Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has brusquely rejected denials by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas that it was behind the abduction of three Israeli students on Thursday night.
Earlier today, Netanyahu revealed that Israeli intelligence had identified the kidnappers as Hamas members.
"Hamas terrorists carried out Thursday's kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. We know that for a fact," said Netanyahu in an official statement Sunday afternoon. "These teenagers were kidnapped and the kidnapping was carried out by Hamas members. Hamas denials do not change this fact."
He said the attack itself should come as no surprise, "because Hamas makes no secret of its agenda. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians – including children."
Indeed, the Hamas charter calls not only for the destruction of the State of Israel, but for genocide against the Jewish people, and regularly glorifies the murder of Jews in its propaganda.
Netanyahu also had harsh words for Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, who he said bore responsibility as well for embracing the Islamist group.
"Instead of abiding by his international obligation to disarm Hamas, President Abbas has chosen to make Hamas his partner. Israel holds the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas responsible for any attacks against Israel that emanate from Palestinian-controlled territory.
"The Palestinian claim that the Palestinian Authority cannot be held responsible for an attack that took place in an area under Israeli security control is patently absurd.
"When an attack takes place in Tel Aviv or in London or in New York – all these places have been attacked by terrorists – the question is not where the attack takes place. The question is where it originated. The kidnappers in this case set out from territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and the PA cannot absolve itself of its responsibility."
Turning to the Hamas-Fatah unity pact itself, the PM added:
"You remember that Israel warned the international community about the dangers of endorsing the Fatah-Hamas unity pact . I believe that the dangers of that pact now should be abundantly clear to all. We have seen since the signing of that pact an increase in terrorist activity emanating from the West Bank. We have seen Hamas strengthen its presence there, and this increases the likelihood that Hamas will take control of the Palestinian Authority, precisely as it did in Gaza. This will not advance peace; it will advance terror."
Those comments echo earlier claims by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, who said that the unity deal has prompted the PA to relax its monitoring of Hamas terrorist cells, helping to facilitate the abduction.
The Prime Minister repeated his pledge that the government would do everything in its power to free the boys and bring their kidnappers to justice.
"Israel will act in all ways under its province, in all ways under our control, to bring home the three kidnapped teenagers," he vowed. "Israel will act against the kidnappers and their terrorist sponsors and comrades. We will do whatever needs to be done to protect our people, our citizens, our children and our teenagers from the scourge of terrorism."