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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.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. aFloridian says:

    On some level, Israel’s reaction is one more example of their disregard of Palestinian lives and, worse, a reminder that their state is propped up by American weaponry and American kowtowing.

    Punitive demolitions and revenge attacks are not the hallmarks of a civilized democracy. But Israel is not a civilized democracy. It is absolutely maddening that the pro-Israel lobby has managed to ensconce itself so thoroughly in American politics that one thing all serious American politicians must agree on is America’s undying support for Israel. Watch any presidential debate, Republican or Democrat, and marvel at how all the mainstream candidates practically knock each other down while trying to show who loves Israel more.

    Why? Because some Christians have a belief that the Jews are God’s “Chosen People?” Because we mistakenly think that Israel’s presence in the Middle East somehow serves our interests? Because, hey, at least they’re not Muslim?

    Israel’s policies show very clearly that Israeli society views Arabs, particularly Arab-Muslims, as somehow less human than Israeli Jews. Even Arab-Israeli citizens are treated as second-class. Those others, the Palestinians, are segregated into modern-day ghettos in their own land, denied statehood, forced to suffer the ignominy of constant Israeli retribution, home invasions, and the ever-greater encroachment of (usually) ultra-Orthodox settlers into what little territory they have left.

    Hamas is a terrorist organization, and I have no sympathies with them, but, really, do we not see how groups like that thrive and grow out of this kind of misery. It’s practically a petri dish for terrorism. I am incensed every time I read of Israeli abuses and remember it is Uncle Sam who props them up. America should not support this kind of state. Israel is a false-friend. America ought to do its utmost to maintain the moral high ground, to practice what we preach, and to encourage human rights in all situations, not just where it suits our current play. I firmly believe much modern terrorism was directly caused by the creation of the state of Israel. America has the power to hold Israel accountable – if she will only use it.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 7

  2. Tillman says:

    No one likes Hamas, but the ratio of dead in these Israeli retaliations speaks more than mere words can.

    Israel has most if not all the cards here as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  3. Cletus says:

    @aFloridian:

    Wow, you actually believe terrorism was caused by the creation of Israel?!! The sad truth is that Muslims have been killing each other for hundreds of years before the existence of Israel. These people hate all Jews and Christians and think its their duty to rid the world of Judaism and Christianity. The Palestinians are merely a prop for the Arab World.

    Arafat had the best deal possible in 2000 but turned it down. These people aren’t interested in peace but only the total destruction of Israel. most Israelis would gladly trade land for peace but want a guarantee that they will be left alone. The Palestinians will never give up the right of return which impedes any deal.

    America also benefits greatly with its relationship with Israel. they were a counter to Russian influence during the COld War in the Middle East. Israel has also prevented further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region b stopping Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  4. Tyrell says:

    That will be the last time that Hamas messes around with Israel, no doubt about it.

    “Payback time!” (B. A. Baracus, “A Team”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Hey, Doug — nice use of the passive voice there — ” Discovery Of Dead Teenagers.” They just died, and just happened to be found.

    We gave Hamas almost half a billion dollars in support last year. In return, they send rocket after rocket into Israel and now kill three kids for the high crime of being Jewish. And one of them was an American. Then, just to put the final spin on things, the vehicle carrying their bodies was stoned.

    @Tillman: No one likes Hamas, but the ratio of dead in these Israeli retaliations speaks more than mere words can.

    Israel has most if not all the cards here as well.

    Sorry, sport, but Hamas doesn’t get a pass for being inept. The low Israeli body count does NOT reflect any kind of restraint on Hamas’ part, but incompetence. They “get points for trying.”

    Finally, let’s not forget that Hamas is the duly-elected, legitimate government of the Gaza Strip. That means that each and every attack on Israel is an act of war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  6. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Finally, let’s not forget that Hamas is the duly-elected, legitimate government of the Gaza Strip. That means that each and every attack on Israel is an act of war.

    You could’ve made the case before…I don’t know, 2007, before Hamas seized control and Israel blockaded Gaza completely. The blockade has only reinforced Hamas’s hold in the Strip. Unless they’ve held elections since then I’m unaware of?

