Israelis were enraged by the ‘prank’ yet somehow managed to ignore the army’s violent response of house-to-house searches, closures and arrests.
By Yael MaromAbout the same time that news of a nuclear deal with Iran made its way into the headlines Thursday night, reports came out about the suspected kidnapping of an Israeli in the West Bank. Irregular details about the case immediately raised the suspicions of the security establishment, and when Israelis woke up Friday morning it turned out that 22-year-old Niv Asraf had not been kidnapped as feared. The whole thing was a prank of sorts, meant to impress a special someone.
Since it became clear that Asraf caused an entire country to mentally prepare for another war for no reason, everyone seems to be angry. Those who initially prayed for his safe return are now wishing him death. Their reasoning: a huge waste of resources and taxpayer money. There are also those who are upset he put IDF soldiers in harm’s way.
Israelis were enraged by Asraf’s “prank” yet somehow managed to ignore the army’s regular, violent response. Media outlets failed to report on the fact that thousands of people were put under collective punishment Thursday night, and how, once again, they were the victims of searches, checkpoints and arrests — because they are Palestinians. Because the ends justify the means. Because they are used to it. What difference does it make? And, let’s face it, they deserve it.
In times like these, like during last May’s Operation Brothers Keeper (officially a search operation for three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank, although we now know that the government knew they were murdered from day one), I cannot help but remember the terrible murders at the Bar-Noar LGBTQ center in Tel Aviv in August 2009. It was a hate crime and an act of terror in every sense of the word, during which a man walked into a place full of teenagers and shot them just because they were LGBTQ. He escaped.
Imagine if Israel had implemented the same standard practices it uses in the occupied territories to catch the the Bar-Noar murderers. Tel Aviv would have been put under closure and special forces would have combed the streets, going door to door with their guns drawn, arresting people left and right. But that didn’t happen. No one thought to collectively punish all the residents of Tel Aviv and its suburbs. And rightly so. It is unbelievable that we respond to a single crime by punishing an entire population only because they belong to the same group or live in the same area.
Will anyone in Israel think of apologizing to the residents of Beit Anoun or the surrounding villages who were attacked for no fault of their own Thursday night? Probably not.