Israel Hits Hamas In Response To Discovery Of Dead Teenagers
Not surprisingly, the discovery late yesterday of the bodies of three dead teenagers, one of whom holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, has lead to retaliation against Hamas:
The Israeli air force has launched a series of air raids on the Gaza Strip, hours after the bodies of three settlers were found in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli military said it launched 34 raids in the early hours of Tuesday, in response to 20 rockets fired into Israel from the strip.
A Palestinian was also shot dead on Tuesday in an Israeli operation in Jenin, in the West Bank. The Israeli military said the dead man was a member of Hamas and was attempting to throw a grenade, although this information cannot be independently verified.
The attacks came hours after the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promised that the Gaza-based group Hamas “will pay” after the discovery of the young settlers’ bodies near the West Bank village of Halhoul on Monday.
They disappeared on June 12 while hitchhiking home from a religious school in Kfar Etzion, an illegal settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron, and were last heard in a brief emergency call to police.
Their disappearance set off the largest military operation in the West Bank since the end of the second Intifada. More than 400 Palestinians were arrested in the 18-day search, thousands of homes raided, and five people killed by Israeli gunfire.
On Monday night it demolished the homes of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, two Hebron-area residents who the Israeli government has named as suspects.
The use of punitive demolitions revived a practice that was almost entirely discontinued in 2005.
The Israeli security cabinet also held an emergency meeting on Monday night, which ended with no major decisions on further actions, according to a government source. The cabinet will reconvene on Tuesday.
Some politicians have called for harsher steps against Hamas, including targeted assassinations. “I don’t know how many leaders of Hamas will remain alive after tonight,” said Tzachi Hanegbi, the deputy foreign minister.
Given that the discovery of these bodies coincides with an increase in rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza against Israeli territory, this reaction was to be expected. Whether it leads to something wider is another question, as it what it all ends up accomplishing in the end.
On some level, I can understand the Israeli reaction here. Hamas refuses to acknowledge that Israel even has a right to exist and has used Gaza as a launching pad for terrorism ever since it obtained political power there nearly a decade ago. These are not the “moderate” Palestinians who are in charge of the West Bank, and it appears for the moment at least that negotiation with them is utterly impossible.