Shlomi Eldar, writing for Al Monitor, published a revealing article about the history of the Qawasmeh family, a member of which commanded the Hebron kidnapping. As usual with IDF/government propaganda, you have to do further research in order to discover the truth. In this case, the claim that the kidnappers were associated with Hamas is tenuous at best. Further, the claim that Hamas commanded or ordered the kidnapping is flat out a lie.
The Qawasmehs are one of three main tribes in the region with 10,000 members. They have a long history not just of committing violent crimes against Israelis, but of defying Hamas in doing so:
…While Israel continues to accuse the Hamas movement and its leadership of being responsible for the abduction, Palestinian security forces attribute the abduction to the Qawasmeh clan of Hebron specifically. Though the clan is known for identifying with Hamas, it also has a well-earned reputation as troublemakers. Not only does it tend to ignore the movement’s leaders. It even acts counter to the policies being advocated by the movement.
…At least 15 members of the family were killed during the second intifada, nine of them while committing suicide attacks against Israel…Whenever the head of the terrorist organization within the clan was assassinated or arrested by Israel, one of his brothers or cousins was selected to replace him.
…Each time Hamas had reached an understanding with Israel about a cease-fire or tahadiyeh (period of calm), at least one member of the family has been responsible for planning or initiating a suicide attack, and any understandings with Israel, achieved after considerable effort, were suddenly laid waste. If there is a single family throughout the PA territories whose actions can be blamed for Israel’s assassination of the political leadership of Hamas, it is the Qawasmeh family of Hebron.
…Marwan Qawasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha have brought Hamas to a place where its leadership never intended to go. By kidnapping the three Israelis, the Qawasmeh family decided to take the leaders there anyway. In each of the previous events, Hamas’ political leaders were forced to align themselves with the movement’s military wing. Not one of them dared to say anything. They wouldn’t dare condemn a kidnapping ostensibly intended to release Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, or to denounce some terrorist attack, ostensibly launched in retaliation to the assassination by Israel of some Hamas activist or other.
The Qawasmeh clan marches to its own drummer. When Hamas policy doesn’t suit them, they carve their own radical, violent path. I have one bone to pick with Eldar’s account. He blames the Hebron tribe for violations of ceasefires when Israel itself often sabotages them. I’ve written here regularly about key Israeli invasions which were provoked by IDF ceasefire violations. Let’s keep in mind that no one forces Israel to assassinate anyone. They do so of their own volition. There are multiple paths available to Israeli policymakers. That they choose the path of murder is precisely that, a choice. Just like the Qawasmehs make a choice. But I expect a government to make more responsible choices than a clan.
All of which means that any Israeli vengeance or violence is based on lies to the Israeli public and the world. Hamas is no more responsible for this kidnapping than the IDF is responsible for settler acts of terror. If someone is willing to agree that price tag attacks are official statements of government policy, then I might agree with blaming Hamas. But until, you come to that conclusion, the official claims are false.
Not to mention that settlers extremists serve a very similar role in pushing government policy in a more extreme direction than it would otherwise go. Of course, there is a certain amount of collusion between official powers and the insurgents. But the radical settlers have an agenda that is far more homicidal and expulsionist than the government itself. I’d argue that the Qawasmehs are to Hamas what the Hilltop Youth and price taggers are to the Likud.
Even the U.S. has taken to repeating the lies sold to them by Israeli intelligence:
“There are many indications as part of this investigation that Hamas may have been involved,” Harf said. “I am not at this point saying they were responsible.”
Which means exactly what? “Many” indications it “may” have been involved, but “not saying they were.” That’s as clear as day–a very cloudy day. Does a positive and a negative cancel each other out, leaving you with a null? Which is pretty much what U.S. policy is at this moment? This reminds me of the blind leading the blind.
We should look elsewhere to assign real blame for this crime. Originally, I thought there was only one emergency call made concerning the kidnapping. It turns out there was one call from the victims, but there were 53 others (Hebrew) from various family members of the victims, attempting (and mostly failing) to alert the authorities that the children had disappeared. Managers of the emergency call center treated the victim’s first call as a prank when they could not return his call and speak with him. They did little better with the subsequent calls. While the victims were seized at 10PM, it wasn’t till 8AM the next day that the IDF was fully mobilized for a search. By then, the boys were long dead and the murderers long gone.
As a result, a number of these incompetents have been, not fired, but removed from their positions. In Israel, there is eternal forgiveness when you fail but mean well in doing so. Very few government or military personnnel are sacked for such negligence. Which means there is no accountability.
So I ask you, when Bibi Netanyahu looks at such malfeasance, for which he is ultimately responsible; and then looks at weak, vulnerable Gaza; what do you think he sees? A golden opportunity to distract the Israeli public from the systemic failure of its emergency network. Can you imagine if Israel faced a genuine emergency affecting hundreds of thousands or even millions. Imagine the chaos then.
Going rogue …
Omar al-Qawasmeh, from Hebron’s al-Sheikh neighbourhood, killed in Israeli raid
Later, the Israeli army issued a statement acknowedging that al-Qawasmeh’s killing was unintended. It said he “was present in one of the terrorist’s homes.” An Israeli military spokesman told the AFP news agency: “There is no indication that [al-Qawasmeh] was involved in any terror activity at any stage and therefore we regret the incident.”
JPost: 4,000 attend funeral for for mistakenly killed Omar al-Qawasmeh
Fatah, Hamas officials jointly attend funeral amid accusations of responsibility; Hamas calls to “unleash the resistance” in Gaza rally.
In the 1980s Hebron, became the center of the Kach movement, a designated terrorist organization, whose first operations started there [Qiryat Arba], and provided a model for similar behaviour in other settlements.
From J.J. Goldberg’s article in The Forward: “Unruly Hebron Clan Pushes Hamas — and Israel — to Brink”
More detailed accounts appeared in Hebrew in two conservative Israeli outlets, including a lengthy piece by Eldar on the Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew website, and another in Maariv by military affairs reporter Assaf Gibor.