Exposing Hamas’ Kidnapping Strategy: an Interview with Dan Diker

by Lisa Benson and Jerry Gordon (July 2014)

Deceased Israeli abductees likely slain by Hamas suspects
From left: Dual Israeli-American  Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, in three undated family photos. Credit Image by Reuters

On June 12th, three youths, 16 year old American-Israeli Naftali Frenkel and two Israelis, Gilad Shaar, 16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19 were abducted while hitchhiking home from religious school in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron. According to a Washington Post report, one of the abductees got off a cell call saying, “we’ve been kidnapped.” Hamas is believed to be behind their abduction. At a June 15th Cabinet meeting, Israeli PM Netanyahu said:

IDF troops in Operation Brother’s Keeper
June 24, 2014

An IDF paratrooper brigade virtually sealed off the area surrounding Hebron. As of  June 24, 2014 more than 1,400 sites have been searched and 350 Palestinians, among them many Hamas leaders, have been detained for questioning regarding the abduction in Operation Brothers Keeper. The IDF expanded raids into Ramallah, Nablus, East Jerusalem and the Qalandiya refugee camp and crossing with resulting injuries and deaths of Palestinian youths confronting IDF troops with homemade grenades. Thousands of Israelis prayed for the safe return of the three youths at the Kotel, Western Wall, of the Temple in Jerusalem. The National Council of Young Israel in New York issued a call for a Prayer Service for their safe return. The announcement used the Twitter hashtag, #BringBackOurBoys.

Hamas issued a statement praising the abduction. According to an updated report by The Daily Mail, Senior Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza called the accusation by PM Netanyahu “silly.” While cooperating with the Palestinian security service, Israel also relies on their own resources in the West Bank to identify the abductors and the possible location of the three teens. This despite PA senior official Hanan Ashrawi cited  by The Daily Mail saying, “this is something we have no information on.” However, what can you expect from the Palestinian unity government with Hamas. Its Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah acknowledges that it has no control over Gaza.

Secretary of State Kerry issued a statement  on June 15th saying:

The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home. We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.

We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement. As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.

On the evening of June 24th, the IAF undertook a series of raids in Gaza hitting more than 12 suspected targets with massive explosions. Just prior to this reprisal raid by the IAF on Israel’s Golan frontier with Syria, a 14 year old Israel Arab teenager was killed in an anti-tank rocket attack from Syria while seated in his father’s truck. His father is a civilian contractor supplying water to construction workers. The IAF retaliated shortly thereafter with raids against suspected targets in Syria. Questions remain as to what motivated Hamas to undertake the kidnapping and who might have been behind the Golan incident.

Marwan Qawasmeh, left, and Amer Abu Aisheh
Hamas operatives and kidnapping suspects
Source: Shin Bet and AP

On June 26th Shin Bet, Israel’s General Security Service released the names of two prime suspects in the kidnapping of the three youths. They are Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh. Known Hamas operatives in the Hebron area. They disappeared about the time of the kidnapping on June 12th.

June 30th, the IDF recovered in a field north of Hebron the bodies of the three Israeli abductees Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach likely slain by Hamas suspects.

PM Netanyahu issued a statement saying:

President Shimon Peres said:

President Obama issued the following statement:

On behalf of the American people I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel – who held Israeli and American citizenship. As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing.  The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.  . . . I also urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.  As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States.  

Lisa Benson:  Good afternoon. Welcome. It is Sunday, June 22nd, 2014. This is Lisa Benson, your host for the Lisa Benson Radio Show for National Security Matters. Today we have several breaking stories to bring to you. Week after week this broadcast brings you intelligent, accurate and measured response to urgent matters regarding National Security and Foreign Policy. Today we have s a riveting show with breaking news happening in Israel and Iraq. These are rapidly unfolding developments. It is my privilege today to bring on to the show my co-host Jerry Gordon.  Jerry, welcome back to the program.


Jerry Gordon:  Glad to be here.


Diker:  That’s right, as a matter of fact there are two severe developments today in addition to the ongoing terror kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers now in its tenth day. This morning a Palestinian Arab from Gaza was caught with a grenade on his way to a terror attack. Late this morning there was an attack that is being attributed to Syria using an anti-tank Kornet rocket that killed an Israeli Arab teenager who was sitting in a car with his dad in the Golan Heights. I think what we need to look at in the assault coming out of Syria is that it very well may have been Hezbollah. There is a tremendous amount of confusion regarding who is doing what and when in Syria. Whether it is the Syrian Army, whether it is the rebel factions, whether is Hezbollah which has 20,000 men in Syria at this point. I think we need to look at the Iranian regime’s connection to this attack. The Iranian regime executes these types of attacks when it wants to distract international attention away from its race to the nuclear finish line and particularly when it’s now attacking the United States diplomatically regarding its actions in Iraq. They like to light up the Israeli piece on the chessboard which Iran looks at the Middle East as another chessboard in order to push international tension away from its own activity closer to home.

Benson:  The Palestinian Authority yesterday said they believe that there were no teenagers abducted, kidnapped in Judea or Samaria.

Benson:  I have Israeli friends of all political persuasions.  Do you believe the Israeli people understand what we in America are facing in regard to the infiltration and penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood in our government?

Diker:  To be frank with you I think that the Israeli public is up to their neck treading water in problems here in the region. From an Israeli point of view, you look to the north and you see Hezbollah, ISIS, and Al Qaeda in Syria. We have Hezbollah in Lebanon with somewhere between 85,000 to 100,000 rockets. You have Gaza to the South with some 20,000 rockets that can reach North of Tel Aviv and then across to Jerusalem.  You have kidnapped teenagers and local socioeconomic matters. I think that Israelis really are focused on what is happening around them. They are not involved in what they would view as an American domestic problem. However, it makes sense of Israelis of American descent. It is not a story that is sort of being widely distributed or widely talked about.

Gordon:  Dan, today we had a tableau in Cairo. We had the arrival back of Secretary of State Kerry who met with President al-Sisi and his Foreign Minister. He made some interesting noises that sounded like the words of democracy and inclusive government. He was appealing to al-Sisi to allow the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists back into their parliament and into their government. This is in the face of significant death sentences handed to over a hundred Muslim Brotherhood operatives. How friendly is the al-Sisi government to Israel now and do they share mutual security concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorists in the Sinai?

Benson:  Why did Mahmoud Abbas form a unity government with Hamas offending Israel?

Benson:  We had no idea.

Diker:  Absolutely. Hamas and Fatah are in a tense competition to win the Palestinian street and that is what caused these kidnappings. The kidnapping of these three Israeli teenagers is as much a function of the internal civil war between Hamas and Fatah because it is against Israel. The Hamas rogue cell that undertook these kidnappings believed that Hamas leaders in Gaza and Fatah sold Hamas down the river. Therefore the Hamas opposition groups in the West Bank, otherwise known as Judea and Samaria, needed to show the Palestinian public that the Hamas opposition groups would fight the so-called reconciliation government. That is how complicated the situation is here in the Middle East with regards to the kidnapping. 

Gordon:  What we have revealed today are the dynamics behind the kidnapping episode, the internal problems between Fatah and Hamas. That the U.S. is consciously distancing itself from a valued ally in the Middle East, the new government of Egypt under President al-Sisi.

Benson:  Dan Diker you have been a tremendous guest with us today and we look forward to having you on this program again.


The West Speaks.


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