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Kidnapping is proof the occupation can't protect Israelis

Israelis deserve a leadership that is capable of interrupting the cycle of violence; they deserve more than juvenile assurances of retaliation.

By Nathan Hersh

Last month MKs Yariv Levin (Likud) and Orit Strock (Jewish Home) submitted a series of bills seeking to annex Area C of the West Bank to Israel. What would things look like today had the government agreed?

Such a vote would have been a victory for the Jewish Home party and the rest of the Greater Israel crowd, but it would result in a security nightmare.

The kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel would have taken place in Israel proper. Israel already controls all civil and security issues in Area C. If annexation were to go forward, a kidnapping in Gush Etzion would no different from a kidnapping in Haifa. In such a situation, the only option for combatting terrorism that would be available to Israel’s defense establishment is amplifying the failed tactics it already employs.

Annexation is not a solution to the security threat, it is agitation of it.

Read +972’s full coverage of the kidnappings

Israeli setters hitchhike at the Gush Etzion junction, next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli setters hitchhike at the Gush Etzion junction, next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

These MKs promise more conflict. They promise Israelis that the prisons will be filled with Hamas members by dawn. They may promise to bring back these boys, but they offer no promises to prevent the same thing from happening again tomorrow. They don’t promise a new system that will guarantee increased security for Israeli teenagers. They don’t promise clear borders to separate us from the Palestinians, who they also tell us is the enemy. They don’t promise better coordination with PA security forces in order to prevent situations like these. They don’t promise to pursue new methods of intelligence gathering or surveillance that can be achieved without energizing Palestinian frustration. They do not promise to seek alternatives to army outposts in Israel’s innovative tech industry so that, even if an agreement with the Palestinians isn’t within reach, at least we won’t stoke the conflict and invite justified international criticism with IDF boots on Palestinian necks in the meantime.

In situations like these, when the nation is angry, the government expects Israelis to replace their demand for security with a demands for vengeance. They expect that building more homes on the front lines will make Israelis feel better about the infuriating situation they face. But revenge and settlements will not bring back these boys. This kidnapping is proof that the occupation cannot uphold its promise to protect them; it has failed Israel.

Right wing Israelis burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at the Gush Etzion junction, a settlement next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem ,on June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Right wing Israelis burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at the Gush Etzion junction, a settlement next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem ,on June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel needs a new system to protect its civilians. Rather than relying on infantry units — and civilians — throughout the West Bank, which opens Israel up to more abductions, the defense establishment should look to the tech industry for unmanned surveillance methods. Instead of piling blame on Mahmoud Abbas in front of the news media, Israel should activate more lines of communication and coordination with the Palestinian Authority; having contacts on the other side is very helpful in these situations. Finally, the Israeli government should encourage its citizens in settlements to move within the Green Line as the best line of defense against future kidnappings.

Israelis deserve a leadership that understands the meaning of the phrase “cycle of violence,” they deserve politicians capable of interrupting it and they deserve more than the juvenile assurance of retaliation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to blame the Palestinian Authority, saying, “If the abduction comes from PA territory, it is responsible.” But this abduction happened in Gush Etzion, not in Jenin. It happened in territory where Israel already controls all civil and security matters. It was not a new threat and it was not unexpected. It was not the result of a new Hamas strategy to destroy us. It happened because whenever Israel’s government is asked to choose between the welfare of its citizens and settlements, it chooses the latter.

Nathan Hersh served in a combat unit of the IDF primarily in the West Bank. He is now the managing director of Partners for Progressive Israel, formerly known as Meretz USA. He lives in Brooklyn.

More on the kidnappings:
Reward activism and diplomacy, not violence
This is what a military operation in Hebron looks like
In photos: After kidnapping, West Bank cities under lockdown

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lo

      I don’t think it can be stated enough that the kidnappings occurred in Area C.

