News / Middle East

    Israel Ramps Up Pressure on Hamas in Hunt for Missing Teens

    Israeli soldiers walk during an operation near Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus,Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
    Israeli soldiers walk during an operation near Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus,Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
    Reuters
    Israel's security cabinet decided on Tuesday to widen a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank after troops detained more than 40 members of the Palestinian Islamist group in sweeps conducted in tandem with a search for three missing teenagers.
     
    Israel accuses Hamas of kidnapping the three youths after they left their religious school in a Jewish settlement on Thursday. Hamas has neither claimed nor denied responsibility for their disappearance.
     
    The Israeli army has launched house-to-house searches, round-ups of suspects and interrogations in Hebron, a Hamas stronghold, and then in other parts of the occupied West Bank, in a mobilisation on a scale not seen in years.
     
    “We are turning Hamas membership into a ticket to hell,” Naftali Bennett, a far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, told Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday.
     
    Female relatives of slain Palestinian Ahmad Arafat Sabarin, 20, who was killed by Israeli army fire early Monday during a confrontation between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, cries with a relative at the family house, prior to his funeral procession in the refugee camp of Jalazoun, on the outskirts of Ramallah, Monday, June 16, 2014.Female relatives of slain Palestinian Ahmad Arafat Sabarin, 20, who was killed by Israeli army fire early Monday during a confrontation between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, cries with a relative at the family house, prior to his funeral procession in the refugee camp of Jalazoun, on the outskirts of Ramallah, Monday, June 16, 2014.
    x
    Female relatives of slain Palestinian Ahmad Arafat Sabarin, 20, who was killed by Israeli army fire early Monday during a confrontation between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, cries with a relative at the family house, prior to his funeral procession in the refugee camp of Jalazoun, on the outskirts of Ramallah, Monday, June 16, 2014.
    Female relatives of slain Palestinian Ahmad Arafat Sabarin, 20, who was killed by Israeli army fire early Monday during a confrontation between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, cries with a relative at the family house, prior to his funeral procession in the refugee camp of Jalazoun, on the outskirts of Ramallah, Monday, June 16, 2014.
    Israeli troops swept into a second West Bank city on Monday, touching off street confrontations in which they killed a Palestinian, witnesses and hospital officials said.

    The bloodshed near the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah marked an escalation in a dragnet which risks ensnaring U.S.-backed President Mahmoud Abbas though it targets Hamas, Islamist rivals with which he agreed a power-share in April.

    The Palestinian Information Ministry accused Israel of inflicting collective punishment - a charge echoed by several international human rights groups.
     
    “An entire population is being held hostage to the whims of the Israeli occupation,” the Palestinian ministry said.
     
    Israel has said it does not know if Gil-Ad Shaer and U.S.-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both aged 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, are alive or what their captors' demands might be.
     
    At its meeting on Tuesday, Netanyahu's security cabinet agreed to make more arrests, put up roadblocks and turn Palestinian houses into military observation posts to increase pressure on Hamas, a political source said.
     
    An Israeli official said ministers had also debated a proposal to deport West Bank Hamas leaders to Gaza.
     
    Earlier, the army said it had detained 41 Hamas militants in overnight raids, raising to more than 200 the number arrested since Friday. Israel officials acknowledged the operation was two-fold - recovering the missing teenagers and weakening Hamas.
     
    “Pursued, paralyzed and threatened”
     
    “As long as our boys remain abducted, Hamas will feel pursued, paralyzed and threatened. We are committed to resolving the kidnapping and debilitating Hamas terrorist capacities, its infrastructure and its recruiting institutions,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman.
     
    Israel showed photographs of what it said were hundreds of weapons, including guns, seized at some of the detainees' homes.
     
    Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned both the kidnappings and the Israeli raids.
     
    Mirroring scenes played out elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers filed through a street of shuttered homes and shops in the town of Jenin on Tuesday, lobbing stun grenades and firing rubber bullets at Palestinians who threw rocks at them.
     
    Five Palestinians wounded
     
    Israeli and Palestinian security sources said soldiers and police had wounded five Palestinians in Jenin and in confrontations near the cities of Ramallah and Nablus.
     
    In the Gaza Strip, Israel's air force bombed four militant targets early on Tuesday in response to rocket fire at southern Israel. There were no reported casualties in those incidents.
     
    On Monday, Netanyahu said the effort to retrieve the three teenagers was complicated and that Israelis “must be prepared for the possibility it could take time”.
     
    Many Israelis have shown solidarity with the teens' families on social media sites and have held public prayer vigils.
     
    One of the youth's mothers, Rachel Fraenkel, thanked her compatriots on a nationally televised broadcast, saying: “We just wish to hug our children home, Naftali, Eyal Gil-Ad. We love you, we miss you, please be strong, hold on, be strong.”
     
    Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general and former national security adviser, said the abductions provided an opportunity to target Hamas in operations that could undermine a new Palestinian unity government formed after Abbas reconciled with his Islamist rivals in April after years of feuding.
     
    Infuriated by the surprise intra-Palestinian alliance, Netanyahu called off U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Abbas.
     
    “The fragile links between the (Abbas-led Palestinian) Authority and Hamas could become more of a crack,” Eiland told Israel Radio, a day after the Islamists condemned as a “knife in the back” PA efforts to help the Israelis locate the teenagers.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora