JERUSALEM, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Israeli officials tried to reassure the public that authorities were doing everything in their power to retrieve the three missing Israeli teens presumed to be abducted a week ago in the West Bank.
With the search for Naftali Frankel, Gil-Ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach ending its seventh day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told soldiers on Thursday at the military Judea command headquarters in the West Bank that Israel knows more about the kidnapping than it did several days ago.
"Today we know much more than we did a few days ago, but there is a way ahead of us yet," Netanyahu told the soldiers, according to a statement from the prime minister's office. The Prime Minister did not give out any new information regarding the investigation into the disappearance of three Israelis.
Netanyahu said the Israeli authorities "are doing everything in our power to bring back the three missing teenagers" and pinned the blame for the attack again on Hamas, saying that Israel is " focused on Hamas, who is responsible for the event."
The Prime Minister said there's "no doubt" Hamas is responsible for the kidnapping, as Hamas "repeatedly called for the kidnapping of Israeli citizens," calling Hamas a terror organization committed to Israel's destruction.
"I expect (Palestinian) President Abbas to dissolve the union with this murderous terrorist organization. I think it is important for our common future," the prime minister concluded.
Talking about the work of the Israeli security forces in the West Bank around the Hebron area, the Prime Minister said that in the past 24 hours Israel "returned to prison over 50 Hamas men who were released in the Shalit deal."
In 2011, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas since 2006 in the Gaza Strip.
Israel had arrested 280 Palestinians affiliated with Hamas in the past week. Furthermore, the Israeli security cabinet decided to worsen conditions for imprisoned Hamas militants and shut down several facilities operated by the organization in east Jerusalem and is contemplating deporting Hamas operatives and channeling more funds to the Israeli settlements.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli President Shimon Peres met with families of the three kidnapped youths and tried to assure them the security forces are doing "everything they can to bring the boys home," according to a statement by his office, "leaving no stone unturned" in efforts to retrieve the three.
"Terror is a global problem, not just an Israeli one -- we must recruit the world," the president said. "We must continue to pressure the terrorists to remove their sources of funding. Just as there were sanctions against Iran, we must raise the sanctions against any source of terror," he said.
On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the abduction for the second time and said whoever is behind the kidnapping is aiming to destroy the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Abbas demanded that whoever held the teens would release them. Netanyahu, on his part, said that Abbas' words will be evaluated by the PA's efforts to help retrieve the boys and dismantle its unity government with Hamas.
Palestinian security forces have been cooperating with their Israeli counterparts in recent days in efforts to retrieve more information regarding the missing teens.
The three Israelis were last seen hitchhiking in the vicinity of Hebron in the southern West Bank. No details of any clues to the teens' whereabouts were announced as of yet.