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Israel Accuses Hamas of Kidnapping 3 Teenagers

  • VOA News

An Israeli soldier stands guard in the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014.

An Israeli soldier stands guard in the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014.

Israel is accusing Hamas of kidnapping three teenagers last week, and has arrested 80 Palestinians near Hebron, where the youths disappeared.

Many of those arrested in overnight raids were Hamas members.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the kidnappings.

"Hamas terrorists carried out Thursday's kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, we know that for fact. These teenagers were kidnapped and the kidnapping was carried out by Hamas members. Hamas' denials do not change this fact.''

Netanyahu said the disappearance of the youths was the direct result of the newly formed Palestinian unity government between Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organization, and Fatah.

But a Palestinian spokesman rejected that contention and criticized Israel for what he said was "collective punishment" against Palestinians "besieging the province of Hebron."

Palestinian spokesman Ehab Bseiso said the three Israeli youths disappeared from an area of the West Bank controlled by Israelis and the Palestinian Authority is working in coordination with Israel in the search for the missing teens.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described the kidnappings as a "despicable terrorist act” and called for the immediate release of the three teenagers. He said “many indications point to Hamas involvement,” noting that it had carried out kidnappings in the past.

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