Israel’s Prime Minister blasts Hamas and Abbas over Thursday’s kidnapping of 3 Jewish youths as Palestinian official reports PA will help find them.
The cause of the suspected kidnapping of the three Yeshiva students who went missing in the West Bank Thursday is the announcement and the subsequent formation of the unity government between Fatah and the Gaza Strip-based Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.
“This is the direct outcome of allowing a murderous terrorist organization enter the Palestinian government,” the Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry, as Israeli apprised the US of progress in the hunt for the youths.
Israel’s army mounted a search for the three teenagers on Friday, following reports they had been missing since Thursday night and may have been kidnapped.
Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting with top defense chiefs, and the Prime Minister’s Office said it holds Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for the well-being of the three missing youths.
A burnt car bearing Israeli plates was found in the West Bank, but there has not been any confirmation that it is connected to the suspected kidnappings.
“The three teenagers were last seen last night in area of Gush Etzion. Forces are conducting a widespread operation in order to locate them,” the IDF spokesperson wrote on Twitter. “Our mission now is to bring the three missing Israeli teenagers back home safely.”
The three students were reported missing on Thursday night, and were last seen hitchhiking home before they disappeared. According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, a cellphone trace revealed their last known location was near Hebron.
Ma’an News Agency reported that Israel had carried out a number of raids on homes in the area, in search of the youths.
Israeli media were unable to report on the kidnapping until Friday afternoon due to restrictions.
Palestinians hit back at criticism
A senior Palestinian official lashed out at the Israeli premier for his harsh rhetoric against Abbas and the unity government.
“Israeli efforts should focus on finding the three youths instead of spreading blame and placing responsibility on a great number of factors,” Mohammed Madani, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, was quoted by Ynetnews as saying.
“Netanyahu placing blame on the PA is incitement and cheap exploitation given that there is no justification for this, and aims to score political points.
“The PA has in the past returned dozens of Israelis who mistakenly entered the West Bank. We greatly hope that these youths will be returned safely home. The Palestinian security establishment is making every effort to help find the youths.”
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