Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend, explaining the need for the IDF's large operation to eradicate Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, a statement from his office said Saturday.
Netanyahu told Ban "that the information in Israel's hands unequivocally indicates that Hamas is responsible for the abduction of the youths, adding that this needs to be expressed in actions on the ground," the PMO statement said.
Netanyahu stressed that the goal of the operation is to find the three abducted teens and that, therefore, security forces are focusing on Hamas.
- Rescue units rushed to Hebron, searching wells and caves
- Parents of kidnapped teens ask PM to put more pressure on search efforts
- Netanyahu: Hamas operatives kidnapped missing teens
"We are witnessing the unrestrained brutality of Islamic terrorism both in Israel and around us," the prime minister told the UN secretary-general, adding that Israel was "determined to defend itself in the face of the murderous terrorism directed against it."
He also expressed Israel's objection to the transfer of funds from Qatar to Hamas, and once again called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to end his pact with the Islamic organization.
Meanwhile, thousands of soldiers continued their search for Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, from Talmon, Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad.
Despite the extensive search, there haven't been any breakthroughs in the search so far. Without any concrete intelligence leads, the IDF started searching a wider area - starting in Highway 35, north of Hebron, where the kidnapping occurred, and continuing west towards Highway 60.
The army, aided by three fire trucks and an ATV rescue unit, was searching through wells, water holes, reservoirs and caves.
Police said members of the rescue squad were "ready to descend into pits and wadis and search there," adding that "deep-reaching pumps to empty out water holes were also transferred to the area."
"We're pumping water out of every spring, pool and reservoir, even though the working assumption is that the kidnapped teens are still alive," a senior army official noted.
"We're checking every hole and hiding place. The soldiers are searching through a difficult area. They're climbing rooftops and looking behind every bush. We are literally leaving no stone unturned."
"There's a contest between the soldiers on who would bring clues that could aide in finding the abducted teens. We're working to gather intelligence and looking for anything that could help, like a piece of clothing or foot tracks," Paratroopers Brigade commander, Colonel Eliezer Toledano, said.
Some 1,500 of his soldiers were scanning Palestinian villages north of Hebron in search for the missing teens.
On Friday, the IDF declared the Hebron area as a closed military zone and increased its search efforts in the area, with large forces searching villages north of Hebron.