Bennett: Operation Brothers' Keeper 'Unprecedented'

Jewish Home Chairman hails IDF crackdown, saying 'we've turned the situation upside down'; praises mothers' 'heroism.'

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Yoni Kempinski, Tova Dvorin,

Mothers of the kidnapped boys, with Naftali B
Mothers of the kidnapped boys, with Naftali B
Yoni Kempinski

Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett met with the mothers of kidnapped yeshiva students Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah in the Knesset on Wednesday, where he reflected on the Jewish unity the kidnapping case has brought over the past thirteen days.  

"Two weeks ago, the Jewish people had still not met you," he noted. "Today everyone knows who you are, and your sons belong to the entire nation." 

"There is no right, no left, no hareidi, no secular, no religious," he continued. "This is all of Israel."

Bennett also praised the mothers for their bravery. Over the past several days, all three have not only braved interviews with international and local media outlets - some of which are not Israel-friendly - but also made several pleas for their boys' lives in public, including Rachel Frenkel's brave testimony Tuesday in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Hours earlier, all three had addressed the Knesset

"Your bravery joins the long chain of heroism in the history of Jewish women," Bennett said.

He added that the government was doing everything possible to return the boys. "The role of the government is to work, and it works," he said. "Over the past two weeks we have taken an unprecedented level of action [the most since] Operation Defensive Shield [2002 - during the Second Intifada - ed.] on two fronts: the intelligence front, to find the boys; and to deal a major blow to Hamas."

"We have turned the situation upside down, from 'kidnapping and releasing terrorists' to 'kidnapping and re-arresting terrorists,'" he added, vowing again to "centralize the focus" on financial penalties against Hamas terrorist prisoners. Bennett himself had vowed to lead the government in this direction. 

Bennett concluded by thanking the women for their bravery, reiterating that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is working "day and night" for the boys' return. 

Bennett's comments surface less than three hours after the Security Cabinet made a sudden reversal in plans to scale back Operation Brothers' Keeper, deciding instead to both continue the wide-scale search and crackdown and stop the longtime practice of allowing the Palestinian Authority to funnel foreign aid money as "terror salaries" to Palestinian Arab terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails.