Week 2 of the Kidnapping – no news is not good news!
Israel is intensifying its efforts to locate the 3 boys who were kidnapped by Hamas on June 12th. About 400 “Palestinians”, most of whom are Hamas, or affiliated with Hamas, or who released as part of the Schalit deal in 2011, have been taken into custody. The nation waits with expectation for some good news regarding the kidnapped youths, but the only thing that makes it into the media is that there is proof that Hamas is behind this latest kidnapping incident and that believes that the boys are still alive.
As part of the effort to locate Naftali Fraenkel (16), Eyal Yifrach (19) and Gil-ad Shaar (16), and bring them home, alive and well, Naftali’s mother, Rachel Sprecher Fraenkel, travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, on June 24th to address the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of “UN Watch”. This follows the condemnation of the abduction by the U.N. immediately after the event became known. Fraenkel, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, has been interviewed by major international news media outlets, and pleaded for worldwide support in helping to bring about the release of the boys. While addressing the Human Rights Council, she sought international condemnation of the kidnapping and call for pressure to be placed upon the kidnappers to immediately release the three Israeli boys. She was accompanied by Iris Yifrach and Bat-Galim Shaar, parents of Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar, but the two were not slated to speak at the summit. In a press statement following a lengthy meeting of the families of the abducted youths, Fraenkel said “We are determined to see the children return home as quickly as possible, and we will test our actions by the outcome — seeing our children again.” Her short, two-minute speech can be seen and heard here.
On that same day, former Arkansas governor and former U.S. presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, accused the Obama administration and the U.N. of their failure to denounce calls by the international community urging Israel to exercise restraint in its efforts to locate the teens, adding that he, himself, would not show restraint towards a kidnapper. He slammed the U.N. as being “utterly worthless” and (referring to the U.N. headquarters) urged the U.S. to “jackhammer that thing right off the edge of Manhattan”. A Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee noted that the world has it backwards. Instead of showing restraint towards a kidnapper, “every compassion, every ounce of energy [should be shown] toward the kidnapped child.” Referring to the fact that Naftali Fraenkel is a dual Israeli-American citizen, Huckabee stated: “And because he’s an American citizen we have not just an emotional response, we would have [a] constitutional duty that the whole world would understand that this takes it to a new level for the United States…You kidnap an American citizen – now all bets are off…We find you, we come get you. [If] you hurt that kid [you] don’t want to know what the results will be.” Then, in a clear reference to Jen Psaki’s statement of June 17th, namely: “We encourage all sides to operate with restraint”, Huckabee said that he didn’t understand what Psaki (the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State) was thinking when she made that comment. Responding to a question what steps he would take if he were president, he said: “I wouldn’t send some third-tier, lower-level State Department spokesman out with an absolutely embarrassing quote, saying we hope that both sides show restraint…I think there are only two sides here, and the sides are evil and good. Evil commits kidnappings against innocent children. Good does whatever it can to get those children back and to punish to the full extent of the law anyone who would be a part of that.”
But, not everyone sees things as clearly as Mike Huckabee. As expected, Hamas continues to deny any involvement in the kidnapping and, after first condemning the kidnapping, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon voiced his “concern” to P.M. Netanyahu last Saturday about the nature of Israel’s operation to locate the boys and deal with the kidnappers, which has resulted in the deaths of four “Palestinians”.
In typical fashion, the “Palestinians” and international human rights organizations are slowly, but surely, accusing Israel of wrongdoing, specifically of exacting “collective punishment” against the “Palestinians” in Hevron and elsewhere. The argument of these civil rights groups is to the effect that Israel can continue to search for the missing teenagers, as long as the search does not inconvenience anyone – and, of course, by “anyone” they mean the “Palestinians”. Regrettably, they find support in the leftist camp in Israel and elsewhere.
Yet, these organizations ignore both the realities on the ground, as well as international law that allows Israel to continue tits pursuit to locate the kidnapped teens, as well as to apprehend the kidnappers. On the one hand, these groups claim to rely on international law to base their arguments of civil rights violations. On the other hand, they ignore mentioning the laws that allow for the active pursuit of those who violated the civil rights of the three boys. The claim of “collective punishment” is inapplicable in a situation where the objective is not to punish the “Palestinian” civilian population, but, rather, to locate the kidnapped teens. If the boys would be found quickly and the military operation would end, it would buttress Israel’s position that its purpose was to pressure those who could help facilitate the return of the boys, rather than to punish the “Palestinians”. Moreover, just about every law-enforcement authority will confirm that investigating a crime and rounding up suspects and potential witnesses is part and parcel of the procedure. This applies several times over when the criminals are part of an extensive terrorist organization and network.
