Israeli soldiers patrol the West Bank City of Hebron on June 17, 2014. Israel's military chief said on Monday that the army was readying far-reaching measures to recover the three Israeli teens who are allegedly abducted by Hamas militants in the West Bank last Thursday. (Xinhua/Mamoun Wazwaz)
JERUSALEM, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli security forces arrested 41 Hamas operatives in raids carried out in the West Bank overnight Tuesday, as a massive manhunt to retrieve three Israeli teenagers abducted by militants entered the fifth day.
The Israeli military said that most of the arrests were made in the vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus. Nearly 1,000 infantry troops entered the Balata refugee camp and the nearby town of Awarta, where weapons and explosives had also been discovered and confiscated, Army Radio said.
The latest wave of arrests signaled that the military was expanding what it has dubbed "Operation Brother's Keeper," which in recent days focused on the city of Hebron. Military officials said the teens were likely abducted by a militant cell that operated there.
A military source said rescue efforts have been shifted to Nablus, which he described as "the terror capital" of the West Bank, the Ynet news site said.
In Hebron and surrounding areas, forces overnight raided Hamas- affiliated institutions, seizing documents that could link them to terror activities and the abduction, it said.
Nearly 200 Palestinians have so far been arrested in connection with the abduction of the teens. "As long as our boys remain abducted, Hamas will feel pursued, paralyzed and threatened," Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a senior military spokesman, said in a statement released to the media.
"We are committed to resolving the kidnapping and debilitating Hamas' terrorist capacities, its infrastructure and its recruitment institutions," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in televised remarks on Monday that security forces were in the midst of "a complicated" operation to retrieve the teenagers.
"We must be prepared for the possibility that this will take time," the premier said in comments intended for the Israeli public. He said he expected the international community to condemn the atrocious and contemptible kidnapping.
JERUSALEM, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone on Monday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, asking him to assist finding the three allegedly kidnapped teens, according to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office.
"I expect you to assist in returning the abducted youths and in apprehending the kidnappers," Netanyahu told Abbas, according to the statement. Full story