The massive search for three Israeli teens kidnapped last Thursday in the West Bank continues, with Israeli forces arresting a total of 240 Palestinians over the past few days in what they’re calling a large-scale crackdown on Hamas. Of the 65 Palestinians arrested in an overnight raid last night, JTA reports, were 51 former prisoners who were among the more than 1,000 Palestinians released as part of Israel’s controversial 2011 deal to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for more than five years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement calling the arrests an “important message” for Hamas.
“The activities of the IDF and the Shin Bet last night, during which Hamas terrorists released in the agreement for the return of Gilad Shalit were arrested, send an important message and are a critical component in a series of operations whose purpose is to return the kidnapped boys, and damage Hamas’s infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.”
The kidnapping, meanwhile—which Netanyahu has publicly blamed on Hamas, but for which the terrorist organization hasn’t claimed responsibility for—has resulted in the unlikely cooperation of Israeli and Palestinian security forces, while also revealing fractures within the newly formed Palestinian unity government. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnappings (while also criticizing Israel’s subsequent police offensive), a move which angered Hamas leadership.
“President Abbas’s statements on security coordination with Israel are unjustified, harmful to Palestinian reconciliation… and a psychological blow to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners suffering a slow death in the occupation’s jails,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
American Jews, meanwhile, are rallying in support of 16-year-olds Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach, the three Israeli teens missing for nearly a week. One of the teens, Naftali Fraenkel, has dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, which has means Washington, D.C. has reportedly been “has been deeply engaged in the crisis.”
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.