Sun, Jun 15, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Israeli army hunts teens missing in West Bank

NOT GUILTY:Even if there was an earthquake, Israel would blame Palestinians, a spokesman said, adding that Israel controls the area where the teenagers went missing

AFP, JERUSALEM

Israeli security forces were searching yesterday for three teenagers who went missing near a West Bank settlement, the Israeli army said, amid media speculation they may have been kidnapped by Palestinians.

The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on Thursday as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron.

“Search activity, both operational and in terms of intelligence, is continuing,” an Israeli spokeswoman said, refusing to confirm speculation about a possible kidnapping.

An AFP journalist said that the army had set up roadblocks in the southern West Bank and was searching vehicles.

Troops also closed the main crossings into the Gaza Strip to prevent the three, one of whom also holds US citizenship, from being smuggled out of Israel.

A rocket was fired from the territory into Israel early yesterday without causing any casualties or damage, the army said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, and said that he holds Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for the teenagers’ safety.

Kerry also telephoned Abbas, a Palestinian source said.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s security services, General Adnan al-Damiri, called Netanyahu’s suggestions “mad.”

Damiri said that the Palestinian Authority had no authority over the sprawling Gush Etzion settlement bloc, which is under full Israeli control.

“Even if there was an earthquake, Netanyahu would blame the Palestinian Authority,” he told reporters.

Another Palestinian official said the authority’s security services were “cooperating” with Israeli agencies to gather information on the teenagers’ disappearance.

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