Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, while accusing Hamas of perpetrating the abduction of three Israeli teens, hinted Sunday that Israel, either in retribution or in order to thwart future attacks, may reestablish its campaign of targeted killings against the organization’s leadership.
“We will know how to exact a very heavy price from the leaders of Hamas wherever and whenever we find it appropriate and from whomever ponders the notion of harming the citizens of Israel or disrupting their lives,” Ya’alon said at the Israel Defense Prize ceremony at the President’s Residence on Sunday evening.
The statement came as security forces further intensified an ongoing search for the three missing teens – Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel – who were kidnapped on Thursday night.
One of the boys, at 10:25 p.m., was able to make a phone call to the local version of 911, but his whispered plea, Channel 2 reported, was discarded as a prank.
The army has placed the southern section of the West Bank under curfew and flooded the region with troops.
Thus far, over 100 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials and activists have been apprehended, including one of Hamas’ founders, Hassan Yousef, and several former government officials.
On Sunday night, IDF troops converged on a house in Hebron and arrested two men wanted in connection with the kidnapping.
Ya’alon, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the kidnappings.
“The same Palestinian Authority, which some call moderate, recently cut a deal with Hamas, a terror organization that has emblazoned on its flag the murder of Jews, wherever they may be, and whose aspirations are to seize control of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], and it bears the responsibility for the kidnappings of the three teens over the weekend,” he said.
Ya’alon termed the kidnappings “additional testimony to the cruelty and seething hatred that guides the terror groups in our region,” and said that the army and the other branches of the defense establishment were making “enormous efforts to find the three.”