August 13, 2009
Israel Investigates Possible Abduction of Soldier [UPDATE]
The “Al-Quds Army”, a previously unknown group, claims responsibility for potential abduction
Israel was in a state of panic Thursday afternoon after reports that an Israeli soldier may have been abducted near the country’s international airport in the center of the country.
A group calling itself the “Al-Quds Army”, or ‘Jerusalem Army’, claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Israeli officials gave scarce details but indicated there was a security alert in response to a phone call from a soldier saying he had been kidnapped.
Roadblocks were set up at the entrances of both Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the city of Modi’in and throughout the center of the country as police inspected cars.
A brief statement from the Al-Quds army was sent to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
“A group of our resistance fighters captured an Israeli soldier near Ben Gurion Airport and withdrew along with the soldiers peacefully,” the statement read. “Later we will give details about the captured soldier.”
Most police and public safety officials refused to comment.
“At the moment they are checking all sorts of possibilities,” Tal Harel, an official with Israeli Public Security, told The Media Line. “If there is something to announce it will be announced.”
“I didn’t hear anything but they called me an hour ago in a hysterical state to check that I was ok,” a soldier in Maintenance Corps, who asked not to be identified, told The Media Line.
Israeli culture places an unusually high value on the lives of its soldiers.
The Lebanon War of 2007 was triggered by the abduction of two Israeli soldiers, whose bodies were eventually returned to Israel in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
The return of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped over three years ago, remains a potent political issue in Israeli politics. Rumors of a deal between Israel and Hamas on his return, expected to involve the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, make headlines in Israel daily.
“You can see from the way we treat these problems that we are more than ready to release hundreds of killers to get back one soldier,” Dr Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told The Media Line. “Arabs have really found the most sensitive, aching, organ in the Israeli body, which is the abducted soldier, and they are squeezing it to blackmail us.”
“The US does not negotiate for its soldiers and you can see that American soldiers are not being abducted very often,” Dr Kedar said. “Israeli behaves differently for various reasons so we are exposed to blackmail.”
Israeli troops are believed to be under instruction to open heavy fire at anyone trying to capture a soldier, even if it means killing a soldier being abducted. The policy, known as the ‘Hannibal Directive’, has never been officially confirmed.