JERUSALEM — Somehow, over the past eleven days, the smoldering Israeli-Palestinian arena has become one in which young boys are fodder.
In a series of events difficult to comprehend, three Israeli teens vanished without a trace, three Palestinian minors and one Israeli teen were violently killed, and at least two Israeli teens are living under police protection.
Here's a wrap-up:
1) The case of the missing teens
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, also 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were abducted while hitching a ride home from the seminary where they study on the evening of Thursday, June 12. The teens are routinely referred to as "settlers" by various media, though in fact, only Yifrach lives in a West Bank settlement. The other two are from towns within Israel's 1967 borders.
Their seminary in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, in what may be the only West Bank Jewish community with roots dating back four decades before Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank, is an area assumed to be part of Israel under any peace agreement.
The teens have disappeared as if into thin air, despite extensive Israeli army searches now in their 10th day and some 300 arrests of Palestinians for allegedly being connected with the crime in some way. Israeli social media is starting to push rumors the boys may be dead.
2) Palestinian teens killed protesting arrests
Mohammed Jihad Dudeen, a 15-year-old, was killed by live Israeli fire at 5 a.m. Friday. He was in a group of boys hurling rocks at an Israeli military search party that came into his village, Duran, looking for the lost teens.
Another Palestinian teen was reported killed that same day.
3) Israeli teens under police protection
Mohammed Zoabi, the 17-year-old relative of a firebrand Israeli left-wing parliamentarian, identifying himself as a "proud" Israeli, posted to Facebook a video demanding the safe return of his three kidnapped peers "from terrorist hands."
Knesset member Hanin Zoabi retorted that the kidnappers are not "terrorists," and three other members of Nazareth's venerable Zoabi clan, aged 40 to 60, were arrested for attempting to kidnap Mohammed himself, in retaliation for his apparent treachery.
Soon after, another boy called Mohammed, from the Galilean city of Umm el-Fahm, posted a similar call to liberate the three boys. After that came the death threats. He has yet to return to school.
4) First Israeli casualty of the Syrian war
On Sunday, the first day of summer vacation, Mohammed Karake, 14, from the Galilee town of Arabeh, accompanied his dad to work delivering water to construction workers near Israel's border with Syria.
He became the first Israeli fatality resulting from the Syrian civil war when a projectile hit his father's truck. Fahmi Karaka, a contractor for Israel's Defense Ministry, was wounded.
In response, and in its first major intervention in Syria since the war started three years ago, Israel blasted Syrian military targets on Monday, killing at least 10 Syrian soldiers.
5) Palestinian boy killed in Israeli air raid
Gazan Ali Abdel-Latif al-Awoor, only 7, was riding on his uncle's motorcycle on June 11 when he was hit by an Israeli air raid and died on the spot.
Meanwhile, the grown-ups don't seem to have much to say. UNICEF issued a statement underlining "the urgent need for stronger protection for children in the region."
In a separate statement, the Red Cross called "on all concerned to fully comply with international humanitarian law."