Today, There Were Three Deaths in Our Family

As I’ve watched the news unfold for the past 19 days regarding the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, I’ve noticed a stark contrast between how Israelis and the rest of the world sees the value of a human life.

Clearly Hamas, who were the perpetrators of this vicious crime, think so little of a human life that they would willingly sacrifice their life or the life of a woman or child in order to further their jihad. The rules of engagement that we as Americans adhere to in war are different than the rules that terrorists follow, and we usually pay a heavy price when we fail to realize this.

Terrorists, particularly those in heavily populated areas, will frequently use women or children as human shields to protect themselves. They understand our rules and exploit them. They know our aversion for harming “innocent civilians,” including women and children. However, most of these civilians are not as innocent as we think. Many times these civilians are aiding the terrorists or are terrorists themselves but are dressed as civilians and living among the civilian population in order to avoid detection. Families frequently offer up their children as human sacrifices for the purpose of jihad.

Take, for example, the comments made by the mother of one of the suspects in the deadly kidnapping. She said that if her son committed this crime that she would be so proud of him until the day she died.

“If he did the kidnapping I’ll be proud of him. I raised my children on the knees of the (Islamic) religion, they are religious guys, honest and clean-handed, and their goal is to bring the victory of Islam.” She further went on to criticize the Palestinian Authority for helping Israel in the search for the missing boys.

“May Allah take revenge on them,” she said. “They are helping the IDF.”

Another example of sacrificing their own children are the stories of Mohammad Zoabi and Yihye Zakaria Mahameed. Both teenage boys are Arab Israelis who received death threats and harassment after posting videos in support of the kidnapped boys and the state of Israel. In the case of Zoabi, police arrested his father, grandfather and an uncle for planning to take him into the West Bank and harm him. He was subsequently taken into police custody for his safety. Similarly, Mahameed was attacked and beaten on his way to school. A collection has been set-up to raise funds to move Mahameed out of the country until the situation cools down.

Then we heard comments from Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the UN had “no confirmation that we can independently make about an abduction.”

The same UN who condemns any sort of violence against Palestinians and who vehemently fights to stop human rights violations around the world has no “confirmation” that the abduction actually took place?! This is simply another example of world powers trying to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.

No other country in the world has to defend itself against accusations of illegitimacy or illegal occupation. What other country in the world has to prove its very right for existence? Or its right to build on its own land? Or its right to defend its people? None. Israel is an island of democracy in the Middle East. Israel is the lone voice in the desert crying out for justice, peace, and righteousness that is met with suspicion, hatred, disapproval, and violence.

Then the day came where we learned the fate of the three teenagers. They had been murdered…in cold blood. They were not soldiers, as Hamas would like the world to believe. They were young men; boys just beginning their lives. They were senselessly murdered for simply being Israeli.

Details emerged that the kidnappers’ plan had gone terribly wrong when one of the boys called police and whispered “We’ve been kidnapped.” Worried and panicked that the Israeli Defense Forces would soon be searching for them, the kidnappers shot and killed the three boys in the back of the car. The fact that they were not used as leverage for the release of Palestinian prisoners only fuels the question “why?” It seems so senseless. Murder with no objective that seems to serve no purpose at all. Their lives, and even their deaths, have served a purpose though.

The lives and deaths of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha’ar, and Eyal Yifrah have united the nation of Israel unlike any other event. It has given the world a glimpse into the true heart of Israel. The people of Israel have learned to cling to each other in order to survive. They are not a nation made up of disjointed individuals but a nation of one people with one cause, one God, and one destiny. Their hearts beat as one; their voices sing and rejoice as one; their souls mourn and cry out as one. When these young boys were abducted and their murder discovered, they didn’t simply denounce their murders or feel bad that it happened. Instead, they mourned as if it were their own child, or brother or grandson or cousin or friend. They became one.

Throughout the nation of Israel, the people joined together as one in a way that people of other nations do not. They held vigils in villages. Thousands prayed daily in unison at the Western Wall for their safe return. The entire nation vowed to stop and read Psalm 121 together in order to appeal to YHVH, their Heavenly Father and Defender of Israel. No other nation on earth has demonstrated this kind of unity for its people.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu learned the bodies had been found, he released a statement that made a promise to the people of Israel.

