Itongadol.- There has been a significant increase in attempts to abduct soldiers in recent months, a source in the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday.
IDF reports sharp rise in attempts to kidnap soldiers
This has prompted the army to strictly enforce safety measures and remind soldiers of directives intended to prevent such incidents, he said.
Since the beginning of the year, the IDF has counted 27 attempted or planned abductions of soldiers, mainly by terrorist cells, the source said. This is the same number as for the whole of 2012.
On Tuesday, two female soldiers reported an attempted abduction on their way to their base near Hadera. They said several men tried to push them into a car, but they resisted and the car drove away. Police said it wasn’t clear whether the perpetrators were terrorists.
On New Year’s Eve, the IDF captured a group of Islamic Jihad operatives near the Eyal checkpoint. The men carried items apparently intended to help in an abduction, and the army said this incident posed a “very high threat.”
Most of the other incidents involved detainees who admitted under interrogation by the Shin Bet security service that they were planning to abduct a soldier. “These organizations realize that to free their people from prison, they need to capture a soldier,” a senior officer explained Thursday. “Most of the incidents were carried out by operatives affiliated with Hamas, but [the desire to kidnap] is common to all the organizations. As long as they have desire and motivation … this requires us to maintain a higher alert level.”
The IDF’s safety measures include simulating abduction attempts on civilian vehicles, briefing soldiers and inspecting the pick-up points where soldiers wait for rides if located in less safe areas.
Shin Bet sources said that during interrogations, members of terrorist groups have said time and again that they want to kidnap soldiers to obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The sources said some of the prisoners freed in the deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, especially those who have been deported overseas, are encouraging other terrorists to abduct soldiers.
The IDF also fears the abduction of soldiers on the Golan Heights, in view of the tension along the northern border.
Following the abduction of UN peacekeepers on the Golan in March, the IDF has examined its forces’ deployment in the region and instructed soldiers to travel near the border only in pairs and groups.