|Israel aims to break Hamas as hunt for teens intensifies
Israel stepped up efforts to crush Hamas in the West Bank as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by the Islamist movement entered its fifth day.
Thousands of Israel troops engaged in the search for the youths turned their attention during the night to the northern West Bank city of Nablus and surrounding area, arresting 41 Palestinians, the army said.
So far, Israel has arrested around 200 Palestinians, most of them Hamas members, as it conducts a vast search operation for the students, two of them minors.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused militants from the Islamist movement of kidnapping the youths last week.
''We are here in the midst of a complex operation. We need to be prepared for the possibility that it may take time. This is a serious event and there will be serious consequences,'' Netanyahu said on Monday evening.
At a meeting of the Israeli security cabinet on Monday, ministers decided to expand moves against Hamas in order to smash its political and social infrastructure in the West Bank, officials said.
''As long as our boys remain abducted, Hamas will feel pursued, paralyzed and threatened,'' said Lieutenant Peter Lerner, the military's official spokesman.
''We are committed to resolving the kidnapping and debilitating Hamas terrorist capacities, its infrastructure and its recruiting institutions,'' he said in a statement.--AFP