The recently declared Hamas-Fatah Palestinian Authority government did not take long to show its colors.
While embarrassingly, this terrorist government continues to be recognized and dealt with both by Israel and the USA, it is not surprising that on the wake of terror prisoner release deals both by Israel and the US (under the Obama administration), the confident terror networks have struck again. This time they have kidnapped three young Israeli students, (one also holding a US citizenship), apparently some time on Thursday, as they hitchhiked to Mod’in (a small city between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv).
Under George Bush, the palestinian terrorists would have cursed their “bad luck” in having taken a US citizen, and as occurred in the past (in Gaza), but somehow I doubt they very much care now under Barak Hussein Obama. Unfortunately, their lives will bot be saved by FB and twitter hashtags like #bringbackourboys etc…. regardless of how many “likes” you get. They would be saved by the very policies most Jews disagree with.
Not too long ago, Israel traded over 1000 convicted Arabs for a young IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been taken near the Gaza border and ultimately held for over 5 years. I wrote about that deal, its repercussions, and a subsequent Israeli retaliation.
More recently, the US in a bizarre and shocking move, released 5 Taliban leaders in exchange for a dubious captive Marine (article clearing all that up coming shortly). Sure, the US has not yet reached the low moral depths Israel has, where it releases thousands convicted (by a court of law) prisoners rather than 5 “enemy combatants”… but it was certainly a scathing precedent.
We continue to reinforce what the Muslim world has long suspected, the West is materially rich, technologically advanced, but its core is weak and its will easy to break. They must only keep going forward, and we will trip over our own feet trying to figure out how to go backwards fast enough.
Gilad’s exchange deal was certainly not Israel’s first, even the infamous Ariel Sharon in 2006 released 435 prisoners in exchange for 3 corpses and a disgraced (would-be drug dealing) reservist officer, Elhanan Tannenbaum (or so the story goes). But despite Nasralla’s insistence Sharon refused to release the cowardly and pathetic Samir Kuntar. Kuntar was Israel’s longest held Lebanese prisoner (and an embarrassment to his Druze heritage) and freeing him became an important symbolic goal for Israel’s enemies. Kuntar murdered a little girl, Einat, with the butt of his rifle (and shot her dad, Danny Haran, in the head) before surrendering to some Golani soldiers that showed up at the beach when he and his friends were trying to make their escape on a dingy back to Lebanon. The notorious 1979 Nahariyah attack.
What Nasrallah, the most intelligent of our enemies, failed to get from Sharon, he easily got from the incompetent subsequent Israeli PM, Ehud Olmert, who in a 2008 deal (after leading Israel to debacle in the 2006 Second Lebanon War) released all the remaining 5 convicted Lebanese prisoners including Kuntar, and the remains of about 200 other militants and terrorists, in exchange for the remains of two IDF soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev (whose capture by Hezbollah precipitated the Second Lebanon War). Many had been the attempts to gain his release. In 1985, Abu Abbas’ PLF hijacked the Italian Achille Lauro liner off the coast of Egypt and demanded his (Kuntar’s) release. They murdered a wheelchair-bound elderly gentleman Leon Klinghoffer, a Jew and an American citizen, and dumped him overboard.
But a different Israel back in the 80’s, refused to release Kuntar. Ultimately, the PLF’s leader, Abu Abbas was surprised to find himself arrested by the US in the wake of its 2003 invasion of Iraq where he resided. He thought to be (and was) covered by the amnesty given to these PLO related terrorist thugs under the Oslo Accords (Arafat and today’s Abu Mazen included). At the time, George W Bush was less concerned about the legalities of Israel’s willingness to surrender to terrorism than to make sure it was clear that you did not murder US citizens, throw them overboard, and then walk around as a diplomatic VIP. Abu Abbas died in American custody. Decades after the Achille Lauro incident, Ariel Sharon had not released Kuntar in exchange for 3 dead bodies and one live colonel in the deal previously mentioned; Olmert released him for 2 dead bodies.
Murderous, remorseless and cowardly not being enough, Kuntar is also pathetic liar, who (after confessing during questioning amid vast evidence ranging from eye witnesses to parts of the little girl’s skull still stuck to his rifle butt at capture), later claimed he did not kill the 4 year old girl (or her father) and was unaware of what happened to her due to his passing out from blood loss due to his “5 bullet wounds”. Even to our brutal enemy, a child killing coward of this magnitude is not publicly palatable, and so he had to change his story… both about the cold blooded murder and about his subsequent surrender.
When Hassan Nasrallah made his first public appearance since September 2006, during Kuntar’s welcome home in 2008, as much as he milked the PR value of this accomplishment, even having Kuntar don the yellow Hezbollah standard military attire (Hezbollah did not even yet exist when Kuntar was captured), it apparent to see Nasrallah’s discomfort with the child killing Kuntar. Nasrallah may have had to free this scumbag as part of his cause and struggle, but he did not respect him.
Meanwhile, our little regard for life and for justice is breathtaking. The presiding Judge in Kuntar’s trial stated during the verdict:
…By these acts the defendants reached an all-time moral low… an unparalleled satanic act… the punishments we are about to impose on the defendants cannot begin to match the brutality of their actions…
The punishment of five life sentences and another 47 years of incarceration may have been deemed as not beginning to “match the brutality of their actions” but Ehud Olmert thought that 29 years had been quite enough (only because it took him the bulk of those many years to be elected Prime Minister, and so was unable to release him any earlier).
