From Israel: “Damn!  And Damn Again!”

Yehuda Guetta, 19, who was a student at the Itamar Yeshiva, has succumbed to his wounds.  He is dead because he was Jewish.

Yehuda was one of the three students who were targeted in a drive-by shooting at Tapuach Junction in the Shomron on Sunday evening.  He was the most seriously wounded of the three, having taken a shot to the head.  Reports in the days since indicated that doctors were working to save his life. So, we knew…

Credit: Courtesy Family

Yehuda lived in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem, and is survived by his parents and six siblings.  His dream was to serve in an elite IDF unit.



His mother spoke at his funeral, which was held today:

“They said he was alive but that I should come with lots of deep breaths. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know his condition…

When we saw him [we understood], we got four days of grace in which we could be at his side and bid farewell to him.” (Emphasis added)


Credit: IsraelNationalNews
Credit: IsraelNationalNews

Hashem yikom damo.  May the Almighty avenge his death (literally, his blood).


The IDF and the Shin Bet had been searching for the perpetrator(s) of the attack since it happened. First it was said that one individual attacked alone, and then the report was corrected to indicate that more than one may have been involved. (Could it have been otherwise, if someone was shooting from a moving car?)

Much of the IDF activity involved the Arab village of Akraba and the surrounding area, which was searched house to house. While the terrorist was not found there, family members suspected of lending assistance were arrested. The car that had been used was found outside the village, burned in order to obscure identification.

Now it has been announced that the terrorist, who lived in Turmus Aya in the Ramallah area, has been apprehended; he was hiding out in the village of Silwad.  The search continues however, as it is suspected that there were others involved.


Credit: Anadolu Agency


What is of some note in this situation is that the perpetrator reportedly had recently spent time in the US and had American citizenship.


Two points to be made here.  One is that we always get our man.  Our intelligence is superb.  And then, I note again that even when terror attacks are identified as “lone wolf,” the terrorist almost always has a support system.  


Among those who spoke at Yehuda’s funeral was Yossi Dagan, head of the Regional Council of Samaria (Shomron), who said:

“We demand that the government come to its senses and move toward a decisive attack on Israel’s enemies. We demand that the government reinstate the security checkpoints and go back to controlling the traffic routes in Judea and Samaria. Our lives are more important than any politics.”

Credit: Eli Mandelbaum

Some of what he demanded – such as a new community to be established near the Tapuach Junction in memory of Yehuda Guetta – is not going to happen, which does not mean it should not. 

But other suggestions regarding security measures are more readily doable. Yet, I have very serious doubts as to whether they would even be considered either.  The world is pushing for that untenable, unacceptable, insane “two-state solution” again.  And the ICC is launching an investigation against us.  If we limit Palestinian Arab movement through Judea & Samaria, or make the lives of Palestinian Arabs less convenient because of checkpoints, an outcry would ensue, fostered by an “aggrieved” Palestinian Authority.

This is what Dagan was referring to, when he said that our lives are more important than any politics.


With this we segue into the issue of how our next government may be formed.  What is going on is stomach-turning, and enraging.

There is fault enough to go around.  Feelings of deep animosity harbored by one politician for another.  A long-held aspiration to be prime minister that served as the unspoken rationale for making decisions. Ego.  Power politics.

A right-wing coalition was possible, except for the above factors. Netanyahu’s Likud was able to bring in sufficient support to create a coalition of 59.  He was short two mandates. He wasn’t able to convince any members of Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope to join with Likud. And for sure Sa’ar was nursing sufficient enmity that he wouldn’t cooperate. And so, Netanyahu considered cooperation with Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am party – either by including the party in the coalition or securing its support from the outside.

But that wasn’t going to work because Bezalal Smotrich, head of Religious Zionists, said he would pull out if this happened.  

Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The governing coalition should not depend on an Islamist party, Smotrich declared. There were those who were confident that they could get him to change his mind at the last, but he held fast. He was severely criticized by many – made to be the “cause” of the coalition’s problems.


But I applaud him for his adherence to a principle of great importance.

A quick look at what’s been happening in recent days makes this obvious.

The Ra’am party is a break-off from the Arab Joint List, but cut from the same Islamist, anti-Zionist cloth.

