Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said on Thursday that he will act to prevent the annual goodwill gestures that Israel makes to West Bank Palestinians during the month-long Ramadan holiday.
Danon said in a statement that the Palestinians should not be allowed to enjoy the holiday period in Israel while three kidnapped Israeli teens remain in captivity.
“We will not allow the usual scenario of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on Israeli beaches barbecuing and having a good time, while the Israeli people worries about the kidnapped teenagers,” he said. “If terror finds a haven among the Palestinian people, then the Palestinian people will pay the price.
Ramadan starts this weekend.
Every year, Israel eases travel restrictions for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, enabling family visits within Israel and participation in prayers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar, were abducted on June 12 from a hitchhiking post in the West Bank.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the kidnapping, though the Islamist group has denied involvement. On Thursday night, Israel released the names of two Hamas operatives suspected in the kidnapping.
Earlier this week, Danon called for shutting off the electricity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in response to the abductions and the rocket fire from Gaza.
The West Bank and Gaza Strip rely on the Israel Electric Corporation for their electricity.
Since the kidnapping, thousands of Israeli troops have scoured the West Bank for the teens and arrested some 400 Palestinians, many from Hamas, including some who were freed in a 2011 prisoner exchange for Hamas-kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Israeli officials have publicly stated that in addition to rescuing the teens, weakening Hamas and breaking up the Palestinian unity government are goals in the operation.
While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the kidnapping and pledged PA cooperation in the search, he also condemned the continuing arrests of Hamas operatives and closures in the West Bank as an infliction of collective punishment on the Palestinians.
Last week, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry urged Israel to show restraint and carry out the operation in compliance with international law while respecting the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians.