Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) spoke on the kidnapping of three yeshiva students on Wednesday, at the US-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG) conference at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.
"You are visiting us during difficult times," Lapid stated. "Three of our sons have been kidnapped by terrorists. Eyal, Gilad and Naftali weren't kidnapped for something they did, not for political reasons, not for the complications in the peace process, but because they are young Jews."
"Let us not hide from the facts: Hamas is an Islamic terrorist organization whose avowed goal is to kidnap Jewish children in this case, or kill Jewish children in other cases, only because they are Jews," he continued. "This will not be tolerated."
"As we speak, our soldiers are fighting these terror organizations in the allies, in the houses of the West Bank and Gaza," he explained. "It is going to be a long, tough campaign, but we will prevail."
Lapid also dismissed leftist and pro-Palestinian critics, who claim that Israel purposely provoked the confrontation to take advantage for political reasons.
"We did not ask for this confrontation - but let no one think they can kidnap or hurt our children and get away with it alive," he said. "We will hunt them, and their leaders, down wherever they hide and will severely punish them and those who sent them."
Israel is currently in the fifth day of a massive IDF operation to rescue the missing boys, who were kidnapped from Gush Etzion on Thursday night. Over 200 Hamas terrorists have been arrested so far during the IDF search.