The funerals of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, Tuesday, July 1, whose parents decided to bury them side by side in Modi’in, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, was a national event, drawing many tens of thousands of sorrowing sympathizers from every segment of the population. Their anguish over the senseless murders of the three boys shortly after they were kidnapped on June 10 on their way home, was mixed with anger and demands for real retribution. They will not be satisfied with the government’s knee-jerk order to bomb empty Hamas and Jihad Islami facilities overnight, shortly after their bodies were found in a shallow grave in Kachil, a Palestinian village north of Hebron.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s sorrowful words to this mass of mourners won’t assuage their fury.
They will watch him tensely to make good on his vow:
“Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” backed up Tuesday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. He said: “The blood of the killers is on their heads” and the price Hamas pays will be “heavy indeed.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for a military operation against Hamas in Gaza on the same lines as the Jenin cleanup campaign, which finally terminated the four-year Palestinian suicide bombing war against Israeli towns in 2004. He linked the kidnaps and the unending rocket attacks from Gaza as part of Hamas’s muscle-flexing exercise to hasten its seizure of the West Bank from the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
This design must be thwarted by uprooting Hamas’s Gaza infrastructure and operational arms, said Lieberman, no doubt recalling how the delay in the Jenin operation encouraged a lethal upsurge of Palestinian terror before it was cut down.
The suspected kidnappers, named Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Ayshe by the Shin Bet three days into the massive search on the West Bank for boys and their abductors, are still being sought.
But meanwhile their homes were blown up.
Trade and Industry minister Naftali Bennett urges the annexation of the parts of the West Bank settled by Jews and more settlement.
Other ministers in the Netanyahu government urge substantial punishment for the Islamist Hamas and its terrorist networks, if only as a deterrent for any future kidnap attempts and an immediate halt to its rocket attacks.
One or two ministers echo the sentiments of foreign condolers. Israelis are outraged when world leaders like US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and an organization like the International Red Cross urged “restraint on both sides,” as though the perpetrators and their victims were equally to blame for the atrocity committed against the three Israeli teenagers.
Military and intelligence sources have warned the ministers in discussions on national security that if Hamas is not stopped in its tracks, Israel will soon see the black flags of Al Qaeda and ISIS pushing towards its borders, through doors opened by their ally, the extremist Islamist Hamas.
In the northern Syrian town of Raqqa, the Iraqi jihadis paraded Scud D surface rockets capable of reaching Israel, Iraq and Jordan. Photos of the parade appeared Tuesday in a number of web sites and social media Western weapons experts who saw them judged them “likely inoperable.” However, according to debkafile’s military experts, the Al Qaeda-linked group has been able to seize large Syrian and Iraqi army arsenals in recent weeks and has not qualms about using them.
No one doubts the IDF’s rare capabilities and skills in counter-terror combat. But when politicians are too weak to exercise them, they are eating away at Israel deterrent strength.
Bombing empty buildings gives Hamas a blank check to carry on kidnapping Israelis and shooting rockets. It will not persuade Abbas to break up his unity pact with Hamas, provide security for nearly a million Israelis in daily peril of rockets, or stop Western leaders pontificating against Israel’s “lack of restraint.”
debkafile reported earflier Tuesday:
Monday night, June 30, the Israeli Air Force bombed 34 Hamas and Jihad Islami facilities in the Gaza Strip while, in the West Bank town of Hebron, soldiers demolished sections of buildings inhabited by the kidnappers who murdered the three Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel.
Their bodies were found during the day abandoned in the rocky field of a Palestinian village after a nerve-wracking 18-day hunt. The Israeli cabinet went into emergency session Monday night after the discovery and will continue sitting Tuesday to decide on fitting punishment for this shocking crime. Meanwhile, air force planes and drones struck 34 empty Hamas and Jihad Islami facilities in the Gaza Strip, from which the terrorists had fled to safety in good time.
debkafile: The ministers and army chiefs knew that the enemy, which kidnapped and murdered the three teens in cold blood, would again escape harm and, worst still, lose none of their capacity to continue harassing southern Israel with a rocket blitz.
And indeed, the Israeli air bombardment was followed immediately by three rockets launched from the Gaza Strip against the Eshkol District. They damaged buildings. There were no Israeli casualties.
The two Palestinian terrorist groups were making it clear that should Israel intensify its punishment for the boys’ murders, they too were fully capable of answering back with heavier and more precise guided rocket strikes against the Israeli population.
debkafile’s military sources: Both the IDF and Hamas-Gaza have evidently opted for a controlled confrontation until one of the two adversaries determines how to proceed next. Israel’s deliberations continue Tuesday amid pressing demands by Israelis, stunned by the tragedy, for action to hurt the terrorists where it counts and deter them from ever again abducting an Israeli.
The statement Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued from the cabinet meeting Monday night was a clear vow: “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”
On the West Bank, Israeli soldiers early Tuesday razed sections of the Hebron homes of the two Hamas activists, Marwan Qawasmeh, 37, and Omar Abu Aysha, 33, who are held guilty of the kidnap and murder of the three Israeli boys. The attorney general who was first consulted ruled that the demolition of the large dwellings must be confined to the sections inhabited by the two men.
The half a million population of the Hebron district, where the kidnaps and murders took place, has been placed under lockdown for the hunt for the perpetrators, who have not been seen since the kidnapping occurred on June 10.
According to Israeli intelligence, they are still holed up somewhere in this district. At some points, Palestinian youths stormed the soldiers who opened fire to repel them.
Near Jerusalem, an Israeli woman of 21 was rescued from a house in Beit Jallah, which adjoins the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo, claiming she had been snatched by Palestinians. Heavy army and policy forces, moved into this Palestinian location to retrieve her. Her claim is being investigated..
In a separate incident, Israeli soldiers on a counter-terror operation in the Jenin refugee camp further north came under attack. A Palestinian mob hurling firebombs, rocks, explosives and iron bars was broken up when the Israeli soldiers began shooting. One of the assailants was shot dead.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was on the phone to world leaders Monday night and early Tuesday to plead with them to hold Israel, driven to retaliate for the teenagers’ murders, in check.
No decisions were reached in Ramallah about the future of the unity government Abbas sealed with Hamas last month.
In his message of condolences to the Israeli nation, US President Barack Obama urged “all parties to “refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation” and encouraged Israel and the Palestinians “to work together to find those responsible for the crime with US support.”