      If the IDF cannot protect its citizens in the areas it has full control, why the hell is Israel spending so much time and effort putting its citizens in danger?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        What kind of yada yada yada is this, Lo? The internal logic of both the article and your comment is weird and incomprehensible, because kidnappings also take place inside Israel proper. Additionally kidnapping occur in other Western and non-Western countries on an even bigger scale without anyone calling the legitimacy/territorial integrity and the ability of those countries to defend their citizen into question. The piece of good news I have for you is this: just as Israel crushed suicide-bombing, so will she uproot ‘kidnapping’ – thoroughly.

        Reply to Comment
        • JG

          Stay the hell out of Westbank where you don’t belong. If you want to saty there, expect resistance. Just as easy as that

          Reply to Comment
      • The Shin Bet according to its statistics in 2013 stopped 187 serious terrorist attacks, 45% of which were planned by Hamas. 28 of them were kidnapping attempts. In 2014 Shin Bet has stopped 96 planned, serious attacks, 45 of which were planned by Hamas. One might also add that Israel’s Iron Dome have been effective in stopping the 150 rockets fired from Gaza with the intent of killing Israelis in Southern Israel.

        If the police, IDF and Shin Bet did not have a presence in the West Bank who would have stopped the attacks? Don’t forget that the majority of attacks during the second intifada took place in Israel and Jerusalem. Only 1/4 of the attacks took place in Judea and Samaria.

        If Israel did not have a presence in the West Bank, the hills and mountains of Judea and Samaria would be launching sites for attacks against Israeli population centers.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bar

      The idea of a sterile defense of Israel is pretty much what is happening in Gaza. There is no occupation there, no presence of any Israeli civilians, no soldiers on the ground, sophisticated technology being used to contain Hamas and other groups, etc. This hasn’t stopped attacks on Israel, and it has actually enabled the Palestinians to develop their arsenals, their rockets, and to freely train their terrorists (and their kids to become terrorists in summer camps). Israel has had to have two operations in the past 5 years in Gaza, which ends up with far more damage and death than having soldiers in there.

      Does the author believe that anything different would evolve in Judea and Samaria if Israel treated it as it does Gaza?

      Also, the author’s premise that if Israel isn’t perfect in preventing crimes against its civilians, then it should recognize it can’t defend them is both defeatist and a boon to Israel’s attackers.

      In the first place, Israel succeeds about 98% of the time in preventing most kidnappings and attacks. It isn’t perfect in part because its citizens don’t always follow directions (they’re Israelis!!) and because the other side is sophisticated and relentless.

      In the second place, since when is it beneficial to cut and run from your enemies, particularly if they score a success on the battlefield? There would be no Israel if this was its ethos.

      Finally, the author isn’t mentioning Israel’s peace offers which would have effectively achieved what he is proposing. The Palestinians weren’t interested in those deals and have now told a sitting US president that they would not sign off on “end-of-conflict.” Perhaps the author can convince the Palestinians to listen to his ideas first, and then, when he has garnered their support, the case he’s making to the Israelis would seem to make more sense.

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        Stay the hell out of Westbank where you don’t belong. If you want to saty there, expect resistance. Just as easy as that

        Reply to Comment
        • Dazed and Confused

          Who are you tell people where the do or don’t belong? The German Green Party and the racist Quran may be obsessed with maintaining racial purity, but Humanity is not.

          Jews have as much right to live and own property in Mecca and Ram’Allah as global Leftists have a right to live in Dearborn and London.

          Quranic/global Leftist racism has no place in 2014.

          Jews have every right to live wherever they want and the racist policies of the Leftist “Palestinians” needs to changer to accommodate that reality. And if it can’t, then the racist culture of “Palestine” will have to be dismantled.

          Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          Let’s just call Judea and Samaria “Westbank” and POOF, Jews don’t belong in Judea. Lovely.

          Reply to Comment
    3. EYES2Cעיניים לראות

      Now Israel has opted (again) to expel another UN envoy. This time the Dutch diplomat “crime” is that he is the United Nations’ Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. . . and so Robert Serry will be declared by the Israeli government “persona non grata”. (FM Yvet Liberman claims that Serry “sought to transfer tens of millions of dollars to Hamas”…)

      Prof. Richard Falk was similarly “dangerous” to Israel Security”. He was expelled on 14 December 2008, at the age of 73, after being detained overnight at Tel Aviv’s NUT BAG Airport.

