Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas Sunday of having kidnapped three teenagers who went missing in the West Bank earlier this week, while US Secretary of State John Kerry pointed to the group’s potential involvement.
"This morning I can say what I could not say yesterday before the broad wave of arrests of Hamas people in Judaea and Samaria," he said using the biblical term for the West Bank while speaking at the start of a special weekly cabinet meeting held at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv. "Those who carried out the kidnapping of our youngsters are Hamas people".
Kerry, speaking later Sunday, said the US was “still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act” but that “many indications point to Hamas' involvement”.
"As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organisation known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past,” he added.
The three teens, aged between 16 and 19-years-old, vanished on Thursday evening as they reportedly tried to hitch a ride from a Jewish settlement where they were studying. Since they went missing, the Israeli army has carried out house-to-house searches, round-ups and interrogations in the nearby Palestinian city of Hebron and outlying villages.
Israeli forces detained around 80 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight in connection with the teens’ disappearance.
Despite the broad scope of the search, few details of what is known have been made public. Israel identified the teenagers as Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Sha’er and Naftali Frankel, who also holds US citizenship.
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist militant group, has been designated a terrorist organisation by both the United States and the European Union.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-06-15