Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met separately with the parents of the three abducted Israeli teens on Friday, just over two weeks after they were kidnapped from a hitchhiking post in the West Bank on June 12.
“Our supreme mission is to bring the boys home. We are using every means to this end and all operations are for this goal,” the prime minister told the parents.
Ya’alon also met with the families of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, telling them that the investigation into their sons’ kidnapping had progressed since their last meeting but that patience was necessary
The defense chief emphasized once more that Israel’s working assumption is that the teenagers are still alive. He added that the IDF mission to locate them would not stop until they were found and the kidnappers were in Israeli custody, according to Israel Radio.
Netanyahu and Ya’alon last met with the parents of the teens on June 20.
Overnight Thursday-Friday, the IDF arrested nine Palestinians in the West Bank and searched 40 locations as part of its large-scale operation to locate the teenagers, while aiming to destroy Hamas’s infrastructure in the territory.
The IDF expects to redeploy its forces to coincide with the start of the month of Ramadan Saturday, focusing on the Gush Etzion and Judea areas. A military source also told Israel Radio that the IDF does not expect any major changes in deployment for next Friday, when thousands of Muslim worshipers are expected to attend services on the Temple Mount.
Israeli authorities on Thursday named two Hamas members as prime suspects in the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.
The two alleged abductors, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, have been missing from their homes in Hebron’s Hares neighborhood ever since the kidnapping took place on the night of June 12 and are still at large.
Hamas officials in Hebron confirmed the two suspects were members, and said Israeli troops have targeted the men’s homes since the beginning of Operation Brother’s Keeper. The officials said troops had entered the homes several times, conducting intense searches and confiscating items as evidence.
In recent days, search efforts have focused on an area north of Hebron, where some 1,500 soldiers have been deployed.
The IDF has arrested more than 400 Palestinians, most of them Hamas members, as part of the operation and searched over 1,500 locations throughout the West Bank since the kidnapping.