Israeli media reported on Tuesday that, 12 days after the disappearance of three settlers, some officers in the Israel Defence Forces are expressing disappointment over the investigation carried out by the Shin Bet internal security agency. According to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the investigation carried out by Shin Bet has not yielded any results that could benefit the IDF in its operations involving thousands of Israeli soldiers.
The newspaper quoted a senior officer in Israel’s Central Command as saying that the IDF has no information on the kidnapped young men. He expressed his disappointment for the failure of Shin Bet to provide information during the Israeli campaign to arrest hundreds of Palestinians over the past two weeks. “Without intelligence information, it is almost impossible to search houses and wells in areas with a population size of 700,000 people,” he said. “We will have to ask ourselves some difficult questions.” He added his criticism of Shin Bet for only now issuing warnings about Palestinian intentions to kidnap illegal settlers.
Yedioth Ahronoth added that Israeli soldiers in the West Bank are not convinced that it is possible to locate the kidnapped settlers through analysing the information that was gathered from across the West Bank. The IDF has no answer to the question as to why no Palestinian entity has announced that it is responsible for the kidnap operation, leading some commentators to doubt if it actually took place at all.
Disappointment among IDF leaders comes at a time when the Israeli government is about to reach a decision to end the military campaign, reduce the number of forces in the field and shift its efforts towards more intelligence work.
Israel Hayoum noted that the campaign will now focus on the initial goal of trying to locate the kidnapped settlers and arrest the kidnappers. It added that the reasons for reducing the military operation include the fact that Ramadan will start in a few days’ time.
“We have to end operations when the kidnapped settlers are with us,” a senior IDF officer was quoted by Israel Hayoum. “There should be no time limit, but we realise that we should exercise pressure [on the Palestinians] in a rational way, not emotionally.”