Hamas is promising to “open the gates of hell” if Netanyahu’s government expels its leaders from the West Bank to Gaza in connection with three missing Israeli teens. The rescue operation resulted in 280 arrests and a death of a Palestinian teen.
With Operation Brother's Keeper unwinding in the West Bank, the Israeli government and army are set to find Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, who were allegedly kidnapped in the West Bank a week ago, at any cost.
The situation in the Palestinian territories is deteriorating, with the IDF conducting multiple arrests and Palestinian militants firing rockets toward Israeli settlements.
The Israeli leadership maintains the teens were abducted and views Hamas as the prime suspect.
The Israeli teens “were kidnapped by Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We had no doubt of that. It's absolutely certain. Hamas repeatedly has called for the kidnap and murder of Israeli citizens.”
Netanyahu will regret his actions against the Palestinian people and Hamas, the organization’s spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, said at a press conference dedicated to Israel’s West Bank rescue operation, promising to repel the Israeli West Bank crackdown within days.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) June 16, 2014
The latest information suggests that the IDF has already arrested 280 Palestinians in a massive crackdown operation in the West Bank. Among the arrested there are over 50 Palestinians from the 1,027 prisoners recently freed as part of the deal to secure the release of Sergeant Gilad Shalit.
During the search for three missing teenagers, Israeli soldiers killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Dudin, who was shot in the chest during a clash between Israeli soldiers conducting arrests and locals in the village of Dura, south of the West Bank city of Hebron.
The Netanyahu government has threatened to expel Hamas’s leaders from the West Bank to Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that if Israel realizes its threat of expelling Hamas leaders to Gaza, Israel would be "opening the gates of hell.'
“The Intifada is the greatest event in the history of the Palestinian people, and it renews itself every time there is an escalation in Israel's aggression,” Abu Zuhri said. “Resistance through every channel is the legitimate right of the Palestinian people, to liberate the land, the holy places, and the prisoners.”
"We are capable of igniting a third Intifada which is an irrevocable right that will go off when more pressure is exerted on the Palestinian people," Hamas official Salah Bardawil announced at a rally in support of the director of the al-Aqsa TV network detained by Israel on Wednesday. Hamas would not stay idle if Israel “continues with its crimes in the West Bank,” Bardawil added, as cited by Ma’an.
Netanyahu is pressing the Abbas administration to disassociate itself from Hamas.
“Abbas [must] dissolve the union with this murderous terrorist organization [Hamas]. I think that's important for our common future,” Netanyahu said.
Palestinian news agency Ma'an cited a senior Hamas official on Thursday as saying that Hamas could start another Intifada, yet keep the Palestinian unity government in place.
President Abbas chimed in Wednesday, saying: “Those who carried out the kidnapping want to destroy us.”
“Israel is using the disappearance of the three boys as an excuse to launch an attack on the Palestinians,” Abbas said, stressing that a single act has put hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank under Israeli siege, which is seen as “collective punishment.”
“The policy of collective punishment imposed by the Israeli government is a violation of the international law,” Abbas’s office said in a statement.
The Israeli military has closed most of the Hebron region and sealed off crossings into Gaza as the search for the missing teens goes on. Also, they have banned West Bank men under 50 from traveling to Jordan through Allenby Bridge.
“These revenge tactics are tantamount to collective punishment under international law," Fuad al-Khufash, the director of Ahrar, a Palestinian rights group, told Al-Jazeera. “They are unjustified and merely serve to alleviate the fears of the Israeli people,” he said, specifying that arrests took place in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Tubas.
Palestinian radicals from Hamas lashed out at both the Israelis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is assisting Tel Aviv in the rescue operation.
Abbas’s position does not reflect the mood of the Palestinian public, said Abu Zuhri.
Israel only understands language of kidnapping, Palestinian Liberation Organization’s official Jibril Rajoub said Thursday, stressing though that he personally does not favor abductions of both Palestinian and Israeli citizens.
President Abbas called the arrests of the people who already spent decades in prison “a blatant infringement on the release agreement.”
The methods of the rescue operation are only driving the violence further, as Palestinians in the Jenin area are throwing rocks and fire bombs at IDF forces.
Israeli territory has also been attacked with handmade rockets from the Gaza Strip. The Israel Air Force launched retaliation strikes in return, hitting five “terrorist sites” in in northern and central Gaza.
“The IDF will not tolerate attempts to harm our [Israeli] citizens and soldiers, and will operate against all elements that instigate terror against the State of Israel,” the military said following the strike.
Ma'an news agency cited a Gaza health official who said that six Palestinians were wounded in the strikes.