A senior official in the IDF said on Tuesday evening that "Operation Brother's Keeper," the search and counter-terror operation in Judea and Samaria following the abduction of three yeshiva youths, will not conclude in the near future.
"This is an ongoing battle that will not end in one week,” the official said. “Part of our strength is our ability to hold this campaign for a prolonged time period. We are hitting their corporate, political, financial infrastructure and more. Even if it fails to stop the next attack, it will have a long-term effect.”
"Hamas made a strategic error, and now it will also be affected at the strategic level because it will be isolated,” the official continued.
"There are ten divisions and special forces operating here,” he added. “We are not giving discounts to any other organizations, but Hamas is the main target. This is an ongoing campaign.”
Asked whether the investigation into the kidnapping was making progress, the official replied, “I cannot say when it will end. We do not have precise information but we do have some information."
The comments echo ones made earlier by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who took part in a situation assessment meeting with officers from the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet), and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
"Our main effort is to reach the hostages and the abductors, and we will not rest until this happens," he told reporters afterwards. "We are continuing the operational and intelligence effort, in a complex operation that is not limited in locations and in time, as far as we are concerned, and this requires much patience."
"Large scale forces are operating on the ground in order to continue the search, and at the same time, to carry out arrests of Hamas men and damage the organization's infrastructure in Judea and Samaria."
"Hamas in Judea and Samaria will pay a very heavy price following the abduction," Ya’alon stated. "We will place our hands on the abductors and we will know how to reach the heads of Hamas at any location and at any time. We will not compromise on the security of the citizens of Israel, and we will know how to take action with determination, responsibility and forethought."
The Head of IDF Central Command, Major General Nitzan Alon, told reporters Tuesday that "IDF forces are cutting off the oxygen of the terrorists, and the heads of Hamas feel the pain well and understand the message. Hamas will come out of this event weakened operationally."