17 June 2014
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Hijacking a kidnapping, Part I
As the families of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach languish in uncertainty, grieving the disappearance of their three young boys, the world watches as their anguish is politically co-opted to provide a veil for indiscriminate Israeli military force imposed on the Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The kidnappings also provide an opportunity for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to advance his right-wing agenda.
Netanyahu and his ilk have hijacked the legitimate, raw emotional pain of the kidnapping catastrophe and transformed it into the political impetus to section off Hebron from the rest of the world, target the Palestinian unity government, deploy intimidation and systematic abuse as a measurement of collective punishment, and strategically empower the settler enterprise in the West Bank.
This past Thursday, according to documents published on Sunday, one of the teens was able to contact emergency services immediately after the abduction, at 10:25 P.M., reporting, "We've been kidnapped", according to the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz. After a delayed response to the emergency call by emergency services, the Israeli military has shut down all but two access points to the district of Hebron, one through the Halhul area in the north, and the Yatta entrance in the south.
The lapse in response time begs the question regarding the utility of saturating Hebron with a massive military presence, in an area that is already under severe Israeli military control and surrounded by Israeli settlements.* Security officials have doubts that in the event of a kidnapping the hostage-takers would have retreated back to an area where not only the Israel military has a heavy presence, but also into an area where the Palestinian Authority has a long history of working collaboratively with the IDF on security. The kidnappers would have to negotiate their plan around the thousands of Israeli soldiers and the private security forces in and around the settlements not to mention the prospects of violent vigilante retributions from the Jewish settler population around Hebron. (Cases have already been reported of Palestinians suffering from attacks in the area around the Kiryat Arba settlement, the hillside of the Tel Rumeida settlement and Susiya settlement). They would also have had to hide their locations and plans from the Palestinian Authority intelligence regime and Palestinian collaborators.
The IDF has arrested over one hundred Palestinians in and around the area of Hebron, mostly those with loose connections, and some no verifiable connection to Hamas. Through its assigning every potential Hamas affiliate with a suspect status, the Israeli government has revealed that its strategy is one of indiscriminate collective punishment rather than an instrument for precise data collection. In a kidnapping case of three individuals, it would be hard to believe that each of the hundred plus individuals jailed, detained, or arrested since the reported kidnapping had knowledge of the incident. The arrests are a political proxy weapon of war, targeting Palestinians because of their suspected political leanings, rather than because they have any meaningful connection to the kidnapping.
In a Part II, we will write of additional collective punishment the Israeli military and Israeli settlers are imposing on Palestinian civilians in Hebron.
*According to the Fourth Geneva
Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and
several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.