World Bulletin/News Desk
The Israeli army said on Saturday that it was maintaining a search for three teenagers who went missing from settlements on the West Bank early Friday.
"IDF [army] nighttime operations continue to locate 3 missing teens," Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner wrote on his Twitter account.
Israel's Channel Two reported Friday that search for the three missing teenagers may last for several days.
A Palestinian security source said Abbas's forces were helping Israel in the search. That drew condemnation from Hamas - though the faction has not claimed involvement in the disappearance of the Israelis.
"Security coordination between (Prime Minister Rami) Hamdallah's and Abbas's security services and the enemy to locate the heroes of the Hebron operation and arrest them is a stigma," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
Israeli soldiers arrested at least 12 Hebron area residents, including two women, according to Palestinian officials. Locals said some of those detained were involved in car businesses like repair garages - indicating that the investigation was focusing on tracking down potential means of transport for a kidnapping.
Palestinian witnesses said the troops were also confiscating video from privately owned security cameras in Hebron and had prevented around 300 residents from leaving the area.
A military source said Israel was working on the assumption that the three teenagers were abducted by Palestinians and that it had preliminary information as to the captors' identities, though the condition of the missing teenagers was unknown.
"We can't confirm if they are alive or dead. We don't know at this time," the source said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, contacted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
According to Israel Radio, the phone call focused on the three Israeli teens.
No official statement was, however, released from either the Israeli cabinet or the Palestinian Presidency about the phone conversation between Netanyahu and Abbas.
The news about the settlers' possible abduction sent some families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to distribute sweets in celebration.
"We hope that the three settlers have been abducted by resistance groups in Hebron to swap them with prisoners," former prisoner Fatma al-Zik told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
The jubilant families have been staging a sit-in outside the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in western Gaza to protest the continued jailing by Israel of their relatives.
Al-Zik said she and the families of other Palestinian prisoners consider the kidnapping of Israeli citizens to be the only way for freeing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
In October 2011, Palestinian resistance group Hamas swapped an Israeli soldier with 1027 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Palestinian security authorities have rejected Israeli assertions that the new Palestinian government is responsible for the safety of three young Jewish settlers who recently went missing in the southern West Bank.
"These accusations by the Israeli security authorities and [Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are baseless," West Bank security spokesman Adnan al-Dameeri told Anadolu Agency.
"The area in which the incident happened falls under Israeli security control," he said.
Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the teens had gone missing from the southern West Bank's Gush Etzion settlement on Thursday night.
According to Israel's Ynet news service, Israeli internal intelligence agency Shin Bet and the IDF's Central Command were both treating the disappearances as a kidnapping by Palestinians, noting that the three teens' cell phones had stopped broadcasting from the location at which they were last seen.
Last Mod: 14 Haziran 2014, 16:56