IDF soldiers spent the dark hours of Tuesday night tramping around the hills of Judea and Samaria and bashing in reinforced metal doors to homes in Arab villages, rounding up some 50 terrorists who had been released from Israeli prisons in exchange for kidnapped former Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit. Another 15 Hamas members were arrested as well and taken for interrogation.
They also shut down the Fatah-controlled Al-Aqsa radio station in the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah, as well as its transmitter in Hevron. In addition, the IDF raided a number of charity organization centers operated by the ‘Dawa’ social services division of Hamas in Judea and Samaria.
By the wee hours of Wednesday morning, soldiers from the Kefir and Nachal Brigades had stormed selected homes in a host of PUG towns across the region, backed up by a paratroopers combat unit. Among the locations targeted were Jenin, Kabatiya, Tzufrir and Beit Awa, and others.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the troops for their tenacity in tracking down the recidivists in what undoubtedly was a frustrating and difficult mission — a fact he acknowledged.
“I wish to extend my congratulations to the troops and commanders of the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for the complex operations they carried out overnight,” the prime minister wrote in a tweet posted on the Twitter social networking site.
“The operation overnight in which Hamas terrorists were arrested, including those released in the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, is an element that carries with it an important message,” he tweeted on his Twitter account. “This is all part of a series of many operations that will continue, and their goal is to retrieve the kidnapped youngsters and strike a blow to Hamas in Judea and Samaria.”
All of those who were arrested were members of Hamas and were selected by the Shin Bet as targets for capture by the IDF. As part of their early release from prison in the swap deal that brought Shalit home to his parents after five years of captivity in Gaza, the fugitives had signed a pledge – which they violated – not to return to terrorist lifestyles.
Also on Tuesday night, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, noted that although PA unity government leader Mahmoud Abbas had signed a document for membership in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, clearly his people hadn’t read it.
Prosor pointed out than in less than 10 days since the new PA unity government officially was formed, the international community raced to offer congratulations on the new ‘marriage.’ He recommended that those who offered the congratulations likewise now race to look into the eyes of the parents of the kidnapped teens.