The United Nations has a responsibility to advocate for the release of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, President Shimon Peres told its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when the two men met in New York on Sunday.
"The United Nations is an important organization which represents the world - it is your responsibility to cry out on behalf of the mothers of the kidnapped boys and call for their immediate release,” Peres told Ban.
He recalled for Ban his meeting with the parents of the three kidnapped teens, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19.
“I met with the families of the three kidnapped boys and they touched my heart, all of Israel is with them,” Peres said.
He spoke in New York as thousands rallied with the families in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
The two men also met as violence continued to escalate between Israel and Hamas controlled Gaza. Almost daily, since the June 12th kidnappings Palestinians in Gaza have launched rockets against Israel and the Israeli Air Force has responded with targeted military strikes.
“I know how much the situation in Gaza concerns you, but we must speak honestly – the one who is responsible for that is Hamas which runs Gaza and leads to terror and poverty – we have a moral responsibility to condemn Hamas and fight against all terrorism,” Peres said.
“Terror today is the central threat to the whole world. Israel suffers greatly from terror, and just yesterday evenings rockets were once again fired from the Gaza Strip at innocent Israeli civilians,” Peres told Ban. The UN Secretary-General assured Peres that he had already condemned the kidnappings. "I have already issued a statement on the kidnapping of the young Israeli students, under any circumstances, for any reason, it cannot be justified. It is totally unacceptable,” Ban said.
He added that he hoped Israelis and Palestinians would return to the negotiating table, so that both peoples could live side-by-side in peace and security.
Separately at a speech in Tel Aviv before the the National Institute for Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Sunday night, Netanyahu said that the IDF was leaving no stone unturned as it searched in the West Bank for the missing teens who were abducted by Hamas as they hitched a ride home from the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
“We won’t spare our efforts or restrict our resources in pursuit of bringing the boys home. I hope we will succeed in this mission,” Netanyahu said. Earlier in the day the parents of the three teens traveled to Gush Eztion and visited the bus stop outside the Kfar Etzion settlement where the IDF believes Hamas abducted the teens.
In the West Bank, the IDF continued to search for the teens. It arrested 25 Palestinian suspects on Friday and Saturday in the southern West Bank as part of the military operation launched to retrieve three Israeli abducted Israeli youths. Soldiers carried out arrests and searches in villages such as Al-Aroub, Bet Fajar, Bet Khalil, and in the city of Hebron.
A total of 413 Palestinians suspects have been taken into custody since the operation began this month. Searches for the missing youths continue to be focused in northwest Hebron.
On Saturday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz approved future search plans, and coordinated the operation's next steps with OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon.
The IDF carried out searches of 2200 sites across the West Bank since the start of the operation.