JERUSALEM (JTA) – Finding the three kidnapped teenagers will take more time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to the nation.
“We are in the middle of a complex operation. We need to be prepared for the fact that it may take more time,” Netanyahu said Monday afternoon (June 16). “It is a serious incident and will have grave consequences.”
The teens, including one dual Israeli-American citizen, have been missing since the night of June 12. They were last seen trying to get rides home from a yeshiva high school in Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem.
Netanyahu urged the international community to decry the kidnapping, which he blames on Hamas.
“I call on those in the international community that condemn us for building a porch in Jerusalem to clearly condemn this kidnapping,” he said.
Netanyahu said he spoke Monday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and thanked him for condemning the abduction.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon assured the public that Israel would find the terrorists that kidnapped the teens – Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19.
“This abduction will not pass without Hamas paying a big price” as a result of the current Israel Defense Forces operation, he said.
Also Monday, Natan Sharansky and his wife, Avital, visited the families of Yifrah and Shaar.
Sharansky, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, told the families how he felt the support of world Jewry while he was being held in Siberia.
“When I was in prison, in full isolation, I felt strong because I knew that world Jewry was standing strong with me. I am certain that Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali are feeling the same powerful support of world Jewry today,” he said. “World Jewry is coming together to support you and your sons at this difficult time.”
On Saturday (June 14) Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned the kidnapping and “those aiming to instigate conflict.
“We urge the Palestinian security authorities, who have been trained through Canadian and U.S. leadership, to make every effort to investigate this incident and work diligently to ensure the safe return of these children to their families.
“We call for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers. Whoever has taken this action must be found and brought to justice,” said Baird.
(With files from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada).