With numbing regularity, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, from the air, land, and sea, and the excuse is always the same: Hamas “terrorists” don’t accept Israel’s “right to exist.” The specific trigger this time: the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.
Hamas has publicly stated that it was not responsible for the deaths, and the claim is credible. Increasingly isolated, it had just concluded reconciliation talks with Fatah, a popular move with the Palestinian public, which it was not likely to jeopardize.
Bombing Gaza is convenient for Israel for many reasons: It ends further progress on Palestinian unity talks. It ends focus on the failure of the Kerry peace talks during which Israel continued to announce illegal settlement construction. It reminds all Palestinians that they will suffer a similar fate if they have the temerity to defy Israel. And it unites Israelis like nothing else.
Following the abduction of three Israeli teenagers, Israeli politicians called for vengeance. Netanyahu called the perpetrators “human animals.”
In the Knesset, deputy speaker Moshe Feiglin called for cutting off power to Gaza hospitals. This was not the first time an Israeli politician in the Knesset has advocated war crimes against Palestinians.
Tel Aviv is commonly held up by Israelis as a secular city in which Jews and Arabs coexist. It produced Ayelet Shaked, a lawmaker who advocates “the slaughter of Palestinian mothers” because they “give birth to little snakes.” This was expressed on Facebook, which gave thousands of Israelis the opportunity to click Like and to add their own homicidal fantasies.