Heading into the sixth day since three Israeli teenagers were abducted by terrorists on their way home from school in Judea, the IDF is tightening the noose around Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria.
Tuesday night, IDF forces conducted mass sweeps of known Palestinian terrorists and sympathizers, arresting 65 Palestinians, 51 of whom were released in 2011 as part of the deal to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. The 51 arrested men are known members of Hamas and were part of 1,000 terrorists freed in exchange for Shalit.
Israeli Prime Minister praised the efforts of Israeli security services in looking for the boys.
“The activities of the IDF and Shin Bet last night, during which Hamas terrorists released in the agreement for the return of Gilad Shalit were arrested, send an important message and are a critical component in a series of operations whose purpose is to return the kidnapped boys, and damage Hamas’s infrastructure in Judea and Samaria,” he said.
Operation Brother’s Keeper: IDF Confronts Terrorism in Judea and Samaria
MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) announced on Wednesday that the re-arrested terrorists will have their pardons annulled and will go back to jail to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
“We are starting to change the equation so that abductions do not pay,” Shaked wrote on her Facebook page.
“Of the terrorists freed in the Shalit deal who were arrested, a large part violated conditions of their probation, and therefore their pardon will be annulled and they will go back to serving their full sentences. This is not just administrative detention, but turning back the wheels of pardon.”
“Out of the Shalit deal, there are about 100 ‘heavy’ terrorists who were released into the areas of Judea and Samaria. The IDF would do well to put its hands on all of them,” she wrote.
“This is a strategic shift,” she added. “It is important that as many of them be arrested as possible. That the abduction will damage the achievements of the previous abduction.”
Since the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Frankel, 16, Israel has conducted a sweeping crackdown on Hamas. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, 240 Palestinians have been arrested as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. Of those 240, 180 of the arrested include members of Hamas.
The IDF estimates that at least 800 buildings have been searched in efforts to find the boys, including 10 operations against Islamic institutions part of the da’wa infrastructure known to disseminate radical Islamic rhetoric, recruit members of Hamas, and launder money for terrorists.
Defense officials in Israel vowed to strike a heavy blow to the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization, the group Israel says is responsible behind the kidnappings.
“Hamas in Judea and Samaria will pay a heavy price for the kidnapping,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Tuesday night. “We will get our hands on the kidnappers, and know how to get to the Hamas heads, any time, any place.”
Ya’alon reiterated the complicated nature of the search, urging the public to be patient. “Or main effort is getting to the kidnappers and kidnapped, and we will not rest until we do,” he said.
“We don’t intend to compromise the security of Israeli citizens, and will act with determination, responsibility and judiciously,” he added.
Gen. itzan Alon, head of the IDF’s Central Command, echoed Ya’alon’s sentiments during a press conference Tuesday night.
“The Hamas leaders will feel the blow and get the message. They will emerge from this campaign weakened on an operational and strategic level,” Alon vowed.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who toured the area Tuesday night where the boys disappeared, met with security personnel and gave the go ahead to continue operations to search for the boys.
“There is a lot of determination and we learn from arrest to arrest,” he said.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett warned the radical Islamic terror group Hamas that its members would receive a “ticket to hell” for its continued acts of terror against Israel.
Bennett slammed the Palestinian Authority as a conspirator in the recent kidnappings, saying, “In English they speak of one thing, and in Arabic they speak of murder.”