Israeli soldiers stand guard at the entrance
Israeli soldiers stand guard at the entranceFlash 90

Ministers on Sunday called for harsh retribution against the individuals or groups that were responsible for the kidnappings of three yeshiva students in Gush Etzion Thursday night.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that he wanted to reassure the families of the kidnapped youths that the government was doing everything it could to find them.

“Hamas terrorists are responsible for this kidnapping,” said Lapid. “The security of Israelis requires us to adopt a no-tolerance policy for any and every act of terror. We must ensure that those responsible are harshly punished.” Lapid called on Israelis to “stand firm with the security forces and enable them to do their jobs, with all the means at their disposal.”

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pegged Hamas as being behind the kidnappings of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Sha'ar and Naftali Frenkel, the three teens who were apparently snatched or otherwise enticed to enter a vehicle as they were hitchhiking in Gush Etzion Thursday night.

"This morning I can say what I was unable to say Saturday before the extensive wave of arrests of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu began, referring to his statement last night in which he confirmed that the boys, who had been missing since Thursday night, had been kidnapped. "Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas – the same Hamas that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] made a unity government with; this has severe repercussions," vowed the PM.

"We are currently focusing all of our efforts on bringing the abductees back home. Before coming here, I spoke again with the families, and I embrace and encourage them from here, from the Cabinet table, and I know that I speak for all parts of the nation."

Speaking Sunday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, on a visit to Africa, said before meeting with the Foreign Minister of Ghana that he hoped the youths would return home soon, “without the need to resort to force.”

Earlier Sunday, Liberman told Army Radio that the era of releasing terrorists was now over. “There will be no releases for those Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons - not as a 'gesture' and not for any other reason.”

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said that he would vote against any terrorist releases if the matter came up in a government vote.

“Just as I did in the mass release of terrorists for Gilad Shalit, which I voted against, so will I do now. We cannot release terrorists in exchange for kidnap victims, because this just encourages more kidnappings and damages the security of Israelis. We must use an iron fist against these terrorists and not provide them with rewards for kidnapping Israelis.”