Voices elsewhere in the Israeli government came out to denounce the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Ofer Shelah, a member of parliament in the centrist Yesh Atid Party, reacted to the news with a comment broadcast on Israeli radio: "If it's true, this is an act of terrorism in every sense." And in an op-ed coauthored by the current president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the president-elect, Reuven Rivlin, the two spoke out against incitement and collective accusation. "In the State of Israel there is no difference between blood and blood," Peres and Rivlin wrote. "The murder of a boy or a girl, Jewish or Arab, is an unacceptable act."
The editorial staffs of two of Israel's most prominent newspapers came out with harsh indictments of the Israeli cultural norms that fueled the revenge killing. Ha'aretz, Israel's oldest daily newspaper, called for a "cultural revolution" in Israel. "Abu Khdeir's murderers are not 'Jewish extremists,' " the op-ed read. "They are the descendants and builders of a culture of hate and vengeance that is nurtured and fertilized by the guides of 'the Jewish state': Those for whom every Arab is a bitter enemy, simply because they are Arab."
And David Horovitz, the founding editor of the Times of Israel and the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, wrote of the need for Israelis to shed their "moral superiority" over their Palestinian neighbors. "We need to face up to the fact that our ongoing rule over the Palestinians, apart from endangering Israel as a Jewish democracy, is corroding us, blackening our hearts," Horovitz wrote. "If the Jewish state, the homeland of the Jewish nation, does not thoroughly emblemize a reverence for life, we have no particular right to be here at all."
But as thinkers called for reflection in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Israel Defense Forces continued to bombard the Gaza Strip, reportedly killing 11 Tuesday morning. The possibility of a ground assault remains on the table, a source in Netanyahu's office told Reuters. The Israeli attacks are in response to more than 200 rockets that were launched from the Gaza Strip since the Israeli military began searching for the three Israeli teens that disappeared June 12. No casualties were reported from these rockets. A Hamas operative declared Tuesday that the Israeli escalation means that "all Israelis have become legitimate targets."
The back-to-back tragedies that resulted in the deaths of four teens, Israeli and Palestinian, offered people on both sides of the conflict a chance to consider the effects of persistent hatred and mistrust — qualities that have, over the long term, become embedded in elements of both cultures. But the distraction of aggression and hostility on both sides may rob Israelis and Palestinians of this opportunity for reflection, instead entrenching each even deeper as rockets fly overhead.