The search for the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers is intensifying, and on Friday evening the IDF sent reinforcements to the area just north of Hevron, Channel 2 News reported.
The move, the report said, was due to a series of new developments in the region. The IDF has declared the area a closed military zone.
As part of the operation, hundreds of soldiers and special forces have been sent to the northern suburbs of Hevron and to the rural area beside it, and they are searching buildings, wells and cisterns, according to Channel 2.
Operation Brother’s Keeper was launched one week ago, after the three boys disappeared while hitchhiking in Gush Etzion. Hundreds of terrorists have so far been arrested, including 25 overnight Thursday.
Officials in the defense establishment said Thursday night that although there has been some progress, the operation is ongoing and it will take some time before the kidnappers and the hostages are located.
The officials said that it is estimated that the hostages are in the Hevron area, so most of the operation is taking part in that area. However, they stressed, forces are operating in all parts of Judea and Samaria in an attempt to reach the kidnappers.
In a statement on Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that although the three teens kidnapped by Hamas terrorists last week have yet to be found, Israel is closer to discovering their whereabouts.
“Our first and most important task is to bring the boys home safely,” Netanyahu said at the IDF Judea Command Center. “All Israelis are united in their support of our efforts, and we will not shirk our duties. Security forces are working around the clock to find them, both in the intelligence area and in the field.
“I have been very impressed at how seriously the IDF, the Israel Police, Border Guards, and other security forces have been taking this mission,” Netanyahu said. “We know today more than we did a few days ago. But we have a long way to go still. We must display patience.”
Meanwhile, Science and Technology Minister Ya'akov Perry (Yesh Atid), formerly the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), stated Friday that the search for the three teenagers may last months - or even years.
"Just as the announcement and deciphering could come in an instant, there's also a possibility that can't be negated that the search will extend a long time," Perry told Army Radio.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)