Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had immediately accused Hamas of the kidnapping — without presenting any evidence — and proceeded to “conduct a search” throughout the entirety of the West Bank until the bodies were reportedly found on June 30th.
The “search” entailed arresting and beating up about 600 Hamas members (including legislators) and trashing about 2100 homes; Israeli forces killed at least 7 Palestinians. Israel also heightened its daily air strikes on the Gaza Strip, which has been under the Israeli blockade since Sept. 2006. The Gaza government appealed to the UN for relief, which responded by condemning the kidnappings rather than the massive abuse of the Palestinian population. And then urging “all parties” to show restraint.
On July 1, Israel removed a gag order on information about the kidnapping that revealed shocking facts:
- The Israeli government had informed members of the press around June 15th that it was aware that the students had been killed (1) but placed a gag order on that information: the government must thus have known where the bodies were. The brutal “search” was merely cover for punishment of members of Hamas, the democratically-elected party of Palestinians throughout the occupied territories. The Israeli media played along with the pretext for the abuse.
- The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were only called in 8-9 hours after the first call to report the kidnapping. One of the students placed a call to the police emergency hotline 10 minutes after they accepted a hitchhiking ride home, with the message that he was being kidnapped. The statement was followed by what sounded like several gunshots, groans and silence; the call lasted for 49 seconds. Police ignored the call. The teen’s father called police 5 hours later, at 3:30 am, to report his son missing. “Several hours” after that, after an exchange of 54 phone calls, the IDF and Shin Bet finally became involved. (2)
- Despite possession of all of the evidence of the kidnappings and murders, the Israeli government has offered no evidence that indicates responsibility for the acts. Those with any direct connection to the phone calls or the finding of the bodies have remained unidentified.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has used this event for huge political gain:
- to create divisions within the new “unity government” of Fatah and Hamas,
- to physically punish Hamas members and the cause of Palestinian resistance,
- to get legislation passed through the Knesset to block the return of East Jerusalem to Palestinians (1),
- to try to foment a third intifada to legitimate further attacks on Palestinians (1) and
- to whip up such hatred of Palestinians that it has become dangerous for them to be seen on Israeli streets.
The Israeli government is continuing to harass and attack Palestinians until it supposedly finds the killers. The two young Hebron men named as the accused have been missing since June 12th.
The uncovering of this deception should arouse world condemnation.
Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.