Uncle of one of the 3 kidnapped Israeli teens speaks out.
IDF destroys Ramallah home of a suspected kidnapper
The uncle of Naftali Frankel, one of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, said on Friday that his family had received “indications” from Israeli intelligence that the boys were still alive.
“In defense of the security system, it’s important to say that almost from the start of the incident, there have been representatives in each of the families’ homes 24/7,” Frankel said. “The immediate family of course know more than what’s going on in the media.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also reportedly met with the parents of the three boys – Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gil-Ad Shaer – in order to update them on the progress of the search.
Since the boys disappearance a week ago, the Israeli army has launched a heated search in the West Bank, and a subsequent crackdown on Hamas, the group suspected of orchestrating the kidnapping.
The crackdown resulted in the death of a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, who was killed by Israeli troops during a clash that erupted in the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron. The troops had arrived to conduct arrests in the village when the clash occurred.
The boy, Mohammed Dudin, was taken to the Alia hospital in Hebron, where he was later pronounced dead.
The IDF said villagers had thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at troops on an arrest mission in Dura, and that soldiers had responded with live fire. The army is reportedly looking into the reports of Dudin’s death.
The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported that another Palestinian man who was shot in clashes with Israeli forces overnight succumbed to his wounds on Friday.
Reacting to the Palestinian deaths, Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi said on Friday that “the Israeli government is exploiting a tragic event and executing ongoing war crimes in the occupied territories.”
Tibi went on to condemn the “destruction of hundreds of homes and offices,” “mass arrests” and the “shooting of civilians and demonstrators” carried out by the IDF.
Israel has used the kidnapping to drive a wedge between Hamas and the Palestinian leadership, who formed a unity administration in the West Bank and Gaza for the first time in seven years. Hamas has lashed out at the Palestinian leadership for maintaining security ties with Israel.
In the week following the kidnapping, IDF troops have detained 330 Palestinians, many of whom have alleged connections with Hamas.
-Parents of abducted teens speak out –
The mother of Naftali Frenkel, Rachel Frankel addressed a group of well-wishers who gathered to pray at the Wailing Wall on Thursday night, telling them “I wholeheartedly believe the boys will return, but if not, remain strong.”
Speaking specifically to the youth in attendance, she said, “don’t break down if something else happens, OK? Stay together, stay strong. I believe they will return quickly.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres also attended the vigil, saying “I asked to meet you because this is a national event, the whole nation is united and standing by your side and praying with you for the safe return of your boys.”
“The security forces are working day and night in every street and alley of Hebron and leaving no stone unturned in the effort to find your boys,” Peres said.
Meanwhile, YNet News reported that the parents of Gil-Ad Shaer asked the prime minister to put more pressure on the Palestinians in order to bring the three boys home.
“We believe the government has other means of pressure that could expedite the return of the boys. We asked the prime minister to use them,” Bat-Galim, Gil-Ad’s mother, told reporters near her home on Friday.
-Israel’s Response –
An Israeli security official announced that it still seems that the kidnapped teens are being held in the Hebron area and that a Hamas operative living in Turkey is behind the kidnapping, Haaretz reported.
Saleh al-Aruri, a former resident of the West Bank, was deported after serving a prison sentence in Israel. According to a security official, he is now a key player in Hamas’ overseas network, supporting the training, planning, and funding of terrorist activities within Israel and the West Bank.
His home in Ramallah was reportedly razed on Friday by IDF forces as a means to step up pressure on top Hamas officials.
The Israeli security official went on to say that al-Aruri has encouraged operatives in the West Bank to create terror cells geared towards kidnapping. He has financed these cells, often channeling money through charitable organizations.
While the official said that there is no proven link between last week’s kidnappings and al-Aruri, he said that “I have no doubt that al-Aruri was connected to the act.” Israeli security services are increasingly convinced that Hamas’ overseas network planned the abductions.
But Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki questions Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas was behind the kidnapping, saying “he cannot keep blaming one side without showing evidence.”
“Three kids have disappeared, but in exchange for that the Israeli army has taken 300 Palestinians,” Malki added. “Their reaction went beyond logic.”
Malki said, however, that “if it comes to be known that Hamas is behind it (the kidnapping), then of course the unity government will be at risk.”
Netanyahu told the families of the three missing teens at a meeting in Jerusalem that the operation’s “chief objective is to find the boys”, a statement from his office said.
UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry in a statement called for the three to be released immediately, urging Israeli restraint and “respect for the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians”.
Israeli troops also carried out search and arrest operations overnight in the Dheisheh refugee camp, near Bethlehem, and in Arura, north of Ramallah, “detaining some 25 suspects and searching approximately 200 locations”, the army said.
Troops were faced with “sporadic confrontations” in the form of “rocks, explosives and flammable devices” and responded to “the life-endangering threat with live fire”, it said.
Since the operation began last week, troops have “scanned about 1,150 locations in search for the abducted boys and for terror elements”.
“Approximately 330 suspects were detained, out of which 240 (are) terrorists associated with Hamas,” the army said.
Overnight, the military also launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for rocket fire at southern Israel late Thursday.
View original i24news publication at: http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/34859-140620-uncle-of-kidnapped-teen-intelligence-indicates-they-are-still-alive