The State of Israel is accustomed to terrorism, and yet it seems to surprise us every time. There isn't another state in the world that is so preoccupied with the issue of peace with its neighbors, and there isn't another state that is so far away from this term in the thrust of an individual incident.
The Middle East is filled with Islamic terror. In Iraq and Syria, people blow themselves up every few days, in Nigeria hundreds of girls are kidnapped in the name of religion. No one is moved anymore by the blood-filled routine of life. Terror incidents change nothing there and indifference is a terminal disease.
In Israel, on the other hand, terror remains a strategic threat. There are incidents with the potential to change reality: A Qassam rocket which happens to hit a kindergarten could move military corps, a successful abduction of soldiers or civilians could lead to war, as we know.
After the seven bad years of terror, the past seven years were relatively quiet and both sides enjoyed prosperity. The Al-Aqsa Intifada was crushed thanks to the defense establishment's activity and the separation fence. It grew weak thanks to the separation from Hamas in the Gaza Strip and a deliberate decision made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The violent struggle was replaced with a diplomatic struggle. Its achievements are more meaningful to the Palestinians, and more damaging to the State of Israel in the long run.
The teens' abduction on the backdrop of the unity with Hamas disrupts plans. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not interested in escalation, but the "dealers" who shuffle the cards are uncontrollable.
From many aspects, this incident removes the internal rifts in Israeli politics. It presents reality and its limitations. Minister Tzipi Livni, who sees Abbas as a real partner, will be forced to deal once again with his inability to govern. Minister Naftali Bennett and others, who suggested removing the separation fence recently, will find very few supporters for that idea in the Israeli public. Both of them will have to fall into line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the prisoner dilemma he has created with his own hands.
The release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit opened a discussion which has yet to end about the Israeli policy. Every possible mistake was made in regards to Shalit's abduction, from both the operational and the political aspect. The failure of the abduction day blended with an ongoing intelligence failure.
The Ehud Olmert government gave up on the possibility of extending Operation Cast Lead and shaking the intelligence blanket when the IDF was in the Gaza Strip. The Netanyahu government released 1,000 terrorists.
One of the most difficult mistakes continues to this very day: The policy decision. Despite the government's commitments and declarations, the Shamgar Committee's report has yet to be published. The committee, which was established to decide how Israel should act in case of an abduction of soldiers or civilians, faded away in the archives. In the past year, terrorists were released as part of the peace negotiation process, but the report's conclusions remained locked up.
If negotiations begin with the kidnappers, Israel will find itself again in the same impossible dilemma: Pressure from the families versus the cold logic and interest. Unfortunately, Israel will be surprised once again by the strength of the emotion, and by the strength of the price.