On the morning of 23rd September 2014, news broke that during an attempted arrest operation of the two main murderers of the three Israeli teens captured and slain earlier this summer Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach; both assailants were killed by the Israeli forces attempting to arrest them.
Racheli Frenkel, the mother of Naftali, said in an interview to Israeli army radio Galgalatz something that has not been widely reported in the local Israeli or international press: “I am not so unhappy that I won’t meet their faces in a court and have to deal with any type of prisoner release situation”. Click here to hear the interview (in Hebrew):
As a nation, our heart bleeds with Racheli, her whole family and the families of Gilad and Eyal during this terrible ordeal that they have faced so bravely and courageously. But, if we pause just one moment and ask ourselves what just happened and question the ethics and morals involved, we can realize together that, quite unintentionally, our government through its previous dealings with prisoner swaps has caused an inverted and unforeseen ethical reality.
But first, the story of the army operation that killed the murderers:
The elite Police anti-terrorism unit YAMAM surrounded the house that the murderers were hiding in, during the early hours of the morning of September 23rd 2014. The house was located in Hebron and was a two story house built on a hill. As we can only imagine, the amount of work the intelligence agencies (specifically the Shin Bet) performed to garner the intelligence details of where these murderers were hiding is simply incredible because they only used a closed circle of close family members and confidants to hide them, hence gaining intelligence of their whereabouts is nothing short of creating miracles. Now back to the narrative. So as not to injure any of the YAMAM officer, it was decided not to breach the house and instead called for the murderers to come out. After there was no response, the army called in a special bulldozer to raise the top story of the house (on street level). Once the top level of the house was destroyed, one of the murderers popped their head and torso out of a hole in the floor that was created during the demolition and started to shoot at Israeli officers. YAMAM officers quickly returned fire and he was shot and fell back down the hole he popped out of. In a cautious move, YAMAM officers decided not to search the remaining floor for the other murderer as he was most probably also armed hence they used grenades to ensure he was neutralize as well.
While I haven’t seen international news outlets cover the way the murderers died, I have noticed most reports seem to indicate (without actually writing it) that the operation was to kill and not arrest, which is simply unfactual, poor reporting and misleading. But this is nothing new of the international press when covering Israeli issues.
Now back to interpreting what Racheli Frenkel was trying to communicate to the nation and the world in her statement that she wont have to deal with any future prisoner release situation. Here is a mother of a son maliciously murdered for no other reason than for being Jewish. Her son, her light and her happiness was robbed from her life in an instant and as a father I can barely comprehend what she has had to deal with emotional and spiritually. And while justice is important as the Torah states “Justice, justice you shall peruse”, the real justice wasn’t the act of locating and killing these murderers, but their attempted arrest by Israeli forces to stand trial in a court of law.
We live in a time where throughout the entire operation Protective Edge and even before, Hamas and other terrorist groups that operate in Israel and worldwide have attempt (so far unsuccessfully since Shalit) to kidnap one Israeli so they can re-enter into prisoner swaps with Israel on a scale that can only be termed as disproportionate. As can be seen by the heart wrenching blog post by the mother of murdered teen Koby Mandel, who prefers not sitting through the agonizing pain of a trial and then prison sentence for the murderer of her son to only have him released later on in a prisoner swap deal like the one that occurred for Shalit.
When is true justice performed? When a crime goes punished and a criminal is brought to justice.
While Israel and its armed forces clearly tried to bring these murderers to justice in a court of law, in the end, they have been sent elsewhere to be judged by the ultimate Judge.
For those of us (me included) who were not sure of what was ethical or unethical, what was right and what was wrong during the release of the prisoners during the Shalit deal, we can all now see the consequences and scars on the nation as a result of our governments’ actions. Hind sight is something wonderful and I am not focusing this post on whether Benjamin Netanyahu made the right or wrong decision when swapping convicted murderers and terrorists for Shalit. I am simply stating that we now live in an age where the reality is starkly clear as Racheli Frenkel elucidated: With these scum of the earth child murderers, being dead at least ensures they can never be freed in a possible future prisoner swap. And that my friends is a sick truth.