Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the ongoing operation to return three kidnapped Israeli teenagers would take time.
“We are in the middle of a complicated operation and we need to be prepared [for the fact] that it will take time,” Netanyahu said during a press statement outside IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv on Monday evening, standing alongside Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.
“At the moment we are focusing on one goal: the retrieval of our youths, our youths who were taken. We are also operating against Hamas,” he said and added that there will be “serious consequences” for the abductions.
Netanyahu said he personally thanked US Secretary John Kerry for his statements condemning the incident and called on the international community to strongly denounce the kidnappings.
“I expect all responsible officials in the international community — some of whom are quick to condemn us for every bit of construction, every balcony that’s built in Gilo — I expect them to aggressively and clearly condemn this disgusting criminal act of kidnapping youngsters,” he said. “Whoever opposes terror must condemn terror in every place where it is committed.”
The prime minister added that Palestinian attacks from Gaza have sought to open another front in the fallout triggered by the kidnapping. Several rocket attacks have been intercepted by the IDF’s missile-defense batteries since last Thursday night, when the kidnapping took place. Netanyahu said Israel had “hit back hard” at those attacks, referring to IAF airstrikes against Hamas targets in the strip.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke after the prime minister, vowing that the security services would bring the culprits to justice.
“We will lay our hands on those responsible; I have no doubt about that,” Ya’alon said, adding that the ongoing effort against Hamas will exact “a heavy price” from the organization.
Chief of Staff Gantz also delivered brief remarks.
Sixteen-year-old Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were last seen at a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem on Thursday. Israel has said Hamas was responsible for the abductions.