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Yaalon Updates Teens' Parents: Still Assuming Boys Are Alive

Two weeks on, defense minister says progress made since last meeting with parents; no let up in op. until kidnappers hunted down.
By Uzi Baruch and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 6/27/2014, 3:58 PM

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (R)
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (R)
Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon met Friday afternoon with the parents of the three kidnapped teens Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar and Naftali Frenkel at his Tel Aviv office, to update them on progress in the hunt for their children.

Yaalon was joined by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Yoram Cohen.

The parents were updated on the investigation, with Ya'alon once again reiterating that security forces were still working on the assumption that the boys were still alive.

"As long as there is no evidence to the contrary, the assumption of our work is that the boys are alive," he said.

Ya'alon explained that efforts to find them and their kidnappers are both intelligence-based and military, with the IDF, Shabak and Israel Police working closely together. There has been no let up in the momentum despite more than two weeks having passed since the abductions, he insisted.

"We aren't cutting any corners, and the effort is at full strength and determination... We don't let up on our efforts until the moment we lay our hands on the kidnappers and find the boys."

"This is a very complex task," he continued. "Since our last meeting we have progressed in our investigation, but we must remain patient."

Ya'alon's statements come the day after authorities finally released details of two of the men suspected of kidnapping the boys. 

Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu-Eisha are well-known Hamas terrorists operating in the Hevron area, and army sources say the IDF is focusing on tracking them down.

Hundreds of other terror suspects have already been arrested in Operation Brother's Keeper, including dozens of terrorists released during the Shalit Deal. Weapons, money and explosives have also been seized in the course of the operation, which has seen Israel crack down hard on Hamas's infrastructure in Judea and Samaria alongside the search for the abducted teens and their kidnappers.