    Also, if each and every attack is an act of war, why hasn’t Israel simply conquered the Strip and been done with it? Instead they’ve kept up a blockade that throttles any possible economic advancement in the region, and further construct settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank to push them out. The Israelis have done everything short of a blatant war crime against the Palestinian people, and I hold them more responsible for the situation because of their overwhelming military and economic might versus that of the Palestinians.

    Finally, if Hamas is so inept, then the response of the Israelis to the deaths of three teenagers is even more reprehensible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  7. Tillman says:

    @Cletus:

    America also benefits greatly with its relationship with Israel. they were a counter to Russian influence during the COld War in the Middle East. Israel has also prevented further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region b stopping Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programs.

    You’re right, Israel was a great ally in the Cold War. But their use as an ally since then has been diminishing. They stopped nuclear proliferation into states that would threaten them, and their intelligence service gleefully aided us in thinking Saddam still had WMDs so we’d take him out for them. We’re not getting as much out of the alliance as we used to, and Netanyahu’s near-endorsement of a political opponent to a sitting president during an election encapsulates the whole of our problems with them.

    I’m not saying we should be anti-Israel, I’m saying we shouldn’t be as undyingly pro-Israel as we seem to be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tillman: When Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, they left quite a bit behind that could have really helped the Palestinians prosper — one example is the Gush Katif greenhouses. These were promptly destroyed by the Palestinians.

    The Palestinians have developed great expertise in smuggling to get around the Israeli blockade — and use them almost exclusively for weapons. For all the poverty in Gaza and the West Bank, there is never a shortage of weapons and explosives. That’s their priority.

    And why hasn’t Israel simply wiped Gaza off the map? There are a multitude of reasons, but the biggest one is they’re not Palestinians. Genocide is the stated goal of Hamas, not Israel.

    Hamas is inept, in comparison to Israel. They lay out their intentions — the total extermination of Israel — and do their best to achieve that. You seem to want to give them credit for not being able to achieve that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  9. Cletus says:

    @Tillman:

    I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be Pro Israel if they are one of our key allies. Obama has even stated that Israel is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. As for not getting the most of our alliance as we used to, you are probably correct. I could though could name a number of countries who who get very little from but still support unconditionally. The US is the biggest “aid” donor in the world. Still, we don’t share everything with Israel and they not part of the Five Eyes Alliance that we have with our closest allies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  10. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    When Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, they left quite a bit behind that could have really helped the Palestinians prosper — one example is the Gush Katif greenhouses. These were promptly destroyed by the Palestinians.

    The Palestinians have developed great expertise in smuggling to get around the Israeli blockade — and use them almost exclusively for weapons. For all the poverty in Gaza and the West Bank, there is never a shortage of weapons and explosives. That’s their priority.

    Imagine you’re a plucky Gazan entrepreneur who doesn’t want to be affiliated with the government.* The tunnels are Hamas-controlled and operated, so to use them for economic reasons would require being a part of Hamas or fully supporting them more than business would allow. This sad circumstance would require you to go through the checkpoints of the Israeli blockade, forcing you to surrender tight, regular scheduling to the whims of the border officials who suspect you might be smuggling weapons parts or other such contraband. Try to imagine building a business that can make money under such day-to-day burdens, and perhaps you might realize why Gaza is poor. Legitimate business doesn’t want to rely on tunnels made to smuggle contraband, it wants the paved roads it was used to before military occupation.

    Hamas can be faulted for prioritizing war, but Israel must be faulted for the poverty. They enforce the blockade that makes the prioritization necessary. Also love how you’re equating “the Palestinians” with Hamas there, lovely rhetorical dodge from reality.

    * Considering the outspoken views of our business owners, and how our government isn’t affiliated with a terrorist wing trying to destroy other nations, this isn’t hard to picture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Tillman says:

    @Cletus: I’m fine for remaining pro-Israel, but the kind of lock-step rhetorical cover we give them is wrong. Especially if we’re attempting to strengthen diplomatic ties with other powers in the region, as we should. Especially if Israel meddles in our politics in the same, unsubtle way Netanyahu did the last presidential election. I believe (but don’t know) we’d get more credibility with Arabs if we distanced ourselves somewhat from them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Andre Kenji says:

    @Cletus:

    Wow, you actually believe terrorism was caused by the creation of Israel?!! The sad truth is that Muslims have been killing each other for hundreds of years before the existence of Israel.

