I can not tell you how sick I am of pictures of handcuffed Palestinian children in IDF custody with the hashtag bring back our boys. That is our hashtag!  You Palestinian tweeters are accomplishing nothing by streaming grotesque pictures, and that stupid three fingered salute other than just plain old being mean.

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I take that back, you are accomplishing the destruction of any good will or sympathy to your plight that might have been engendered over these last “relatively” peaceful years.

The Palestinian activists are, as usual, hurting themselves, their cause, and their people far more than helping it.

10003171_10151925501287750_2094011893_nI recently had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian activists in Hebron.  It was part of a program designed to promote dialogue between the two sides of the conflict.  By dialogue of course I mean, we were supposed to listen, they talked.  I listened, I really did. Two things were clear.  One was the suffering and inconvenience you, my Palestinian neighbors, are forced to endure in your daily lives, the checkpoints, road blocks, random searches, arrests, and collective punishment are real.  I saw how painful and humiliating it is for you.

The other thing that was clear was the complete lack of acknowledgement or awareness of any personal or communal responsibility for your situation. To every person we heard from without exception, every drop of suffering is caused by Israel, by the occupation and mostly by “settlers” always unjustly by others.

I did a whole day of “listening”.  Every story, I mean every one, began with some form of “I was walking along, minding my own business, when for no reason what so ever…”

At one point an activist brought his ten year old little brother into the room, and told the story of the day little Musa was (of course), walking down the road minding his own business  when all of a sudden for no reason what-so-ever, IDF soldiers grabbed him, threw him to the ground, tied his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, blindfolded him, and threw him in the back of an arrest van.  They took him into military custody in which he remained for 24 hours until his parents where able to pay to have him released. How is that any different from kidnapping?!!  Ransoming!!!I raised my hand to ask Musa a question, not expecting a truthful answer.  To my surprise I did get a truthful answer although one that totally obfuscated the boy’s personal responsibility.

“Musa”, I asked through his brother who was translating. “Were you throwing rocks at cars?”

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His brother then launched into a diatribe about how rock throwing is a natural reaction to the daily oppression and humiliation his people are suffering, and how basic human dignity as well as international law permits, nay requires oppressed people to resist occupation.

Allow me to clarify.  The little pisher was throwing fist sized rocks at passing cars with Israeli license plates.  Cars driven by civilians, long skirted, beticheled mothers with car seats full of little kids in the back and got busted by the authorities.

This “detail” of the story was a non fact however.  The thought consensus I heard echoed over the course of this entire day, was that since the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, or “the West Bank”,  is such a self-evident violation of everything good and decent, such an obvious breach of human rights, such an undeniable injustice flying in the face of international law, any resistance to that occupation is so self evidently justified that it is deemed an inconsequential fact in the story.

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The actions that led up to the arrest of this 10 year old boy are as unimportant as the fact the boy was breathing, and therefore irrelevant to the rest of the story.

If you remove this context in which Musa was arrested, what you are left with is, well, he was indeed walking along minding his own business when out of the blue…

So I believe that this is where dialogue can be helpful.

This is my message to the Palestinian activists on the streets, and especially those trying to abscond with our bring back our boys hashtag.

We don’t hate you.  We have no interest in militarily occupying or oppressing you, we do not want to control your movements prevent you from receiving medical care, or visiting your great aunt in Nablus during Ramadan.

We do not enjoy any of those things.  We have better things to do.  However, we are more than capable and willing to carry out any of those actions when our safety is endangered.  And as you know, we will.

If you touch our kids,  as you are seeing, we will come down on you like a load of bricks.

We are not asking you to believe our “narrative”.   We are not looking for your sympathy.

What you need to know is that we believe our story, as much as you believe yours, and we are here to stay.  I do not believe that I am a “settler”, or a “colonist”.  I am a Jew.  My people are the original indigenous inhabitants of this land.  We are Jews not because our religion is Jewish, we are Jews because we come from Judea.  Claiming that the Jews are occupying Judea is a ridiculous statement.

