A senior Israeli minister indicated on Friday morning that the ongoing Operation Brother’s Keeper to return three kidnapped yeshiva students abducted in the West Bank last week may continue for a long time.
Science Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), a former head of the Shin Bet security service, seemed to dampen expectations of an imminent breakthrough in the case eight days after the kidnapping.
“Just like the solving of this case can come suddenly, while we’re talking, there’s also the possibility, and we can’t rule it out, that it will take a long time. And even in the West Bank there have been operations that did not succeed,” warned Peri.
“The operation against Hamas is justified. Hamas is a murderous, bloodthirsty terror group,” Peri told Army Radio Friday morning. “But at the same time the operation is being conducted with good judgment and with legal guidance,” he said.
The IDF arrested 25 suspected Hamas operatives overnight Thursday in the West Bank as part of the ongoing Operation Brother’s Keeper to return kidnapped yeshiva students Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, who were abducted a week ago Thursday in Gush Etzion.
The latest arrests bring the total Hamas suspects held in the ongoing sweep to 330. According to Israeli government officials, dozens of the suspects are individuals who were released as part of the 2011 prisoner exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.
One Palestinian was reportedly killed overnight in an IDF arrest operation in Dura, near Hebron. The Palestinian attacked the IDF force and was shot dead, according to Palestinian sources.
Peri also reacted to the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, noting that “You don’t have to be a senior strategist to understand that Hamas in Gaza and the organizations that work with it are trying to heat up the theater” in response to the IDF’s operations in the West Bank.
“The IDF’s responses [to the rocket fire] have been considered and effective, and let’s hope it doesn’t escalate.”
Israel once again struck terror-related targets in Gaza overnight in a series of air strikes on “three concealed rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip, a terror site in the central Gaza strip and a weapon storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.
The attack came in retaliation for the firing late Thursday of two rockets from the Gaza Strip. One hit open ground in the south, causing neither casualties nor damage, and the other was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.