    No. The sad truth is that Europeans have been killing each other of hundreds of years in a MUCH bigger scale than Muslims did. In fact, sectarian violence was more or less rare among Muslims until the end of World War I.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  13. Grewgills says:

    @Tillman:
    I do so love the logic that any additional regulatory burdens on American businesses will send us crashing into economic ruin, however the Palestinians should be able to have a thriving economy under the blockade and other current restrictions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. aFloridian says:

    @Cletus:

    Wow, you actually believe terrorism was caused by the creation of Israel?!!

    You essentially lose all credibility with your opening salvo. Way to misconstrue what I said. No, terrorism has been around much longer, and yes, Muslims have long been killing each other. As Andre Kenji points out, so have Europeans – so has everyone else as a matter of fact.

    I get it – Israel supporters in America don’t like Muslims – barbarians, bloodthirsty savages, brown people, and with funny clothes. Your average Israeli wears Western clothing, looks more or less white, and eats at Burger King. Culturally we’re very different from both, but a heck of a lot closer to the Jews, because the Ashkenazi are European and Western.

    Tillman is right, I think, in his belief that less American subservience to the Israelis would help our relations with the Muslim Middle East. Do you really think the terrorists want to destroy our way of life because we’re over here being so free and having so much fun eating fast food and listening to rock’n’roll? Peace in the Middle East, and our role in it, may very well be a Gordian Knot, but I am willing to be a major strand is directly tied to our unbending, servile relationship to Israel. This country is a new creation, a country the Muslims see as an invasive blight on THEIR country. Obviously it is too late to go back and undo the creation of the Israeli state – brought about by European Holocaust Guilt and Zionist political machinations – and don’t for a second think I am suggesting Israel has no right to exist – but the understanding the Israel-supporters show in this discussion could not be more black and white – and oversimplified.

    America is supposed to (at least put on a public face) be a paragon of republican virtue – a democratic, free society that respects human rights and uses its soft power so that it need not use its hard. We have gotten away from that. It ruins our position in the moral high ground to stand idly by like a stooge while our “ally” in the Middle East commits human rights abuses in a state not overly dissimilar from South Africa under apartheid.

    Let’s be honest about what we’re dealing with here. If you want to support Israel because you don’t like Muslims or because you think Jews are God’s Chosen People, fine, but let’s not pretend its some noble democratic state. Israel is no better (or little better) than Iran or Assad’s Syria, the difference being they are “our” monsters – or so we tell ourselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  15. Cletus says:

    @aFloridian:

    I don’t debate anti Semites. Tillman makes arguments while you spout hate.
    Please read some history books and you might not sound so ignorant

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  16. Sejanus says:

    I don’t see why Israel should remove the blockade. Hamas has stated it intends to destroy Israel and is not willing to settle for peace with it. Removing the blockade will allow them to smuggle longer range rockets into the Gaza strip that will reach central Israel. In this kind of scenario, Israel will (justifiably) not be able to restrain itself, leading to military retaliations and even more deaths on both sides.

    Furthermore, Hamas isn’t the only armed force in the Gaza strip; Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, among other groups, are basically allowed to have their own militias. Even if we have guarantees that Hamas will not use the lifting of the blockade to arm itself and attack Israel, we have no guarantee that other militias won’t act.

    The ball is really in Hamas’s court. If they’ll just accept Israel’s right to exist, stop shooting rockets at Israel and dismantle all other militias in Gaza, they will be able to persuade Israel to lift the blockade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Just Me says:

    It’s amazing how effective Hamas is at getting weapons but not food considering the blocAde.

    They murdered three teenage boys-if the Israelis had done the same the left would be screaming bloody murder but somehow the progressive left thinks the three teens deserved to die-or at least that’s the message they send when they fail to condemn Hamas without a “but” somewhere in the condemnation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  18. dazedandconfused says:

    @Sejanus:

    The blockade was not solely for arms, it included a lot of things which could only be considered part of a policy of collective punishment of a people. “The world’s largest jail”.

