Operation Brothers Return – Day Four



Monday, 18 Sivan 5774 marks day four of Operation Brothers Return (שובו אחים), the ongoing effort to bring home the three youths abducted last week by Hamas terrorists.  In Talmon, Elad and Nof Ayalon, the families of Gilad Michael Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Yaakov Naftali Frenkel continue to daven and exhibit their bitachon in HKBH under the most difficult of circumstances. The message from the parents and other family members is a clear one, a united message praising IDF forces and other security agencies, thanking Am Yisrael for its support and calling upon the tzibur to continue davening.

We Know its Hamas:
Senior government officials headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have informed the nation that we now know Hamas is responsible for the terrorist kidnapping. This is the reason for the focus on arresting Hamas operatives in the ongoing house-to-house sweep. That operation is taking place primarily in the Hebron and Southern Hebron Hills areas, but on Sunday night it was expanded to also include other areas, both in Yehuda and Shomron.

The military wing of the terror organization is reportedly responsible for the well-planned kidnapping. The experts explain that while it may appear easy to just pick up the victims in a car and drive off, it takes considerable planning for one must have an escape route, a safe house, supplies for the hostages and a support infrastructure to keep the hostages quiet and out of sight. One expert told Kol Berama Radio on Monday morning that while he wishes to remain optimistic; speaking strictly from a professional point of view he does not believe the boys are still alive.

One explanation for the pessimism is the fact Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has publically blamed Hamas and has ordered a strong handed policy against the terror organization and its leaders. Over 40 additional Hamas operatives were taken into custody during the night for interrogation. The theory is that if the boys were believed to be alive, the prime minister would not have “boxed Hamas in as he did for he is aware of the consequences of pressuring the terror organization as he is doing”.

In reality, the operating premise is that the hostages are indeed alive and the operation continues with the hope and tefilla the boys will soon return home safe and sound.

Closure Continues:
The IDF imposed closure on PA (Palestinian Authority) areas of Hebron and Southern Hebron Hills villages remains in effect. The IDF has deployed large numbers of soldiers in the operation, having brought in the Paratroop and Nachal Brigades, canceling ongoing training exercises to have them join in the search operation. These soldiers are working with members of elite units, agents of the ISA (Israel Security Agency – Shin Bet) and other Special Forces. The IDF is also concentrating on intelligence gathering.

What Constitutes Intelligence Gathering?
When officials speak of intelligence gathering, perhaps their main source of information comes from the arrests and interrogation of Hamas terrorists. it is hoped that bits and pieces of information will be forthcoming and investigators are able to piece together the pieces of the puzzle and arrive at the big picture.

In addition to relying on the information obtained from terrorists in custody, there are other means being deployed by the Mossad, ISA, and IDF intelligence units including eavesdropping on cellular telephone conversations, faxes, emails and of course monitoring Arab social media.

No Longer in a Fog:
While senior officials reported on Sunday that “we are no longer operating in a fog”, it is clear progress is being made on the intelligence front. Most seem to believe that despite the colossal blunders made by police, which delayed the IDF response, the boys are still in a PA area in Yehuda and Shomron and they were not transferred to Gaza, Sinai or possibly Jordan. It is presumed based on the venue of the crux of the IDF operation the hostages are believed to be in the Hebron area.

IDF Coordinator of Activities in the Territories Major-General Yoav Mordechai told the press “We have a great deal of information on the kidnapping case. The investigation is conducted in absolute secrecy”.

Senior Hamas Commanders in Custody:
Over 100 Hamas terrorists and commanders were taken into custody on Shabbos and Sunday, and officials are reporting on Monday morning at least an additional forty were apprehended during the night, including a senior Hamas official, Parliament Speaker Aziz Dweck. Dweck is reportedly the most senior Hamas official in all of Yehuda and Shomron. At one point rumors began spreading late Sunday night that a rescue operation was underway. This was attributed to the fact that IDF soldiers seeking to arrest two wanted suspects in Hebron encountered resistance. They were fired upon. Soldiers returned fire and according to PA reports, some of the occupants of the home were wounded. The intended targets were apprehended alive and taken into custody.

Warfare in Shomron Too:
For IDF soldiers working in Shomron it was a difficult night too. In one confrontation with PA terrorists, PA media reports a 20-year-male was shot dead. IDF officials are investigation. Later in the night a force was targeted with explosives. Soldiers responded with fire, killing at least one terrorist and wounding a second. In other cases soldiers were pelted with stones and other objects as they continue the search for the hostages.

Security Officials to Meet:
The Security Cabinet is going to convene on Monday to be briefed on the ongoing operation. One of the items on the agenda is to decide what is to be done with the Hamas terrorists in custody. Some are calling to deport them to Gaza while others have released statements they feel the terrorists should “rot in prison”.

What is clear is that PM Netanyahu has given the word to inflict pain on Hamas leaders and to shut the terror organization down, albeit partially. It is clear the prime minister is determined to find the missing youths and B’ezras Hashem, IDF forces acting as the shluchim of Am Yisrael will return them homes to their families safe and sound.

Names for Tehillim:
1. Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah
2. Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim
3. Eyal ben Iris Tesurah

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. I propose a public fast proclaimed by the Chief Rabbis and Rabbonim from all other sectors, with pressure on all government ministers and MKs to participate, for at least half a day. Anyone who has connections to get this proposal to the ears of those capable of doing something about it, please do whatever you can.

  2. Por: if the rabbis thought that a public fast day was warranted, dont you think they would proclaim it themselves? Please stop trying to come up witth your own daas torah and, instead, leave it to our gedolim.

  3. How come the rabanim are not doing anything about it? I’m not saying we should fast which I don’t think will work out anyway, but at least some kind of tehilim gathering or campaign. We have to #bringbackourboys .