Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated Sunday that there is "unequivocal proof" that Hamas kidnapped three yeshiva students ten days ago, shortly after a torrent of criticism over the wide-ranging IDF crackdown on Hamas from Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"Over the weekend I met with the parents of the abducted youths," Netanyahu began. "I promised them that we are doing, and will do, everything to bring the abducted boys home safely."
"We are in the midst of a continuing and focused effort to – first of all – bring the boys home," he emphasized. Netanyahu also deflected all claims that Israel is being deliberately cruel during the operation, which has been dubbed 'Operation Brothers' Keeper.'
"This effort entails a certain friction with the civilian population in Judea and Samaria; we have no intention of deliberately harming anyone but our forces are acting as necessary for self-defense and from time to time there are victims or casualties on the Palestinian side as a result of the self-defense actions of our soldiers."
"We are focusing on returning the abductees, on finding the kidnappers and on striking at the organization to which they belong," he continued. "We have unequivocal proof that this is Hamas."
The Prime Minister also emphasized that while much skepticism has been raised over the "proof," such proof does exist, and is being kept quiet for strategic and political reasons.
"We are sharing this proof and information to this effect with several countries," he said. "Soon this information will be made public."
Regarding Abbas, "I think that at that time Abbas's remarks in Saudi Arabia will be put to the test in practice. His remarks will be tested not only by actions to return the boys home but by his willingness to dissolve the unity government with Hamas, which abducted the youths and calls for the destruction of Israel."
Earlier Sunday, Abbas claimed in a Haaretz interview that "there is no credible information" proving that Hamas abducted the teens, who have been missing since Thursday night.
He also claimed that Israel's crackdown "frustrated" Palestinian Arabs and that the IDF operation violated human rights.