If it turns out that young Muhammad Abu Khdeir was killed in a revenge attack by Israelis, then PM Netanyahu must surely carry some share of responsibility.
He knows full well that he is not the prime minister of a country of saints and that just like mainstream Arabs can be incited to murder, so can Israelis on the lunatic fringe of society. He has released terrorist killers without debate in the Knesset and without heeding the protests of victims’ families or the soldiers who risked their lives to apprehend them. When we have nothing to show for these gestures than the dead bodies of 3 schoolboys, what can Netanyahu expect from his own people?
Whilst we know what the IDF and security services were doing for 18 days, one wonders what the prime minister was doing, apart from giving interviews about the need to break the Fatah/Hamas unity pact.
It’s now clear that on Day 2 after the kidnapping the Shin Bet had already identified the two suspects who had disappeared from their homes. On Day 4 Netanyahu announced that ‘we know for a fact that Hamas is responsible’ for the abduction of the boys.
It has also emerged that recovery and forensic examination of the kidnap car on Day 3 gave every indication that the boys were already dead and that this had really become a search for bodies.
Then, critically, on Day 10 a gag order was lifted on the case of Baruch Mizrachi who was murdered on the eve of last Pesach while on his way to Seder in the same area of Hebron. What had been gagged was the fact that his killer had been released in the Shalit exchange. This drew outrage from Israelis.
Just imagine if they had then known that the 3 boys were already dead !
The job of a prime minister is to do right by his citizens first and foremost. He claimed proof of Hamas responsibility two weeks before the expected outcome of this wrenching tragedy. His job was to prepare a sufficient response that would satisfy the majority of Israelis that proportionate justice was being meted out, and that there was no need or justification for others to take the law into their own hands.
The correct response would have been to target and assassinate the heads of Hamas and destroy their homes and businesses, not empty buildings and weapons foundries. Ariel Sharon did just so with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi ten years earlier. Yes, we would have got the usual ‘gates of hell’ speech from the Arabs, but the job would have been done.
Bibi had two whole weeks to draw up that strategy and now it’s blown up in his face. For all the missiles hurled into Israel in the last few days we may as well have taken out their whole leadership.
The latest message, passed via Egypt, is that if the rockets don’t stop Hamas leaders will ‘pay with their lives’. Which means we will kill them for the rocketing, not for our three boys.
So, they will agree a ceasefire to save their own skins and the opportunity will have been missed altogether.
Even moderates in Israel will be rightly outraged.