IDF soldier in Hebron, June 15, 2014. .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
If an operation to find the kidnapped teenagers was going to bring the weight of the IDF down on the towns and villages of the Hebron area, it wasn't going to happen by Sunday afternoon.
All day long in the area around Hebron, Gush Etzion and highways 60 and 35, there was a higher-than-usual deployment of soldiers and police, but the area was not on the war footing Israelis are familiar with from major operations in the past.
Palestinian areas in and around Hebron – where there has been wide-scale speculation the three kidnapped teens are being held
– were by no means hermetically-sealed and there appeared to be steady, if muted traffic of Palestinian vehicles in the area. That said, many of the side roads that are typically open leading into Palestinian-controlled Area A in the southern West Bank were closed, with soldiers or Border Police checking Palestinian vehicles on their way in and out, checks that were also performed by soldiers and police on passing Palestinian cars at hitchhiking spots. That said, at no point during the entire morning and afternoon did any of the security forces stop and question the Jerusalem Post
during attempts to enter Palestinian areas.
On Highway 35 and 60, and inside Hebron there were a number of spots were soldiers were gathering, doing a lot of “hurrying up and waiting” before unclear orders. Soldiers spoken to by the Jerusalem Post
said they weren't sure what to expect or if they would be deployed.
In Palestinian neighborhoods in and around the Cave of the Patriarchs, there was still some signs of life, but it appeared muted. Palestinians who stopped and spoke to reporters on Sunday did seem noticeably less talkative than usual, either refusing to talk or dismissing questions about the kidnappings and if they were concerned about an IDF operation.
A spectacle that would probably be more aggravating – if not surprising – to Israelis was the fact that at hitching spots throughout the West Bank, including at Alon Shvut - where the three teenagers
were kidnapped on Thursday night - Israeli teens waited for rides throughout the day, just like any other Sunday.