Is there anything sadder than the killing of children? Of course not, and no one should be surprised at the shock, distress and outrage in Israel after the bodies of three missing teenagers were found Monday. The boys, kidnapped more than two weeks ago, were apparently shot and then partially buried in an open field near the West Bank village of Halhul. What kind of world, what kind of politics, can possibly justify the abduction of teenagers in the name of ideology or nationalism or religion or whatever it turns out was the motivation for this gruesome act?
If, as Israeli Prime Minister
At the same time, the killing of the Israeli boys must not become a pretext for further withdrawal from the ailing peace process. If anything, the events of the last two weeks are a heartrending reminder of the high price of disengagement.
"Hamas will pay," Netanyahu vowed after the boys' bodies were found, and indeed, the crackdown is already underway. But Israel must behave carefully and responsibly rather than emotionally. Of course it must defend its citizens against enemies. But Netanyahu must also display the evidence he says he has that Hamas orchestrated the killings. He must minimize civilian casualties and not engage in the collective punishment of people who have done no wrong. He must not undermine those Palestinian leaders, such as President Mahmoud Abbas, who say and do the right things. Israel — as well as the Palestinians — must find reasons to come back to the negotiating table rather than seeking excuses to walk away.