Netanyahu Accuses Hamas Of Kidnapping
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister on
Sunday accused the Hamas militant group of kidnapping three Israeli teenagers
who disappeared over the weekend, as the military arrested dozens of
Palestinians and closed off West Bank roads in a frantic search for the youths.
The crisis escalated already heightened
tensions between Israel and the new Palestinian government, which is headed by
Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas but backed by Hamas. Israel, which
considers Hamas a terrorist group, has condemned the alliance and said it holds
Abbas responsible for the teens' safety.
"Hamas terrorists carried out Thursday's
kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. We know that for a fact," Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "Hamas denials do not change this
Speaking in English, Netanyahu also tried to
rally international opinion against the new Palestinian government. His calls
for the international community to shun the government have been ignored so
"Instead of abiding by his international
obligation to disarm Hamas, President Abbas has chosen to make Hamas his partner,"
he added. "I believe that the dangers of that pact now should be
abundantly clear to all."
Netanyahu provided no evidence to back his
claims. Palestinian officials rejected Netanyahu's contention that they are
responsible. Hamas, meanwhile, praised the apparent kidnapping but stopped
short of accepting responsibility.
The three youths, Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad
Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, disappeared Thursday night as they were heading
home from a West Bank religious school.
Officials confirmed that one of the teens called a police emergency line around
10:25 p.m. and said, "We've been kidnapped." They have not been heard
from since then.
Frenkel also holds American citizenship.
Addressing reporters outside the family home in the central Israeli town of Nof
Ayalon, his mother, Rachelle, thanked the public, the Israeli security services
and the U.S. Embassy for offering support.
"The professional people will do their
job, and we do trust them. And everybody else, if you could please pray with us,"
she said in English. "We trust that Eyal, and Gilad and Naftali, boys
coming home on their way from school, they were just on their way home, will be
here with us and we'll hug them soon."
The case has riveted the nation's attention,
receiving around-the-clock coverage in local media. Late Sunday, more than
10,000 people converged at Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest site where
Jews can pray, for a special mass prayer, police said.
Palestinian militants have repeatedly
threatened to kidnap Israelis, hoping to use them as bargaining chips to win
the release of prisoners held by Israel. This would be the first time three
civilians have been taken at the same time.
Military officials said that given the nature
of the kidnapping, evidence pointed to Hamas involvement. A senior Israeli
military intelligence officer said only the "most institutionalized cells
... promote suicide bombers attacks and kidnapping." Asked whether this
could refer to other groups beside Hamas, Lt. Col Peter Lerner said:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned
the kidnapping but was more cautious about assigning blame.
"We are still seeking details on the
parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many
indications point to Hamas' involvement," he said.
The overnight arrest raid was concentrated in
the southern West Bank city of Hebron, in the area where the youths
disappeared. Israel imposed a closure on the area, restricting traffic in hopes
of preventing them from being smuggled out.
A Hamas website said more than 60 of those
arrested were members, including senior figures in the movement.
The Palestinians' self-rule government, which
administers 38 percent of the West Bank, has insisted it is not to blame,
saying the teens went missing in territory under full Israeli control.
"The Israeli government cannot blame the
Palestinians for security issues in areas that are not controlled by
them," said Ehab Bseiso, the spokesman of the Palestinian unity
But Netanyahu rejected the claim as
"absurd," saying the attackers had originated in Palestinian
In its first statement on the issue, Hamas
praised the kidnapping but did not claim responsibility. In a message sent to
journalists, it referred to "the success of the kidnapping" and said
that "the movement pays tribute to the heroes who are behind the
In the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Sami
Abu Zuhri dismissed Netanyahu's claims of Hamas involvement in the abductions
Hamas governed Gaza for seven years before
striking the unity deal with Abbas. Although it does not sit in the government,
it has given its support and it remains the de facto power in Gaza.
Despite the exchange of accusations, security
officials from Israel and Abbas' forces have been cooperating closely in the
West Bank trying to find the kidnappers.
Abbas met with his security chiefs late
Saturday and urged them to do anything they can to contribute to the search,
said a senior Palestinian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because
he was not allowed to brief journalists.
In Egypt, a senior security official said
Egyptian National Security was working through a third Palestinian party to
help resolve the crisis. Egyptian authorities are in contact with Palestinian
militant groups through intermediaries, since the Egyptian government does not
maintain direct contact with Hamas. The official said the three Israelis were
still believed to be in the West Bank.
Hamas, branded a terrorist group by the West
for its long history of attacks on Israeli civilians, has been involved in past
But this time around, there are other
potential suspects. In recent months, there have been growing signs of the
emergence in the West Bank of small groups of militants who identify with
assassin, could it not be that you assassinated the children and now you are
trying to make the Palestinians escape goat with evil Political motives.
other fact could be that your friends the Zionists might have kidnapped these children to
sodomize with them as such practice is there in your Jew community.So you all claim that
your religion permits it. First you answer the above questions the World Community of
Nations have against you.