An Israel Defense Forces Spokesman said Wednesday morning that, as part of the large-scale intelligence and operational activities undertaken in order to locate three abducted teens, security forces have arrested about 65 wanted men. Of these, 51 were among those freed in 2011 in the exchange of 1,027 terror prisoners for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped and held captive by Hamas for over five years, according to Israel National News.
The Shalit prisoners had signed a document on their release vowing to live up to a set of conditions, which they have since violated, a senior security source stated.
Since the start of the operation about 240 wanted men have been arrested. Around 800 homes have been searched, and 10 actions have been taken against targets that are part of the “da’awa” – Hamas’s civilian infrastructure.
Security forces also shut down the Al-Aqsa radio station, raiding its offices in Ramallah and transmitter in Hebron. Military sources said that the objective of the raids was to collect documents and other materials that incriminate and link Hamas to terror activities in the West Bank.
The fact that 51 of 65 men arrested were among those freed in the Shalit deal appears to be an intentional message to Hamas, that its strategy of abducting people to obtain the release of its terrorists achieves the opposite.
“The operation overnight in which Hamas terrorists were arrested, including those released in the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, is an element that carries with it an important message,” Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account.
“This is all part of a series of many operations that will continue, and their goal is to retrieve the kidnapped youngsters and strike a blow to Hamas in Judea and Samaria.”
The message to Hamas also appears to be that kidnappings with the goal of freeing additional prisoners will have the opposite effect, causing the re-arrest of previously released prisoners.
A senior official in the IDF said that “Operation Brother’s Keeper” is “an ongoing battle that will not end in one week. Part of our strength is our ability to hold this campaign for a prolonged time period. We are hitting their corporate, political, financial infrastructure and more. Even if it fails to stop the next attack, it will have a long-term effect.”
“Hamas made a strategic error, and now it will also be affected at the strategic level because it will be isolated,” the official added.