In it’s campaign to rescue the three yeshiva students who were kidnapped June 12, Israel has been carrying out operations against the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, including arresting prisoners it had previously released. The kidnappings have evoked a feeling among Israelis and Jews worldwide. On the other hand the Palestinians, as a society, have demonstrated callousness toward the victims, if not seeing the kidnappings as a victory.

According the Times of Israel the ‘noose is tightening’ around the kidnappers.

A senior Israeli government official said Friday that the noose was tightening around the kidnappers of the three teenagers who were abducted last Thursday from a hitchhiking post in the Gush Etzion area in the West Bank, as a large-scale, ongoing IDF operation to locate the trio continued through its eighth day.

Speaking to Channel 10, the official said that, based on security assessments, the teens were still somewhere in the West Bank and that their abductors were unsuccessful in moving them in the direction of Jordan, Gaza, or Sinai. …

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the families of the three earlier Friday and updated them on the progress of the search. Frankel’s uncle was later quoted saying that all indications were that the three are alive. On Thursday Netanyahu said Israel knew more about their fate than it had done a few days earlier, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the operation to find the three was making progress. Also Thursday, an Israeli official named a deported Hamas terror chief, Saleh al-Arouri, as a suspect in orchestrating the kidnapping.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, one of the “moderate” technocrats of the new Fatah-Hamas government suggested that the kidnappings are an Israeli fabrication:

“They [the Israelis] have no proof that Hamas is behind this operation, as they have failed to provide any proof indicating this,” Maliki told Saudi daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat from Jedda, where he, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, was visiting last week.

“In the absence of proof, there are three possible scenarios for the issue: The kidnapping could be a childish game on the part of Israel to draw attention to it, it could be part of a larger game to turn the Israelis from aggressors to victims, or maybe they were really kidnapped,” Maliki said.

As noted in a report above, an Israeli security official has identified the mastermind of the kidnappings as Saleh al-Arouri, currently operating from Turkey.

The official claimed al-Arouri, who used to live in a village north of Ramallah, has urged West Bank operatives incessantly to set up terror cells and perpetrate kidnappings. Al-Arouri has financially sponsored these cells, which were trained and directed to abduct Israelis. Often, that money was transferred through charities to obfuscate their real destination — the would-be kidnappers — the official said.

The official conceded that Israel had no “smoking gun” proving al-Arouri’s involvement in the kidnapping last Thursday night of Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel, “but I have no doubt that al-Arouri was connected to the act.” There is an increasing belief in the Israeli security services that the kidnapping was directed by Hamas’s overseas hierarchy, he noted, adding that al-Arouri is answerable to Hamas’s political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal. …

In the past two years, dozens of al-Arouri’s emissaries have visited the West Bank after obtaining entry through Jordan, the Israeli office-holder said. Several of them were arrested, but a number escaped the notice of Israeli security officials and were able to leave the country with their missions accomplished.

Al-Arouri was released from jail by Israel in early 2010. Israeli journalist Ehud Ya’ari identified him last year as having “taken sole control of the movement’s activities in the West Bank.”

If the ties between al-Arouri and Hamas is confirmed it could present a diplomatic problem for the United States, which is a partner with Turkey (and 28 other nations, but not Israel) in the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Aside from the inconvenience of partnering with state sponsor of terror in a counterterrorism effort, American law calls for “grave consequences” against designated state sponsors of terrorism.

David Shamah, the technology reporter of the Times of Israel reported on a technology that the IDF might be using to locate the teens, developed by an Israeli company Camero-Tech:

Camero’s through-the-wall imaging system uses ultra-wideband (UWB) radar to map the layout of an area that is blocked by brick, cinder blocks, rebar reinforced concrete, plaster drywall, wood, adobe, stone, and just about any other material — as thick as a meter or more.

The system shows the location of objects in a room, whether stationary or mobile, and can be deployed from as far as 20 meters away. Advanced algorithms translate the radar signals into 3D images, showing the relative positions of people inside a room and tracking them as they move around.

The device was demonstrated at this year’s AIPAC conference.

UPDATE: Richard Behar of Forbes interviewed Naftali Fraenkel’s uncle, Yishai Fraenkel. Yishai Fraenkel is an executive at Intel Israel who, according to Behar, is dedicated to the “integration of Palestinians into high-tech, including joint ventures with Israeli firms.” Asked about how the abduction of his nephew affected his view of his work, Fraenkel responded:

I’m a realist. I’ve lived in this place all my life and there are many forces trying to shape our region—positive and negative or destructive forces. And there’s no doubt that people who kidnap young kids are destructive and they hurt the Palestinian cause as equally as it’s hurting the Israeli cause. It doesn’t help anyone. Negative, negative, negative—any way you look at it. So, am I surprised? No, I’m saddened. But that’s reality. Does that mean I feel bad things about the good people I work with, among the Palestinians? No. These are good people. It’s no secret that every society has bad people. Do we not have Israeli or Jewish murders and rapists? Are they not equally bad?

[Photo: Twitterpic from IDF ]