      Falk is an America Jew and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. Falk too was a Special Rapporteur to the UN on the Palestinian territories.

      Also the South African (Jewish) judge Richard Goldstone, was “stoned” by Israel for his moderate criticism. Goldstone was sent by the UN after the “Cast Lead” operation, in 2009…

      Obviously Israel does not like reports on it’s non-compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law, and it choose to bark at the United Nations…

      Reply to Comment
    4. EYES2Cעיניים לראות

      Now Israel has opted (again) to expel another UN envoy. This time the Dutch diplomat “crime” is that he is the United Nations’ Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. . . and so Robert Serry will be declared by the Israeli government “persona non grata”. (FM Yvet Liberman claims that Serry “sought to transfer tens of millions of dollars to Hamas”…)

      Prof. Richard Falk was similarly “dangerous” to Israel Security”. He was expelled on 14 December 2008, at the age of 73, after being detained overnight at Tel Aviv’s NUT BAG Airport.

      Falk is an America Jew and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. Falk too was a Special Rapporteur to the UN on the Palestinian territories.

      Also the South African (Jewish) judge Richard Goldstone, was “stoned” by Israel for his moderate criticism. Goldstone was sent by the UN after the “Cast Lead” operation, in 2009…

      Obviously Israel does not like reports on it’s non-compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law, and it choose to bark at the United Nations…

      Reply to Comment
    5. Khaled Khalid

      I think the kidnappings are fake. The supposed kidnappers have made no demand and no one has owned up to doing it.

      This looks like a very convenient Israeli operation to beat up Palestinian children and smash their homes.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bar

        Let me guess, you also believe the Mossad perpetrated 9/11?

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          Let me guess, you believe it was Al-Qaida?

          Reply to Comment
    6. ‎עיניים לראותEYES2C

      Israel has opted (again) to expel another UN envoy. This time the Dutch diplomat “crime” is that he is the United Nations’ Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. . . and so Robert Serry will be declared by the Israeli government “persona non grata”. (FM Yvet Liberman claims that Serry “sought to transfer tens of millions of dollars to Hamas”…)

      Prof. Richard Falk was similarly “dangerous” to Israel Security”. He was expelled on 14 December 2008, at the age of 73, after being detained overnight at Tel Aviv’s NUT BAG Airport.

      Falk is an American Jew and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. Falk too was a Special Rapporteur to the UN on the Palestinian territories.

      Also the South African (Jewish) judge Richard Goldstone, was “stoned” by Israel for his moderate criticism. Goldstone was sent by the UN after the “Cast Lead” operation, in 2009…
      Obviously Israel does not like reports on it’s non-compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law, and it choose to bark at the United Nations…

      Reply to Comment
    7. Dazed and Confused

      A group of Ford Israel Style-activists shot up the Chabad House in Mumbai. Chanting about Mohammed’s divinity the “Palestinians” committed Social Justice into the head of the Rabbi and Rebbetzin, as their child huddled in the corner watching.

      Haneen Zoabi and other Israeli Leftists reacted in the typical Quranic manner.

      Does that prove that India “can’t protect” its citizens. No. It proves that Social Justice is inherently evil wherever its practiced. And that “Palestinian” culture must be eradicated.

      The left-wing Social Justice activists who kidnapped the boys last week only confirm the necessity of eradicating “Palestinian” (and all Arabian ultra-nationalist) culture.

      Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        Meanwhile, nationalistic jewish mobs hunt and attack Arabs and Africans in Israeli streets.

        But surely Israeli ultra-nationalism (aka Zionism) should not be eradicated, because, ahem… it’s Jews! Holocaust! They’re allowed and must be allowed to be Ultra-Nationlists and commit crimes accordingly!

        Reply to Comment
        • Dazed and Confused

          We need to understand, Felix, and celebrate root causes.

