A senior Israel Defense Forces official is reported to have said that the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers late last week–one of whom may also be a U.S. citizen–was planned by Palestinian terrorists who had recently been freed from Israeli prisons.
The report, from Israeli news source Arutz Sheva, did not indicate whether the IDF believed the perpetrators had been among those recently released at President Barack Obama’s insistence.
For several months, Israel reluctantly carried out the release of dozens of convicted Palestinian terrorists at the behest of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who saw the releases as confidence-building measures that would entice the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table. The releases were widely opposed by the Israeli public, and stopped when it became clear that the Palestinians had no intention of negotiating.
Kerry reportedly issued a strong condemnation Sunday of the kidnappings of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 19. However, he made no comment of the link between releases of Palestinian terrorists and the kidnappings.
The IDF’s has been emphasizing the link, noting that Palestinian terror groups often try to kidnap Israelis: “[T]heir goal is to trade civilians or IDF soldiers for the release of Palestinian prisoners.”
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) June 14, 2014
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper has celebrated the kidnappings, as have both factions of the new Palestinian unity government. The PA published a cartoon featuring the kidnappings as a World Cup trophy, according to Palestinian Media Watch. Ironically, the kidnappings took place as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s wife underwent emergency surgery in Israel.
The PA has called on the world to restrain Israel’s response.