SPECIAL NOTICE 9:00 am Tuesday:
The bodies of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 were found yesterday afternoon in shallow graves near a cavern in a wadi near Halhoul just 3 km northwest of Hebron. The location was only a 15 minute drive from where they had been kidnapped.
The news of their murders has been met with spontaneous displays of mourning throughout Israel overnight, and with fireworks and celebrations by Palestinians throughout Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
We all knew in our heart of hearts how this was going to end.
From the moment that the three boys were kidnapped outside of Gush Etzion, it was obvious that they would be killed because that is what always happens to Israelis kidnapped in Judea and Samaria.
From the moment that the car in which the boys were kidnapped was found burned out, it was obvious that they had been killed in the car and that the fire was necessary to destroy the evidence of their bloody murders.
From the 18 days that went by in which nothing was heard from the kidnappers, it was obvious that the teenagers were dead; otherwise, the kidnappers would have proved the boys were alive and would have asked for a ransom (though presumably they would have eventually tried to ransom their dead bodies anyway).
From the moment that we found out that the kidnappers are hardened terrorists who come from terrorist families who have planned such murders before, it was obvious that our worst suspicions were confirmed.
But we all hoped that it would miraculously turn out differently.
However, there are few miracles here in the Middle East. Every suspicion turned out to be true.
The boys were kidnapped and apparently almost immediately shot to death–probably seconds or minutes after Gilad Shaar made the telephone call to the police that was ignored (there is an unconfirmed report that gunfire can be heard on the tape of that call). The kidnappers then drove to a preset location where they buried the bodies (it is possible, of course, that the boys were killed at the burial site). Afterwards, the terrorists drove to a preset location, burned the car and switched to a different car. The kidnappers then went to a safe house to hide–a safe house undoubtedly established in conjunction with other Hamas members of their family.
And there, wherever “there” is, they remain. Israeli security forces still have not found them as of the time of this writing.
So what is to be done about the murders? Netanyahu’s cabinet dithered until midnight last night but no decision was reached. Apparently it was Netanyahu himself who cravenly argued against “a harsh response” for fear of upsetting the status quo between Israel and Gaza.
What was decided in the short run was to make a loud and showy display of doing nothing.
The IDF declared a few hours ago that it had attacked 34 “terror targets” in Gaza overnight (we were jolted awake here in Ashdod by the sounds of 21 explosions–we counted–at about 1:30 am). When pressed about what the IDF actually hit, however, the IDF spokesman said “structures” and “open spaces”. In other words, “empty buildings” and “nothing.” For its part, Hamas mockingly claimed that the “ferocious” Israeli attack on the 34 targets had moderately wounded exactly 1 Hamas member.*
And what about that status quo that Netanyahu so desperately wants to keep? Here in southern Israel we were struck with missiles fired from Gaza both before and after the 34-target interlude. Missiles that it must be added are becoming increasingly accurate–with three confirmed hits on vehicles and a packaging plant. Yet another volley of Hamas terrorist missiles from Gaza struck the Sderot-Sha’ar Hanegev area less than an hour ago.
Amazingly, all the talk in the Israeli media last night was that Hamas cannot be held to blame for the murders of the Israeli teenagers. To believe all the punditry, the two Hamas murderers acted alone without any connection to their organization. One normally insightful commentator even blathered that we are now in a “third intifada” involving “individuals.”
Can you even believe this?
The boys were kidnapped within 24 hours of a call for a kidnapping by the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.
The family of one of the kidnappers established Hamas and all of its infrastructure in Hebron.
The kidnapping itself involved the active participation of the Hamas network with cars and a safe house for which Hamas undoubtedly provided the funding. And does anyone really doubt that Hamas did not supply the weapon(s) that were used to kill the teenagers?
Hamas is up to its eyeballs in the murders, and everyone knows it. The attempt of the Israeli media to whitewash the Hamas role in the killings is nauseating.
As is the attempt to whitewash Mahmoud Abbas’s role in all of this. At the very least, the boys’ dead bodies were transported within the area under Abbas’s control, and the kidnappers are still there. Sure, Abbas made a wonderful statement in Qatar about how Israeli teenagers are “human beings” (thank you Mr. unelected president for that acknowledgement), but the fact is that he did nothing to find the boys or the kidnappers.
Any why were all of those Palestinians out in the street last night celebrating the murders of the teenagers?
Because of the hourly incitement against Israel that comes out of every official and unofficial organ of the PLO/Palestinian Authority–which Mahmoud Abbas heads.
So, your humble servant repeats, what is to be done about the murders?
Hamas is an evil that must be rooted out of Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria. Mahmoud Abbas is a purveyor of the same evil, and any and all future contacts with him must be severed.
It is long past time for Israel to come out of its pusillanimous shell and act decisively.
It has been reported in the Jerusalem Post online version today that Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Defense Minister, actually argued in the Cabinet meeting last night that Israel’s reaction to the murders should be to “bomb several empty structures in the Gaza Strip”. Of course, that is exactly what Israel has done.