By Dave Bender
Israel has placed “no limitations” on capabilities and drive to find the trio of teens kidnapped by Hamas almost a week ago, and punish their captors, Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon told their families on Wednesday.
“Until we have evidence to the contrary, our working assumption is that your sons are alive,” Ya’alon said at a meeting held in his office at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
Lauding the parents’ fortitude, Ya’alon updated the Shaar, Yifrach, and Frankel families on the latest developments of the combined IDF, Shin Bet, and Israel Police operation to locate Gilad, 16, Eyal, 19, and Naftali, 16.
“There are no limitations being placed on our intelligence and operative measures,” Ya’alon assured the families. “The abilities of the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the Israel Police are at the highest levels necessary to carry out the operation.”
“We will not stop until we put our hands on the kidnappers and return your sons,” he said.
“We have also implemented a number of other operations, in parallel, in order to destroy the Hamas’ infrastructure in Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon stressed, noting that some 53 Hamas members were arrested overnight, among several hundred suspects detained since the search began.
“Overnight, we detained Hamas members released as part of the Shalit deal” (in 2011, in return for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, abducted five years earlier).
“The message is clear: not only are we working to free your sons, but also, when there is a kidnapping, we will return to jail all those we had freed,” according to Ya’alon.
“You radiate strength and fortitude,” Ya’alon said. “One of the most important aspects in circumstances like these are your ability to withstand the pressures, and it is worthy of appreciation,” he said, according to his office.
On Tuesday, the three families met for the first time, and spoke to the public.
“We want… to strengthen security forces, who are working day and night, the decision makers, and the prime minister, who is in contact with us,” Racheli Sprecher Frankel said.
“We pray that all the soldiers, and our children, will come home without injury. We send our thanks to all everyone participating in this extraordinary effort,” Frankel said.
Noting that the government was “in the midst of an operation to find the captors and free your sons,” Ya’alon said the searchers were working “all the time, day and night, with many missions being carried out in the field.”
Ya’alon said that, so far, “no group has taken responsibility; no demands have been place before us.”