    The Israelis haven’t taken it over because then they would be faced with the problem of being responsible for all those people. They intend to make Gaza and the West Bank so miserable the people die or leave. In a way our clinging to the notion of a two state solution harms them greatly. The Palestinians would be better off and do far more damage to Israel if they would simply surrender and publicly beg Israel to annex them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. Sejanus says:

    @dazedandconfused: Items that Israel currently blocks from reaching Gaza are either weapons or other items that could be used for terrorist purposes. Keep in mind that Israel only controls the flow of items in Israel’s border with Gaza and through the sea i.e they have nothing do with whatever happens in Gaza’s border with Egypt.

    Israel has evacauted its citizens and militray from Gaza in 2005 and has no intention of returning there. If Hamas will disarms all other militias in the Gaza strip, stop firing rockets at Israel and normalize relations with that state Israel will no have no reason to keep blockade. As I said before, the ball is in Hamas’s court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. diet plans says:

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. Moosebreath says:

    @Tyrell:

    “That will be the last time that Hamas messes around with Israel, no doubt about it.”

    I truly hope you are being sarcastic, as that is likely the worst prediction I have seen in years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tyrell: That will be the last time that Hamas messes around with Israel, no doubt about it.

    I really hope you’re kidding. Hamas will “mess around with Israel” as long as Israel exists.

    It’s in their effing Charter. It is their primary reason for existing.

    “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”

    “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”

    “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion.”

    “Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Moslem problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?

    “But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah.” (The Cow – verse 120).

    There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.”

    And that is the duly elected government of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Cletus: “I don’t debate anti Semites. ”

    Reason #357 “nothing” can be done. Insolent back-turning at the mere perception of a slight continues to make things worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  24. Moosebreath says:

    Uh-oh — Jenos and I have the same reaction within 2 hours of each other. Has anyone checked the current weather conditions in Hades?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. dazedandconfused says:

    @Sejanus:

    If you think the only things blocked are arms than you haven’t looked at the facts. Egypt’s support is a deflection. Likudnic?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Sejanus says:

    @dazedandconfused: “If you think the only things blocked are arms than you haven’t looked at the facts.” But that’s not what I wrote. I’m aware that civilian items that can also be used for terrorist purposes, such as construction materials, are also restricted from being imported to Gaza (though not completely forbidden). I’m an Israeli, though not a likudnik, but unlike you I don’t consider it to be an insult (despite my disagreement with that party).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Sejanus says:

    @dazedandconfused: “If you think the only things blocked are arms than you haven’t looked at the facts.” But that’s not what I wrote. I’m aware that civilian items that can also be used for terrorist purposes, such as construction materials, are also restricted from being imported to Gaza (though not completely forbidden). I’m an Israeli, though not a likudnik, but unlike you I don’t consider it to be an insult (despite my disagreement with that party).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Moosebreath: What, you don’t like your snow with a side order of sulfur?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. dazedandconfused says:

    @Sejanus:

    You are quibbling, and we will have to agree to disagree the things and amount of materials blockaded from Gaza weren’t collective punishment. It’s not open for serious debate for me.

    The central point I am making is the two-state solution is now only a cynical ploy by Israeli right wing to buy time while they flood the West Bank Greater Israel with settlers, and the more vicious the better. It’s over, and the sooner the Palestinians beg for mercy and to be annexed the better it will be for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Sejanus says:

    @dazedandconfused: “You are quibbling, and we will have to agree to disagree the things and amount of materials blockaded from Gaza weren’t collective punishment. It’s not open for serious debate for me.” Darn, there’s no way I can argue against such a substantiated argument assertion.

    “the sooner the Palestinians beg for mercy and to be annexed the better it will be for them.”

    I suppose that this sentence is correct if “a rerurn of the Balkan conflict” is considered to be equal to the word “good”. We’ve seen how those binational states work in the former Yugoslavia, there’s no reason to assume the outcome will be different in Israel and Palestine. I do agree with you that evacuating the West Bank from settlers and Israeli military troops will probably be the best way to avoid a binational state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. dazedandconfused says:

    Anyone can google the blockade of Gaza, and have grossly mis-characterizing my statements and/or failed to grasp their meaning.

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