Hours after Israel buried the three teenagers murdered by Hamas terrorists, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged in a press conference on Tuesday night that Israel will apprehend those responsible, continue pounding Hamas in Yehudah and Shomron, and expand operations in Gaza if “the need arises.”
Following the remarks to the nation, Netanyahu attended a security cabinet meeting where senior officials tried to resolve differences that reportedly surfaced in a previous meeting on Monday, chiefly concerning whether to step up IDF action against Hamas in Gaza.
The eight-person security cabinet is comprised of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan.
During the early morning hours of Tuesday, the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes against 34 targets using Cruise missiles. Although the air strikes came a few hours after the discovery of the dead bodies, military officials said the targets, mostly Hamas sites, were in retaliation for rockets launched from Gaza into southern Israel.
The targets included a Hamas command center, Hamas residential structures, and a weapons storage facility in southern Gaza. The IDF reported that the structures were razed completely.
However, the IAF strikes did not stop the rockets from Gaza, as another 18 were fired into Israel on Tuesday. A volley of five hit Sderot in the evening, damaging several cars and causing one person to be treated for shock.
Meanwhile, the hunt for the murderers continued. A senior security official said he was confident that it would not be long before they were captured.
They are believed to still be in the area of Har Chevron, and that is where the search remains concentrated, though other locations are also in the dragnet.
In the past 24 hours, IDF forces conducted searches in the houses of the wanted men and their associates. In some cases, explosives were used to gain entry in structures where they thought the suspects might be hiding.
The explosions were heard throughout the area, attracting mobs of hundreds of Palestinians who confronted the soldiers, and riot dispersion equipment was employed.
The IDF reports that as of Tuesday it had detained 422 terrorists, among them 335 associated with Hamas, including 12 leaders and 56 Palestinians who were released early from prison in the Gilad Shalit deal.