With a heavy heart, we have found tonight three bodies, and all of the information we have indicates that these are the bodies of the abductees – Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. They were murdered in cold blood by human animals. In the name of the entire Jewish people, I want to say to the dear families – mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sisters and brothers – our hearts are bleeding. We are crying with you. We will bring the boys home to be buried in Israel. Revenge over the blood of a small child is not the devil’s work, and neither is revenge for the blood of a teenager or young man – who was on his way to meet his parents – and whom was never seen again. Hamas is responsible. Hamas will pay. May the boys’ memories be for a blessing.

Netanyahu promised the people of Israel that the death of these boys would not be for nothing. That their killers, and those who seek the lives of all of Israel, would be found and would be rightfully punished. He promised justice and to seek security for the people of Israel.

Contrast the Israeli response with the American response and you will see a stark difference. President Obama did not make a statement on the kidnapping until after the bodies of the boys were discovered. It took a mere day for Michelle Obama to release a photo of herself standing in the White House looking forlorn while holding a sign reading #bringbackourgirls when the Nigerian girls were kidnapped by terrorist organization Boko Haram several weeks ago.

But when the victims are Israeli? Crickets from the White House. And one of the boys was an American citizen! And when President Obama did release a statement, he condemned the murders…but urged restraint on the part of Israel. Urged restraint. What exactly does that mean? That Israel can be upset but not too upset? That we can mourn the death of our people but we cannot take action to keep it from happening again? That we should resign ourselves to being constant victims of terrorists simply to appease the international community? No. That is the U.S. response. That is not the Israeli response.

When we look at the track record of the Obama administration, his response is not that surprising. We have a U.S. marine jailed in Mexico…and we do nothing. The Mexicans recently violated our airspace and shot at two border patrol agents…and we do nothing. Our ambassador is killed in Beghazi by terrorists…and we do nothing. The doctor who was vital in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden sits in a Pakistani prison…and we do nothing. Syria crosses Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons…and we do nothing. Iran is building (or already has) a nuclear weapon…and we do nothing. We do nothing! We always do nothing. And we look weak for it. The terrorists know this and exploit this.

Even Great Britain and France released statements in support of Israel seeking justice. But the U.S. advice is to do nothing.

How can they do nothing when their lives are at constant risk? How can the world expect Israel to stand by and do nothing as threats from every, single Arab country and Muslim extremist group pour in daily? When rockets from the West Bank rain down from the sky regularly?

Take for instance the response from Hamas upon learning that Israel had found the bodies of the teenagers. Hamas has warned it will “open the gates of hell” if Israel sought to escalate its operation against the Islamist group in response to the murder of the three Israeli teenagers.

“If the occupiers carry out an escalation or a war, they will open the gates of hell on themselves,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

So Hamas carries out an attack against Israel and then actually threatens to “open the gates of hell” for any retaliation? And Israel is supposed to show “restraint?”   The choice is life or death…and YHVH has commanded His people to live!

In light of all that has unfolded, it seems likely that Israel will continue Operation Brother’s Keeper – the name of the search and rescue mission for the boys. However, the operation will now be entirely devoted to finding and destroying known Hamas targets. These events could very well lead to a war in the region. With the situation in Egypt, Iran, Syria, and Iraq as shaky as it already is, this could put Israel – our country’s friend, political ally, and spiritual brother – in harm’s way. Any escalation could further destabilize the region.

The nation of Israel recited Psalm 121 in a unified plea to the Almighty to bring the boys back. The boys were bought back to Israel and will be buried together in the land of their fathers. But Psalm 121 also reminds us that “He who keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” YHVH will keep watch over His people. YHVH will cover them in the shadow of His wings as the rockets rain down from Gaza, and Syria, and Lebanon, and Egypt, and Iran, and any other country that has enough chutzpah to confront the Almighty God – YHVH El Elyon.

But for today, we unite together to mourn the three deaths in our family.

Am Yisrael Chai…The People of Israel Live!