Even if Israeli teens allegedly held captive by Hamas militants are found and safely returned to an anxiously awaiting nation, Israel’s ongoing rescue operation could continue indefinitely until the West Bank is sufficiently “cleansed” of the threat posed by the Islamic terror organization, officials here say.

Launched in response to the June 12 kidnapping of three teens hitchhiking in a Palestineian Authority (PA)-controlled area of the West Bank, Operation Brother’s Keeper — now in its sixth day — has morphed into a mission of “cleansing the stables” of the Hamas threat, a top officer told reporters here.

In methodical, house-to-house maneuvers, Israeli security forces have so far arrested more than 240 Palestinians suspects, including 53 prisoners released in a 2011 exchange for a single Israeli soldier. […]