How many missiles sent from Gaza into populated civilian areas in the south of Israel are enough for Israel to be able to defend herself? How many “Palestinian” suicide bombers, who desire to expedite their exit from this earth, taking as many Israeli civilians with them, are enough for Israel to be able to defend herself? How many heavy-duty weapons should be smuggled into Israel through underground tunnels before Israel should be able to take action to defend herself? How many Israeli civilian vehicles need to be fired upon by “Palestinians” before Israel can retaliate? How many of our soldiers and civilians need to be abducted before we say “enough”? The world expects Israel to be nice and kind to those who are making every effort to kill us. I wonder how the so-called “civilized countries” of the world would respond, if these events were part of their own, daily existence.
The main-stream media continue to refer to the unending “cycle of violence”. The MSM try to give the impression that both Israel and the “Palestinians” are equally responsible for the on-going hostilities, the increase of which would be evident to any casual observe here. Those who improperly label Israel’s response as “collective punishment”, “vengeance”, or “over-reaction”, or terms of similar import, fail to see that there is no reasoning with those who would kidnap children for political gain. Islamist power-politics historically have increased in the face of weak opposition and have decreased when opposition was strong.
It is now two full weeks since the boys were abducted. No news is definitely not good news. With each passing day, there is a growing concern whether they are still alive. At the same time that Rachel Fraenkle was pleading with the U.N. to take action to locate the youths, Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas terror organization based in Gaza praised their kidnapping as a “heroic act“, but went on to deny having any information about the abduction: “No one clalimed reponsibility so far. I can neither confirm [the responsibility of Hamas] not deny it…Blessed be the hands that captured them. This is a ‘Palestinian’ duty, the responsibility of the ‘Palestinian’ people Our prisoners must be freed; not Hamas’s prisoners – the prisoners of the ‘Palestinian’ people.” Mashaal would not refer to the event as a “kidnapping”, but rather as a “disappearance’, saying that the three young men were not “youths, as Israel calls them, but first and foremost settlers … and not even regular settlers, but armed ones…They are combatants. Settlers in the West Bank are a disaster.” Then, he added the “Palestinian” narrative, with a bit of a twist: “The one who lost these three [youths] is Netanyahu by ignoring the ‘Palestinian’ suffering and provoking our people.” Notwithstanding the carefully-worded statement about having no knowledge, he went on to say: “I, Khaled Mashaal, and my brothers in the political bureau (referring to the Fatah branch of the “Palestinians” under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas), claim full responsibility for any action carried out by any member of the movement. But Hamas is not a small shop; it’s a large movement, and every person knows his role in it.” (my emphasis)
Having said that, it would seem that the responsibility for the kidnapping does, indeed, lie at the feet of Hamas. Even as this is being written, the news here broadcasted that two Hamas members from Hebron, who having been missing since the kidnapping, are the prime suspects in the abduction. Both of them have spent time in Israeli jails more than once. They are being sought by Israeli authorities for the last 12 days.
Lest we forget, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing“. This statement, which is attributable to the Irish political philosopher and statesman, Edmund Burke, is over 200 years old. Yet, its relevance remains with us today. Even more relevant is the wisdom expressed by King Solomon 3,000 years ago: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) Releasing terrorists with blood on their hands did not endear endear our enemies to us. Our willingness to turn over to the “Palestinians” 98% of Israeli territory taken in 1967 was not sufficient for them to commit to ending their hostilities against Israel. Enough!
With all that said, the anguish over the kidnapping continues. It is doubtful whether the 3 Jewish boys are aware that they have captured the heart of the nation, or that the military operation to bring them home has begun to capture international attention. However, as I mentioned, the attention and concern of much of the world community is not so much over the fate of Naftali, Eyal and Gil-ad, but over Israel’s military operation and efforts to find them and bring them home. For the umpteenth time, the criminal cries to the international community, points an accusing finger and puts the blame on his victim and the international community is willing to join in the condemnation, not of the criminals – the kidnappers, but of the victim – Israel, whose sons were abducted.
The world needs to wake up and recognize that life in the Middle East is not elementary school!
Rockets from Gaza, again; Israel responds quickly.
Earlier this week, several rockets were fired from Gaza into southern part of Israel. One of the rockets apparently misfired and landed in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a 3-year-old girl in the process and woulding three others, two of whom were children. Israel’s Iron-Dome defense system was able to down two of the missiles, while the other projectiles landed without damage in most of the locations. One rocket landed inside of a residential community in the Negev region and caused damage to a home. Israeli planes pounded Gaza in a retaliatory strike, striking “5 concealed rocket launchers in northern Gaza, one terror activity site in central Gaza, and a weapon manufacturing facility in southern Gaza.” According to the Israeli military, over 200 rockets have been fired on Israel since the beginning of the year. This is not normal and it is only a matter of time before war once again will break out.
Border area with Syria is heating up.
