The search for the three abducted Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel (who held Israeli and American citizenship), ended on June 30th with the grisly discovery of their bodies in a shallow grave near the West Bank city of Hebron. They were found by civilian volunteers from an Israeli field school in the area, who alerted Israeli security forces. The boys appeared to have been shot, perhaps shortly after the abrupt ending of a cell phone call from one of the teens in which he said, “I was kidnapped.” Cartridges of bullets were found in the burnt out vehicle that was determined to be the car carrying the kidnapped teens.
Israeli security forces have identified two Hamas operatives as being responsible for the abductions. They are Marwan Qwasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha from Hebron. This appears to have been a planned operation, with possible funding, training, logistical support and safe houses being arranged with the support of Hamas’s infrastructure extant in the West Bank itself as well as from Gaza. An intensive search is underway for others involved in the operation. Targeted Israeli attacks on Hamas’s West Bank infrastructure are likely to continue. More action is under consideration as Israeli leaders have reacted to the latest news with fury and disgust.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an urgent meeting of his security cabinet at which they are expected to formulate a response to the kidnapping and murders. He told the security cabinet that the teenagers were “kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals.” He added: “Our hearts bleed, the entire nation is crying with them. Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, declared: “This tragic ending must also mark the end of Hamas! The nation is strong and ready to endure [tragedy] for the sake of a mortal blow against Hamas. … [W]e have to destroy the homes of Hamas activists, wipe out their arsenals everywhere, and stop the flow of money that directly or indirectly keeps terror alive… make the entire Palestinian leadership pay a heavy price.”
Israel’s United Nations Ambassador Ron Prosor demanded that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon press the Security Council to condemn the murder of the boys, the firing of rockets, and the unity government between Fatah and Hamas:
In the past few weeks, Israel has come under attack and felt the bitter devastation that comes with Hamas in a Palestinian government. Since the formation of the unity government on 2 June 2014, over 70 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel…The international community can no longer remain silent as the citizens of Israel are mercilessly murdered and terrorized.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did condemn the murderous attacks, which he called a “heinous act by enemies of peace.” But he did not call for any action by the Security Council or refer to Hamas by name. Last week the Security Council failed to reach consensus on any statement to issue regarding the kidnapping itself. Jordan, a non-permanent member of the Council, insisted on including a condemnation of Israel in any resolution or press statement, which the United States refused to accept.
President Obama joined Ban Ki-moon and other Western leaders in denouncing the murders. He broke his inexcusable weeks-long silence on the abductions themselves and made this statement about the murders:
As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.
However, Obama characteristically lumped Israel, the victim of this deliberate act of atrocity against its young, with the Palestinians, the aggressors. While referring generally to the “senseless act of terror,” he avoided any reference to jihadists generally or more specifically to Hamas as the perpetrators who must be found by all means necessary and brought to justice. He insisted that both sides avoid any escalation that could “further destabilize the situation,” although Obama did make a point of mentioning that, as the Israeli people deal with “this tragedy,” they would have “the full support and friendship of the United States.”
As usual, Obama’s deeds are at variance with his words. A true friend would recognize that Hamas is at war with Israel and act accordingly to provide full support in actions and words to its beleaguered ally. Hamas considers all Israelis to be combatants and legitimate targets, including children. Its rocket attacks launched from Gaza are aimed at Israeli civilians. Indeed, on the same day that the abducted teens’ bodies were found, fifteen rockets from the Gaza Strip were fired by Hamas in three volleys into Israel. Obama is insensitive to the daily plight of Israeli civilians, most notably the children, who must seek out bomb shelters every time they hear a siren go off after yet another rocket launching from Gaza aimed at killing them.
In addition to its rocket attacks, Hamas has publicly declared that the kidnapping of Israelis is a key tactic of their “resistance.” They use kidnapped Israelis, live or dead, as bait to secure the release of hundreds, if not thousands, of the Palestinian terrorist murderers with innocent blood on their hands who are currently behind bars in Israel.