Again, you do not have to believe this.  You can call us settlers if you like.  You can call us three headed spacemen for all we care.  What you need to know is that in 1995 there were about 150,000 Jews living in Eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, today there are close to 600,000 and we are growing everyday.  We are living, building and thriving.  We have industry, agriculture, and commerce.  We are at a critical mass that makes the vision of two states for two peoples an utter impossibility.  It is not going to happen.

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The last failure of John Kerry and President Barak Obama, was the final hammer blow to the possibility of a Palestinian state.  It will never be.  You know in your heart if not in your head that this is true.

So the question becomes, where do we go from here?

I can accept the fact that you, my Palestinian brothers and sisters, feel that it is “unfair”, even “unjust” that because we have the far superior military force we get to dictate the terms of the outcome.  You can believe that as long as you realize, that is the way the world works.

By railing violently against the reality of the situation you are perpetuating your own suffering.  Your myopic focus on your own victimhood, will do nothing but ensure another generation of disenfranchised suffering Palestinians screaming on twitter about their own victim status.

Launching rockets, throwing stones, and kidnapping our children will result in exponentially higher levels of suffering for you.  That suffering may indeed give you short term PR wins, but ultimately it will keep you poor, downtrodden, and well… suffering.

On the other hand, embracing the reality of the situation, that the Jewish people are here to stay, opens an opportunity to you that exists no where else in the entire region.

If you stopped fighting and realized that we must live together, you would be the freest, and safest people in the entire Arab world.  You would be the envy of all but the tiny wealthy ruling elite of your people.  You have the ability as a people, to put aside your hatred, put down the rocks and the rockets and #BringBackOurBoys.

Over a week into search, IDF presses op against Hamas

IDF soldiers walk on a street in a market in an attempt to obtain security camera footage during a search for three missing Israeli teens believed to have been abducted, while scouring the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

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he IDF arrested 25 suspected Hamas operatives overnight Thursday in the West Bank as part of the ongoing Operation Brother’s Keeper to return kidnapped yeshiva students Naftali Frankel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, who were abducted a week ago Thursday in Gush Etzion.

The latest arrests bring the total number of Hamas suspects held in the ongoing sweep to 330, 240 of whom are associated with Hamas, according to the IDF. According to Israeli government officials, several dozen of the detainees are individuals who were released as part of the 2011 prisoner exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

One Palestinian, aged 14, was reportedly killed overnight in an IDF operation in Dura, near Hebron, according to Palestinian officials. Three more Palestinians were wounded in clashes.

According to the IDF, one soldier was lightly wounded in the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem when a grenade was thrown at soldiers.

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“During the activities, IDF faced sporadic confrontations, which included IED’s, hand grenades, Molotov cocktails, fireworks and rocks that were hurled at the forces, in cases endangering their lives ​and impeding the mission,” the army said in a statement Friday morning.

“In Qalandiya, an IDF soldier was injured lightly by a grenade tossed directly at the troops. The forces responded to the life-endangering threat with live fire and used riot dispersal means to address the disturbances onsite.

“Overnight, forces operated in numerous locations including: Qalandiya, Deheishe, Dura, Arura, detaining ​some 25 suspects and searching approximately 200 locations. Also, 9 Hamas [institutions] were searched and materials were confiscated,” said the army, bringing the total number of West Bank sites searched by IDF troops over the past week to 1,150.

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Demonstrations in support of the three kidnapped teens also continued on Friday. A caravan of some 40 cars and motorcycles left Jerusalem

and made its way slowly to Gush Etzion, the area from which the teens were abducted last week. The demonstration is slated to conclude with a mass prayer rally for the teens’ release.

Israeli officials indicated on Friday morning that the operation may continue for a long time, and seemed to dampen expectations of an imminent breakthrough in the case eight days after the kidnapping.

“Just like the solving of this case can come suddenly, while we’re talking, there’s also the possibility, and we can’t rule it out, that it will take a long time. And even in the West Bank there have been operations that did not succeed,” warned Science Minister Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet.