With summer having official started only 5 days ago, the weather is already hot and in many places it is stifling. But, weather is not the only thing that is hot here these days. The situation with Syria is not looking at all good. Earlier in the week, a Syrian soldier fired an anti-tank missile across the border with Israel, killing an Israeli teen in the Golan Heights and wounding three others, including the father of the teenager. Israel waited for a response from Syria that would explain the attack, but none was forthcoming. Israel then responded with air strikes against nine Syrian military targets, which were the most extensive air strikes against its northeastern neighbor since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war over three years ago. One “human rights” group said that the Israeli strikes resulted in killing at least 10 Syrian soldiers, destroyed two tanks, two artillery batteries and the headquarters of Syria’s 90th brigade. Referring to the air strike, P.M. Netanyahu stated clearly: “During the night, we operated with great force against Syrian military positions that acted against us, and, if needed, we will use additional force. We will continue to strike with force anybody who attacks us or tries to attack us.” Again, the aggressor played the victim, as the Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement to that great “un-organization”, the U.N.: “The Israeli attack was a flagrant violation of our sovereignty and rules of international law.” I suppose that the Syrian perspective is that firing an anti-tank missile across our border does not violate our sovereignty or international law.
Peres honored in the U.S., calls for renewal of talks between Israel and “Palestine”.
In what was his last official visit to the U.S. as President of Israel, Shimon Peres was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts in strengthening relations between Israel and the U.S., as well as for his efforts to make peace with our neighbors.
The medal was presented to him by House Majority leader, Eric Cantor, who said to Peres: “You have been an inspiration for all of us, young and old.” U.S. Vice-President, Joe Biden added: “You are truly a force of nature, Mr. President…You are a national treasure to Israel, but also, I would suggest, you are a national treasure to the United States as well.”
In his speech to the Congress, Peres urged members of Congress to help raise awareness of the plight of the three kidnapped teenagers, as well as encouraged the U.S. to stand alongside Israel in its fight against terror, adding: “Israel has shown it can defend itself against those who sought our destruction. Israel did and will do, everything in our power to bring home our three kidnapped boys – Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal. I met with their parents, their mothers. They asked me to speak here on their behalf. To make your voices heard all over the world to help bring our boys home. To sound a call across the world against terror. Let’s raise our voices together against terrorism.”
He said: “Many people call me a dreamer” and stressed that the peace process could be renewed. In this regard, he referred to Hamas as a terror organization, but praised “Palestinian” Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, calling him a “real partner” for peace. Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home Party, would disagree. He accused Abbas of being a “mega-terrorist”, who used money from the “Palestinian” Authority to encourage the murder of Jews and claimed that some prisoners in Israeli jails earn as must as 12,000 Shekels (about US $3,500) a month from the PA.
Back to Peres – He said “Peace between Israel and ‘Palestine‘ can forge a broader regional peace. A bridge should be built to enable an Israeli peace initative to meet the Arab peace initiative. I have lived long enough to see the impossible become possible. To skeptics, I can say: Believe me. Peace is the most possible impossibility.” I join with those who say that he is a dreamer. He views a “Palestinian” state as already existing. He is totally secularist and thinks that Israel can do everything in its own strength, with no need to call upon the God of Israel, whom Peres referred to as “a distant diety”. He joins those who would argue “peace in our time”. All that Israel needs to do is give in, give up and give away. Dream on, Shimon, dream on. And in your dreaming, remember the words of Golda Meir: “We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs; we have no place to go.” One day, there will, indeed, be peace. But that won’t be until the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, comes and reigns. Until then, people will continue to say, “peace, peace, but there is no peace.”
I intentionally did not deal with the explosive situation developing in Iraq and in other neighboring countries (except Syria), or about the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, which begins this weekend. The killers of the off-duty police officer, who was murdered on his way to a Passover dinner with family, were apprehended. One of them had been released in the deal to free Gilad Schalit. There are follow-ups to Hanin Zoabi’s claim that the kidnappers are not terrorists, which is supported by other Arab members of the Knesset, some of whom consider Hamas to be “liberators”. Education of children in Hamas summer camps brainwashes them to hate and kill Jews and Israelis. Unlike Shimon the Dreamer, as long as Hamas and Islamist terror groups cultivate hate and a culture of violence, peace in this area of the world will remain impossible. Then there is the decision of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. to divest from three companies, which were deemed to profit from “Israeli occupation”, thus joining those who attack the one country in the Middle East that actually protects Christians. And a potential red heifer may be on its way to Israel. Each thing will be discussed in its turn and at the appropriate time.
And that is the way it is, two weeks into the kidnapping, with two suspects being sought. Maybe by the weekend, we would have some good news. We could use it.
“But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.” (Gal. 4:29)
“Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Prov. 25:26)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,