While the world continues to watch the developments in Iraq with bated breath, another part of West Asia has imperceptibly slid closer to the precipice. The kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers close to Hebron, allegedly by members of Hamas, has inflamed passions since June 12, the day of the incident. It has led to one of the most intrusive operations by the Israel State authorities in West Bank, where hundreds have been arrested and detained. The discovery that the teenagers are dead, and have been so for the 18 days of the search, has now ignited the powder keg in the region. Grief and raw emotions seeking retributive justice have united the Jewish people, who, only months ago, seemed unsure of which way they were headed with a State policy that brought more violence and global isolation. The kidnapping and deaths have brought an outpouring of sympathy from the rest of the world that is just as shocked as Israel is over the heinous crime. The deed, in an instant, appears to have dissolved the enthusiasm that greeted Palestine’s national unity government, formed after the recent reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, stands with his back against the wall. Already vilified by Israel and its partner, the United States of America, for internationalizing the Palestine state issue by seeking membership of several United Nations organizations recently and then entering into a deal with the militant group, Hamas, Mr Abbas will now find it difficult to push his unity agenda amidst the backlash against Hamas that could trigger another intifada.
As for Hamas, it seems strange that it should have shot itself in the foot with this mission. Despite its denial of involvement in the crime, its past record makes it an easy target for Israel, which might be seizing its chance to finally destroy the group. Yet, since 2006 and the beginning of the Gaza blockade, Hamas’s hold over the Gaza Strip has weakened, forcing it to cede space to other groups such as the Islamic Jihad that now has closer ties with Iran. If the killings are Hamas’s way to regain attention, the plan appears to have misfired. The group has promised to open the gates of hell on Israel. But no matter which militant group is responsible, it has granted a timely advantage to Israel while letting down its own people, who have to bear the brunt of a State pogrom apart from defending themselves against the derision of the world for no fault of theirs.