Wednesday night, July 2, Israel’s security cabinet held its third special session in two days to map out a response to the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, who were laid to rest in mass funerals Tuesday. Despite the impression of indecision, the select group of senior ministers conveyed, debkafile’s sources report that they did in fact decide to hold back from a major military operation in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minsiter Moshe Ya’alon abd Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz decided that instead of smashing Hamas infrastructure at its home base in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army would continue to pound its networks on the West Bank.
This decision was the outcome of heavy arm-twisting on the part of Egypt, Qatar and Jordan. They urged Israel to continue to smash Hamas in Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank domain, but to leave the Islamist organization be in the Gaza Strip.
By heeding Arab advice on how to respond to the tragedy of three murdered young Israelis, the government found within hours that it had opened the door to unbridled violence both in Jerusalem and against the communities who have the misfortune to live within range of Gazan rockets.
The match which kindled the flames was the kidnap and murder of a 16-year old Palestinian boy Muhammad Abu Khdeir from the Palestinian district of Shuafat in Jerusalem. Since his body was found early Wednesday in the Jerusalem Forest, Jerusalem’s Palestinians have been in violent uproar demanding vengeance against Israel.
The prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the police to hurry up the investigation of this “abominable crime.” But it soon turned out that the motive and the police investigation no longer mattered. The Palestinians had decided “Jewish settlers” had slain the Arab boy, and foreign observers treated the murder without further ado as tit-for-tat by Jewish extremists for the slain Israeli teenagers.
Tons of rocks and explosive devices were hurled during the day at Israeli police and security forces attempting to restore order in Jerusalem’s Palestinian districts.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas and the Jihad Islami leaders, knowing they were safe from Israeli retribution, let loose with volley after volley of rockets and mortars – 30 in a single day – against Ashkelon, Netivot, Sdot Negev, Sderot, Kerem Shalom and the Eshkol District. Three were downed by Iron Dome interceptor. But no defense system is proof against a missile blitz on this scale.
The three cabinet sessions not only failed to come up with ways to deter Hamas terror or cut its armed capabilities down to size, but reached a decision that opened the gates of violence in two arenas – Jerusalem and Gaza.
Read debkafile’s earlier report of Wednesday.
The discovery of the body of a brutally murdered Palestinian boy in the Jerusalem forest early Wednesday, July 2, unleashed violent disturbances in the Palestinian districts of Jerusalem, which climaxed in mid-morning with three pipe bombs hurled at security forces in the northern district of Beit Hanina at security forces attempting to maintain order. One exploded, injuring a Palestinian. Enraged Palestinians then set fire to three light train stations that serve the northern districts.
Jerusalem has not seen this level of tension and Palestinian violence, including the use of explosive devices, since the suicide bombing uprising of 2000-2004.
According to the Palestinians, the boy, since identified as Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir aged 16 from Shuafat, was kidnapped and murdered by “settlers.” They report a car with three men wrestled the boy into the vehicle and drove off. The Palestinian boy’s body showed stab wounds. It was found charred.
The Israeli police, after imposing a gag order on the investigation and the outbreaks in the Palestinian neighborhoods of north Jerusalem, said only that they are initially exploring several motives for the crime, including the boy’s family’s long history of disputes. Internal Security Minister Aharonovich reported that police reinforcements have been imported to the capital and the police were on high alert in other parts of Israel.
debkafile’s military sources report that large IDF, Jerusalem Police, Border Police and Shin Bet agency contingents are concentrated around the three restive Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Hanina, Sheafat and the neighboring refugee camp. They appear to be waiting outside the centers of the riots, before interfering, in the slim hope that the violent unrest will subside of its own accord.
These forces have blocked the main roads of North Jerusalem from the French Hill junction to Shuafat and Bet Haninah, virtually cutting off the Palestinian neighborhoods from their eastern exits.
The troubles first erupted Tuesday night, July 1, in downtown Jerusalem, immediately after the three Israeli teens, who were abducted and murdered by Palestinians, were laid to rest in a mass funeral in Modiin. Hundreds of rowdy Jewish youths set upon Palestinians employed at places of work there. The police stepped in to arrest 50 Israeli rioters and rescue their victims.
In its first comment, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesman Abu Rodeina held Israel fully responsible for the death of the Palestinian boy and the outbreaks of violence in Jerusalem.