Hope turned to heartbreak this week as the bodies of kidnapped Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel were found beneath a pile of rocks outside Hebron.
Now the agonising question on all our lips is: what next? As every Israeli parent holds their children that little bit closer this Shabbat and perhaps wonders: who next?
Sadly, the pathway to further bloodshed has already been torn open, following the death of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem – just a day after the funerals were held for the three murdered Israeli youths.
Mohammed Abu Khdair, 17, was last seen being forced into a car by two men before his body was found, partly burned, in a forest near Givat Shaul. Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the “despicable murder” and called for restraint as clashes inevitably ensued.
Restraint is something that does not come easily to a nation stricken by grief and crying out for justice.
But Netanyahu knows if ever there was a time for his head to rule his heart, this is the moment.
His blood must be boiling, but the Israeli premier’s response – so far – has been calm and considered.
He may be quick to anger, but he is not quick to act – and with good reason. There is much to be said for experience at a time like this. Consider how Ehud Olmert clumsily stumbled into the second Lebanon war in 2006.
Then consider 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defence, when Bibi mobilised 30,000 troops and tanks on the Gaza border in response to rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and near Jerusalem – but did not invade.
He knows only too well that sometimes the best way to avoid war is to talk war; to ramp up the pressure; to turn up the volume; to consider every option. The prime minster’s restraint, even up to this breaking point, proves he is the leader for this crisis.
Israel’s next move could depend on Mahmoud Abbas. Last month the Fatah leader signed a unity deal with Hamas, which heralded the end of meaningful peace talks.
If this deal with the devil remains in place it could turn angry words into angry actions. The Israeli government’s prime responsibility is to protect its population. This may yet be best achieved by giving Abbas one last chance to prove himself worthy of President Shimon Peres’s praise that he is “a man of his word” and “the best partner Israel has had”.
If Peres’s so-far misplaced faith in Abbas is proved right, then a fraction of light may yet emerge at the end of this darkest of weeks.