Just today, Ahmed Tibi, a prominent member of the Joint List, when asked to condemn the terror attack at Tapuach Junction in the course of a radio interview, refused to do so:

The occupation is the source of all evil,” he said, thereby justifying the murder of innocent Jews.


While less than two weeks ago, Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, wrote in Arabic on Facebook with regard to violence in Jerusalem:

These clashes are sometimes calm and sometimes erupt, and it will be so until the intifada comes and brings an end to the occupation and hoists the Palestinian flag over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, over the churches, and over the liberated gates of Jerusalem.” 

It was a more fiery, inciteful comment than he had made in Hebrew.



Mansur Abbas does precisely the same thing as Odeh did, speaking of peace in Hebrew and saying something else in Arabic.

Credit: BESA Center

See the commentary on this by Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

“The Islamic Movement in Israel is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological hothouse that spawned such organizations as Hamas, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and various other Sunni jihadist groups that reject Israel’s right to exist. Giving the Islamic Movement a kosher stamp of approval sets Israel on the same destructive path trod by Lebanon ever since Hezbollah became part of that country.”



The bitter irony here is that there were other solutions for establishing a desperately needed right-wing coalition.  Sa’ar could have said that he really didn’t want to sit with Netanyahu, but the country needs that coalition and so he must join to make it possible.  Or two members of his party might have said the same.

Or Netanyahu might have said that he realizes that he has been made the stumbling block.  As reluctant as he is to step down, he might have said, as much as he thinks it is unfair, he believes he must so that someone else can take over Likud and the badly needed coalition might come into being.

Any of these would have been possible if Israel has been the first priority.  It is a source of grief that this did not happen and that Netanyahu’s mandate for forming a government ran out without resolution.


Bennett, who played both sides at the same time, meeting with Netanyahu and with Lapid (apparently to protect himself in all eventualities) was certainly a part of the problem.

Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon

At the end, Netanyahu and Bennett were pointing fingers at each other, each one claiming the other was at fault for the failure of negotiations.

Netanyahu, who, if truth be told, was not trusted by other parties, seems to have pegged it in this instance.  If he had committed to Likud definitively, the prime minister told Bennett, it would have been possible to bring in two individuals to secure the necessary number of mandates: they would have known they were joining something solid. But since Bennett waffled, this was not the case.


Whatever the bottom-line reality, Netanyahu’s opportunity is gone and the entire situation is pathetic.

It took President Rivlin very little time to hand the mandate to Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, who now has 28 days to try to form a coalition. A mandate he might have given to Bennett but chose not to.


Credit: Gideon Markowitz

Bennett is eagerly at Lapid’s side and has reportedly been promised first shot at running a shared government.  Bennett declares the importance of forming this “emergency unity government” to prevent yet another election.  Admittedly, yet another election is a horrific prospect that would likely not yield any resolution.

But… but… Consider what we may be facing now.  Lapid is himself centrist-left.  If he is capable of cobbling together a coalition, it would include leftist parties such as Labor, as well as Monsour Abbas.  UTJ has already made it clear they will not be part of this.

Bennett and Lapid worked together once before and ended on bad terms.  What precisely makes them believe it would be different now?  This “unity government” solution, with parties that hold different ideologies, would be very problematic.

Lapid and Bennett are currently declaring they can make it all happen in no time, but the numbers tell a different story.


There is yet another hope: If Lapid fails to form a coalition, Rivlin can turn it over to the Knesset, and there it is possible for something constructive to happen.  Possible.  Any member of Knesset who can bring along a sufficient number of mandates would be prime minister with a coalition behind him. Such an individual would have to come from Likud, someone other than Netanyahu.  And there are those who would be very eager for this opportunity.


I want to end on a positive note.  The Israeli people are fantastic.  We demonstrate strength in the face of tragedy, perseverance, and caring.  The national response to the tragedy of Meron was a stunning example of the best we can be – with everyone rallying to mourn together, and provide support.

See Ruthie Blum’s column on this subject:


And then hear the words of a father, Avigdor Chayout, grieving at the funeral of his son Yedidya who was lost in Meron.

Let’s unite. It’s the right time and place…Our obligation right here and now is to rise and unite…”  


May we find our way to better times.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution