The search for three teenagers who disappeared from a hitchhiking station in the West Bank late on Thursday enters a seventh day Thursday. Concern remains high for their lives, as there has been no sign of life from the missing people nor have any demands been made by their kidnappers.
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- Political Motives Drive W.B. Operation
- Hamas Hinted About Kidnapping
- After Kidnapping: Millions to Settlements
- Offensive Turns Up Few Gains
- UPDATES: IDF Sweeping Area North of Hebron
- Two Palestinians Shot Dead in Israeli Search Op
- Two Rockets Aimed at South Israel Intercepted
Israeli security forces have rounded up 280 Palestinians since the start of the Operation Brother's Keeper to rescue the teens on Friday. More than 50 of those arrested were among the 1,027 prisoners freed by Israel in 2011 as part of an exchange deal to free Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the abduction on Wednesday and called for the return of the missing youths. The kidnappers, he said, are "seeking the destruction of the [Palestinian] Authority." He also said the PA is helping Israel search for the teens.
The Prime Minister's Office offered a tepid response to Abbas' statement. "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 Prime Minister's Office said, referring to the unity government that was sworn in on June 2.
On Wednesday evening, a rocket was fired from Gaza toward a kibbutz in southern Israel, causing damage to a house. No casualties were reported. In response, the Israel Air Force struck five terrorist targets in Gaza early on Thursday.
11:10 P.M. Defense Minister Ya'alon says "we'll exact a very heavy price from Hamas leaders, wherever they are. We have no intention to compromise over Israeli citizens' safety, and we'll not hesitate to deal a heavy blow against anyone who dares us along the borders and inside them."
10:04 P.M. Two rockets were fired from Gaza toward southern Israel, no injuries were reported. A little before 10 P.M., a rocket alert siren was heard in Ashkelon. The IDF said that the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from the Strip. Earlier, a rocket siren alert was heard in Sderot and the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. The IDF spokesman said that the rocket exploded in an open field (Shirely Seidler, Gili Cohen)
9:33 P.M. The first of the Palestinian men who were released as part of the Shalit deal and have been rearrested as part of Operation Brother's Keeper was brought before a committee that could decide on his reincarceration on Thursday. Military prosecution said the man, Suliman Abu Eid, who was arrested in the West Bank, is suspected of "Resuming his participation in forbidden activities, in violation of his release conditions." If the committee, which is manned by military judges, finds him guilty of siad accusation, Abu Eid will be sent back to prison to serve out the rest of his original sentence. Abu Eid was sentenced to a life sentence in 2008 after being convicted of attempted murder, as a Hamas militant. (Gili Cohen)
8:47 P.M. Police commisioner orders shuttering of two Jerusalem-based Hamas-run institutions (Nir Hasson)
8:04 P.M. Hamas spokesman: If Israel carries out its threat of expelling Hamas leadership from the West Bank to Gaza, it is opening the gates of hell. (Jack Khouri)
7:44 P.M. The security assessment meeting with Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gantz and the Shin Bet ended. Netanyahu and his wife will meet with parents of the missing teens on Friday at his official residence in Jerusalem (Barak Ravid).
7:21 P.M. Hamas announces that continuation of the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is a crime, and a severe violation of the Cairo agreement, which served as the basis for Palestinian reconciliation agreement.
In a press conference held in Gaza, Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned Abbas' words regarding the continuing coordination, and said his positions do not reflect the ones of the Palestinian public's - or even the ones held by Fatah prisoners and casualties.
"The Intifada is the greatest event in the history of the Palestinian people, and it renews itself every time there is an escalation in Israel's aggression. Resistance through every channel is the legitimate right of the Palestinian people, to liberate the land, the holy places, and the prisoners."
Abu Zuhri demanded the Palestinian unity government take responisibility, and protect Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, and called on Arab nations, Islamic nations, and the rest of the international community to "stop Israeli aggression."
Meanwhile, Abbas' office condemned what it deemed Israel's policy of collective punishment in the West Bank and especially in the Hebron region, where it said Israel is imposing a siege on tens of thousands of the city's innocent residents.
"The Palestinians remain committed to the peace process and to a just solution, but do not accept that this commitment be used as a cover for the continuation of Israel''s policy of repression and aggrestion towards the Palestinian people. (Jack Khouri)
6:19 P.M. Speaking one week after the kidnapping, Netanyahu said in a TV statement that security forces are working around the clock to find the boys. "I am deeply impressed by the IDF, Shin Bet, police and border police efforts," he said. "Today we know much more than we did a few days ago, but there is a way ahead of us yet," he added. "We are focused on Hamas, who is responsible for the event."
"In the last 24 hours, we returned to prison over 50 Hamas men who were released in the Shalit deal. Hamas is a body with one purpose – to destroy Israel."
"We will chase our enemies, and reach them, and do every thing in our power to bring our boys back, the PM said, closing his brief statement with a quote from the book of Psalms, and words of praise for the "amazing unity among Israelis today."
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who spoke after Netanyahu, expressed his hope that "any doubts be allayed sooner rather then later."
Hamas, said Ya'alon, "is paying a price, will continue to pay a price for its actions, and hopefully will reconsider before partaking in such actions in the future."(Haaretz)
4:24 P.M. Five Hamas activists killed in tunnel collapse in Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources report (Jack Khouri)
3:37 P.M. GOC Central Command chief: Hamas' campaign to bring about release of prisoners is having the reverse effect (Gili Cohen)
1:45 P.M. Meretz Chairman Zahava Gal-On meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a briefing on the efforts to locate the kidnapped teens and secure their release.
During the meeting, Gal-On tells Netanyahu: "The central effort here must be to find the kidnapped teens and bring them home, and not a focus on toppling the Palestinian reconciliation government."
"Following Abu Mazen's [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas'] important and brave words, in which he condemned the kidnapping, the prime minister must invite Abu Mazen for a meeting at the end of the operation and present his diplomatic goals."
8:58 A.M. Since Friday, Israeli security forces have arrested 280 Palestinians, some 200 of which are linked to Hamas. Israeli forces searched overnight Thursday about 100 buildings and houses in the West Bank.
Israeli forces raided nine Hamas institutions overnight in Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah and Jenin, confiscating documents and computers.
Gunmen opened fire and IEDs were thrown overnight at soldiers operating in Jenin. Several Palestinians were wounded after the soldiers returned fire. (Gili Cohen)
7:55 A.M. Police and military forces spread out at hitchhiking stations across the West Bank. (Chaim Levinson)
7:20 A.M. Israeli forces raided 14 Dawa institutions (Hamas' socio-economic infrastructure) overnight, including Bir Zeit University's Students' Union, confiscating equipment.
An Israeli officer says that there was "more friction" with Palestinian civilians in the West Bank overnight Thursday, particularly in Bir Zeit University. (Gili Cohen)
6:40 A.M. The IDF arrests 30 Palestinian suspects overnight. According to the army, two Palestinians were shot while trying to firebomb soldiers in Jenin. (Gili Cohen)
4:04 A.M. Army Radio cites Palestinian sources as saying that one was wounded in the Israeli airstrike on Gaza. (Haaretz)
12:44 A.M. The IAF strikes five targets in the Gaza Strip in response to Wednesday's rocket fire. The army says that a rocket launcher and other terrorist facilities were targeted in northern Gaza, as well as two other terrorists sites in the Strip's center. According to the statement, direct hits were identified. (Gili Cohen)
10:38 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." (Haaretz)
10:26 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)
10:21 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)