July 1, 2014 - Within hours after the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teens kidnapped by Arab terrorists on June 12, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to the people of Israel in a voice nearly choked with rage. His grief palpable, Netanyahu declared Monday night the Hamas terrorist organization was responsible for the cold-blooded murders of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Gilad Shayer, 16 -- and that Hamas would pay.
The bodies of the boys were found by volunteer civilian searchers working together with the Israeli army in a cave situated in a field near the Palestinian Authority Arab village of Halul, just north of Hevron off Highway 60.
Arabs in the area hurled rocks and paint at the IDF Humvee ambulance that came to carry the bodies of the boys out of the field and away from the area. The attackers smashed the windshield of the vehicle and managed to blind one of the windows with white paint, but failed to stop the soldiers from driving the ambulance out with its precious passengers.
The attack -- similar to the road terror that characterizes other attempts at murder along Highway 60 -- failed to discourage any other Jews from gathering on the roadside later on.
Hundreds appeared within the hour to create an impromptu memorial to the three boys at the side of the road near the site where their bodies were found.
Further north, at the Gush Etzion junction where the boys last were seen hitchhiking home to their families for the Sabbath on the night of June 12, another crowd gathered for a vigil.
In Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, hundreds more showed up to do the same.
But while the families of the boys and Jews around the world were mourning, and world leaders were issuing statements of condemnation about the terrible crime that was committed, Israeli leaders were debating how to respond.
Israel faces a real dilemma.
The scourge of Hamas, which has infiltrated Judea and Samaria from Gaza over the past decade really must be eliminated; that much is true. But putting that genie back into the bottle will not be so simple, and certainly destroying the bottle is out of the question.
If you destroy that bottle, what will you have instead -- Al Qaeda? Hezbollah? Better to deal with the devil you know, no? In any case, Hamas has been doing business with Israel in one form or another, unstated or not, for years. The Egyptians are old hands in handling that particular genie.
Part of the problem in the past few years seems to have been the untimely intervention of Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who apparently does not know when it's best to simply step back and relax. Another, similar problem has been the equally unfortunate prediliction of the United States to do the same.
Timing is everything. Ask Hezbollah; that is a group that has mastered the technique. Generously funded and backed by Iran, Hezbollah tentacles reach almost everywhere. There are Iranian proxies -- Hezbollah-linked groups -- today in Syria, Iraq, the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. Even Mexico, for that matter.
One of the biggest problems in Gaza is the struggle for control over the region. Hamas is losing its grip there. Instead, the new contenders are Iran and the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (or Syria) (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL).
This week ISIS declared its new name to be the "Islamic State" and claimed itself to now be the new global caliphate, demanding the allegiance of all Muslims around the world. While eating up territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has been moving at lightning speed towards Jordan and threatening Iran.
Oh yes -- and keeping the home fires burning in Gaza, of course. More than a few ISIS operatives were waving their black flags at last Friday's funeral for two terrorists who were killed in an IAF surgical air strike in Gaza. Just a reminder to let folks know that they're still present and accounted for, ready to face Israel -- and Hamas -- when the time is right. (No, this is not a tangent. You'll see.)
Perhaps Hamas decided that it had to prove that it still "had the right stuff" to face such a threat, and had to show off a little of its macho terrorist muscle in order to win back the admiration of the people.
Perhaps Hamas decided to team up with Hezbollah and maybe the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), another allied terrorist group it's worked with before, notably on the 2006 abduction of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Perhaps this time Hamas took advantage of its new-found access to Judea and Samaria, acquired thanks to the recent Palestinian Authority unity deal with Fatah's Ramallah-based government.
Perhaps a Hamas-Hezbollah-PRC coalition went on a mission to prove its 'derring-do' by kidnapping three Israeli teens deep within Area C -- an area under the complete security control of the Israeli government -- on the night of June 12.
Hamas agents might hang on to hostages and keep them alive, but Hezbollah terrorists don't. It's not their style. Nor do they shout or offer information. And the PRC is generally only involved in management and strategy -- they don't dirty their hands in operational details. Of the three possible members in such a team, it's a two-to-one vote against keeping hostages alive.
Of the three groups that posted messages claiming responsibility for the kidnapping in the past 18 days, none were Hamas, though in the past the group was certainly proud of its attack record on the missile front.
One message, posted initially, was immediately proved to be a red herring: it was alleged to be from Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades. A second was from another fake group. The third and final message, posted in Arabic late last week, was from a Gaza-based group allied with Hezbollah. It was not reported in Israeli media, with one exception, and reported in Arabic only in Gaza.
Meanwhile, a wealthy Hamas fundraiser who spends most of his time in Turkey, with a home north of Ramallah (no longer existent due to an IDF wrecking crew), has been spending a lot of his money on funding agents to attempt kidnappings this year in Israel. More than 60 attempts were foiled by Israeli security forces, in fact -- many financed by this individual.
It would not surprise me at all if this man meets with Iranian agents up there in Turkey, and if he also arranges training for his Hamas operatives with Iranian proxies -- maybe with Hezbollah experts, for instance. That would make sense, right?
Follow the money. It's always been the logical course when trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle. Follow the money and it will lead to the rest of the answers one seeks -- like who killed Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, and why.
And maybe, just maybe, what to do about it.