So it’s official. Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped just outside Hebron, West Bank, have been found dead. They barely had 51 years of age between all of them. It also seems that they had been killed shortly after having been lifted from the roadside where they were – naïvely, perhaps – trying to hitch a ride.
We should’ve developed a tough skin for such news from the Holy Land – how many times have we heard about young kids killed by stray bullets, or used as human shields, or hit by shrapnels in some explosion? – yet it is something that deeply shocks and enrages me.
Firsly because I could see myself in their shoes; I hitched rides in my teens, propping out my thumb on deserted roads in the middle of an endless summer, and it never went wrong. Sometimes I waited ages, sometimes a thunderstorm caught up with me sooner than a kind fellow with a car, but it always went well. Over the past few days I found myself thinking at them, thinking at the oh-fuck moment when they’d realised that perhaps hitching a ride there wasn’t a good idea at all, because over the hill there was a town called Hebron and the fact that they were called Naftali, Gilad and Eyal and wore kippah wouldn’t give them any brownie points over there. When they stopped being careless teenagers and discovered that you can’t always hitch a ride and get home safe.
The second thing that disturbs me is that this so clearly isn’t their fault. I mean yeah, they did a foolish thing, an unconsiderate thing. But hey, who hasn’t done stupid things when they were 16? I smoked pot, I did downhill MTB with only a crappy helmet, I shoplifted. Did I deserve to be killed for this? No, and neither did they.
And besides, what was their responsibility of the current situation in the West Bank? They hadn’t one. They certainly didn’t decide to build up a big wall, or to put a Jewish settlement over every single hilltop in Judaea, or to restrict the Palestinians’ freedom of movement. As for the kids hit by stray bullets or by the bombs, they simply were in the wrong place at the very wrong moment.
I wish that their deaths will make everyone realise how senseless this conflict has become, how stupid and how useless. I hope that the political leaders from both sides will say that enough is enough and they cannot go on and live like this. But probably it won’t happen. One side will either cheer or shrug shoulders in indifference, whilst the other will mourn and call for retribution. Up until the same happens just with inverted parts, and the circus will go on.