By Richard Pater, political analyst and director of BICOM in Israel
It’s been a difficult week here in Israel. As I write, the country hangs on for a tangible development, refusing to rule out the possibility the kidnapped boys will be found alive and well.
A right-wing friend of mine tweeted some days ago: “The main objective must be to #BringBackOurBoys, crushing the Hamas is only 2nd to that”.
I agree with very little of the politics of my friend from the Samarian heartland, but I imagine this raw logic was shared by many Israelis across the spectrum this week.
It was a week in which Israelis showed what Prime Minister Netanyahu used to speak admirably as national fortitude – part strength, part resilience, part grit and tenacity.
Sad that it takes terrorism to unite the nation. Thousands gathered to pray at the kotel, and in Tel Aviv congregated en masss in Rabin Square, united in prayer for the safe return home of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal. For others still, an even higher expression of commitment; volunteering for reserve duty to help in the search.
Every part of the country has borne the brunt of Israel’s enemies in recent years. Jerusalem and the coastal cities in the era of the suicide bombings, the north under the shadowy firepower of Hezbollah and the south under the constant and continuing barrage of missiles from Gaza.
Now the worlds of decent families in middle Israel are being rocked by this latest trauma. It was a week of anomalies – Amina Abbas, PA Chairman Abu Mazen’s wife, was convalescing, post-surgery in hospital in Ramat Aviv during the search for the boys.
MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) observed: “That is precisely the difference between us and them. There are those who hand out candy when children get kidnapped, and there are those who extend [medical] treatment to the enemy.”
Israel hasn’t been this politically united for some time. The PM has seldom received unanimous support from the security cabinet.
The damage to the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank will satisfy not only Israeli security leadership but quite likely the PA security forces, too.