Obviously, the incentives to kidnap Israelis, soldiers or civilians is high, and Israel has made clear the rewards. Meir Dagan, presumably having learned from previous experiences when he was a the helm as Mossad Director, campaigned against the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal stating that 231 Israelis had been killed thus far by the 435 Arab prisoners released in the 2006 Tannenbaum exchange deal. Dagan, as a successful head of the Mossad from 2002 until 2010, is in the unique position to know much about such subjects, though it must be noted that since leaving office he has campaigned against much of what the Netanyahu government does or wants to do, including a strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
The warnings unheeded, Gilad’s deal went though, another 1000 thugs released. In the last two years, there has been dozens of further kidnapping attempts in Israel, both of civilians and soldiers. Thankfully nearly all of them had been thwarted either by the intelligence services, or the would-be victims themselves being able to flee in time; until Thursday night.
“Nearly all of them” because last year, an off duty IDF soldier, 20 year old Tomer Hazan, was lured by an Arab “friend” and coworker to the West Bank and murdered. The murderers, learning what Israel teaches… “kidnap Jews and get what you want”, had wanted to free a relative from Israeli prison by exchange. Presumably, Tomer Hazan, fulfilling his duty as an IDF soldier, would not be kidnapped and in whatever ensuing struggle there was, alone and unarmed, he was murdered.
Hazan’s case is unique though, in that he was lured into travelling to this trap willingly, accompanied by what he thought was a friend. In all other recent cases, where the victims would have been seized by force from the get go, the terrorists met with no success.
Hamas and Fatah had put aside their differences and formed a coalition government. Until this occurred, though Hamas reigned supreme in the Gaza strip, they had little operational freedom in the West Bank.
No Israelis, military nor civilian travel in Gaza (somehow though the media sill often reminds us of its “occupation” – or at least, it’s “siege”). Gaza has been “Jew free” since Oslo in the early 90’s and then expanded to include a “Jew free” Gush Katif in the 2005 “Disengagement”. So in order for Hamas to kidnap an Israeli from Gaza, a cross border complex and difficult military operation is necessary, such as the one in which Gilad Shalit was taken (from his Tank).
On the other hand, in the Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank), Israelis travel and live throughout it. Youngsters hitchhike the roads frequently. Despite this, the IDF’s presence is considerable as is its network of informers. And whatever areas are fully under full Palestinian Authority, were controlled by Fatah. Hamas has little chances there. Until the coalition pact was reached.
Hamas’ newly found freedom to launch an operation like this in the West Bank is clearly predicated on its new alliance with Fatah, and directly a consequence of Israel (and the US) accepting this terrorist government as legitimate.
Though responsibility has not been claimed yet, and Israel has not yet announced the suspected culprits, I would not be surprised if this is a Hamas led or coordinated operation, given the fact it comes in the wake of the coalition government, and Obama’s release of 5 prisoners in exchange for a US Marine.
If this is the case, Hamas likely had at least a plan to smuggle the victims to Gaza, Jordan or Egypt, as it would be very difficult to keep them hidden in the West Bank, where the IDF has freedom of movement. If they did not succeed in transferring them, then the real danger to the teenagers is their murder by an ever more desperate cell of terrorists who feels the loose closing around them.
Their abduction is a direct result of our weak policies, and it is high time they stop. The government needs to take heavy retaliatory steps; while Netanyahu paid lip service to the fact he considered the PA responsible, the words are hollow. Let him call up the reserves, and dismantle this terrorist government.
At the very least, the IDF should re-enter Hebron and Bethlehem, as the precious few days are the most critical; closing a ring around the terrorists.
It is likely that the youngsters were not seized by force from the very beginning but rather got into the stolen Israeli vehicle found in Hebron, thinking they were hitching a ride from Jews (Palestinian plates are green or white in the West Bank, and Israeli plates are yellow… everyone who knows the are is well aware of this fact… and it may be why the terrorists stole an Israeli vehicle). It is possibly they are still in zone A of Hebron, before being transferred by the terrorist cell. And I also imagine the IDF has some leads from the youth’s cell phones, who must have not stopped working immediately upon them being seized.
Though no effort should be spared to these young and innocent boys, it is important to have the farsightedness to consider the fate of the next three.. and 100 and hundreds. We must replace the incentive system for the terrorists. As revolutionary as it might sound, Israel needs to replace the rewards it hands out for kidnapping and murdering Jews, for harsh consequences.
The PA should be put on notice. That they have 48 hours to return these lads unhurt to Israel, or that they have seen their last days in office. The IDF will retake all of Judea and Samaria, in order to ensure the safety of all residents who live there, Jew and Arab. The gang of terrorist thugs who run the PA, Fatah and Hamas alike, should be arrested and tried for their endless crimes.
We keep claiming that life is so important to us, unlike to our enemies. But we do not value life by giving in to its destroyers, and by avoiding justice. Valuing life starts by valuing and enforcing justice.
As we find in Deut. 16:20 צֶדֶק צֶדֶק תִּרְדּף – “Justice, Justice you shall pursue”
And even later our Sages teach us in the Talmud that we should not abandon even a single brother to the enemy, hoarding at the gates who asks only for his life in exchange to spare everyone else’s. They knew the simple truth then. Moshe Dayan knew it too as I wrote in my Gilad Shalit paper:
Moshe Dayan told us early on in Israel’s history, that we can never stop every single terror attack, but that we can do is make their cost so prohibitive (ie retaliation) that the enemy will not be willing to pay it. Fast are wise words learned hard forgotten.
Fast are they forgotten indeed.
Let us, with Gd’s help, swiftly save Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, and bring them home. And if we fail, Gd forbid, let us avenge them. I very much fear, that we will do neither.