A senior Hamas political leader, Muhammad Nazal, called the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, “a heroic capture” and “a milestone” for the Palestinian people. Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, while saying that he could neither confirm nor deny Hamas’s direct involvement in the abductions, nevertheless complimented the operation. He accused the three teenagers of being “soldiers in the Israeli army.”
“This is a very important aspect which should be mentioned,” Mashaal said. “They [the three youths] are combatants.”
After the teenagers’ bodies were discovered, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV that Israel is using the deaths of the teenagers to “escalate the situation against our people and our resistance, and Hamas in particular,” BBC Monitoring reported. He threatened that Israel will pay a price “higher than any price paid in the past” in the event of any confrontation “imposed on us,” ignoring the fact that it is Hamas that has already initiated the latest confrontation.
Despite Hamas’s praising of the kidnappings as to which two of its operatives are suspected of being directly involved and Hamas’s continued defiance, there was not a word in President Obama’s statement on the deaths of the three youths indicating any intention to reverse his decision to establish ties with the recently sworn-in Fatah-Hamas unity transitional government. Although no aid is permitted by Congress for a power-sharing government that includes Hamas as a member, the Obama administration has been doing everything it can to end-run the congressional restrictions by pretending that everything remains business as usual. U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki made it clear to reporters at a briefing in early June that the Obama administration would not cut off the more than $500 million of annual aid that it supplies to the Palestinian authorities. She added that the United States “will be judging this government by its actions. We will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government, and if needed, we will recalibrate our approach.”
Additionally, the United States remains the largest single-state donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which have totaled more than $4.65 billion since UNRWA’s inception in 1950. The Obama administration’s budgeted annual contributions to UNRWA are now in the range of $250 million, on top of the above-mentioned half a billion dollars annually in direct bilateral aid.
After the Obama administration effectively legitimized Hamas by its endorsement of the transition unity government and keeping the gravy train flowing, Hamas responded with the abductions and murders. Yet Obama still believes that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can retain control of the transition government, which is supposed to be technocratic in nature to help prepare for elections in several months. After all, Abbas had provided assurances that the new government would adhere to past commitments to non-violence, renunciation of terrorism and recognition of the state of Israel, and that Abbas himself would continue to uphold his responsibility to maintain security coordination with Israel.
The kidnappings and subsequent murders of the three teenagers in the West Bank, coupled with the resumption of Hamas’s rocket attacks from Gaza, expose the emptiness of Abbas’s assurances, even in the unlikely event that he was sincere when he delivered them. Abbas and his team simply refuse to acknowledge that Hamas is in fact a jihadist organization that kills innocent civilians as part of its deliberate strategy.
One only has to look at a statement during an Arabic interview last April by Saeb Erekat, Abbas’s hand-picked chief negotiator with Israel, who claimed that “Hamas is not and will never be a terrorist organization to us.” Moreover, he said that “Hamas is not required to recognize Israel.”
With Gaza firmly under its control and an infrastructure already established in the West Bank, Hamas is poised to roll over any opposition and dominate the “elected” government unless Israel can thwart it. The Bush administration fell for the faux “democracy” gambit back in 2006 when it endorsed a parliamentary election that Hamas swept and then exploited by expelling Fatah from Gaza altogether. Will the same happen again in the West Bank, with Hamas sweeping to victory and then ending any semblance of democracy immediately thereafter as it embarks unencumbered in its plan to destroy the Jewish state? Quite likely, but the Obama administration is not likely to learn from the mistakes of the prior administration, much less from its own mistakes which include continued reliance on Abbas to make things right.
Any “new government” with which Hamas is associated, in any way, shape or form, is little more than a smokescreen behind which Hamas and its jihadists brothers will be able to operate with impunity to kill innocent Israeli civilians. U.S. taxpayer monies, to the tune of a half a billion dollars this year alone in direct aid plus another quarter of a billion dollars funneled through the UN, will end up helping to fund this obscenity.
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