Concern grows for the lives of the three Israeli kidnapped teenagers, as efforts to locate and rescue them have entered their seventh day.
Israel's security forces overnight Wednesday arrested 65 Palestinians, 50 of whom were among the 1,027 prisoners released by Israel in 2011, as part of an exchange deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity. 240 arrests were made since the start of the operation on Friday, 180 members of them Hamas men.
In bid to increase pressure on Hamas, the cabinet decided on Tuesday to worsen the conditions of members of the organization held in Israeli prisons. In addition, the government is weighing whether to expel top Hamas officials from the West Bank to Gaza.
"The campaign against Hamas is complicated and prolonged. It didn't start today and it will not end soon. We're hitting Hamas in every dimension," Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, who commands the military in the West Bank, said on Tuesday. He added that Hamas leaders "are feeling the heat and getting the message."
22:38 P.M. The chief rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, Dov Lior, claims that the Israeli government's "anti-Jewish" legislation is to blame for the teens' kidnapping.
"Unfortunately, we are witness to a severe decline in the government's dealings with the Jewish character of the state," Lior wrote in a Facebook post. "There has been a spate of new laws whose common denominator is the undermining of the Jewish quality of our public life."
22:26 P.M. Assailants attempt to run over troops near an IDF post in the Bethlehem vicinity; none wounded. Soldiers open fire toward the car, which flees. (Gili Cohen)
22:21 P.M. Spokeswoman of U.S. State Department Jen Psaki calls on Israelis, Palestinians to "show restraint during this difficult period."
9:32 P.M. Rocket lands in Kibbutz in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and causes damage to a house; no casualties reported. Another rocket lands in open area. Rocket alert was sounded throughout region, and in Sderot (Haaretz)
9:12 P.M. "While both the efforts to locate and rescue the three yeshiva students and the anguish felt by the great majority of Israelis are very real, there is a growing recognition that the ongoing saga is about much more than their fate. Indeed, for the security establishment, for the government and for the pro-settler camp, it is much more." Read more in Anshel Pfeffer's analysis: The not-so hidden agendas behind the kidnapping crisis
8:18 P.M. Prime Minister's office reacts coldly to Abbas' statement, in which the Palestinian president harshly condemned the kidnapping. "Abbas' words will be evaluated according to the PA's efforts to return the kidnapped boys safely home, and the real test is the dismantling of the agreement with Hamas," sources in the PM's office say. (Barak Ravid)
7:55 P.M. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino issues statement, announces setting up of committee to investigate police's handling of the first hours of the kidnapping. "I am aware of the public criticism […] regarding the handling of the phone call which was received on the night of the kidnapping. As I have said before, any criticism aired about the police's conduct will thoroughly investigated, with utmost seriousness." (Yaniv Kubovich)
7:04 P.M. The families of the three kidnapped boys listened to the full two-minute recording of the distress call made by one of the boys on the eve of the kidnapping.
A civilian source who listened to a recording of the call said the teen's words, while said quickly and in a whisper, were clear and comprehensible. After the hotline operator answers, the boy is heard saying "I have been kidnapped."
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich earlier today called criticism of the police hotline justified. He also said the teen's call was difficult to understand, and promised to have it made public. (Haaretz)
6:52 P.M. Deputy minister Ofir Akunis spoke after visited the Shaer family residence in Talmon. "The arrest of the prisoners who were released as part of the Shalit deal is just one in a series of steps we have reserved. We will do anything to get the children home." ..." Abbas will be judged by his actions- not his words – and the first action he must do is dismantle the terror government he has set up. (Jonathan Lis)
5:56 P.M. West Bank division commander: "Every bit of information, every single detainee can help us in our goal of bringing the boys back home. In the coming days we plan to act in areas where we have not gotten to as much, and carry out raids on Hamas operations. (Haaretz)
5:16 P.M. The IDF is deliberately putting previously released Palestinian prisoners back in jail, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon says, apparently in a bid to demonstrate that abducting Israelis will not help Palestinian prisoners.
Israel arrested 65 Palestinian prisoners overnight Wednesday, of whom 53 were freed in the 2011 prisoner swap that secured the release of 1,027 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israel Defense Forces soldier taken captive in 2006.
"The clear message is that not only are we taking action to release the boys, but also that when there is an abduction, we will put those who have been released back in jail," Ya'alon said in a meeting with the families of the abducted teens.
By late May, Israel had re-arrested 44 of the prisoners released in the Shalit swap, for suspected violations of the conditions of their release.
"So far no one has taken responsibility, and we have not received any demands," Ya'alon told the families. He said the defense establishment would not rest "until we get our hands on the kidnappers and bring the boys back." (Gili Cohen)
5:13 P.M. Former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan: Abbas' response to kidnapping akin to abandonment of the Palestinian people (Haaretz)
5:00 P.M. Hamas condemns Abbas' move to cooperate with Israel to find missing teens:
2:56 P.M. Opposition chief and Labor Party head Isaac Herzog commends President Mahmoud Abbas' call to free the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. After a phone conversation with the Palestinian president, Herzog said: "We must shape reality in the region and strengthen the moderate voices and Abu Mazen (Abbas) through dialogue," he said.
Herzog calls on Israel and the Palestinians to renew negotiations after the conclusion of Operation Brother's Keeper to retrieve the three kidnapped Israelis. (Jonathan Lis)
2:22 P.M. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni praises Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call earlier Wednesday for the return of the kidnapped Israeli teens. "The words we heard from Abu Mazen (Abbas) today are important, accurate and they reflect the true reality," she says.
"Hamas is an Islamist terror organization that hurts civilian and children, and is not waging war for the sake of the Palestinian people and its national aspirations, but against Israel's existence, and shouldn't be granted legitimacy," Livni adds.
Livni calls on moderate Palestinians and the moderate Arab world to join hands with Israel and the international community, and together fight Hamas, "corner and isolate it" and thus return to the negotiation table and revive the idea of a two-state solution. (Barak Ravid)
11:50 A.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calls for the return of the three Israeli teens kidnapped last week in the West Bank, telling foreign ministers of Muslim states gathered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that the abductors were "seeking the destruction of the [Palestinian] Authority. (Jack Khoury)
11:30 A.M. In a meeting with mayors from cities around the world, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is in the midst of a wide operation aimed against "the terrorists who harm, kill and abduct" Israeli citizens and want to destroy the state of Israel. (Barak Ravid)
8:15 A.M. Prime Minister Netanyahu praises the soldiers, commanders and Shin Bet for the overnight operation in which some 50 former prisoners freed in the Shalit deal were arrested. (Haaretz)
7:20 A.M. The IDF overnight confiscated documents and computers from five Hamas charity centers, which are considered a part of the Dawa, the organization's civilian wing. Since the start of the operation, Israeli security forces raided 11 such institutions.
A military commander says Israel expanded the operation and began arresting Palestinian prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit swap in 2011. A statement issued by the IDF Spokesperson's unit says out of 65 Palestinians arrested overnight, 50 of them were freed in return for the release of the soldier from captivity. It said the men were taken for interrogation. (Gili Cohen)
6:50 A.M. 240 arrests made since start of Operation Brother’s Keeper, 180 of them Hamas men. (Gili Cohen)
1:07 A.M. Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon will meet with the families of the kidnapped youths on Wednesday in Tel Aviv. (Haaretz)
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now