          Remember after 9/11, those videos of Israeli leftists handing out treats in celebration on the streets of al-Qus? We were told after 9/11 how much we need to submit to Mohammed and celebrate the root causes (or otherwise the global Leftist street will erupt in violence).

          So too if Israelis have started to act like Leftists (e.g. suicide bombing children and flying planes into buildings) then we too need to understand and celebrate the root causes. Shouldn’t we? Israelis have as legitimate grievances as your boys in ISIS.

          As for me, I take the extremely unpopular (but singularly moral) position of being against ALL suicide bombings whether committed by global Leftists or by Israelis. I’m against the Quranic Empire whether advocated by the German Green Party or by Meretz.

          And I agree with you: any Israeli ultra-nationalist who merges his people with Nazi Germany (like the Quranic pope, Hajj Amin al-Husseini did during WWII). Or with Soviet Russia (like your Caliph, Yasser Arafat did during the Cold War) should be condemned unreservedly.

          Nazism, mainstream Mohammedanism, and Communism are ALWAYS wrong. Regardless if who advocates for it. I hate ultra-nationalist “Palestinians” as much as I hate their allies: Israeli Communists and the German Green Party.

          Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            Ohhh, this is too fucking good.

            You’re so incredibly simple minded, naive and ignorant, it’s might not even be funny any more… wait…

            Yes, okay, it’s still fucking funny how stupid and deranged people can be. If it wasn’t so sad at the same time. I’m seriously conflicted here, dude.

            Okay, let’s engage in some serious discussion: when AND HOW EXACTLY did the German Green Party last advocate a “Quranic Empire”.

            And don’t worry, I can read German, if you can only provide German sources.

            This will be fun.

            Reply to Comment
          • Dazed and Confused

            Read the front page of this website, which is funded by the German Green Party, and what they posted this morning.

            In the article, a “Palestinian” ultra-nationalist advocates a Shari’ah compliant, racially pure, Caliphate. He argues that his allies, the useful idiots, should remain useful. But need to be bigger idiots. And they (the useful idiots) need to stop talking about peace and equality.

            Because it was conquered by Mohammed, he argues, Israel needs to be a racially pure Shari’ah state.

            No need to read German.

            Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            Nope, can’t find the article you’re talking about.

            Surely you can provide a link?

            Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            Oh and by the way: I’m guessing 9/11 was perpetrated by the German Green Party as well?

            What evidence do you have that this website is funded by the German Green Party?

            Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Felix Reichert, you are a liar: (1) “Arabs” are NOT “hunted by Jewish mobs and attacked in Israeli street” as you claim. (2) Ultra-nationalism and Zionism are not the same; (3) there is absolutely no reason for you to drag the Holocaust into the discuss and make caricature of a crime committed by your fathers and forefathers. You are just disgusting, dude! (4) In the past, there has been a handful of sporadic shouting-matches/incidents between African migrants in South TA and some of the local residents. Such incidents were widely disapproved of by an overwhelming majority of Israelis. What is a fact though is this: unlike in YOUR OWN countries in Europe where neo-Nazis have killed scores of asylum seekers including burning Turkish families alive in their homes (Solingen, Rostock, etc.), there has been no deaths and/or (serious) bodily injuries in the sporadic incidents involving refugees in Israel. It is quite inexplicable why anti-Semitic foreigners like yourself obsess eternally with Israel and Jews, ranting ad nausea on internet against them, while turning a blind eye to the evils that go on in YOYR OWN countries and elsewhere! Mr. Felix Reichert, the day you provided several FABRICATED QUOTES on this site in one of your efforts to smear Israel you became a crook; today you still act like a crook; and you will remain a crook until you retract your fabricated quotes and apologize. Until then, get lost, sicko!

          Reply to Comment
    8. Vadim

      “Kidnapping is proof the occupation can’t protect Israelis”

      Not only that, it also proves that Israel cannot protect its citizens and thus has no right to exist.

      Not only that, it also proves that Jews in general can’t protect themselves and thus have no right to exist.

