like the territories. During daylight hours, you do not see a living soul. You barely see anything at night either. 

 

"During all the years that I served in the reserves, we had the best equipment but now that we have reached the moment of truth the equipment has vanished"

Gili, an Israeli reserve soldier

There are apparently people who pass Hezbollah information regarding the location of our forces and they fire mortar shells. The shells fall around you and that is frightening."
 

"Many soldiers don't have short-barreled M-16 rifles, communications equipment or even tourniquets." A. said.

 

Israel has recalled thousands of reservists to help with its major offensive in Lebanon that was sparked last month by the abduction of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah.

 

Missing equipment

 

Another reservist, named as "Hanan", said troops returning from Lebanon had to give their weapons over to soldiers heading for the front.

 

Gili, also a reservist, said most equipment was missing from the warehouses.

 

Poor fitness levels have been
attributed to recent  budget cuts

"We are supposed to enter the fray against guerilla fighters who have been training for six years," Gili said.

 

"And our weapons are the only advantage that we have over them. During all the years that I served in the reserves, we had the best equipment but now that we have reached the moment of truth the equipment has vanished."

 

"My helmet was manufactured in 1981," another soldier, 22-year-old Gal. "It is three years older than me."

 

Eli Altman, an officer in charge of maintenance, said new equipment went to the regular army but admitted that "we could have ensured that the equipment in our warehouses would be useable".

 

Not fit enough?

 

The poor fitness levels of reserve soldiers is a direct consequence of recent budget cuts faced by the reserve units, Haaretz said.

 

"There is no doubt that enlisted soldiers are stronger but we are like old bulls: We work slowly but surely and take no risks"

Major Ziv Rozelman, a reserve deputy battalion commander

Brigadier General Ariel Heimann, a former chief reserve officer, said: "The easiest thing is to cut training hours."

 

"What is clear is that the reserve units have not been trained enough. The extent to which this lack of training is critical can only be measured during combat."

 

But Major Ziv Rozelman, a reserve deputy battalion commander, insisted that the reservists' combat experience, including during Israel's occupation of Lebanon between 1982 and 2000, made up for their more mediocre fitness levels.

 

"There is no doubt that enlisted soldiers are stronger but we are like old bulls: We work slowly but surely and take no risks."