There are profound responses among Israelis concerning the recent hostage taking of  3 Israeli teenagers.

  1. Prayer– There has been a call for prayer by the national religious for the return of the boys. Large sectors of the Israeli population are participating. Jewish prayer style is based on public readings of the Psalms.
  2. Hitch-hiking – Some of the journalists have questioned whether it is correct for the settlers to travel by hitch-hiking, which opens up the possibility for being taken hostage.  The settlers responded that this kind of logic is blaming the victim: similar to blaming a girl for being raped because she was wearing a short skirt.
  3. Territory-sweep – Since the event took place near Hebron, the army has organized a massive sweep of the area, checking every house and cave, in the hopes of “closing the ring” on where the hostages are being held.
  4. Hamas – The second area of army efforts has been arresting many of the Hamas leadership. Over 200 have been arrested. This may represent a turning point in Israeli strategy, seeking to permanently dismantle Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.  While the Palestinian Authority is protesting, they are not protesting “too much,” (for whom Hamas is a competitor). This may work out to a positive result for both Israel and the PA by weakening Hamas. One Palestinian commentator even said that perhaps Bibi will do for the PA what Al Sisi did to the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt.
  5. Ideology – The boys taken hostage are from “Gush Etsion,” (associated with the Bayit Yehudi party of Naftali Bennet; don’t wear black, and are committed to army and political service). There has been a dispute among Israelis over the strategic wisdom of the settlements in the territories. The modern orthodox settler group is becoming the leader of  right wing ideological Zionism.

Prisoner Exchange – One of the disputed issues is whether to give back terrorist prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages. The left says “yes,” and the right says “no.”  Gilad Shalit was from a liberal family. These boys are from the core of the Zionist right. These are the ones who have always said not to exchange prisoners for hostages, and now it is their sons who are the hostages. The emotional and ideological stakes are extremely intense.

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