Already neck-deep in tragedies, it feels like Israel is sailing into uncharted waters these days, ever since the abduction of teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah almost two weeks ago.
At the moment no one can say for certain what will be the fallout, what will be the reckoning after they pull back the curtain and show us what’s not being said. Or months down the road, after the committee of inquiry submits its findings.
For now the only ones getting hit are the police – and they deserve it for not reporting the distress call placed by the teens some 5 hours before they went into action – but the Shin Bet and the Army should not be far off and neither should Bibi.
People will ask what Netanyahu knew and how early during “Operation Brother’s Keeper” he knew it. People will question the strategy of the operation even if it winds down, as is expected, just before Ramadan having turned up no trace of the missing teenagers.
People will ask about the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, which saw 1,027 security prisoners released in exchange for the soldier. They’ll talk about how after the deal was signed it was a matter of time until the next abduction, and the country will suddenly be full of wise men who supported the deal at the time and have since seen the light. Actually, this is already happening now.
People will ask the Shin Bet how after 47 years of the occupation, with the security service deep inside the territories like a fist in a sock puppet, operating a constellation of agents and informants and a wealth of state of the art technology, three (3!) Israelis could be abducted and disappear in the West Bank, swallowed up by the earth without a trace. They’ll ask why after a week and a half the Israeli public was treated to scenes of IDF troops searching in wells and caves, while police volunteers walked step by step through the fields and wadis of the West Bank, the very picture of desperation.
On Tuesday the operation reached its 11th day. Five Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces and well over 300 Palestinians have been arrested, most of them identified with Hamas. The IDF and police have also confiscated untold numbers of Hamas flags, posters, and some small arms. Even an optimist can’t fight the feeling they could be strengthening Hamas, at least for now.
No Israeli soldiers, police officers or Shin Bet field agents have been hurt but in the months to come, regardless of the fate of the three teenagers, the country will be awash in venom and infighting, the settling of accounts and the assigning of blame.
At the center of the storm will be three traumatized families surrounded by an entire country reeling with the punches.