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Israel once again struck terror-related targets in Gaza overnight in a series of air strikes on “three concealed rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip, a terror site in the central Gaza Strip and a weapon storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

The attack came in retaliation for the firing late Thursday of two rockets from the Gaza Strip. One hit open ground in the south, causing neither casualties nor damage, and the other was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

A spokesman for Gaza’s health services, Ashraf al-Qudra, said the strikes targeted Islamic Jihad and Hamas military sites in Khan Younis, Rafah and Gaza City, where four children and two adults were injured, all of them lightly to moderately.

As the fighting went on, Israel, Hamas and Fatah continued to trade blame for the escalation, with the Palestinian Authority accusing Israel of exacting “collective punishment” and Hamas threatening to “open the gates of hell” upon Israel should it deport group members it has arrested.

Hamas has praised the abduction of the teenagers, but has not claimed responsibility for it.

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On Thursday, IDF soldiers arrested some 30 Palestinians, raising the total number of Palestinians detained since the youths went missing a week ago to 280, around three-quarters of them members of the Islamist Hamas movement, an IDF statement said.

Hamas-affiliations institutions raided by the IDF were used “to recruit, disseminate information and enable cash flow,” the army said.

Hamas vowed revenge, with spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri telling a Gaza news conference Netanyahu would “regret all the actions he took against Hamas and our people.”

The teenagers, two of them minors, disappeared from a popular hitchhiking spot in the sprawling southern West Bank Gush Etzion settlement bloc late on June 12.

Accusing Hamas of the abductions, Israel has launched a wide-ranging military operation aimed at finding the teenagers and crushing the movement’s infrastructure in the West Bank.

“They were kidnapped by Hamas, we had no doubt of that. It’s absolutely certain,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Thursday briefing at a West Bank army base near Hebron.

Netanyahu did not offer evidence, but said that “we know more today than we did a few days ago.”

“I expect (Palestinian) Authority President (Mahmoud) Abbas to dissolve the union with this murderous terror organization. I think that’s important for our common future,” he added.

On June 2, Abbas appointed a Palestinian unity government made up of independents, which is committed to renouncing violence, but is backed by Hamas, which is sworn to the Jewish state’s destruction.

At a meeting with the families of the missing youths, President Shimon Peres said Thursday Israel should pursue its crackdown on Hamas.

“We must continue to pressure the terrorists, to remove their sources of funding,” he told them in remarks relayed by his office.

“Just as there were sanctions against Iran, we must raise the sanctions against any source of terror.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued an order outlawing activities of a Britain-based Muslim charity over what he said were its ties with Hamas.

“The IRW [Islamic Relief Worldwide] is one of the sources of Hamas’s funding,” his office said, indicating that some of its West Bank and Gaza offices were “managed by Hamas members.”

The group will also be prohibited from transferring money to the West Bank.

Ya’alon said the pressure on Hamas was aimed at its “leaders and activists, as well as its civilian infrastructure.”

In annexed East Jerusalem, Israeli police announced Thursday night they had shut down two Hamas institutions.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said one was a social center operating from a mosque in the village of Beit Safafa, while the other was a charity office in the Sur Baher district.

The widespread West Bank operations sparked clashes overnight in the northern cities of Jenin and Nablus, with Palestinians throwing petrol bombs and firing at the soldiers, the army said.

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The Palestinian presidency warned Thursday of “ongoing collective punishment measures by Israel in all Palestinian territories, especially besieged Hebron,” affecting “hundreds of thousands of innocent residents.”

Earlier Thursday, Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinians during an arrest in the most violent confrontation so far in the week-long search for three missing Israeli teens believed to have been abducted in the West Bank.

The military said about 300 Palestinians took to the streets when the soldiers entered the West Bank town of Jenin overnight Thursday. Some opened fire while others threw explosive devices or rocks at the soldiers, who responded with live fire, it said.

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There were no serious injuries reported on either side.

 

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