A great deal of misinformation has been spread about the missing Israeli teens in the West Bank. I did it myself in denying there was a campaign in support of kidnapping settlers– when there is. Jeffrey Goldberg did it, in exaggerating that campaign, and smearing French Muslims.
Still, the public does not know very much at all about the fate of the missing teens, even as Israel insists that they were abducted and is using the alleged abduction as a political football and a pretext to send soldiers all over the West Bank, today killing a Palestinian teen.
And there is growing pressure on Israel to provide evidence for its claims. Here is some of the back and forth over these issues:
Last night, Sec’y General Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesperson said that the U.N. has “no concrete evidence” that the teens were abducted. But last week Ban seemed to accept the Israeli allegations, referring to the disappearance as a “kidnaping.”
Today the New York Times is more careful, mentioning the teens’ “disappearance” before stating that they were captured, and saying Israel has offered “no proof” of its claim that Hamas abducted the teens.
Three other groups have made dubious claims of credit. Hamas officials have generally cheered the capture without saying who carried it out.
But on Monday Isabel Kershner flatly stated in the Times that the teens had been kidnapped by “militants” and are now their “hostages.”
NOF AYALON, Israel — The three Israeli teenagers kidnapped byPalestinian militants while hitching a ride in the West Bank last week have provoked an outpouring of sympathy in Israel’s ordinarily fractious society, with nonstop news coverage and gatherings of thousands who have recited psalms for the safe return of the hostages, all students at yeshivas in West Bank settlements.
Scott Roth advised Kershner: “You should use the word *allegedly* in certain instances.”
Avi Mayer, a spokesperson for the Jewish Agency, which supports the Israeli government, tweets this report today:
Uncle of kidnapped Israel teen Naftali Frenkel: “The families know more than what’s being made public.” (Arutz 7)
But he also tweets this:
Israel general Yoav Mordechai: “The target is not the Palestinian populace, but rather Hamas and its institutions.” (Army Radio)
That’s completely consistent with Allison Deger’s reporting from Bir Zeit University– the Israeli army was going after the Hamas group there. Ynet acknowledges the agenda:
The teens’ kidnapping allowed the leadership in Jerusalem do what they were thinking of doing anyway.
….It should be clear to both the citizens of Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank that the operation against Hamas, which spread overnight to Nablus, the nearby refugee camps and the Bethlehem area, was not meant to bring the kidnapped teens’ release, but to thwart a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.
Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly sought to justify that opportunism with the blunt assertion, below on June 17, that Hamas is behind the “brutal abduction;” and that therefore the Palestinian government is now composed of kidnapers. Pathetically, Tony Blair goes along with Netanyahu’s claim by expressing “horror” only at Palestinian violence– “the terrorism, the kidnapings, the killings” — and putting the onus on Hamas. What’s his evidence?
But the only killings in the matter right now have been committed by Israel. On Monday Israel killed a 20-year-old in a refugee camp in occupied territory. Today Israeli soldiers killed a 13-year-old boy during a Palestinian protest of sweeping arrests.
The US also went along with the Israeli claim of Hamas responsibility. On Sunday John Kerry said signs point to Hamas as being behind an abduction. Jen Psaki of State then referred to “the kidnapping of these three teenagers.” The State Department hasn’t offered any evidence though. On Wednesday at the State Department:
Question: In the Secretary’s statement from Sunday he talked about how there are many signs that point to Hamas involvement in this.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is that – are you now confident that Hamas is responsible for this, as confident as the Israelis say they are?
MS. PSAKI: No conclusion has been made on our end since the statement on Sunday, so we remain in the same place we were in the Secretary’s statement.
Israel seizes political, military opportunity in teens’ disappearance -photos
Abunimah writes that the Israelis have an obligation to satisfy the public mind before making such accusations:
Reminder that the occupiers vandalizing Palestinian communities have still produced no evidence Palestinians “kidnapped” the settlers.
Abunimah also asked a very logical question: Why aren’t Israeli soldiers raiding the Israeli colonies on the West Bank? Are Jews really immune from suspicion of foul play in connection with missing teenagers?
Allison Deger tweets last night:
Arab American University being raided right NOW in
Scott Roth has expressed outrage over the widespread military raids of occupied communities–
Israel has no clothes–
and pointed out—
The IDF calls this thing Operation Brother’s Keeper. Let’s put that into biblical context for a second. Who said that in the bible? & why?
and objected to the sacralization of victimization in this photo Avi Mayer tweeted of a prayer rally at the Western Wall for the teens. Mayer wrote last Sunday: “As night falls in Jerusalem, tens of thousands are praying for the abducted Israeli teens at the Western Wall.”
And what about the rampaging of Israeli soldiers across the West Bank? Again from the State Department, a reporter asks about collective punishment?
As the search for the three teenagers goes into its sixth day, the Israelis are arresting hundreds of Palestinians, rounding up some or re-arresting in some cases many of the ones that were released. They’re having a clampdown, a lockdown. It’s really causing a very difficult humanitarian condition. Are you talking with the Israelis to sort of lighten – but I asked you this yesterday. Are you asking them to lighten up their heavy hand in their search?
State says it has called on both sides for “restraint.”
To be continued. Thanks to Annie Robbins.