Middle East
4:07 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

News Of Israeli Arrests Met With Both Resentment And Reflection

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 7:56 pm

Israeli authorities arrested six Israelis for the killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy. The murder is believed to be an act of revenge for the earlier killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. For more details on how this news is playing in Israel, Robert Siegel turns to Ari Shavit, senior correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Israel's prime minister, outgoing president and president-elect have all explicitly drawn a moral equivalence between the murders of kidnapped Israeli teenagers and the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. That sentiment is not unanimous. An Israeli association of terror victims rejected the idea. The group said that while the vast majority of Israelis opposed the murder of Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian authority financially supports those who kill Jews and glorifies them. Some Israeli commentators have compared the killing of Abu Khdeir to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish zealot - a moment for intense national self scrutiny. Joining us from outside Tel Aviv is Ari Shavit, author of the book "My Promised Land" and senior correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Welcome to the program once again.

ARI SHAVIT: Pleasure to be with you, Robert.

SIEGEL: How would you describe the reactions of Israelis to these recent events?

SHAVIT: Well let me, if I may, put in context. What we have seen here is two strategic terror attacks. One, the barbaric Palestinian murder of three Israeli youngsters, and then the barbaric Jewish terror of burning to death this young Palestinian. Definitely, for Israelis, this was shocking. It's the lowest we've been into - for as one can remember. And yet - but now we have to look at what is unfolding as we speak. July 7th, God forbid, may be the tipping point because we had five years of calm - relatively calm. Abbas and Netanyahu never reached peace, but they did not have war. We did not deteriorate into major scale violence. The collapse of the peace process two months ago and the fact that old peace process was not replaced by a new concept put a very dangerous vacuum on the ground. The terrorist both policies and Israelis moved into that vacuum on the ground. The terrorists, both Palestinians and Israelis, moved into that vacuum. And what we have seen on July 7th is the firing of 70 or 80 rockets from Gaza to Israel, which might create a very dangerous situation because so far, the Israeli government has been restrained. While it has not been pursuing peace aggressively, it has not also went - it did not go for violence. Right now, the danger that could be next is the Israeli reaction to this firing of rockets - will lead to more firing of rockets - is a very imminent one. And, therefore, in the coming, you know, hours - days it's really, really a critical situation. I did not think that we were in such a dramatic situation in this country for years.

SIEGEL: Yeah.

SHAVIT: And the danger is really the failure of the moderates on both sides to restrain the extremists is allowing the extremists to lead us into something which much - might turn into a very, very violent situation.

SIEGEL: Are these events having political consequences in Israel? Are they...

SHAVIT: Absolutely.

SIEGEL: Yes.

SHAVIT: What you see that - again, they both - you know, Abbas is there who is heroic in fighting terror on the Palestinian side - is very much exposed. He's becoming weaker because of that. And Netanyahu, again, to every - to your listeners surprise, was again being very, very conservative - very hawkish but, again, was not trigger-happy - none of the kind of all - kind of Israeli Rambo attitude. He's now being dragged into violence because his right-wing partners in the coalition are putting a lot of pressure on him. And because of the Hamas provocation of today, he probably will not have the ability to stop more Israeli action.

SIEGEL: No.

SHAVIT: And with Hamas having great firepower, it can even hit Tel Aviv and, God forbid, can kill civilians. So far we were lucky that civilians were not killed by rockets. That might have dramatic consequences, so it's really, I would say, a very tricky moment. And I really pray and plea that in this very last moment, moderate people on both sides and America will find a way to prevent this escalation which might have very dramatic consequences.

SIEGEL: Ari Shavit, author of "My Promised Land," thanks for talking with us.

SHAVIT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.