On June 12—now a full two weeks back—three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped in Judea (part of the West Bank) on their way home from a religious school there. They were Naftali Frenkel, 16 (a dual Israeli-U.S. citizen), Gilad Shaar (16), and Eyal Ifrach (19). Since then Israeli security forces have conducted a massive manhunt in Judea that has included searching caves, wells, and reservoirs. They have turned up nothing.
We do know what organization was behind the abduction—Hamas, as publicly confirmed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Israel’s internal security agency has just recently announced the identity of the main kidnappers, two hard-core Hamas members from the West Bank town of Hebron. But there has been no word from Hamas about a possible prisoner swap involving the three boys, even though, two and a half years ago, Israel swapped 1027 Palestinian security prisoners for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who had also been kidnapped by Hamas and was held in Gaza for five years. That silence increases the concern that the boys have been killed—or smuggled to a different country, which the Israeli authorities consider unlikely but do not rule out.
Meanwhile Israel has been cracking down on Hamas, arresting hundreds of its members, seizing weapons and ammunition, and raiding its media outlets and funding operations. Israel has also been trying to get the international community interested in this unfolding story, but with less success.