Peace Upon the Boys, Not the Palestinians
The discovery on Monday of the dead bodies of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Shaer sent shock waves across the country. In spite of a growing sense of doom — due to the fact that their Hamas captors had not come forth with demands, and extensive searches were coming up empty — there was nevertheless a ray of hope that the boys were still alive.
Fresh in the public’s mind was the 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who spent five years in Hamas captivity until being released in exchange for 1,027 terrorists. Based on this experience, much discussion following the June 12 kidnapping of the three teenagers was devoted to the question of how to handle the current situation better. In other words, there was an assumption that Israel’s biggest dilemma was going to be whether to launch a rescue operation or negotiate for the boys’ release.
It is thus that the news of their cold-blooded murder and subsequent burial in a hole in the ground was not only tragic and enraging; it also came as somewhat of a surprise.
What came as no surprise at all, however, was the response of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the so-called “international community.”
Residents of the PA attacked the ambulance transporting the bodies of Eyal, Naftali and Gil-ad out of the area near Hebron where they were found. The mob expressed its sentiment about the boys by hurling epithets, rocks and paint at the vehicle, smashing its windshield.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas — who had been lauded publicly by the Israeli government (and by Naftali Frenkel’s mother, Rachel) for his assistance in the search for the boys and their kidnappers — immediately appealed to the United States and Europe to prevent Israel from retaliating militarily.
Hamas thumbed its nose at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay” for the premeditated slaughter of the teens. Its senior spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, wrote on Facebook: “Netanyahu … must understand his threats do not terrify us. If he launched a war against Gaza, the gates of hell would be open on him.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement condemning “the deliberate killing of civilians,” calling the murder of the boys a “heinous act by enemies of peace [that] aims to further entrench division and distrust and to widen the conflict.”
The Vatican called it a “hideous and unacceptable crime” and an “obstacle to peace.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki managed to condemn the murders without actually acknowledging them as such.
“The harm that has been done to these teenagers is a tragedy,” she told reporters. When asked whether the U.S. was calling for “restraint,” she answered, “It certainly does.”
President Barack Obama echoed this message in a statement.
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth,” he said. “From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort. I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”
As was to be expected, everybody’s main concern is that Israel will do what is necessary to defeat those who aggress against it. That the Arabs in Gaza and the PA wish to keep the “Zionist enemy” and “occupation forces” at bay is at least understandable.
After all, since Monday night, the Israeli Air Force has been striking dozens of terrorist targets throughout Gaza.
And though Netanyahu’s emergency meeting with the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet ended just after midnight with no final decision on how to respond to the murder of the boys, Abbas and his new Hamas partners undoubtedly realize that even their patsies in Washington and Brussels may not be able to serve as their buffer in this instance.
But it never ceases to boggle the mind that Western countries consider Israel to be a greater threat to “stability” than the Arabs who seek its destruction. Nor does it cease to amaze that the hackneyed phrase “enemies of peace” is still being used to refer to state-backed terrorists. They are not enemies of peace. They are enemies of Israel.
When the autopsies of Eyal, Naftali and Gil-ad are complete and the innocent teenagers can be buried — this time properly, with their grieving family and friends there to pray and mourn — Israel must be determined not to let the societies that bred their killers ever rest in peace.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.'” This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.