Five days after their disappearance, heavy IDF Special Forces units are tightening the siege on the Palestinian terrorist organization, which snatched Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Sha’ar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, Thursday night. Early Sunday, June 15, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered a curfew clamped down on the Hebron district and the shutdown of southern West Bank exits in the direction of the Gaza Strip. Detentions continue of dozens of Palestinians suspected of direct complicity in the abduction or possessing relevant information.
Special army units and the Shin Bet continue to scour Hebron and the towns and villages to the south for leads to the whereabouts of the boys and their captors: They are focusing on Dura, where the burnt car was found, Yata, Halhoul, the Al Fawar refugee camp and the caves riddling the surrounding hills.
According to the local Palestinian radio station Hebron FM, the investigation has narrowed down to three local Palestinian clans, Al Jamal, Abu Zaina and Abu Aysha.
Suspects’ homes are being ransacked one by one.
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources say that there is little room to doubt that the abduction was the work of a secret Hamas operational cell on orders from its ringleaders, who are identified as Salah Arur, working ut of a secret base in Istanbul, Abdul Rahman Raymanat, Mazen Fuka’a and Ibrahim Hamad, who is serving time in a high-security Israeli jail.
The man pulling the strings in Hebron and most likely of the operation itself is Yusari al-Jamal.
The scraps of evidence pieced together show that the kidnappers and the three boys had reached the secret hideout where they are holed up at present less than an hour after switching cars at Dura. The abduction car was torched and left there, later to be taken to Israeli police forensic labs for examination.
Israeli search units are still looking for that hideout.
To stay concealed, the kidnappers maintain total hush, which may explain why their controllers have not issued any statements or demands. Their motivation has been left up in the air. Were the three boys taken as hostages for the release of Palestinian prisoners? Or were they victims of a spectacular, savage terrorist operation per se?
The ringleaders and the boys’ captors may be able to stay in loose touch by two possible means capable of evading electronic detection:
1. Foot messengers assigned their tasks in advance of the attack;
2. The old pre-cellphone point-to-point telephone line. The two ends are easily concealed by earth or foliage, accessible only to the two users, and the line between them proof against electronic eavesdropping.
The Israeli search was hobbled from the start by the delay in discovering the abduction.
At 10:30 pm Thursday night, the police station at Kiryat Arba, Hebron, received a call from one of the three boys. All he had time to say was: We’ve been kidnapped.”
The officer at the desk thought it was a prank and did not pass the information on to the army. An hour and a half later, the station decided to send a cruiser to take a look at the Gush Etzion junction. The officers returned reporting they had seen nothing amiss.
By then, the boys had already been taken to the terrorists’ hideout. Eight precious hours were lost before the search got underway.
Saturday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a TV address that the boys were certainly kidnapped by a terrorist organization. He again held Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas responsible for their safety, because the abductors came from a Palestinian-ruled part of the West Bank.
The defense minister then stressed: “Our working premise is that the missing boys are alive and, until we know otherwise, we will bend every effort to rescue them and lay hands on their abductors.”