Israeli search for kidnapped youths turns into push against Hamas

Troops arrest 50 more Palestinians and comb villages near West Bank site of teenagers’ abduction

Jerusalem

The Israeli military yesterday signalled that its search operation for three youths abducted in the occupied West Bank has expanded into a broader push against the militant Hamas movement that it blames for the kidnapping.

“The Israel Defence Forces are acting in a scope that is widening,” said the army chief of staff Lt-Gen Benny Gantz. “This event will not pass without Hamas paying a heavy price,” added the Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, yesterday evening.

Troops yesterday arrested another 50 Palestinians during sweeps, most of them leaders or activists in Hamas, including Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Palestinians reported troops were combing villages around Hebron, near the site of the abduction and also had entered locales close to Jenin in the northern West Bank.

“Our message is it doesn’t pay to carry out terror attacks against Israelis,” said army spokesman, Lt-Col Peter Lerner. The military was also reportedly discussing further punitive steps against Hamas including deporting Hamas leaders from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip and demolishing their homes. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said last night that “we have to be prepared for the possibility [the operation] will take time.”

In Jelazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, a 20-year-old Palestinian, Ahmed al-Sbarin, was killed during clashes that erupted after troops entered the area. Thousands turned out for his funeral in the camp and renewed clashes broke out afterwards, Palestinians said.

Mr Netanyahu and the army say Hamas abducted the youths, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, both 16 and Eyal Yifrah, 19, each of them seminary students, but has not, to date, produced any evidence to support the assertion.

The three teenagers are thought to have been hitchhiking near a West Bank settlement when they were abducted. Mr Netanyahu says that the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas bears responsibility because it formed a government recently in which the Islamic movement helped to choose the ministers.

But dovish Israeli lawmakers say there is no connection between the kidnapping and the formation of the government. According to the army there have been 60 attempts to carry out abductions  in the past 12 months.

In the view of Yossi Alpher, the former director of the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies, “the more time goes by the less likely it is that the three will be found alive. It is even possible that the abduction won’t be solved.

“This is morphing to a great extent into a campaign against Hamas. Netanyahu is exploiting an opportunity that it can be done without serious criticism. Abbas can hardly object and may even be pleased.” Mr Alpher added.

Yesterday, the Palestinian Authority condemned the kidnapping and the “series of Israeli violations” that followed it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli posed for this selfie during AC Milan's 5-1 defeat to Manchester City
sport
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Sport
sport
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

M&E Construction Planner Solihull

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

Senior Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Leading Sof...

Chemistry Teacher

£90 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried