Late yesterday, Israeli security released the names of the two men who are believed to be the abductors of the three kidnapped boys.
Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, residents of Hevron, have been missing since the kidnapping. They always prayed in the same mosque and informants in that neighborhood reported on their absence (which, at the time, I noted). Their wives were extensively interrogated and their homes have been thoroughly searched several times.
The two are members of Hamas. As is often the case, Hamas involvement has been a family affair for them: Marwan Kawasme’s uncle, Abdullah Kawasme was the commander of Hamas’s military wing in Hebron until he was killed in a battle with SWAT officers in 2003; while Amer Abu Aysha’s brother, Zayd, a Hamas member, was killed in a battle with Israeli soldiers in 2005, and his father, Omer, served time in Israeli prison because of Hamas involvement.
Abu Aysha’s mother said that if her son is involved in the kidnapping, she is proud of him.
It is believed that they were in the car when the boys were abducted and are now in hiding. This does not necessarily mean they are any longer with the boys, who may have been turned over to other Hamas operatives.
There is no explanation as to why this information, which the security forces have had since the beginning, is being released now. But what this does is make clear that there indeed is direct Hamas involvement, just as Netanyahu has insisted.
The other news about the search for the boys came Wednesday night, not long after I had posted. It represented a reversal of an announcement from the day prior: There was going to be no slow down in the operation after all, decided the Security Cabinet - not with regard to going after Hamas or taking care not to offend during Ramadan, or anything else. Full speed ahead. A welcome announcement.
What precipitated this reversal is not clear, although it is speculated that a presentation the three mothers gave in the Knesset – where they were received with enormous empathy – may have had something to do with it.
Bat-Galim Sha'ar, mother of Gilad, in an emotional speech, implored the government not to curtail efforts. The message delivered was that the mothers had full confidence in the measures being taken to find their sons, as long as they were done without slowdown.
The original announcement about the slowdown had said the operation against the Hamas organization in Judea and Samaria would be curtailed – as it was just about exhausted, while the search for the boys would continue unabated. But truth to tell, it’s difficult to draw a meaningful line between the two. Any Hamas operative picked up, for whatever reason, might end up providing meaningful information.
And, indeed, after the slow down was reversed, overnight on Wednesday there was a sweep in the Hevron area and 10 were arrested.
A decision was made Wednesday night, as well, to block the Palestinian Authority monthly transfer of funds to terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons. The longer the term of incarceration, the greater the larger the monthly “stipend.”
It was with reason, then, that Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi, on Thursday, applauding this decision, called Abbas a “mega-terrorist” for his financial support of imprisoned terrorists.“In May, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the subject of Palestinian prisoners being paid stipends by the PA, noting that some 5,000 security prisoners are paid more than NIS 7,500 a month each.
“’Abbas, who whines about the PA’s finances, pays large stipends to prisoners convicted of murder and those who tried to become suicide bombers,’ Lieberman told the MKs. ‘The prisoners are given three times as much as Palestinian policemen.’” (Emphasis added)
It is now time to turn to my Shabbat preparations, once more with a prayer in my heart that when I return to write again, the boys will have been found.
Shabbat Shalom to one and all.