IDF Winds Down Operation Against Hamas

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -
Search for kidnappers goes on
The IDF’s takedown of the Hamas leadership and infrastructure in Yehudah and Shomron is nearing its end, but the search for three kidnapped teenagers goes on, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

“The operation against Hamas wasn’t born with the kidnapping, and won’t end when we find the abducted teenagers. This is a focused effort, one which has reached exhaustion,” a senior military source said.

Travel restrictions in the Chevron region, aimed at preventing the kidnappers from moving the abducted youths, will remain in place, and “there is no decrease in the number of soldiers  [on the ground]  or our search efforts,” he said.

The IDF  said it detained another 37 Palestinians over Sunday night, bringing the total to over 360 since the Israeli students disappeared on June 12.

The IDF reported seizing approximately three million shekels from Hamas civilian organizations, as well as other assets, but does not anticipate more than that at this time, as remaining caches have been hidden away or converted.

“There’s no point doing this [the raids] again and coming up with nothing. There are consequences to these operations, which touch on the standing of [PA Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas, the PA’s security forces, the fact that Ramadan is coming up and the Gazan arena. There are many changing variables,” the source said.

He also lauded the conduct of the IDF, pointing out that clashes with the local population and casualties have been relatively low, considering that 4,000 soldiers are carrying out operational activity at night.

Investigations of various individuals of interest continue, and the investigation is making slow, steady progress, he said.

“They [the kidnappers] know our working methods. They knew they had to disappear in a heavily populated area,” said the source.

Also on Monday, the Post quoted diplomatic sources as saying the controversial policy — discontinued in 2005 — of destroying the homes of terrorists as a deterrent measure, will be re-implemented.

The decision was made at a recent security cabinet meeting, and will be applied — subject to court approval — against the home of Ziad Awad, the terrorist suspect arrested with his son Azzadin Ziad Hassan for the Pesach eve murder near Kiryat Arba of Baruch Mizrahi, and the injuring of his wife and one of their children.

The sources said that the government intended to increasingly ask the courts to allow the punitive demolitions, which they said were successful in the past.

According to the rights organization B’Tselem, Israel demolished 666 houses as punishment for terrorist attacks during the years of the second intifada, from 2001 until the practice was discontinued in February 2005.