It’s the 11th day of Operation Brother’s Keeper, since 19 year old Eyal Yifrach, 16 year old Naftali Frenkel and 16 year old Gilad Sha’ar were kidnapped by Arab terrorists.
Thousands of soldiers are out around the clock, searching for the kidnapped boys and putting pressure on the terror organization behind the abduction, Hamas. But they haven’t found them yet. Terrorism experts have assured journalists that the boys are “still alive… That’s the working assumption.”
Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday morning were spent hunting down and arresting 37 Palestinian Authority unity government fugitives in Hevron, El Aroub, Shechem, Tulkarem and Jenin. The process was not an easy one: each came at the cost of violent encounters with rioters as the IDF soldiers came to take the terrorists into custody. Since the operation began, more than 360 terrorists have been taken into custody — most of them members of Hamas.
Seven organizations linked to Hamas in various locations around Hevron and in Jenin were shut down, and eighty separate sites were searched meticulously for some sign of the kidnapped boys.
Hundreds of illegal weapons have been confiscated over the past 10 days, and IDF soldiers found numerous previously unknown tunnels and bunkers dug under Arab homes in Hevron.
Late Sunday night, Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised the terrorists, saying “the youth of the West Bank have restored honor to the intifada, the greatest legacy in history.”
Haniyeh’s Ramallah-based partner in the PA unity government, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, said at his office in the Samaria PA capital the kidnapping was “unjustified and unacceptable.” He added that Israelis should see Palestinians in the same way, and realize they are “human beings like them.”
The Islamic holiday of Ramadan – in which observant Muslims fast during the daylight hours for the entire month – is due to begin shortly. However, Israeli defense officials say they do not intend to relieve the pressure until the boys are found.