Israel Tests New Counter-Abduction Strategy in Ongoing West Bank Operation

(Defense News) Barbara Opall-Rome - Israel is leveraging its ongoing West Bank operation against Hamas, the Islamic organization it blames for the June 12 abduction of three Israeli teens, to test a new strategy for deterring terrorist trade in Israeli captives, security sources say. Through mass arrests and sweeping raids of affiliated social, charitable and financial institutions, Israel is targeting the organization's operational capacity and political incentive for seizing soldiers and civilians as bargaining chips in future prisoner-exchange deals. After 12 days of meticulous operations, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claims 371 arrests and a treasure trove of documents, weaponry and $233,000 seized from 1,095 sites throughout the West Bank. "We're sending a clear message that abducting civilians or soldiers is not worthwhile," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman. "They need to feel pursued at the operative level and paralyzed to a significant extent at the organizational level...and that includes their leadership." Of those arrested suspects, 57 were Hamas members released in a 2011 deal for a single Israeli soldier, and will now be forced to complete their original sentence. "We're taking that card away from them," Lerner said. "They must no longer view kidnapped Israelis as trophies."

2014-06-27 00:00:00

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