JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News)– On the fifth day of Operation Brother's Keeper, Israel continued to target Hamas in the West Bank and has arrested over 200 members of Hamas, mostly in the area of Hebron while the search for the three kidnapped teenagers continues.
"The IDF does not feel as if the hourglass is running out of time," a source told the Jerusalem Post, however the IDF would "continue to deliver a strong blow to Hamas and strike down anything that is related to Hamas."
Nitzan Alon, head of Israel Defense Force's Central Command, said the IDF is focused on Hamas, and its infrastructure, to weaken the organization as they continue to search for the kidnapped teenagers.
"We are fighting Hamas, a cruel terror organization. The operation against it is complicated and protracted. It didn't start today, and it's not going to end anytime soon," Alon told the Jerusalem Post.
"The heads of Hamas are feeling the hits and understand the message," Alon continued. "When the IDF's military operation is over, Hamas will be a much weaker organization," Alon concluded.
A military source speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Ynet news, that no fewer than ten army divisions are operating in the West Bank.
"We're not passing over the other organizations, but Hamas is the main focus," he explained to Ynet.
In addition to the arrests, the IDF seized guns, explosives, and grenades. The raids were described as a "large-scale counter-terrorism operation," a source told the Jerusalem Post.
Hamas Spokesman Ismail Radwan denied the group's involvement in the kidnapping, but said on principle it reserves the right to kidnap Israelis to secure the release of its fighters from Israeli detention.
Later, a statement was issued by Hamas, and broadcast on Israel's Channel 10.
"We've been through attacks like these by Israel in the past, but we withstood them," the Hebron statement said, according to Channel 10. "The Hamas movement is not a movement of dozens, hundreds, or thousands, but is an entire stream. The arrest of hundreds of our sons won't stop us, won't change our path, and won't separate us from our commitments and obligations to the Palestinian nation."
The chairman of the Knesset Foreign and Defense Committee, Zeev Elkin, announced new legislation to send freed prisoners from recent prisoner release deals back to Israeli jails to prevent kidnappings in the future.
"It's important now to change the rules of the game," Elkin told Ynet News.
"Terror organizations developed a system. They kidnap and negotiate, trying to dictate the terms to us. They know that through kidnapping, they'll be able to get a lot of terrorists out of Israeli jail … They need to know that when they kidnap, they automatically send terrorists back to jail, not releasing them. This is a necessary deterrence," Elkin concluded.