Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett stated that, as the search and investigation into the disappearance of the three settlers continue, Israel must end its policies of what he called “allowing prisoner-swap agreements”.Bennett said Israel does not accept the condemnation of Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, regarding the “kidnapping of the three settlers”, and said that Israel must end all policies that “allowed the release of Palestinian detainees in exchange for kidnapped Israelis.”
He explained that prisoner exchange agreements only put Israel in what he called “endless cycles where more Israelis will be kidnapped, and more Palestinians will be released in exchange deals.”
Talking to the Israeli Radio, the Israeli Minister stated that Israel is acting on different levels to ensure the return of the missing Israeli settlers, and alleged that the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas movement are “encouraging such acts, verbally and financially.”
Additionally, Bennett claims that Abbas and other Palestinian leaders “speak to the media in English about one thing and, when speaking in Arabic, they shout murder”, adding that the Palestinians are “celebrating the kidnapping of the three Israelis”.
On his part, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Likud Party Member of Knesset Ze’ev Elkin, called for re-arresting all Palestinian detainees who were release under the Shalit prisoner swap agreement.
Elkin also called for a strong strike against Hamas leaders, “to make them realize that they enjoy no immunity.”
He further stated that the Palestinian Authority “cannot be trusted in dealing with extreme Islamist groups.”
On the ground, the Israeli army continued its home invasions, searches of property and lands in different parts of the occupied West Bank, kidnapping more than 41 Palestinian overnight, and more than 200 since the three Israeli teens went missing on Thursday night.
Speaking to the Israeli TV, Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, stated that Israel is conducting all needed efforts to secure the return of the three missing settlers.
Netanyahu said that the army kidnapped more than 100 Hamas members, and that his government is acting on another level “that he cannot elaborate on due to security measures”, Israeli Ynet News said.
Despite the massive invasions, hundreds of arrests, and the violent search of Palestinian homes and property, it remains unclear whether the missing Israeli settlers have been kidnapped by a Palestinian group, especially since no group has made any official statement claiming responsibility, and demands were never set.
The Ynet quoted a senior Israeli military source, saying that the army is now focusing its campaign in Nablus, described to be “the hub for armed groups in the West Bank.”
Meanwhile, Maan News Agency has reported that Israel’s Northern District Commander, Elik Ron, told the Israeli Walla news that the Israeli teens “could have been kidnapped by criminals or car thieves”.
He added that the kidnappers seem to be professional, capable of passing through, and evade, advanced security technologies, and are well aware when to dispose of their smart phones so they would not be tracked.
Ron alleged that Hamas “previously used the help of car thieves since they know how to break into homes, and sneak by military roadblocks.
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