The mother of one of three Israeli teens kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank earlier this month attacked on Wednesday a deal struck between Israel and hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, calling it “a serious mistake” and saying Israel should be pressuring Palestinians instead of appeasing them while the three young Israelis remain missing.
Bat-Galim Shaar also claimed that the families “have information that they are alive.”
“I got up this morning, turned on the news, and couldn’t believe my ears,” Shaar said at a meeting with Knesset members from the coalition and opposition. “The prime minister is preparing for a deal with security prisoners. Can it be? Is it true? Mister prime minister, mister public security minister, you’re confused: It’s unthinkable that our boys haven’t returned and you are seeking to reach understandings with Palestinian prisoners charged with terrorism.”
Despite almost 13 days of intensive searches, the military has yet to have a breakthrough in locating Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, all abducted on June 12.
On Wednesday dozens of Palestinian prisoners struck a deal with Israeli prisons to end their hunger strike, which they launched in late April to protest the policy of administrative detention that allows them to be held without charge or trial for extended periods of time.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the deal, saying the “determined, professional and steadfast work” of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Prison Service Commissioner Aharon Franko had helped bring the hunger strike to an end. Israel had been under increasing pressure to find a solution to the crisis as strikers’ health deteriorated, and even put forward a controversial force-feeding bill which is set to be brought to a vote next week.
“Gil-ad, Naftali and Eyal are being kept in hiding, held by vile kidnappers of Hamas, and the prime minister is trying to placate them, to appease them?” Shaar said. “If the prime minister knows who the kidnappers are, he should do everything to pressure them to bring the boys back alive — stop funding, toughen conditions for prisoners, put pressure the Palestinian Authority – so that Hamas will understand that it does not pay to kidnap children.”
Israel has accused the Hamas organization of perpetrating the kidnappings, but Hamas — while praising the abductions — has denied any involvement.
Shaar said that she had complete faith in the government, but only as long as she knew it was doing everything in its power to rescue the teens.
“We will not accept irresponsible actions by decision makers,” she said. “Reaching an agreement with the hunger strikers at this time is an irresponsible action for the people of Israel.”
Shaar added that perhaps it was time to “think outside the box” and “explore further options” and courses of actions in order to return the teens to their homes.
“We hear they’re leaving no stone unturned [in their efforts] to find the boys and bring them back alive, but perhaps it’s time to think differently. Perhaps we should not only overturn the stones but pick them up as well?
“Mister prime minister, cabinet members: We will judge the results of your actions. The people of Israel will judge the results of your actions. We have information that they are alive. You have the obligation to bring them back alive.”
The IDF arrested 17 Palestinians Tuesday overnight as part of an ongoing crackdown in the West Bank, even as troops began to downscale their operations in the territory.
Since Operation Brother’s Keeper began to locate the three teens, the IDF has arrested almost 400 Palestinians in the West Bank, most of them members of the Hamas movement.
On Tuesday, Israel’s cabinet voted to begin to scale back operations in the West Bank as military officials admitted the campaign against Hamas was drawing to a close in its present form.
“A large part of the operation against Hamas has been exhausted,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, while adding that it was a matter of time until the kidnapped youths were found.