      Reply to Comment
      • tod

        victims’ card works always pretty well, right vadim?

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          It has worked extremely well for the Palestinians.

          Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            Has it? How so?

            How exactly have 50 years of being occupied by a foreign agressor, being politically supressed by said agressor, having ones human and civil rights regularly taken away by said foreign agressor, how has that worked “extremely well” for Palestinians?

            How exactly are Palestinians today better off than 20 or 50 years ago?

            I’ll remind you, again, that the Palestinian territories have the LOWEST social standard (in terms of PPP GDP per capita) of all Arab areas and countries surrounding Israel. Icluding even Egypt.

            How has Israel enabled any form of social justice or economic development in its occupied territories?

            Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            Promote interests of Israeli Jews as an ethnic/religious group. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “I’ll remind you, again, that the Palestinian territories have the LOWEST social standard (in terms of PPP GDP per capita) of all Arab areas and countries surrounding Israel. Icluding even Egypt.”

            There you are, Felix, you answered your own question. Playing the victim card worked for them because it convinced arse-holes like you that we are the baddies even though they are the ones who have refused to give up their 100 year old dream of getting rid of us from this part of the world.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            @Tod – There was no victim card in what I wrote. I have no idea where you got that from. All I wrote was a demonstration of where the writer’s logic leads to. Nothing more.

            @Felix – As usual, the Palestinians are mere puppets, people made of clay. They have no ways to influence their future, they have no responsibility for they actions (moral or other). It’s ONLY Israel, Israel, Israel.

            Perhaps if part of their money would go to schools instead of arms, hospitals instead of tunnels, kindergartens instead of paying salaries and support for Shuhada-Zubi-Brigades warriors. Perhaps they would have been better.

            Perhaps if improving their lives was a priority of some kind a compromise with Israel would become a serious goal. Instead of the retarted “here’s my grandmother’s key to her private shithouse which I never saw. I will fight for the right to use it even if it ruins my life, and if I fail then my son will continue my noble path”

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Are you kidding? Back before Israel took over Judea and Samaria and Gaza, the Palestinian Arabs had no freedom, no government of its own, no sense of nationhood, very low income and prospects, no universities, far less engagement with the outside world, much higher levels of illiteracy, lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates.

            All those things have changed. As for Palestinian incomes, surely you’re not going to blame Israel. After all, before Oslo, Palestinian per capita GDP was higher than Egypt’s. The combination of the Palestinian War of 2000 against Israel and the rise of Hamas in Gaza caused a deep rupture in Palestinian employment inside Israel and, as a consequence, incomes dropped. Not to worry, though, Felix, settlers in Judea and Samaria are providing employment to as many Palestinians as they can hire – and they pay 2-3 times the prevailing Palestinian wages.

            Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            Sure. I’ll bet Japanese businessmen payed top Yen for local workers in Manchuria. Is it OK to appropriate somebody else’s stuff as long as you “take better care of it?”

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Oh great, now the idiots compare us to what the Japanese did in Manchuria.

            Where does your hatred stop Reza? Have you no brain which you can use for reasoning? Must it always be your amigdala that you employ? What about using the higher more evolved parts of your brain?

            Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            I’ll repeat the chief question I wished answered:

            “Is it OK to appropriate somebody else’s stuff as long as you “take better care of it?”

            This was in response to the justification of settlements on the grounds that the settlers are providing “jobs.”

            Reply to Comment
    9. Tzutzik

      Well, I wouldn’t describe Jews living in East Jerusalem or Gush Etzion, as “appropriating somebody else’s stuff”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        I was talking about the settlers.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          TZUTZIK: “Well, I wouldn’t describe Jews living in East Jerusalem or Gush Etzion, as “appropriating somebody else’s stuff”.

          REZA: “I was talking about the settlers.”

          Kudos to you then. You admit that Jewish Israelis who returned to East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion after 1967 are not settlers. That is real progress. The Arabs disagree with you of course and many of your co-ideologues disagree too. But they are wrong.

          Reply to Comment
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