Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Saturday,
Aug 02nd
Home News Israel Global community condemns kidnapping crime

Global community condemns kidnapping crime

E-mail Print PDF

People rally outside the Israeli Consulate in New York City, June 16, holding a placard of the three kidnapped Israeli teens.TEL AVIV — Since the three teenagers were abducted last week, Israel’s goals have been simple: Find them and punish their kidnappers.

Realizing those goals, though, is far from a simple task.

The international community has condemned the kidnappings, and Israel has spread its forces across the West Bank to search for the teens. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to stop at nothing to find Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach.

But the effort is taking place amid an increasingly complicated period in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Israel is holding the PA responsible for the incident, but also is working with it to find the teens. PA President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnapping but now shares a government with Hamas, which has hailed the abduction.

And while Israel has promised to do everything it can to bring the boys back, there are efforts in the Knesset to prevent prisoner swaps of the sort that freed hostages in the past.

The teens were captured on June 12, and in his first public statement on the incident, Netanyahu two nights later wasted no time blaming the kidnapping on the new Palestinian unity government formed as a result of an agreement between Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas.

“We hold Abu Mazen and the PA responsible for all attacks against Israel that originate from their territory, whether this is Judea and Samaria or the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said, using Abbas’ nom de guerre.

On Sunday, June 15, Netanyahu said he knew “for a fact” that Hamas perpetrated the attack and again pledged to hold the PA to account.

But Israel’s coordination with the PA on West Bank security has continued unabated. PA security forces are helping Israel comb the areas under PA control for the teens.

On Monday, Abbas and Netanyahu spoke for the first time in more than a year.

Shlomo Brom, head of the program for Israeli-Palestinian Relations at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, said it was a mistake for Netanyahu to try to pin the blame on Abbas.

“That’s the last thing he should do because now we need the Palestinians,” Brom said. “The last thing we should do is weaken them.”

Netanyahu’s accusation that Hamas was behind the abduction was denied by Hamas leaders, though they also praised the kidnapping. On Sunday, the prime minister received support from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said “many indications point to Hamas’ involvement.”

Some experts suggested that Hamas was the only organization in the West Bank sophisticated enough to carry out the kidnapping but that it had nothing to gain from confirming Israeli claims.

Taking responsibility for kidnapping children, they said, would not gain Hamas international sympathy and would encourage Israel to expand its military operation.

On Tuesday, Israel arrested 41 Hamas officials and placed additional restrictions on Hamas prisoners in Israel.

“It would have been easier had they kidnapped soldiers,” said Jonathan Fine, a counterterrorism expert at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

“That they kidnapped teens is not going to work in the international arena. They’re very quiet now because of tactical reasons, but also because of an escalating amount of fear over what Israel will do. If these kids are executed, Hamas will pay a very, very high price.”

WHILE Hamas may be behind the kidnappings, it has been particularly uncomfortable politically for Abbas.

He has forsworn violence but signed a unity deal with Hamas. He has condemned the kidnapping, but official organs of his Fatah party have published cartoons praising the kidnappers. And Abbas opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank but is aiding the Israeli army in its search efforts there.

In the wake of the kidnapping, the PA froze ongoing reconciliation talks with Hamas. But Fine said Abbas is “walking a very thin line,” unable to publicly support the Israeli military efforts or Hamas.

“There’s no doubt he’s in a catastrophic situation,” Fine said. “He was working on the political level cornering Israel [diplomatically], and now Hamas comes up and screws up everything. Hamas backstabbed them.”

In the past, when military operations have failed to rescue hostages, Israel has turned to releasing Palestinian prisoners in return for captured Israeli soldiers or civilians.

In October, 2011, Israel released more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006. Last year, Israel agreed to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners as a precondition to entering peace talks with the Palestinians.

But opposition to such exchanges has intensified among right-wing Knesset members who view prisoner exchanges as fundamentally unjust and strategically misguided.

Days before the kidnapping, a bill proposed by Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party that would make it more difficult to release terrorists as part of such exchanges passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset.

Following the kidnapping, Jewish Home’s chairman, Naftali Bennett, doubled down on his party’s opposition to prisoner exchanges, telling Israeli Channel 2 Monday that “over the past 30 years, the fact that we’ve freed about 10,000 terrorists over the years got the other side used to the idea that if you kidnap, it’s worth it because you receive 1,000 terrorists, 100 terrorists.”

Should Israel prove unable to find the teens, said Hillel Frisch, an expert on Palestinian politics at Bar-Ilan University, public pressure to free the hostages could lead to a prisoner swap, even if it hurts Israeli strategic interests.

“I feel bad for these three boys, but this whole attack shows the bankruptcy of this policy” of prisoner releases, Frisch said.

“[Terrorists] have an incentive. It’s like playing the lotto but knowing you’re going to win. All they need is to do something like this every eight or 10 years.”

Related coverage & commentary elsewhere on IJN.com:

Last Updated ( Friday, 20 June 2014 02:31 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Obama still wants cease-fire, faults Hamas for its rupture

Ron Kampeas President Obama said his team would continue to pursue a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but faulted the militant group for violating the one in place with its apparent capture of an Israeli sold... [Link]

National Jewish security arm calls for enhanced security

Ron Kampeas The security arm of national U.S. Jewish groups called on Jewish institutions to enhance security because of a spate of attacks on Jewish targets in Europe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict in ... [Link]

From the Archive: A Jewish tunnel to Israel

Julie Wiener Hamas wasn’t the first group to build tunnels in order to enter Israel. ... [Link]

Times of Israel, 5 Towns paper, remove posting pondering genocide in Gaza

Ron Kampeas The Times of Israel and the 5 Towns Jewish Times removed a blog post calling for genocide to be considered as an option in the Gaza conflict and the Times of Israel dropped the blogger. ... [Link]

The dilemma of Israel’s captured soldier

Uriel Heilman How will the Gilad Shalit experience influence how Israel deals with Hamas’ capture of Lt. Hadar Goldin? ... [Link]

Kerry calls for ‘immediate, unconditional’ release of soldier

Ron Kampeas U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Hamas must “immediately and unconditionally” release the soldier it apparently captured during a cease-fire. ... [Link]

Children suspected of vandalizing Jewish, Christian tombstones near Paris

Cnaan Liphshiz Children aged 11 and 13 are suspected of vandalizing at least 15 Jewish tombstones and six Christian ones at a cemetery near the French capital. ... [Link]

Lawyers of suspected Brussels shooter shown performing quenelle

Cnaan Liphshiz Attorneys representing the suspected killer of four people in Belgium’s Jewish museum posed for a picture while performing the quenelle gesture, which many believe is an anti-Semitic salute. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com